Never did I imagine I’d still be nursing my son at almost 17 months, when at the beginning I couldn’t see us making it to 1 month. I am incredibly proud of us both. I never really understood ‘extended breastfeeding’ and thought we would stop at 12 months, especially when I went back to work.
I couldn’t picture myself nursing a toddler at all yet here we are with no signs of stopping. While breastfeeding is magical and convenient I don’t always enjoying nursing my son Freddie. I’ve begun to experience breastfeeding aversion and it’s been tough. However, that doesn’t mean we are ready to stop. The thought of weaning and stopping actually fills me with dread.
Breastfeeding is more than milk and brings lots of comfort to Freddie. It settles him when he has fallen over, it gives pain relief when he is teething and gives us a moment of peace together when I get in from work. I would feel guilty to stop when it is so beneficial for both of us. To wean would be physically and emotionally difficult for both of us.
To wean would be physically and emotionally difficult for both of us.
Night-time feeds are the worst
For me, the night-time feeds are the worst. At the moment he feeds constantly all night which could be for a few reasons such as a growth spurt, development leap or the change in our routine because I am working. The ‘witching hour’ after tea time seems to last forever and as I watch the hours pass by I can feel anger inside me. I know I would never hurt Freddie but him being attached to me all night leaves me feeling very touched out.
I am so lucky to have an understanding partner who will offer me words of comfort at 3am or give me 10 minutes to myself when I can’t be near Freddie. We do mostly side feeding in the night so even if I am not sleeping I can at least be resting. I am a big advocate for doing what works for you and your family (and your mental health above all!). At the moment we mostly cosleep as it’s the only way I can get some sleep. The Lullaby Trust have safe sleeping recommendations for cosleeping which can be found here.
At the moment we mostly cosleep as it’s the only way I can get some sleep.
At first I saw cosleeping as a negative thing mostly because of comments from friends and the way society tries to teach children to be independent from a very young age. After lots of research and questioning myself I have found it to be very beneficial for all of us. Freddie is growing up so quickly so I have learnt to enjoy and saviour our time together knowing he won’t want to cuddle me forever.
When breastfeeding aversion hits, I feel disgusting, itchy and irritated
I find understanding the aversion can help. I’ve done a lot of reading around the topic of aversion and this has really helped me come to terms with some of the negative feelings I experience when breastfeeding. I have found some helpful groups on Facebook ‘Aversions sucks! Breastfeeding aversion peer-to-peer support’ as well as the Breastfeeding Aversion website run by Zainab Yate.
Whilst I have still not had a period since having my son, I notice the aversions and agitation can be worse when I am ovulating. This is due to a change in hormones and is very common. I’m also aware now that when I am tired and the cluster feeding feels constant that I begin to feel disgusting, itchy and irritated. Distracting myself by reading or music really helps especially in the middle of the night.
Whilst I have still not had a period since having my son, I notice the aversions and agitation can be worse when I am ovulating.
I have also reached out to a friend who is also nursing a toddler. Having someone understand my emotions makes it easier. Someone to listen and validate my feelings makes me feel less guilty. Some people have told me to just stop breastfeeding but it isn’t as simple as that. When I am tired and struggling, I would much rather hear words of support and encouragement.
A good friend of mine told me never to give up on a bad day and this is something I live by with breastfeeding. Like everything in Motherhood I know it’s just a phase that will soon pass so for now we are learning how to manage it. I would really like to wean on both of our terms and go from Freddie’s lead.
Aversions: When breastfeeding appears to trigger particular negative emotions like anger and agitation, skin-crawling sensations and an overwhelming urge to de-latch.
Touched out: Your skin crawls. You can’t stand the thought of one more snuggle or cuddle. The idea of intimacy with your partner is the farthest thing from your mind. You just want a few minutes to feel like your body is your own.