It was always my intention to nurse Rainbow for “a minimum of two years”. The American Pediatrics Association suggests one year minimum, while the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests two. Dairy allergies run in my family and I had been told by the local La Leche League leader that if I was to hold off on introducing dairy until she was two it would increase her odds of not being allergic
All of these were great excuses to offer to inquiring friends and family, but the real reason was it just felt right. And having read up on breastfeeding, I knew how important it was, in so many ways. Then we reached her second birthday, and I realized that everyone expected me to stop nursing her. Despite the added pressure I was feeling, I was still in no hurry.
When she turned two I started cutting out her first thing in the morning nurse. Distraction was my main technique, that and an earlier breakfast. After that we just sort of gradually fell into a pattern where she was only nursing twice a day, just before naptime and just before bedtime.
I nursed throughout my pregnancy and I was prepared to tandem nurse. I had read up about it. I had gone to La Leche League meetings to ask questions (For instance did you know your breast can actually tell the difference in the sucking of a newborn and a toddler and dispenses different milk to each? That’s amazing, right?)
As I got further along in the pregnancy it wasn’t always comfortable to sit with a twenty-some pound toddler on my lap for twenty to forty minutes at a time. We often ended up lying down in my bed to nurse. Once she was done I would scoop her up and carry her to her crib, or if she was awake I would ask her if she wanted to walk or be carried. Then near the very end of my pregnancy it became, “Ok kiddo you have to walk to your crib and I’ll lift you in.”
She became more interested in getting the perfect set-up to nurse lying down. She would squirm around trying to find just the right angle to both hold my hair and nurse. She would spend five maddening minutes wiggling around getting set up. Then she would nurse for thirty seconds or maybe a minute tops, and then say, “All done. Now it’s snuggle time!”
She was obviously growing more interested in the snuggles that went along with nursing, then the act of nursing itself. I have heard that as you get further along in your pregnancy the taste can change and be off-putting to some babes. Maybe that’s why she was nursing less and less. Or maybe it was just her time to wean.
One week before the new baby was born we moved Rainbow from her crib to a “big girl bed”. She had already slept several times in a big bed when staying overnight at her grandparents, so I new she was ready. However I was surprised to find she had a new bedtime routine in mind. She didn’t want to nurse before bed. She just wanted to read a book and be tucked in. I was a little surprised, but I was also incredibly tired and focused on the soon to be new babe, so I didn’t question it.
I assumed that once the baby was born and she saw me nursing her little sister she’d want in on the action. She surprised me again. Though she did ask to nurse a handful of times after Rocket was born, each time she’d latch on and then ten seconds later beam up at me and say “All done!”. I think it was more about wanting to know if I would still let her nurse, then actually wanting to drink milk.
Weaning? Like so many things in this household, it just sort of happened. When Rainbow weaned herself she was about 2 years 7 months old. Though the final decision to completely stop felt abrupt, overall it was relatively gradual and she came to it in her own way and in her own time.
When I started did I think I would nurse for 31 months? No. I just had a stubborn goal of two years in my mind. When it comes down to it I think, no matter how long you nurse your wee ones, the main thing is to wean slowly and let your child help lead the way. It just seems ridiculous to me to abruptly go from nursing all the time one day to not nursing at all on the next, merely because you reached a specific date. Whether that date be six months, or one year, or two.
So what’s the story at your place? How long did you nurse for? Did you initiate weaning or did your child? Were you sorry it was over, or relieved to be done?