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.

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10 Responses to “Maybe I Should Send Him To Milkaholics Annonymous”

  1. LAM says:

    A friend of mine just weaned her 2.5 year old because of the pregnancy/related pain associated with nursing. Different circumstances, because her daughter eats okay (although she has really upped her food intake since weaning).

    What they did was talk a LOT about weaning. My friend would distract upon the first request to nurse (but would go ahead and nurse if that didn’t work). They had a fun weaning party (talked it up beforehand), and her daughter got a fish to take care of after she went 5 days without nursing. The daughter has since asked to nurse, but pops off almost immediately with a disgusted look on her face (I guess because the milk taste is changing).

    I am still nursing an almost three year old who won’t drink milk. She does drink lots of water, though, so dehydration isn’t an issue. We just make sure she gets lots of other calcium. Does baby E like the YoBaby yogurt drinks? In the winter DD did like “helping” me to make hot cocoa. I warmed up cow’s milk and she got to put as much chocolate (organic, non-hydrogenated) :) syrup as she wanted.

    The “big girl” thing works really well on 2 year olds – not so sure about E. But another tactic that I’ve been trying to use is to talk about other animals that nurse and wean when they grow up. (I’m kind of sort of trying to wean.)

    Regarding the association of weaning with the new baby – it IS possible you could wean E now, and that he can begin to nurse again when the baby arrives.

    Reading over this I realize I’ve not been much help. Sorry :(

    Good luck. I hope you can figure out something that works for you!

  2. Mindy says:

    I just wanted to leave you a note saying I feel for you and I have confidence that you’ll be able to come up with the solution you need. Both my babies were nursed until 13 and 14 months (it took me 1 & 2 months respectively to wean after a year) By 1, though, they were at 2 feedings. I think our choices about nursing are different, but I support you in yours. The only advice I can really give, for what it’s worth, is that day time feedings were the easiest to let go of and replace. Since my kids don’t nurse to sleep as they get older (if I nurse when hungry, not to soothe as they get older, this has someone how worked and they usually nurse when they wake up instead) I’ve found that letting go of night time next and then morning last has worked. Not sure if that helps at all. Best wishes, mama!

  3. erniebufflo says:

    I’m not a nursing mom, or a doctor, BUT: I’d talk to an expert about using soy. Soy can be an estrogen mimicker, and can “feminize” boys, causing all sorts of problems.

  4. I have absolutely no experience with nursing or weaning, but maybe if you let him nurse a little first then try a sippy cup of cows milk and some solid food that might help? Maybe if he nursed a little first to take the ‘edge’ off his hunger, he would be willing to eat food/drink milk? Or have you tried this and it still results in screaming and throwing things?

    Also, about juice – Ivy loves white grape juice it’s super sweet (I buy the Apple and Eve 100% juice stuff and always dilute it w/ water). Has Baby E tried it yet?

  5. lalaland13 says:

    Hmm. I’ve never nursed anybody, either. And I think it’s awesome that you’re so committed to this. But remember Baby Evan isn’t the only one you have to make happy here-I think you know that, but when you say, “Now don’t go resenting anyone!” I keep thinking you’re starting to sound really frustrated and maybe even resentful yourself. Maybe you’re not, and I apologize if I’m misreading this, because I think you’re doing great with Baby E and I know you want to do great with Sandy whenever he/she arrives.

    I know that doesn’t help with the screaming, though. Is there a cry it out option for nursing? I know that sounds weird, but if there’s one for sleeping, maybe there’s one for nursing? Just to get him down to not-infant levels of nursing? Because dang, Evan, you need to give momma her boobs back. There’s gonna be a second kid, soon, and she’ll have two babies and two boobs, and you’re gonna have to share.

  6. Sarah says:

    Quickly, b/c I’m on my out the door… 1) The pain may go away in a few weeks – it was worst around 2 months pg for me both times, and faded entirely by 3ish months. 2) Nora didn’t ever take a bottle or sippy of anything at all until about 2-3 weeks after she weaned herself (when I was 5 mo pg). I worried about dehydration and nutrition a lot during those weeks, but she turned out ok. 3) Josie stopped nursing for a couple of days around 5 months pg, but then apparently decided that the changed taste was ok with her, started again, and nursed until she weaned herself when I was 8 mo. 4) Vanilla rice milk tastes the most like breastmilk. I’d avoid soy for the estrogen reasons, as someone else mentioned.
    Good luck!! See you tomorrow? I still have E’s sippy.

  7. Amy says:

    What luck! I am in the process of weaning my 12 month old daughter. But, I think it has been easier for us so far because I work outside the home so she gets bottles while at day care (her grandparents). I have been able to reduce the number of times I pump at work from 3 to 1 in the last 2 weeks. This past weekend was somewhat difficult because Mia really gets angry when it has been longer than 4 hours since she nursed and we are down to only 4 sessions a day now (she STTN). She does great on solids though and will drink water from a sippy whenever I offer it. We are going to try thawed milk from a sippy this week (I have lots saved up in the freezer).
    I don’t really have any helpful information for you as my situation is completely different, but we can digitally share the struggle of weaning at the same time.

  8. halfg1rl says:

    What helped me wean my baby girl was giving her warmed cows milk in a sippy cup. since breastmilk is always warm, plus she likes to have just a little chocolate added, not much but just to make the flavor a little different. She doesn’t always get the chocolate, but loves her milk to be warm especially right before bed, helps her sleep through the night.

  9. oh, poor dear! i just want to say i TOTALLY understand & empathize with you on the pain front – i had chronic pain in both boobs the entire 7+ months i exclusively breastfed poppy. it was awful, and the ONLY thing that kept me going was the health benefits i knew she was receiving from my milk. that’s not to say i didn’t grip the sheets on my bed and cry while i pumped (i mean shit, i had to wear TWO bras back then, even to bed, because of my crazy nipple pain! aack!)

    i know you’re truly enjoying baby led weaning, but would you consider feeding evan from a spoon for things like yogurt? poppy absolutely will NOT feed herself “messy” things like yogurt or pasta with sauce, but LOVES eating them from a spoon when i feed her. it could be something to try so his belly gets more full between nursing sessions…

    also, i personally give poppy organic soy milk as her main milk. she seems to be slightly lactose intolerant and my physician assured me that soy is a fine choice for her. i also agree that it tastes much closer to breast milk than cow’s milk does!

    what kinds of sippy cups have you tried with evan? i tried 3 before poppy found one she really bonded with – there are so many kinds, perhaps evan would like the toddler-style with a straw, or a really soft top like the nuby ones? anyway, just trying to run though ideas that may conceivably be helpful! because i know exactly how much super-painful breastfeeding sucks (heh, sucks!) and also how strong the will can be to keep it going!

    well my dear, i’m thinking of ya and hoping that things get easier for you one way or another. hugs, mama! xoxoxo.

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