To Ask or to Be Asked

I’m approaching a fork in the road within my journey of nursing while pregnant. I naively assumed that this would probably not happen – but, it has.

Jack has stopped requesting to nurse on a consistent basis. He still wants to, but his timing is very random, and sometimes, he only nurses for a couple of minutes on each side. Other times, like last night before bed, he nurses for almost 15 minutes on each side! He hasn’t done that since he was a little baby – he’s always been quick. I don’t mind the length of time (or lack thereof), but I have noticed that I don’t really know what’s going to happen if he keeps this up.

A couple of days ago, he only nursed twice. At the most, he nurses 4 times in a day – sometime after he wakes up, before his nap, in the afternoon sometime, and before he bathes and goes to bed. On Saturday, he nursed once in the early afternoon and then before bed. It was so weird! I kept thinking, “Should I offer it to him? Or should I wait for him to ask?” I decided to wait because I wanted to see what he’d do – but that’s not what I’ve done every time. This morning, he was cranky, and although he wasn’t asking to nurse, I knew it would help him feel better. I asked if he wanted to, and he immediately started whimpering in agreement (cute!). 

So here’s my fork in the road: should I ask him if he’d like to nurse, or should I always wait for him to ask me? If I leave it to him to ask, isn’t it possible that my supply will decrease, especially because of the pregnancy? And then what happens if he suddenly goes into a phase where he really wants to nurse? I’m just not sure what to do. I know I want to allow him to wean himself in his own time, but admittedly, I don’t know what that looks like. Do I push him to nurse until he refuses? Or am I to stand back and let him decide? It’s kind of sad to think of him weaning. He obviously will eventually, but sometimes I still feel like he was just born and the idea of Jack weaning is just crazy to me. I’m sure all you moms understand!

I know I have to go with my gut about this, but I’d appreciate some thoughts from the moms who have experienced child-led weaning, and especially those who have nursed while pregnant. I am not familiar with this stuff, but it’s very important to me!

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7 Comments

Filed under on being a mama, pregnancy

7 responses to “To Ask or to Be Asked

  1. birthhappy

    I’m not pregnant, but I’m in this exact same situation with my 14 month old and I hope you get some great answers. I guess it is okay if he decides to quit (a little sad), but it’s the days he has a big demand and there isn’t much supply that I dread. He will hardly nurse anymore if there is stuff going on around him, and with 5 kids, there are always distractions. But then, like Jack, he may want to suddenly nurse for 30 minutes. The next day I’m full and he doesn’t want to nurse.

  2. “Don’t offer– don’t refuse” is a LLL phrase for weaning. If you WANT Jack to keep nursing until a certain age or for a certain amount of time, I would most certainly offer. I can tell you from personal experience that he may not always take you up on your offer, but at least you know you brought it up and don’t have to wonder down the road if he would have kept nursing if you’d brought it up more.

    If you’re fine with him weaning now, then I think the Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse concept is a fine one to go with until he’s no longer initiating nursing at all.

    One of the reasons I personally have always offered (beyond the fact that they’ve all started weaning at just over a year and I always wanted to nurse my babies until more like 18m or 2y) was that I always thought I would prefer to still be nursing somewhat when the next baby comes along. None of my kids have gone for it, but I’ve wondered if the stage of sore nipples and engorgement would be significantly eased (if not almost irrelevant) if I was still nursing another child. Of course, that motivation isn’t enough to “force” a child to keep nursing, but I do wonder???

    Anyway, just pray and ask the Lord. He knows what both you and your little guy need and He will be faithful to give you the wisdom for your family in this particular time and season.

  3. I’m not pregnant either, but Suzi is just a little older so I thought I’d give my input. We still use breastfeeding to get Suzi to sleep. Jordan calls it “tranquilizer milk.” There are times when she gets so cranky that nothing will calm her down BUT a nursing session. Once she reaches that point, she is walking around in circles, crying and whining, and no one can do anything with her. That’s when I try to breastfeed her, and usually she’ll fall asleep. So waiting for her to ask just wouldn’t work for us right now. She’s only 16 months old and isn’t always capable of deciding what she needs. I don’t think it’s wrong to suggest or offer it to your child, and I wouldn’t even consider it “pushing.” Waiting for him to ask would be a good way to taper off though, and I guess it comes down to whether or not breastfeeding is tolerable for you right now.

  4. My rule of thumb has always been to offer as often as they ask. That way, if my child asks 3 times per day, I also offer about 3 additional times. If she cuts back to only asking twice, then I only offer about twice. That way I am following her lead, but also not putting the burden on her to ask all the time (which could make her feel like I don’t want her to nurse).

    Now that is the general rule of thumb, but I also will offer when it is obvious that she needs it. If she is overtired or hurt herself or is grumpy and I can tell that nursing might help her, then I’ll offer.

  5. I’ve nursed all of my kids well past a year. My first son didn’t wean until he was three. By that time, I already had a second child and was pregnant with my third! By then, I definitely was only nursing him if he asked. My younger two both weaned on their own shortly before their second birthdays (while I was pregnant with younger siblings). I kind of took a half-way approach. During the day, I didn’t mention unless they mentioned it. When I really wanted them to nurse (when I was exhausted and need to sit down OR bedtime OR when I was feeling full…), I would offer.

    If Jack gets a time when he really wants to nurse, he may not mind even if your supply is low because nursing will be comfort more than nutrition. By mid-pregnancy, my milk supply decreases drastically, but it doesn’t seem to bother a clingy child.

  6. Well, I am right there with you.

    I just found out I’m pregnant and I have a 17 month old boy who is still nursing. I really wanted to nurse him until at least 2 (and it turns out he’ll be 2 & 2 months when the new baby arrives end of May/beginning of June). I didnt realize how much it would hurt though. My nipples hurt like they did the first few weeks of nursing and that has made me not want to offer nursing. However I know that there are times when I have to offer it regardless, like when he’s tired or hurt or when it just seems like its time to and I know I dont want to stop nursing altogether so today when it hurt much less than it has this last week it gave me hope that the pain will pass soon. I personally think though that we were created to be able to nurse while still pregnant and I just feel like he’s too young to stop. He loves nursing so much that I cant imagine him not asking to nurse.

    in fact, right now we are having the conversation-
    ian: Na-na?
    me: na-na?
    ian: yea!
    me: ok
    ian: ooookkkaaaaayyy!!

    😀

    ps thanks for you lost art of parenting topics theyre awesome!!!

    oh and i heard (on thelactivist when she was pregs with her second that the midwife told her) for morning sickness 100 grams of protein is suppose to help. i’ve been really trying it and cutting out breads and crackers and sugar and i’m way less morning sick than i was last time. maybe it will help you too

    thanks for the blog 😀

    julie & ian who is really wanting to nurse N O W.

  7. Pingback: Reflections from a Busy Week « Mama Rissa’s Corner

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