Flashback: Breastfeeding a 20 month old, Updates from 12/13

To continue my celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2014 I decided to republish blog posts from breastfeeding a 20 month old from my blog http://www.itzybellababy.blogspot.com. This post is from December 2013. I was way over a year into my breastfeeding experience, and the story shows me how far we have come.


So if you have been following along with my breastfeeding posts, you know I have a 20 month old and we are still breastfeeding. No, this was actually not my intention to breastfeed this long- my initial goal was 6 months. Then a year.. then.. well, I decided as long as I was at home with the baby, we would just see where we ended up.

I had made the decision around 14 months to start adding a bottle of cow milk after nursing sessions. I was having a lot of pain nursing a teether, and I had not slept more than 2 hours a night since before she was even born, and needed something. She started sleeping all night, and everything in life got better for all of us. I was sure nursing would stop. It didn’t! ( I am not advocating supplementing, especially before a year, but this is just our story.) I was convinced for about 3 months though, that every nursing session would be our last. What ended up happening was a really good groove. We nursed at naps, bedtime and once at night a few hours before waking. After that session it was back to sleep for both of us.

I always nursed on demand. It was what I was taught, and it worked. Over the last 2 weeks toddler has been really having a hard time off and on with napping and just generally not being herself. She has no physical ailments we could detect, but she has been pretty fussy about eating. She would periodically ask for more than a bottle of milk after nursing. I chocked this up to not eating as much, and since it was periodic, I really wasn’t too concerned. She eats a good variety of food most days. I generally give her what she asks for when it comes to food, and she asks for healthy things.

The last few nights she has been waking up around 3 to nurse instead of 5 or 6 or 7 am. No problem, we nurse. We go back to sleep til 8ish. But on 3 occasions now, she has asked to nurse again a few hours later. I have to admit, that I did not want to nurse again so quickly. Twice in 3 hours is painful. There is not a lot of milk.

At this phase of the game I understand, we are not going to be increasing our supply through pumping and increased nursing like what happens in that first year. I actually talked to a lactation consultant about this around 15 months or so. I usually use fenugreek and a few other herbs and supplements on the second half of my menstrual cycle because after I ovulate, my production is even lower. It helps a little, but not much. It is a temporary fix. Nursing hurts during those 2 weeks. My nipples peel, they are sensitive and she clamps down and sucks harder to try to get more milk out. She bites and leaves teeth marks. She hits and pinches to get more. So when I say I don’t want to nurse another session so quickly, this is why. The rest of the month, we go back to normal.

But then we have this increased nursing request. I said no. It hurt me to say it, and I really hated her reaction which was a full blown toddler fit. What I did do is get her a bottle of milk, and try to hold her while she drank it. The first two times, this worked. She calmed down, drank her milk while we snuggled, and we both went back to sleep. One of the mornings after this, we had more cuddles when we woke up. We just laid in bed snuggling for an hour when we woke up, which is pretty uncommon.

But this morning, after nursing at 3, she asked to nurse at 7. I said no, but I would get a nice bottle. She had a full blown toddler fit. Sobbing, gasping, rolling about inconsolably as I got her bottle. I brought it back and she wouldn’t drink it. She pushed me away. She screamed. I died inside. I did not anticipate this level of upset.I second guessed myself. As I was about to go ahead and nurse, she took the bottle, and drank it, then calming down for snuggles. She finally fell asleep on my chest. All is now well an hour later and she should be getting up for breakfast soon.

So here I am typing away. Trying to decide if I did the right thing, or if I am being selfish. I have been readying my mind for her to wean. I have been anticipating decreased nursing sessions. We have not nursed out of bed in over 6 months. We have really been on a schedule ( hers, not mine), which is something I hadn’t anticipated ever happening based on her first year of nursing.  I admit to feeling very confident over the past few months, and happy with our pattern. Now this. So of course I headed over to Kellymom to see what is said about increased night nursing in a toddler. Of course the reasons are the same as a younger baby- teething, developmental changes and needing more time with momma.

We have had 6 months of all of those things that did not end up in increased nursing. I have to wonder though- since most people are not nursing at this point, what does the toddler do instead? Just more bottles? More hugs? I am feeling guilty about this, but I am not sure what to think. Eventually she will wean. Eventually she will have developmental changes and teeth issues and such. What then? There is so little out there in the way of information about extended nursing compared to a younger child. I suppose I could talk to a lactation consultant or such, but I am sure they would tell me to go ahead and nurse. I know that is probably the answer, except I don’t want to. I feel like a jerk about it. Anyone else have this issue?


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