Breastfeeding my Toddler – Me! Eat! Your boobies!

6 December, 2012

Ramona is two now and our breastfeeding relationship is still going strong. There is something incredibly special about having a nursing toddler who can vocalise their feelings about it- the first time she looked up at me with those wide dewy eyes, took a pause from nursing to exclaim “YUMMY!” was a bit heart melting, and I remember thinking every mummy should nurse long enough to get some verbal feedback on the quality of their milk!

This morning I was a little more difficult to rouse for Ramona’s first nurse of the day and her usual snuggling and murmurs of “Mummy. Milk. Please” weren’t getting much response. She began pulling at my PJ’s saying “Me! Eat! Your Boobies!”

Ooh, waking up with a (slightly nervous) chuckle is a good way to wake up.

(Another benefit of cosleeping I guess- waking up with laughter happens quite often as Ramona’s early morning chats are quite hilarious, ranging from random musing about her favourite things to giggling at her own first fart of the day.)

I am 5 months pregnant now and my milk seems to be changing week by week – as early as 12 weeks it seemed I just had colostrum. And Ramona has taken her grown-up food eating to another level, putting away whole bananas, plates of spaghetti and gingerbread in a way she hasn’t done before, so she is obviously getting much less full on my milk. I am entering the fairly well documented stage of, um, finding it a bit hard. She only nurses 4-5 times a day, and most of those are completely fine, joyous for us both even. But the lengthy ones just before nap time and sleep can provide a bit of teeth grinding and cross eyed-ness for me. It is not dissimilar to those first ever new-born feeds where you just had to grin and bear it.

If we can, I am keen to plough through it, hoping that for us, like many other mammas, it is just a short stage of pregnancy. I can just see so many benefits for us still. Breastfeeding such a simple way to fill up her cup – keeping the emotional energy of a wild andย rambunctiousย toddler steady.

Nursing toddler

We had a tricky period early on in pregnancy, when she really cut down her nursing, and I failed to recognise the debt this left, emotionally. I guess people who don’t breastfeed (like her Daddy, who tends not to) really quickly identify other ways of topping up their kid’s well being- knowing the right balance of hugs, games and other “connecting” activities. ย Having been reliant on nursing – and her being completely in control of this- there were a few weeks when my milk was changing and she was nursing much less, where we had a bit of disconnect; she was volatile and fractious.

The relationship side of breastfeeding really hit home, I had kind of taken it for granted. For so long Ramona’s nursing sessions had been providing these perfect moments of connection throughout our day, moments that both of us needed. It actually restored us, healed any little snags in our relationship.

We had to find a new rhythm, fresh ways of connecting. In a way it was like beginning another lesson in parenthood. My husband Tim was much more advanced in these activities, having identified the need a year ago, once I left them together half the week as I went to work.

But we had to find our own ways – I couldn’t just steal Tim’s and think they would work for us. (Gah, exclaims my lazy old self.)

Some of the best ways I have found to connect with Ramona, as she weans off nursing a bit include:

  • Taking more hot baths together (such a cool way of spending cold winter afternoons) – we can spend an hour, blowing bubbles, painting the sides, singing
  • Two person dance parties – we put the music up loud and throw down our shapes, impressing each other
  • Kissing Game – you take it turns to kiss funny parts of each other
  • Pulling faces- we try and out do each other with our weird and wonderful facial expressions
  • Hide and Seek – together, so not so much seeking but hiding from imaginary people, usually snuggling under blankets and duvets

I think the key is in activities that involve loads of eye contact, and have the potential to end up in squeals of giggles. Laughter is a healer, no?

Ramona has somehow figured out that sleeping between 11pm and 7 am is a good plan, and doesn’t nurse anymore. (There was a while when I thought she might do this forever) – which just gives me full confidence that these kids know exactly what they need.

Breastfeeding is so much about trust. Trusting ourselves and trusting our children. I am so glad I was able to discount the voices that suggested Ramona’s night nursing would continue forever. And I am so glad I am able now, to distrust the ones that say nursing toddlers will never quit.

They do. And for now, it is still just perfect for us. With a smattering of dancing, playing and splashing, we are connecting more than ever.

What is your breastfeeding story? Have you found the same thing? How have you found ways to connect with your kids?

Feel free to check out my other posts on breastfeeding, including “Nursing a Micromachine” and the letter I had to write to my rubbish, myth-making Doctor.

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  • Valerie 6 December, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    What a beautiful post! ๐Ÿ˜€ It sounds like things are going wonderfully (aside from the discomfort of some feeds). Congratulations on your pregnancy!!
    I am still breastfeeding our 15 month old and we are also ttc. ๐Ÿ™‚ It is such a sweet relationship, like you said. I don’t know what it will be like if I do conceive, but I aim to continue for some time yet.
    I am sharing this post with my readers as encouragement for continuing to nurse while pregnant, on my page: ๐Ÿ˜€

    • lulastic 6 December, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      Oh, thanks for such a lovely comment!
      All the best with the trying ๐Ÿ™‚ We tried FOREVER (well, a few years) for Ramona and the second came along unexpectedly, one month after I became incredibly broody!

      • Valerie 6 December, 2012 at 6:41 pm

        Haha, that happens to a lot of people, I hear! Guess your body just needed a kickstart! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Do you know the gender?

        • lulastic 6 December, 2012 at 6:43 pm

          Absolutely definitely a boy!
          (No, I don’t know for sure, we opted out of scans altogether, but I am sure it is a little fella!)

          • Valerie 6 December, 2012 at 6:46 pm

            Wow, another scan-skipper!! We will not be having any done next time either. It’s strange, indeed, to meet someone else who says no to ultrasounds!!
            How have your nurses, doctors and/or midwives reacted to you not doing them? (just curious!)

  • Emma 6 December, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Congratulations! Love this post – my almost three year old guzzler and I are still going strong (in quiet times and night times) and I often wonder how I could ease her troubles/fears/emotional struggles in alternative ways without the magical bond we”ve nurtured.

    • lulastic 6 December, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚
      It is certainly the most instant/ relaxing for mother soother, eh?

  • Carmen 6 December, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    What a lovely post, it made me feel so happy! My toddler stopped breast feeding a day after her 1st birthday and I felt really sad about, a sort of grievance almost, as I loved feeding her. It sounds silly especially as I was happy at the same time because she stopped when she wanted to. I am 6 months pregnant and am really looking forward to feeding again. (Although am hoping the second time around those first few weeks won’t be as toe-curlingly painful!)
    I hope you are really proud of yourself for still nursing, you really should be.

    • lulastic 6 December, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment ๐Ÿ™‚
      Ramona went on strike at about one, and it upset me more than words can say. I knew at that point that I would invest in our breastfeeding relationship as much as it needed until she was really ready to finish up.
      I hope your pregnancy is going well (yes, and that the toe curling pain doesn’ happen this time!!)

  • em 6 December, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Hiya. I am 7 months pregnant and breast feeding my 2 1/2 year old. It has been slightly challenging but its not something that myself or my daughter are ready to give up just yet. My milk keeps on changing too, from eye wateringly painful feeds, to suckling for comfort rather than milk to the recent development of epic feeds now that I am producing milk again. And not to mention the well meaning comments of ‘ why don’t you just stop feeding her?” Like It’s that simple- right! Good luck with your breast feeding journey. xx

    • lulastic 6 December, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Another pregnant one ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations! It is amazing how it can change from day to day. I am looking forward to challenges of tandem nursing, hopefully we make it there. I am hoping it will help the pair of them to bond.

  • Lisa Hassan Scottl 6 December, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post and finding out how things are going for you. It’s lovely to hear that you and Ramona remain close in so many ways throughout your pregnancy. I have nursed through two pregnancies and tandem fed twice (but never all three at once!), and I know that teeth-grinding, eyes-rolling-back-into-the-head feeling… like hearing someone scrape their nails down a chalk board. We found our own ways to make things manageable and to meet both our needs… and this is sort of what the nursing dance is all about (esp at the toddler stage), isn’t it? Such lessons in compromise and understanding each others’ needs are relevant even when the breastfeeding relationship comes to an end.

  • Notmyyearoff 6 December, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Congratulations on your pregnancy!! And I admire anyone that goes so long breast feeding. It took me ages to get it right and I only did it for a few months.

  • Patch 6 December, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Good to read about the “connection/relationship” side of it. You have had a glimpse of the future with that. It’s a long time since I breast fed my boys but I am still aware of the “connection” thing. It seems to get harder and harder as they get older (there are more pressures on their time with school etc.) and it is still definitely required. My 5 yr old still very much likes his cuddles and comes for a snuggle in bed every morning, but my 8yr old is to grown up for that ๐Ÿ™ So sometimes I just have to inflict them on him ( he likes it really even if its not cool!!), it is much tougher finding ways to connect with him though (he likes doing man things with Dad).

  • Tracy 6 December, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    So nice to read, thank you. I breast fed until my gorgeous girl was 15 months, then had to go back to work and had huge family pressure to stop as it was “weird” to keep going. I spent a miserable week going back to work (financial pressures, I would be a stay at home mum if I could) and feeling I was losing my bond with my girl. Then after lots of tears (mine and my daughter’s) I found the confidence to stand up to my family and say no, we’re not ready to stop yet. And I continued to bf, whenever it was right and needed, and still now offer a boob when its needed and for morning snuggles! I don’t think there’s much left in my saggy bags now lol but the bonding is the most precious gift we give to each other ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Molly @ Mothers Always Right 6 December, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Ah, I miss breastfeeding! I breastfed my daughter until she was 13 months when she just decided to stop. I do still miss it, but I find lazy afternoons snuggled together on the sofa, baths full of bubbles and falling asleep together during story time definitely help that connection. I still enjoy cuddles with my own mum and falling asleep with my head on her shoulder on the sofa when I go to visit and I’m 29! I guess you never grow out of Mum Cuddles.

  • GreenMumma 6 December, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    I breast fed my first son 5 months into pregnancy and hit a wall, I was exhausted so the before bed and 5 am nursing was cut out. I had been prepared to tandem but wasn’t emotionally available. He was 15 months. My second son self weaned at 15 months and I am currently nursing my 5 month old twins! Hooray for boobies!

  • Anna Hewitt 6 December, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Have you read this? Interesting

    • lulastic 13 December, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      OOH! SO fascinating! Thank you!

  • jennastobbs 6 December, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I love to read your posts on breastfeeding as Ramona is older than Charlie it gives me hope to know it can still work well. I have always breastfed on demand and have never really took much notice when or how many times he feeds. I do have anxieties about being “that woman who still breastfeeds” but I also cannot see myself forcing Charlie to stop so I guess we’ll just wait and see. It was an interesting point you made about it being how we connect. I kept feeling like I shouldn’t be feeding Charlie to sleep because he falls asleep for daddy without it but like you said, why would he want to do it any other way? Its how we connect….. Brilliant post!

  • Melanie 7 December, 2012 at 2:45 am

    Thanks for your post on this topic. I agree, it is great to be able to talk to your child about breastfeeding. I nursed my son until about the fifth month of my pregnancy and then he weaned himself. He never really stopped being close to my breasts, nipple twiddling, etc., which made nursing my newborn painfree, but he didn’t want milk before bed, perhaps because there wasn’t any. Once I started having colostrum, he became interested again and would nurse briefly in the morning and also breathing in the scent of my nipples. I asked him what they smelled like, as it’s not possible for me to smell my own! He said, “It smells like mama.” After I had my second son, the first time my first son tasted the new full milk again, he came off and said in an amazed tone, “What’s in that?” We had some bumps along the way in our tandem nursing relationship, and that included a difficult decision to not allow him in our bed until morning time. But now our morning routine, 16 months in, entails him coming into our bed at wake up time, and taking up his place on what he calls, “my boob”. My younger son nurses on the other and they often hold hands or smile at each other. It’s not all peace and joy, and was especially hard at the beginning, but I’m glad I still nurse him. He is going to be 4 in January. I never thought I would nurse him this long and I’m not sure how long I will continue. I allow him to nurse in the morning and right before bed. The before bed session is usually a couple of seconds, almost ceremonial. He says he will stop when he is bigger, but he’s “not bigger yet”. In due course. All the best to you in finding your way. It sounds like you’ve got a great thing going on.

  • lally Young 7 December, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    you are both changing, maybe Rammona is growing as is jnr inside you. Willow is getting to be sensitive to me. As well a Ramona is as well. I could never feed Willow as I have to many medications. I would have liiked to but I have made up for it in other ways. And they all love me just the same.

  • PAPS and Boobs | 9 December, 2012 at 8:04 am

    […] here’s my PAPS entry: Breastfeeding My Toddler – Me! Eat! Your Boobies! by Lulastic and the Hippyshake.ย  This woman has a wonderful writing style, and a oozes sense of calm I can only aspire to.ย  This […]

  • New Mum Online 9 December, 2012 at 11:18 am

    So glad this fab post is in #PAPS xx

  • Mojo 9 December, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I’d never really thought about breastfeeding as deeply as this before and I loved reading about the games you play with Ramona as part of the weaning process. It sounds like you have a fantastic relationship. All credit to you for breastfeeding for so long. I’m finding it difficult and exhausting after just 11 weeks! It has renewed my thinking about the relationship my daughter and I are forming #PAPS

  • Super Amazing Mum 9 December, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    What an absolutely beautiful post on breast feeding – I found you as you were nominated by dummy mummy as this was HER post of the week. Congratulations on that and please do pass the love on if you find a post that you love!!

    I really miss breast feeding. Mine are now 9, 6 and 4 and all were extended until just after the age of 2 when they all self weaned. You’re right in getting the eye contact, I always make sure that when we are having “1-on1 chats that we engage with our eyes.

    Good luck in your pregnancy!

  • Susanne@babyhuddle 11 December, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I love this post! What a wonderful story. I am currently breastfeeding my 3rd and have had such different experiences with each of them. My eldest was exlcusively breastfed for 7 months, when she self weaned long before I was ready. My 2nd child had lots of dietary/ gastr issues and was born via a traumatic c-section under GA. Our relationship suffered a lot and when I was told by doctors to stop breastfeeding at 4 months, I did without question ๐Ÿ™ My youngest is now almost 10 months old and we are still going strong. I love breastfeeding and intend to do it for as long as she needs.

  • The Best Past Posts (Says Me) « Atlantamomofthree 13 December, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    […] And finally, please check out Lulastic‘s post on being pregnant while breastfeeding her 2 year old daughter. A very sweet post indeed! […]

  • Joyce 13 December, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I enjoyed this post! I am thankful that Valerie linked to it. It brought back fond memories of nursing both of my children. It went really well with my daughter, the youngest, and I remember feeling that we were so in tune to one another. I love your ideas for connecting…I think a hot bath would be a wonderful way to reconnect physically.

  • lulastic 13 December, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Absolutely loving hearing all of your stories, everyone. Thank you so much for sharing and being so encouraging!

  • Conversations with my two-year-old about breastfeeding | Circus Queen 19 November, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    […] days when it’s virtually all a newborn baby does. I heartily echo Lulastic in her post “Breastfeeding my Toddler โ€“ Me! Eat! Your boobies!” when she writes: “I remember thinking every mummy should nurse long enough to get some […]

  • Lyns 29 November, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Just stumbled across this post and it has really resonated with me. Currently tandem nursing my baby and toddler. Been secretly hoping toddler would wean as its tough going at times. Recently noticed more tantrums (both of us ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and just realised reading this post that its prob rooted in the whole bf vs weaning issue. It’s easy to be flippent at times about how hugely important bf for a few mins can be to a 2.5 year old. Was good to read this post right now. I would hate to have come this far with bf and look back with regret with how it ended so like you say need to invest more in this and find lots of other fun ways to gradually fill the void too. Thanks again for such wise words Lucy xxx

    • Lucy 30 November, 2013 at 3:49 am

      Hey Lyns
      Thanks for your comment. I too am nursing my baby and toddler and it is much tougher than I thought it would be! Six months now. But I’m sure it has made the whole thing easier on Ramona.
      I’ve been gently cutting down from 3-2 over the last three months, leaving out the to-nap nurse, now I just don’t worry about her not napping. I’m astonished at how much more real food she has to eat now too! Realising that even at three she was getting a majority of calories from breast milk. So that’s another challenge, keeping them topped up with food so they don’t have the basic hunger need for bf.
      Now that we’ve cut down I feel sure she was ready for my gentle assistance in weaning even though I didn’t think I’d ever do it.
      We will keep the too-bed nurse for however long she wants it though