Monday, August 15, 2011

Breastfeeding with Community

Last Saturday I got a haircut. Check it out!

But that's not what this post is about. This post is actually about something my hairdresser told me. This is what she told me: "I sent someone to your blog yesterday because they are nursing their 15 month old and are getting pressure from friends and family to wean and I thought about you."

So with the prospect of someone new reading (hello, mystery person!) I thought I'd talk a little about what has helped me in my toddler nursing journey. You can read books and blogs, and those are really helpful! I did enjoy Mothering Your Nursing Toddler when I read it the first time and I have a reader full of breastfeeding-related blogs. But lately I have been feeling really lonely as a mom nursing a 3 year old. On one of those days a few weeks ago,  I realized what I was missing: other nursing moms.

Now, I do have some moms I hang out with. Our local LLL group has a playgroup and there are a couple of other nursing toddlers Margaret's age. We go to that playgroup, but it feels like everywhere else I go I'm the odd one out- and I live just a few blocks out of Berkeley! You'd think there would be nursing toddlers on every corner or something.

In Utah it was so easy to nurse Margaret. There were definitely not nursing toddlers on every corner, but I had a close knit group of friends and role models to look to. Moms there nursed their 2, 3, 4, 5 year olds. When I felt out of place nursing an 18 month old in other places in my life, I just looked around and saw that my 18 month old was just a baby.

We've been in California a little over a year and I do have some friends who nurse their children for many years, but Margaret's at that age when even her nursing friends are slowly weaning. She's not anywhere near weaning. Well, she might be. It really depends on the day. Two weeks ago, she was nursing 5 times a night and now she's already down to once and sometimes not at all (I've actually woken her up to nurse because I'm full and need her to nurse!) But the way she begs and begs me to nurse during the day, I'm pretty sure we'll be doing this for a while yet.

It's like we're in nursing limbo. It's really strange. Anyone else in this boat with me? And can you come over for a playdate?


  1. You are not alone! (Although I can't come play, because I live up near Seattle.)

    Seattle is a *very* BFing friendly town, but sometimes I still feel a little alone in nursing my 26mo old in public. I have a number of friends who still nurse 2+ yr olds, but mostly at home, out of the public eye.

    It doensn't make me think of weaning my son or anything. I'm totally confident nursing wherever or whenever we want to, but I notice how rarely I see it.

    So tonight when we took my son to a parent/tot gymnastics class (one we don't usually go to, so I didn't know anyone there) and I saw a mom nursing her 2yr old there before class I did say something to her later. Kind of a "Awesome! So glad to see another mom doing it in public!" and we ended up chatting about it for a few minutes. I think it benefited us both. Turns out she has wanted to wean for a while, but knows her daughter isn't ready, so she's "dealing with it." I got to tell her how I figured out setting new boundaries that work for both of us (like he gets to nurse through one alphabet song on each boo-boo, or until mommy counts to 10, or whatever I think I can handle at the moment). And she was so excited to hear that!

    I love that I may have helped a mom go from feeling like a martyr for nursing back to feeling like a partner. I hope she finds something that works for her and allows their nursing relationship to keep evolving.

    It is so important to have that community! Thanks for providing a virtual branch for all of us! :-)

  2. Not exactly in the same boat and I can't come and play, however I'm still nursing my almost 2.5 yr old. And she is an avid nurser so I have a feeling we'll be doing this for a while longer.

    Since the new reader is getting pressure perhaps she could site the WHO recommendation of at least 2 yrs, and read "Mothering Your Breastfeeding Toddler" to collect more info on how continuing to bf is helpful. And if they keep questioning, practice saying, "This is what works for us right now. Pass the bean dip."

  3. I feel like I am in the same place. I am nursing my 3 1/2 year old and my 21 month old. My older nursling seems no where near weaning. Sometimes I feel so ready to wean but he is very insistent on having milk. I can't imagine nursing a 4 or 5 year old but I don't see that weaning is going to happen anytime soon. I don't know anyone who is nursing their child this old. It would be great to have a few friends who have been here but I feel I am on my own. I would love to come for a playdate but I too live far away.

  4. I know how you feel! I moved to a small town in northern California after living near Portland OR for a few years. I had lots of friends there who tandem nursed and nursed 4, 5, even 6 year olds. But not here. :( Here I'm lucky to find anyone who nurses until a year. I have had a few moms sheepishly tell me that they nursed until 18 months or 2 years and I quickly reassured them that they won't get any raised eyebrows from me- I nursed my oldest until she was 4.5 and am still nursing my 3 year old along with me 7 month old. Then they look at me like I'm nuts. I even started a breastfeeding support group in the hopes of meeting and helping other moms and after several months of trying and advertising, still no one showed up! The ONE lactation consultant in town told me that it's just part of the culture here- mom's don't even want to nurse or hold their babies.

    So anyway, no you're not along in nursing your toddler, no I can't come play, but I do understand.

  5. I don't know anyone personally who is nursing their toddler, though I know plenty of other bloggers, some of whom are in Utah... I think.

    It's actually very strange. The entire time I've been attending UVU (starting last August) I have only seen one other mom breastfeed, and she wasn't a student... just visiting her husband who was.

    I haven't had anybody ask me when I'm weaning my son since he was around 15 months old. I don't know that we'll make it to three, but I hope we last until the new baby at least.

  6. Claire is only 26 months, but I already feel like that! She asks constantly and I do put limits on it now or offer food/water but she still nurses 10-12 times a day. And we would love a playdate :)Even the LLL here is tiny, and while I do know a few of the older kids breastfeed, I haven't seen it.

  7. This has been a hot topic around our house lately. Asher turned 3 a month ago and suddenly Jared is pushing really hard for him to wean. I admit that if Asher wanted to wean, I'd be totally ok with that, but I also feel very strongly that I don't want to force him. We have set limits and he was down to once a day for awhile but then he got sick and now he's back to 3-5 times a day. I'm going to try to get him back to once or twice a day but I hate that this is causing conflict with Jared. He's been so supportive up until now. Sigh.

  8. I'm not trying to be rude...but why would you wake your child up in the middle of the night to nurse? How long you want to nurse you children is up to you. But I think its kind of weird that you would wake her to nurse her. If you get engorged and your child stops nursing at night your body will adjust after a few days and you won't need to nurse during the night. And why not use a breast pump instead of waking your child who should be sleeping through the night? It just doesn't make sense to me. What do you plan on doing when your children are ready to be done nursing all together but you are engorged? Make them nurse any way??

  9. She actually doesn't wake up. She latches on in her sleep. I'm not messing up her sleep at all, actually. There are lots of reasons a person might want to nurse in the middle of the night: dehydrated or sick child, engorgement, among others. As far as my body adjusting, I know that, but I like not being fertile. Why not use a breast pump? They're expensive, and I don't want to wake up either! Scooting over to a kid in a bed isn't going to wake me up and mess up my sleep cycles as much as getting up, going to a different room and turning on a light, sitting down and getting a pump set up and sitting there for 20 minutes. It's far easier to roll over, scoot to a sleeping kid who latches on in her sleep and fall back to sleep without fully waking.

    I know my kids will stop, and I promise you, there's no way to force a toddler to nurse! If Margaret doesn't want to nurse, she won't and I couldn't make her! But she loves nursing and even adults get up for a drink in the middle of the night, so I don't think it's too far fetched to think a kid would too.


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