“A wise mother knows: it is her state of consciousness that matters. Her gentleness and clarity demand respect. Her love creates security.” ~ Vimala McClure
In my quest to give Peaches the best upbringing possible I discovered the idea of extended nursing along with it’s numerous health benefits. I planned on nursing her until she decided we stop: hopefully around four years old or so.
But plans, sadly, don’t always work out.
I heartbroken when my supply dried up in the second trimester of my pregnancy with Star. Peach was only fifteen months old and I felt like I was cheating her out of this amazing gift God designed.
For those who don’t know, breastfeeding has many unique benefits for baby and momma, including but not limited to:
- Probiotics (over 600 different strains), antibodies, and white blood cells which help in preventing allergies, skin conditions, illnesses, gut/digestive health, as well as strengthening the whole body.
- Tailor-made milk if your baby gets sick; your baby’s saliva will tell your body exactly what he needs in the breast milk to get better. Your breastmilk can also tell what stage of growth/development she is in and will adjust its properties accordingly.
- Helps overcome post partum depression, strengthens the bond between mother and child, provides a sense of security, as well as promotes sleep as nursing is readily available.
- Aids in shedding baby weight and encourages post partum contractions to help the uterus retract to its former size.
- Easily assessable, no prep time, no bottles, and it’s free!
Hearing mixed takes on tandem nursing and reintroducing breastfeeding to a babe after a dry spell, I was nervous. I went ahead and gave it a shot, though. 😉
First impression? Peaches was never going to breastfeed again.
My now 20 month old Peach was having none of it. I offered to nurse her immediately after every feeding with her sister Star, but the answer was always no. I got the impression that she was nervous about nursing again, so I started a new approach. Whenever we were nursing somewhere private and comfortable I would leave both breasts out: one to nurse little Star and the other if Peaches decided she wanted to nurse. I also gave her breastmilk I had pumped, because if she chose not to nurse again I still wanted her to get that huge heath boost. I didn’t ask her if she wanted to nurse anymore, but pretty soon she was in my lap acting interested (fiddling with the nipple, trying to hand-express milk like I do when I am too full).
I began offering to nurse her again, and within a week she said yes.
Then we ran into another issue: Peaches had forgotten how to nurse. She would imitate her sister’s latch, but wouldn’t suck. I was discouraged, but kept letting her try. When she “latched” sometimes I would express a little milk in her mouth, while other times I would make sucking sounds in an attempt to show her what to do. Peach thought the latter was hysterical.
The more she watched little Star nurse though, the better grasp she seemed to get on nursing. Peach started nursing normally right after her sister turned one month old.
And she bit. Hard.
Her teeth dug into my poor nipples, her snaggle tooth being particularly excruciating.
It was awful, but we got over it via a method I like to call, “Release, Teach, and Repeat.”
Everytime she bit me, I unlatched her, explained why, waited a bit, and then relatched with a soft “gentle, now.”
This method probably isn’t the fastest way to get a child to quit biting while nursing, but here is why I chose it:
1. We were both still nervous about breastfeeding again. I was worried she would decide she didn’t want to continue after all, while she was still getting used to the new idea.
2. I didn’t want to lose the fun aspect of nursing. It is a time for momma and baby to relax (well, at least for baby to relax) and enjoy each other’s snuggles. I didn’t want anything about it to feel forced or be upsetting.
3. While the method isn’t the fastest, I feel like it solidifies the idea not to bite more effectively than other methods. If she is not gentle, we don’t nurse. That’s all there is to it.
The last issue we have dealt with so far is novelty, which I will go more in depth on in my article, “Tandem Nursing for Dummies.” I will warn you now, though, to be prepared for lots of fussing and tantrums from your toddler when you are not nursing until the “new” feeling goes away. We have now been nursing steadily for almost three weeks, so the novelty is starting to wear off. I feel a little less crazy now there is not constant crying, whining, tugging, yelling, stomping, pulling my shirt down, etc going on in the home.
All children are beautifully and wonderfully created individuals, so do not be discouraged if what I did does not work for your son or daughter. Find out what works best for your family and go from there. 🙂
Also, I feel it is important to note you should never force a child to nurse. Nursing is, among other things, a special bond between mother and child meant to calm and solidify trust between the two. Attempting to force breastfeeding can have the opposite effect and scare your baby. I am very lucky that Peaches wanted to continue nursing as I did – some babies will decide never to nurse again after a dry spell.
It doesn’t make you less of a parent to be unable to nurse anymore. You should feel proud for trying, and confident that, whatever the outcome, you are doing what is best for your child.
I have been very blessed to get to continue nursing Peaches. My husband works incredibly hard so I can be a stay at home mom to the girls. It gives me a lot more time to experiment and try new things.
Do you have a breastfeeding story to share? Please comment below! If you like this article subscribe for more. 😉
Some helpful information on breastmilk: