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I’m breastfeeding a toddler thru pregnancy. I’m currently in my second trimester, and this is my story about nursing aversion to share with you. Lets talk about breastfeeding. Lets talk about the difficult role of weaning, pregnancy, and how parenting thru breastfeeding impacts everything. Its not easy. But its my story. It’s not yours.
I’m 18 weeks pregnant. My toddler is 14 months old. And in this moment, right now, my nursing aversion has never been worse. My nipples are sore/hot/irritated from nursing him to sleep over an hour ago. They rub on my cotton shirt, and I cringe with discomfort. We’ve had pain and discomfort for several weeks/months now. But nothing quite like this. I’m irritated. I’m angry. It takes every piece of will power to keep myself in line.
I find myself staying up late and not going to bed because my co-sleeping toddler will smell me if I go to bed. He’ll instantly wake up and want to nurse. He’ll throw a tantrum and scream uncontrollably if he doesn’t. Its ear shattering, soul crushing, and miserable. I’m holding out as long as possible. Will I get an hour, maybe 3, all to myself? I hope so. I fear going to bed, because I fear being attacked by a boob obsessed toddler. #truestory
By 8am, I’ll already be touched out. My child spends most of the night trying to grab at me, or nurse, or cuddle. He flops around in the bed, and he recently started flailing. I could move him to a crib, but I’m 18 weeks pregnant. I’m exhausted. Trying to convince my attached, high needs, toddler to sleep on his own, in a pen, is just not happening. He barely likes to be contained in a large play pen. The stress of my cosleeping booby monster is significantly less than the stress of trying to crib train or sleep train him. Neither of which is up my philosophical parenting alley.
For now, I’m browsing Facebook and half watching Netflix. I’m trying to distract myself from what I’m avoiding. Distract myself from the pain, discomfort, irritation and emotional nightmare that nursing has become. I love to nurse my child. But right now, in this moment, I dread EVERY SINGLE MOMENT. Right now, in this moment, I wish he would just give up: self wean.
I’m careful with these thoughts, because I know I’d be devastated if this happens. I’m too emotionally connected. It’s not just a source of nutrition, its the root of my parenting, and transitioning out of that is hard. It needs to be taken gently and slowly. So much is going on in both our lives, its not the time to be abrupt about a crucial element of our relationship. I’ll wait for it to happen naturally, and for each of us to grow.
When it comes to Nursing Aversion, I know very little on the topic. Most of my breastfeeding books (such as Le Leche Leagues, Womanly Art of Breastfeeding) briefly touch upon nursing aversion, and even fewer talk about the role of pregnancy in your breastfeeding relationship (rumour has it Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hilary Flower might expand more on the topic, but good luck getting your hands on a copy).
How do I know its an aversion? My very unscientific, unlearnt self says its a nursing aversion, because I try everything in my power to AVOID nursing my child. Hence, nursing aversion. We limit nursing session, I try to distract, and in the middle of the night, I sometimes just let him fuss it out next to me. I don’t offer, but I don’t refuse either (because breastfeeding is such an integral parent of my parenting journey). well sometimes I have tried to refuse, but my toddler throws a tantrum of epic proportions, and I just don’t know what else to do.
At mom group, and breastfeeding group, I’ve come to learn everyone’s specific breastfeeding journey is different, and its near impossible to predict how your story will turn out, or change throughout your pregnancy. Perhaps more on that another night.
It’s suggested that nursing aversions are strongest when you are feeling burnt out, and you’re not adequately nourishing yourself. Those two points ring strong for me. I maybe eat breakfast. I usually throw it up. Lunch is an assortment of snacks, cheeses and protein sticks. And by the time dinner comes around, I’m too exhausted to life. Sometimes something gets made, but rarely. With my husband gone most of the time, cooking for 1 and a half, is a daunting and tiresome process.
I’ve gone out by myself this week. I’ve had a few moments to be just me. Yet, I still feel more burnt out than ever. I’m not sure how that works. I’m thinking I just need unstructured toddler-free time. I need someone to help me out more at home. I need the opportunity to sleep later than my toddler just for once. I need to have someone offer to watch him, not because I have something to do, but just because. Just because they want to spend quality time with my child. Maybe that’ll happen.
My husband finally came home this week. He works long hours, night shifts, and usually only has time to sleep when he’s home – railroad life He’s been home for a couple of days, and now child care and household responsibilities are no longer 100% mine. I’m already feeling better. My nipples aren’t as sore, my anger is dying down, and I’m less irritated when we nurse. But I’m still avoiding it. But I feel better. Self care is important. I also checked out my local toddler breastfeeding group. Because knowing that other women are also crying, and full of emotions, about their breastfeeding journey with their toddler/pregnancy is amazing. Find a meeting near you.
Do you have any tips for surviving nursing aversion? I’m going to work on refuelling my body in the next couple days. More nutritious food. More water. More hobbies that are about me. And perhaps it’ll get better. <3