Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

...celebrating every swee​t pea their birth


Still Tandem Nursing

Posted on July 21, 2012 at 6:49 AM
"This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Blog Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Timbra Wiist landslidephotography {at} hotmail {dot} com. Today's post is about weaning. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed in the comments section at www.breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com The Carnival runs July 16th through the 31st!"    

My mom’s four experiences of weaning from the breast were all unique.  Knowing this, I expected that each of our children would follow their own schedule.  Our first child and I had a mutual cessation when she was around 22-months old.  We chose an emergency weaning with our second child.  We got pregnant sooner than we expected and I was having too many contractions when I nursed.  We reasoned that it was a better choice to preserve the pregnancy than to continue nursing our son – he was already 15 months old when he was weaned over a course of three days. 

I was determined that I would learn more about tandem nursing so that our next child could choose the time of his weaning if I got pregnant while he was still nursing.  I imagined that I would nurse him until he was at least two years old.  I did get pregnant while he was still nursing – that birthday arrived when I was around six months pregnant with our fourth baby.  

His second birthday came and went.  He was still nursing.  My due date approached…he was still nursing.  Our baby was born…he wanted nothing to do with me for three days.  Then he climbed on our bed, nonchalant as if he had not been ignoring me for three days, and asked to nurse. 

When I set a goal to nurse through a pregnancy, I did not think about what would happen if he nursed until the baby was born.  We established some parameters: he could nurse after the baby nursed.  He would have to respect my countdown from 10-1 if I chose to end the nursing session.  He would have to give up the breast if the baby woke up and needed to nurse.  The last one was that I would only nurse him at home. 

He bought into all the qualifiers…he is about to turn three years old in a few days and he is still nursing!  It is usually only once a day, either in the morning when he wakes up or in the evening before bedtime.  Occasionally, he still asks to nurse when we are in public, even when he knows by now that he is going to get a “no” answer.  I give him props for persistence! 

 I started a firestorm on my facebook page when I posted a picture of myself nursing our two-and-a-half year old son after the “Mom Enough” Time Magazine edition.  I captioned the photo by saying, “I am the mom that I am, and this choice works for our family.”  I was surprised to see that extended breastfeeding is still taboo in our country, and I credit that to the way breasts are perceived in our society:  toys first, function follows as a distant second.  By the same token, I took heart in the positive comments of support for making the choice that worked for our family.

Most of the negative comments on the photo were around the belief that extended nursing turns into an incestuous relationship.  I am sad to say that this weighed on me and I questioned myself for a few weeks.  Then I went back to my “mothering truths”:  Did I believe that this was right for our family? (Yes)  Did I have any issues around nursing our toddler? (Not at home) Did our toddler behave in such a way that would lead us to believe that he was suffering? (No)  What did my instincts tell me? (I am okay, he is okay)  Since my conclusion was that we were doing no harm, I meditated on that and let go of the shame I felt.

Going forward, I do not have any concerns that this is going to be weird for us or that he is going to be scarred for life. I do not think our son looks at me as a sex object.  It is a proven fact that the milk changes to accommodate a toddler’s needs, and I am so happy to see the proof that he is healthier for nursing.  Whenever a “bug” runs through the family, our toddler and our baby are the least affected by it, if at all.  He is fiercely independent despite the fact he still wants a daily connection with his mama. 

I also had one of our students (turned friend) who is an early childhood educator post that children do not start forming long-term memories until they are four-years old.  Our toddler treats me like his mother and he knows I have milk.  That is it.  To put the idea that nursing a toddler is sexual to rest, I post this meme: 

Now that it is his birthday month, I remind him that he is going to turn three soon.  I ask him when he is going to stop drinking my milk to see when I get a different answer.  His answer, for now, is the classic hands out to the side, palms turned up with an added shoulder shrug. 

I do not know when he is going to wean completely.  Sometime he will go 2-3 days without nursing and I think he might be done, and surprise!  Then he remembers that he likes to nurse and he is asking for milk again.  It has been an interesting tour into the land of tandem nursing, and one that has stretched me as a lactivist.  I believe in peaceful discussions, and I can only tell people that this choice works for us. 

We will continue down this journey together for a while longer.  My hope is that he will wean himself and that it will be a sweet parting.  I know he will not be breastfeeding when he is in college, so sometime before then will be great! 

More about our tandem nursing experience here

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Categories: Breastfeeding, Tandem Nursing, Weaning

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