I have wanted to quit breastfeeding several times. There have been times my daughter as a toddler has nursed for three hours at a time. It’s not the same as the newborn or infant nursing where the baby is literally eating for the entire time. I did hear a mom at Le Leche Legue say that sometimes the toddler will nurse out of boredom. That day I was trying to work on the computer and Jessica seemed to want my attention and nursing fulfilled her desire for my attention.
The first problem for me was the lack of sleep. I had to do something about that for her sake and mine. No more waking up at 1, 3, or 4 am to nurse. I will now only go to get her after about 5 am for that early morning nursing.
My second challenge was not being able to clean the house. This really frustrated my husband. He thought I was putting my blog first and not the house but really it was that Jessica just didn’t want me to put her down for long stretches of time. I recently read most of the book entitled Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Jean Bungarner and I love how this book has affirmed and confirmed what I was doing by continuing to nurse my toddler. One quote about cleaning the house says, “When we turn away from a crying child in order to clean a carpet – or to buy a new one—we can be sure that our values are backwards.” Pg. 3 confirmation! My husband must read this!
Another issue I had was just feeling drained from the non-stop demand of my daughter. Norma Jean says, “It is often an intense and demanding occupation for about two years—maybe one, maybe three—through nursing may continue at a more relaxed pace for much longer.” Pg. 5
This author goes on to talk about how with tantrums and bedtimes can be difficult and nursing makes the job of mothering easier not harder. I have found this to be true. My daughter is demanding without nursing.
My daughter is just clingly even if I didn’t breastfeed I think my daughter would need more attention than other children or babies. I felt that from the beginning when I brought her to church and she seemed so confident reaching out to other babies. I didn’t realize that through nursing I was meeting innate attachment needs. “They cling because that is a basic need in itself…the best way to help our children grow toward emotional maturity…is to meet their needs to be dependent and clingy while the children are little…nursing goes a long way towards fulfilling your child’s dependency needs…the freely nursing toddler is getting the bulk of his dependency needs met and is going to show the independence his personality and development allow.” Pg. 35
Even though the author of the book I have quoting from says that most mothers will not have a problem feeling depleted from nursing, I have. I felt the most depleted when I was sick with food poisoning, or viruses. The book says, “Only in a severely undernourished mother would there be need to worry about nursing’s drain on her physical resources.” Pg. 51
During times of illness I have gotten IV vitamins which have helped me to feel better and become better nourished. Being a mother can be draining and its not just related to nursing. One last thought from this great book that I highly recommend is, “Mothering preschool children is quite a drain on mother, yet nursing is not an added drain, but one way to make that mother job easier.” Pg. 52
I don’t know how long I will nurse but I can say I am grateful for every day and every moment nursing my daughter. It has been a challenge in every way from the beginning. I have persevered and I pray that in the future I will see the positive evidence of success with a confident, strong little girl. I am starting to see these things now.
Please share your feelings or story of extended breastfeeding and the challenges you have faced. Your words could have a positive impact on someone else and might incredibly benefit another toddler.