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Any extended bfers willing to chat to me about the long, hard nights? I'm struggling.

(21 Posts)
ShowOfHands Fri 28-Aug-09 09:13:54

I have bfed dd on demand from birth. She is 2.3yrs old now and loves breastfeeding.

I'm sitting writing this in tears, not knowing what, if anything I should do.

My periods came back when dd was 14 weeks old despite her feeding every 2hrs day and night. She went 3hrs once. I was very surprised that they came back so soon. The hormones associated with being fertile seem to disagree with breastfeeding for us.

Every time I ovulate I get a blocked duct. Never has combing, massage, compression etc helped. I just have to feed through it and hope it clears before mastitis sets in. Sometimes it doesn't. sad

It's my period that's the problem though. DD feeds and feeds and feeds during my period, especially at night. I put her in her bed to start with as she has the deepest part of her sleep then but by midnight she will be in with us, latched on and will not latch off all night. This is no exaggeration. If I latch her off she cries, fusses, fidgets, begs and will not settle. She's also a twiddler so when feeding on one side she's twiddling the other. I've tried to tackle this. I can't stop her. She is 2.5 stones in weight and will feed on one side, lurch up on her knees and lunge for the other side. I roll her over to the other side and she latches back on. I'm having wrist problems and the gp did some blood tests, said I'm all fine and it's the strain of the heavy baby lying on my arms with a crooked wrist.

During the day it's easier to distract her but if I sit down (even on the loo) during my period she begs for milk, is desperate almost.

As soon as my period starts to tail off she goes back to a more normal feeding routine, including a couple of night feeds sometimes which I don't mind at all.

I don't know what to do. Once a month I have a blocked duct that's painful and exhausting and gets infected sometimes. And 5 or 6 days a month she feeds all night. The idea of refusing milk to her makes me break inside. I want to self wean but I can't cope any longer. I barely slept last night and have another 4 days of my period left.

I love breastfeeding and I love the joy she takes from it but days of each month are such a struggle that it's clouding the whole relationship for me.


haventsleptforayear Fri 28-Aug-09 09:21:40


It's hard to weigh up the loveliness of ext. bf with the "inconvenience" isn't it?

I decided quite a while ago that I couldn't deal with feeding at night anymore (DS2 now 2.7).

I did night-weaning (see Dr Jay Gordon on google) - let me know if you can't find the link.

I thought DS might stop bf of his own accord because of the night-weaning and because I'm working during the day but no!

He has cut down a lot though and in the last month (school holidays) has rarely asked during the day.

I'm sure others will be along soon with their experience, but I hope that helps a bit.

TheProvincialLady Fri 28-Aug-09 09:24:56

Have you considered night weaning? At least if you did not have to feed at night, you might find it easier to cope during the day.

ShowOfHands Fri 28-Aug-09 09:32:07

I've read Jay Gordon before and turned away from it. It's the idea of refusing her milk. It will devastate her. She's the happiest, jolliest, most loving little girl and bfing has always been such a lovely, calming and unrestricted thing. To do Jay Gordon I will have to refuse her one of the things she loves the most. It will just seem so arbitrary to her and the very idea of it makes me cry. I'm not sure I have the strength to do it but know I don't have the strength not to try something iyswim.

She has cut down on night feeds on her own but my hormones seem to really mess things up.

ShowOfHands Fri 28-Aug-09 09:35:15

Would going on the pill help do you think? I don't want to at all but if it stops ovulation, it might stop the relentless cycle.

Pinkjenny Fri 28-Aug-09 09:38:04

I have no knowledge of this, but when I read your thread it was the first thing I thought. Love to you anyway, sounds stressful.

And yes, she is a beautiful little thing, it would be so hard to refuse her anything!

TheProvincialLady Fri 28-Aug-09 09:40:50

Read your first post again - you sound fairly desperatesad I plan to feed DS2 until he self weans too but I feel it has to be a compromise between both parties after a certain point. Even Sears says that.

haventsleptforayear Fri 28-Aug-09 09:44:20

I know how hard it is to refuse them when they are crying but do you really think she will cut down on her own? She hasn't so far?

Not wishing to scare you but I went to an ext. bf meeting recently and the leader said her 7yr old still bf occasionally.

I never thought I'd be still feeding a nearly 3 yr old but he does still feel like a baby to me.

I would never have been able to carry on this long without imposing SOME limits.

There is a book by La Leche League about mothering your nursing toddler - I think you might need it if you really feel like you can NEVER refuse her a feed.

For me it would be too much to have a child who couldn't even let me go to the loo without crying for a feed.

Is there some reason you feel you can't refuse her anything?

theyoungvisiter Fri 28-Aug-09 09:47:35

Your post really spoke to me because I have struggled with trying to get DS1 to cut down when I was pg and in agony nursing. In particular the quote that stood out for me was:

"It's the idea of refusing her milk. It will devastate her."

I know how you feel because I felt this too, but, I think you need to get it in perspective.

1) You are NOT refusing her milk, you are just setting calm, loving boundaries for when she has it.

2) It won't devastate her - honestly. She may be sad at the time (especially at first) but she will very quickly understand that a refusal at one particular moment doesn't mean the milk has gone away, or that you don't love her.

3) Set up a plan with your DH and stick to it. What the plan it must be up to you and what you feel comfortable with - but it sounds like at the moment you are at the end of your tether and it's not good for either of you to have bf associated with stress and pain. Maybe she gets 1 bf a night from you, and then your DH goes to comfort her the other times she wakes? Maybe she gets to stay in your bed if she doesn't bf?

I nightweaned DS1 when I was pregnant with DS2 and it was hard work (initially) and required a lot of input from Dh but it did work, and it didn't detracted from the loveliness of our morning and evening feeds. And, contrary to my fears, DS1 fairly quickly understood and accepted the new regime. He was about 2 when I started nightweaning, so about the same age your DD is now.

Very good luck - and whatever you decide must be what's right for you and your DD, but be reassured that restricting bf will not devastate your DD or make her doubt your affection, any more than denying any other treat once in a while.

ShowOfHands Fri 28-Aug-09 09:49:48

I do refuse feeds or more like I can distract her/reason with her at all other times. It's during my period that she goes utterly batty. If she wants milk when out for example I explain why she has to wait until we're home and that's fine.

And she has cut down herself. On a 'normal' day she regularly only feeds morning and night and often doesn't want milk at night at all when I'm not in the middle of my period.

We do have some limits and they cause little problem but 6 days out of 28 it all goes out of the window and she is demented. There is something that happens when my period does. I wonder if it's my supply and it's frustration.

ShowOfHands Fri 28-Aug-09 09:54:27

Thank you theyoungvisiter, this is so much harder than the cracked nipples and painful latch of the early days.

If it was something else I'd have no problem but then she doesn't have such a strong attachment to cake or chocolate or whatever. It's because it's nurture and comfort and solace and all those other things besides that taking it away seems so bloody hard especially when it's not an idle request atm, it's sheer desperation.

DH works funny and long hours (is a copper) so would also do a lot of it on my own and that means it's me she's crying to and only me to comfort her while at the same time refusing her. It seems like such a sad contradiction.

Erbert Fri 28-Aug-09 09:58:55

I def. felt that my supply really dropped during my period with my last DC - although this time it has not. I ate a lot of oats and too Fenugreek during my period - and I think that these things helped.

I sympathise with you - am currently feeding DC's age 3.1 and 10 months. My older one was the same in the night feeding every hour at least and sometimes all night. At 18 months we put him into his own room in a cot and my DH went to him to settle him if he woke before 4 a.m. - and after this we just brought him in to bed and allowed him to feed. It worked for us - he would not have settled for me without a feed but eventually did for DH - I too could not have refused him and made sure that DH did not let him cry. He did eventually start sleeping through all night although it took until he was about 2.

I got pregnant the minute he was out of our bed though grin so there were some advantanges of co sleeping!

haventsleptforayear Fri 28-Aug-09 10:02:50

But if it's really nurture and comfort and solace WHY does she only need those things so much 6 days a month?

I think I sound a little aggressive, sorry, I really do know how hard it is, and DH laughs at me wondering how long it will be til I 'give in' when DS2 is saying "milk from mummy".

But from your posts it sounds like you are confusing giving her comfort and her frustration at less milk at certain times of the month.

I sincerely don't think she needs weaning off with chocolate or cake.

You can comfort her in other ways you know.

theyoungvisiter Fri 28-Aug-09 10:06:32

I don't think anyone was saying to wean her off with chocolate?! Or did I miss that?

SOH was comparing restricting time at the breast to restricting other treats and making the point that it was not the same. Don't think she was advocating swapping one for the other.

theyoungvisiter Fri 28-Aug-09 10:10:32

If you are going to try nightweaning (or night cutting down!) then I would wait for a month when your DH's shift patterns co-incide with your period, so that he is around as much as possible during the tricky times.

Is this an option? How does his employer organise shift patterns? If not, maybe a holiday is the answer.

It can be very hard to comfort them yourself when they can see the boobs right there and can't understand why they aren't allowed access to them. Once the new regime has settled in a bit then it becomes easier.

But if you do decide to try to nightwean then I would do it all month round, not just during your period, as it sounds like she's most unsettled anyway then, so imposing a different set of rules during that time will probably only upset her further.

ShowOfHands Fri 28-Aug-09 10:13:08

No, the chocolate and cake thing was a reference to this "restricting bf will not devastate your DD or make her doubt your affection, any more than denying any other treat once in a while." from theyoungvisiter. I was explaining why refusing milk, to me, wasn't the same as refusing a 'treat'. I have no intention of weaning her off milk and onto cake and chocolate. grin hmm She doesn't much like cake and chocolate anyway. Carrots and peas on the other hand...

"But if it's really nurture and comfort and solace WHY does she only need those things so much 6 days a month?" Yes, that's my exact question. Why does she do this? Am I missing something? Otherwise, milk to her is about sleepiness and calming down and reconnecting with me after a long day. It's just those 6 days.

"You can comfort her in other ways you know". Can you really? What an eye opener. grin I think you're misunderstanding me slightly. For 22 days everything is fine, milk is a sometime thing. Cuddles and affection and soft voices and holding hands and a multitude of other things are enough. 6 days of the month, she only wants milk with a fierceness that I do not understand.

Erbert, interesting that you had the same experience. Porridge I can do. Every day of the month if needs be. I think it must be supply or something. Eek at another pregnancy. It happens a lot I hear, once you get the first sleeping the night in their own bed. grin

ShowOfHands Fri 28-Aug-09 10:18:16

X-posts theyoungvisiter. Thank the Lord, I thought in my sleep deprivation there was chocolate or cake and I had somehow missed it. Not like me I promise.

I will try I think. Not at the moment as DH is working till 4am each morning so would be doing it alone. Next month he should be home at midnight at the very latest one day of my period and by 7pm the other days. It's a bit unpredictable as depends on how many criminals are roving the street looking for their next fix of breastmilk chocolate cake whatever is their poison of choice. Will be hard as DD prefers to be settled by me anyway as I'm the constant with DH working such ridiculous hours sometimes. Still, another important lesson that DH can settle her as readily as I can.

The only problem with Jay Gordon is the bits where he says 'don't pick your child up, just soothe'. She's an independent 2.3yr old, I don't pick her up, she picks herself up, wanders over, lies on me, helps herself. It won't be not responding to picking her up, it will be wrestling her off me. That, I will find very difficult indeed.

ShowOfHands Fri 28-Aug-09 10:20:58

Thank you thank you thank you by the way. For responding, noticing, caring. I don't know anybody in rl who is still bfing. Although, only my parents and a couple of close friends know that I'm still bfing so maybe there are lots of secret bfers in my acquaintance. Not that it's a secret iyswim. Oh, I'm tired.

haventsleptforayear Fri 28-Aug-09 10:40:14

Sorry sorry I totally misread that bit about chocolate!! grin

Yes I agree that "don't pick up" doesn't apply to a 2 year old.

DS doesn't co-sleep with us (his choice) but he wanders in in the night.

The hardest part about night-weaning for me was that it is SO easy just to cuddle up with them and go back to sleep together.

I had to get up with DS2 and spend a lot of time in the corridor with him (he shares a room with DS1, picking him up for a cuddle, putting him back down on the floor etc.

He had a complete tantrum on the first night and was v. cross with me which was heart-breaking sad

By the second night he was calmer and less cross with me, we had a cuddle and he went back to sleep.

I get the feeling that I will sound harsh to you but I am still feeding DS2 and it is great now, it is our morning cuddle and also occasionally in the day if he wants.

I only know a few mothers from a bf group who are ext. bf but they are all at home with their DC and I feel a little alienated as a "wohm" ext. bf.

Hope I didn't offend you.

ShowOfHands Fri 28-Aug-09 11:12:30

No you didn't offend me at all. smile

And you don't sound harsh. I just don't think I came across correctly in my OP. I'm not a slave to dd's needs and indulging her every whim. More like we're both a slave to my hormones. DH too.

I'm dreading it tbh. But it's time. She can self settle but does feed to sleep as choice so the middle of the night's going to be so tough. I too find it easier to just roll over and fall asleep with her.

haventsleptforayear Fri 28-Aug-09 11:14:02

Good luck!

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