This is one in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, Dionna from Code Name: Mama. Dionna, who is nursing through her second pregnancy, offers the gentle steps she's taken to minimize access to the breast during the night while protecting the breastfeeding relationship with her son.
Guest post by Dionna from Code Name: Mama
Many women understandably night wean during pregnancy to give themselves a break from daytime feeds, to get more rest, to prepare for the new baby, etc. But because Kieran only nurses at night, I knew that if I night weaned when I got pregnant, I'd likely end up weaning Kieran prematurely. On the other hand, I've been craving more space for myself at night - both because of my growing belly, and because of the nursing "heebie jeebies" many pregnant mothers experience.
I was nervous — how could I reduce Kieran's nighttime nursing habits (which are, admittedly, more for comfort than for nutrition, especially now that my milk is gone) without inadvertently weaning him? Here are some of the gentle ways I reduced Kieran's access to the breast at night. So far, so good — he still nurses to sleep, and he still occasionally (though not nearly as often) wants to nurse throughout the night — but he is not night weaned.
- I Ended the Falling-Asleep-Aid Twiddling Habit: Kieran has been a twiddler for years, and as a result, he's come to associate twiddling as part of his falling asleep routine. Helping Kieran learn better nursing habits was painful (there was crying involved, and it took about two weeks of concentrated effort), but the rewards have been infinitely worth it. Not only has it helped relieve my nipple pain and nursing aversion, but it's also resulted in Kieran not waking as much during the night (and consequently nursing back down). For gentle tips on how to help your older nursling relearn good nursing habits, see "Twiddle Me That."
- I Removed Easy Access: I used to keep both sides of my nursing tank top down all night. Now when he's nursed to sleep, I pull them up (without hooking them). When he stirs at night, he sometimes roots around, but when he doesn't immediately find a breast he gives up and rolls over. The drawback is that if he really does need to nurse, it will take him an extra minute to settle, but it's been worth it in order to help reassure me that he can truly settle himself more often than I would have suspected.
- I Give Him Verbal Reassurance: Before I do pull down my tank top so that he can nurse back down, I usually try to verbally calm him and get him back to sleep. Saying something like "roll over, baby, let's go back to sleep" often does the trick — along with my snuggling up behind him. Or if I'm in a particularly cranky mood, I've also said "no mama milk right now, roll over and go back to sleep." He might fuss for a few seconds, but he often settles himself down. If he doesn't settle down, I give up and nurse him.
If you need a break at night but are reluctant to night wean, there are gentle ways to reduce the number of times your nursling nurses. For more ideas on gently decreasing night feedings (and on ultimately night weaning, if you're so inclined), here are a few resources:
- Gently Night Weaning the Breastfed, Cosleeping Toddler at NaturalParentsNetwork.com
- Night Weaning at kellymom.com
- Night Weaning: 12 Alternatives for the All-Night Nurser at AskDrSears.com
Did you reduce night feedings or night wean? Share your gentle tips in the comments!
Dionna is a lawyer turned work at home mama of her amazing son, Kieran. You can normally find Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with a toddler/preschooler. Dionna is due with baby number two at the end of November, and she is continually thankful that Lauren had her second child first!
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