Maybe I Should Send Him To Milkaholics Annonymous
I feel like I need to start with a disclaimer: This post is not part of the breastfeeding/formula debate. My choice on that matter was made a long time ago and I fell firmly on the breast side of the fence. I struggled, I cried, I fought and after almost FOUR MONTHS of problems, with a very supportive LC and a lot of luck I made breastfeeding work for us. I now attend a weekly breastfeeding support group, at which I am one of the “veteran” mothers who give advice to those just starting out. I have nursed Baby Evan successfully and exclusively for his entire life. I would even go so far as to say I am a lactivist, especially when I compare my opinions to many of the posts and articles I see online. My original goal of nursing for 1 year was extended to 2 years a long time ago.
All that being said, I NEED MY BOOBS BACK.
Did you know that when you’re pregnant, the volume of blood in your body doubles? All that extra blood flow can lead to a lot of changes – both good and bad. You can use you imagination on the good stuff. (If you need any more details shoot me an email, I’d be happy to explain.) But thanks to increased sensitivity my nipples now feel like they’re being pierced with dull yet burning hot needles by someone who sucks at piercing things every time Baby Evan nurses. Let me tell you, it’s not very fun. I’d rate it somewhere between root canal with no Novocaine and having a toenail ripped out with pliers.
As far as I know, there really isn’t any way to alter this pain level, unless I were to rely on heavy narcotics. Which I don’t think is a real option. It’s not a matter of a better latch or a new way to hold him or teaching him not to bite. We’ve got all that down. The only way to stop it from hurting would be to stop nursing.
And there’s my problem. Baby Evan still nurses like an infant – every 3 or 4 hours with a couple of 6 hour stretches a night. I don’t mind morning, bedtime or even naptime nursing – there are enough hours between those that my nipples get a chance to recover. But I both CAN’T and DON’T WANT to stop nursing Baby Evan completely. I CAN’T because despite his ever increasing acceptance of solid food, Baby Evan still doesn’t eat nearly enough to count as a meal – especially not a well balanced one. French fries, animal crackers and an occasional bean or bite of apple is not lunch. At least as long as he’s nursing I know he’s not going become malnourished or obese. He still wants his milk when he’s hungry and offering other options just gets food thrown in my face and an earful of angry screaming. He never got the hang of a bottle – he’s too old for one now – and cups are usually played with and then thrown on the floor. He also doesn’t get any other liquids (although we did convince him to drink half a sippy cup of juice* this weekend) so I’d be worried about dehydration if I suddenly stopped nursing. I don’t WANT to stop because I set a goal of at least 2 years per kid. I don’t want to end my nursing relationship with Baby Evan just because of this pregnancy. I don’t think that’s a good way to introduce a new sibling to our family – “Say hi to Baby Sandy! No more milk for you! Now don’t go resenting anybody!”
Clearly, weaning him entirely isn’t in our immediate future**, but what I need is advice on how to gently lead a baby towards solids and away from the boob. We’ve past the point where I would need to use formula – my doctor OK’d starting him on whole (preferably organic) milk – but is there an easier transition? Maybe soy milk? It’s closer in consistency and flavor to breastmilk. Do I try to shorten our nursing sessions? Do I force solids on him despite the screaming and throwing? Please help a mama out.
*OK, so it wasn’t juice. It was Crystal Light. But it was orange flavored and I did water it down quite a bit some. Go ahead and judge, things are pretty desperate around here.
**I am clinging to the stories I’ve heard of toddlers who suddenly lost interest in nursing around the 5 month mark of pregnancy due to a change in milk flavor. If I KNEW the end(ish) was within sight I think I grit my teeth through the next 3 months.