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Need to set some boundaries and manners

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  • Need to set some boundaries and manners

    DS is 22 mos and is a constant nurser. I'm ready to be done, but it's so important to him that I'm happy to keep with it for him for a while as long as we can set some boundaries and he can start being a bit more kind about it.

    A little background...ds was born with a cleft lip and it was a challenge to nurse him. We used a nipple shield for nearly a year, we've nursed through two lip surgeries, and we've had thrush. I'm really proud of our success and I know how important nursing is to him, but I think it's starting to be a strain on our relationship. He nurses every time I sit down, so I find myself often in a different room from him and ducking as I walk by if I'm trying to make dinner or something. (he's with my dh, not alone) I'm hiding from him b/c if he sees me, he'll want to nurse...and I don't want to do that or simply need to get something else done. It's ridiculous that I'm hiding. I honestly feel like the constant nursing is hurting our relationship. I feel like nursing is all we have sometimes. It didn't used to be this way.

    He has no manners about nursing at all. This is completely my fault, but I need to change it, and don't know how to start. He doesn't ask, he just latches on all.the.time. He moves from side to side to side to side. He kicks his legs toward my face while nursing. He has a complete meltdown if I try to distract him or ask him to wait or give him a cup instead. The only thing I can do to keep from nursing is to play baseball (he loves baseball) or leave the house. He doesn't ask to NIP. He spends two days/week with grammie and doesn't need to nurse when there. He's also spent the night with her twice and sleeps wonderfully. I know he can go w/out nursing, but it's like when he sees me, he just thinks nurse, nurse, nurse.

    How do I get started with changing our relationship? How can I teach him to be more respectful? I think I'd like for us to get on a bit of a schedule with nursing before naps and night time and maybe once in the morning. How do I start to do that?

    Thanks to anyone who understands and can offer advice.

  • #2
    Hi Christina,

    Congrats on your successful nursing! The two of you really made it through a lot of challenges.

    I completely understand how you feel. I sometimes have those same feelings with my 20-month-old, especially at nap and bed time. I've found a few things that have helped decrease the frequency of nursing and also helped with teaching manners.

    For frequency, if she's recently nursed and I feel that she doesn't need it for nutrition or comfort at the time, I will ask if she's hungry or thirsty and offer food or water. I'll also try giving her attention in a different form if I don't feel like nursing. Sometimes she's happy with another activity, sometimes she protests. If she protests a lot, I respect that, and will nurse her if I realize it was really important to her.

    If it's bedtime and she's already been nursing for an hour and not seeming to want to go to sleep, but still wanting to nurse, I set a limit and say that we will nurse again when we go to bed, but not before. Then, she usually plays a bit then asks to go to bed and nurses to sleep.

    Regarding manners, she does some things that I don't like, like poking my eyes. I just ask her kindly not to do it and redirect her hand if I need to. She sometimes needs reminding, but I think that's to be expected with someone so little!

    Also, she likes to switch sides (which I allow--switch nursing is a technique used to increase milk supply and I figured she knows what she's doing there) and play with the other side. I don't mind her playing with the other side when we're alone, but not in public. So, when we're in public, I share with her that I like to keep privacy in public and that I feel embarrassed when people I don't know can see my private body parts, and ask for her help with keeping me covered. She usually stops immediately and helps me stay covered.

    Hope some of these ideas are helpful. Congrats again on your successes! I wish you luck in focusing on what he is wanting or needing and how you can meet those needs in a way that feels good to you too.


    • #3
      Wow, I am really impressed with your nursing history. You are very dedicated!
      Maybe your son needs to see you in a slightly different way, as you have said that nursing is his favorite thing to do with you.

      I tried to start "petting" my sons hair, humming a relaxing tune or rubbing his back when he sat facing me with his head on his shoulder. I tried to do the same kind of things when nursing so he started to see those touches as part of the "mommy nurturing package." He would eventually accept some of the components alone without always nursing.

      One thing that I notice is if I am trying to "take something away" my son will only desire it stronger. I tried to be committed to enjoy this nurse, but not nurse again untill..... Maybe nurse and playfully count till --- while kissing his hand and say "Mommy only wanted to nurse untill ---, now I want to read a book"

      And next time he asks say " I will nurse untill --- then we can build a tower" So he sees the progression of activities, not the drive to extract as much nursing from mommy as he possibly can because he fears the loss of it. Eventually maybe, " Let us do a puzzle together, then nurse" and then "the next nursing time is nap, are you ready for a nap?"

      Your needs are important too. If he starts to kick you-- tell him you can't nurse if he kicks. Tell him your real feelings in a genuine, but simple manner. That you like to nurse him, but right now you want to read this magazine or whatever. I don't think you are in danger of being insensitive to his feelings, you just need to let him know how to make it work for both of you.


      • #4
        Thanks so much for the kind and helpful responses. I love the idea of the "mommy nurturing package." That's exactly what I need to show him that I have more to offer than just nursing. I also appreciate the reminder to share my feelings with him. I know that's a big part of AP, but I struggle with it. I know he is capable of understanding though.
        Sure appreciate your help!