Baby Led Weaning - Are You Mom Enough?
Baby led weaning was an experience I never thought I’d have. My earlier tries at breastfeeding were not ideal. I ended up weaning well within the 6 month recommended minimum.
With the birth of my next to last child, I vowed to stick it out past 6 months. I’m happy to report that we actually made it to 18 months! My son weaned rather abruptly at the time. My husband was hinting that he wanted him to wean so I just counted it as a blessing and didn’t think much of it. It was only later when I found out I was pregnant that I started to put the pieces together. I realized that my son had probably been forced to wean early because my milk had changed and wasn’t appealing to him anymore. As I look back on those last days of his nursing experience I remember that he did seem fussy at the breast. I remember feeling bewildered at his pushing away. He had never done that before. I can see now in hindsight that he was just reacting to the different taste in milk as my body geared up for its pregnancy stage. I don’t blame him for pushing away either. I can imagine that suddenly tasting something salty when all you’ve had was sweet would be quite shocking.
I’m currently nursing my youngest daughter who just celebrated her second birthday. As I look back on our breastfeeding journey it seems so long ago when I wanted to take my breast off and feed her from it as a separate entity from my body and nerve endings. Those early days of nipple soreness while nursing were SO HARD! I would cry through it and try to prolong that initial latch-on period. It posed quite a dilemma. I didn’t want to do it, but I wanted to do it and she needed me to do it. It was just crazy.
When we finally did get better at it, I was so happy to latch her on. I nursed discreetly in my baby carriers, not-so-discreetly at the park and while she napped on her Boppy. Those Boppy times are the ones I appreciated the most as it allowed me time to be online and catch up with other Mamas. I LOVED nursing at the keyboard (NAK) knowing that I was killing two birds with one stone!
As my baby has grown, she has outgrown the need for a Boppy pillow. I don’t need to make sure we’re in the proper position for latch-on. This also means I don’t have the luxury of nursing at the keyboard quite as easily. She usually can even sit right next to me while nursing, snuggled up in a side-hugging position. Often throughout the day, she will just come to stand and nurse where I’m sitting for a few minutes and be on her way again. She often leaves looking back with a big smile on her face.
Baby led weaning has also brought about nursing to sleep. Our daughter doesn’t usually go to sleep on her own even at this age. I’ve found ways to continue to nurse her to sleep without having to be in bed with her myself. I just hold her while watching T.V. or start NAK and then transfer her to our bed. Since I usually am up later than the childrens’ bedtime, she will continue to sleep on her own and I can get things done. She will, however, wake up in the middle of the night for us to night nurse. While I’m sleeping this isn’t a bother. Since we co-sleep, she just roots around in her half-sleep-half-awake daze, finds her boobie and we both fall back to sleep. If I’m still awake though, this can get very distracting. I border on irritation at times as I am interrupted from my daily me time (after everyone’s gone to bed) to nurse her back to sleep. I’ve noticed that at certain times during the night she just won’t stay asleep by herself. I’ll have to come up with an awkward position (for me) to nurse her in while I’m attending to things that require me being seated. It’s at these times when I wonder how long will this go on??!? When will she have enough!?!?!This is driving me crazy!!!!!
Then I look at my son who was basically kicked off the boob and see how much he misses those nursing times. He comes by when I’m nursing my daughter and tries to put his head where hers is. Sometimes he’ll also just come by and lift up my shirt while cuddling. I know I don’t want to kick her off just so I can be a bit more comfortable. I know she still needs the comfort and nourishment breastfeeding brings to her.
One of the most interesting things to watch is how my husband is changing his views on baby led weaning. With our son, he was staunchly opposed to nursing past a year and a half. With our daughter reaching two and not showing any signs of weaning, I’ve seen him accept it and even revel in it. He interacts with her playfully even while she’s nursing, which is right up her alley.
He’s so comfortable with our breastfeeding, I don’t even think we’ll need to apply the techniques I’ve heard other Moms use like getting your young one used to Daddy soothing them during the day so a change of the guard so-to-speak at night can happen more smoothly. I definitely know we are not going the route of leaving her to cry herself to sleep. We’ve been contending for the peace in our home by co-sleeping and night time breastfeeding for this long, it’d be such an about face to force her to just give it up cold turkey.
So, I guess we are just going to wait it out and see when baby led weaning naturally happens for our little one. She’s still so content and I so enjoy waking up to my nursing toddler in the mornings.
As for the question, “Am I Mom Enough”, I see the expectant face of my toddler when she comes to me and watch her leave satisfied as she gets the comfort she seeks. I’d say that’s a validation I can live with.
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