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Gentle weaning for a high-needs co-sleeping child - please help

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  • Gentle weaning for a high-needs co-sleeping child - please help

    My first daughter is almost 11 months old and has been "high-need", exclusively breastfed and co-sleeping from the beginning. My husband and I want a large family but I am 35 so obviously am somewhat limited at this point in terms of having biological children. We had seen a fertility specialist to help us get pregnant the first time and recently went and saw him again to check out our options - he said that I'm not ovulating naturally again (this was my problem the first time around) and since breastfeeding also inhibits ovulation he recommended completely weaning DD at 1 yr and starting fertility treatments at that point in order to maximize my chances of getting pregnant again. I'm pretty torn between doing the best thing for my daughter and the urgency of needing to start ASAP if I would like to get pregnant again but we have made the decision to start gentle weaning at 1 yr. My question is basically how exactly to do this! My daughter's dr does not come from an AP perspective so I hesitate to ask him for advice.

    Here are more details on my situation: I am unfortunately working full-time and can be gone during the day up to 12 hrs. She tends to "expire" around 6 or 7 at night and can be inconsolable if I'm not home to nurse, even refusing pumped milk from my husband (I know, my heart breaks - my commute is over an hr each way - but that's another story!) I also "nurse-down" and up to a few times during the night, on average. And like I mentioned, we're co-sleeping and she is "high-need" (ESPECIALLY at night!) My husband is able to occasionally put her down at night without nursing (and VERY rarely can get her back to sleep if I'm at home but not in bed) and she's also able at times to fall asleep during the day without the bottle, usually in her swing. Last month I was gone overnight and my husband said she awoke 3 times during the night - the first time she needed a bottle and the next 2 times she was able to fall asleep w/ "Sssshhhhing" and back-rubbing. However, they were camped out in the living room and not in the usual nursing environment - our bed. I've found that I myself can get her to sleep with music and motion on the rare occasion that she's overtired and won't settle down to nurse.

    Any guidance from experts out there would be so helpful Thank You!!!!
    Last edited by melissa_h; 03-06-2009, 07:38 PM. Reason: Edited to remove trademarked term

  • #2
    Hi Juleen,
    I have a couple freinds that have been in similar positions, deciding if they should start weaning earlier then they would like for the possibility for another child. Both have fertility issues also and both opted to continue nursing their firstborn. When you look at an over all weaning picture for your firstborn, what is your time frame? A week, a month, 3 months? I encourage you to extended it as long as you can. These freinds of mine are in their late thirties, close to forties so I know you can put it off a little longer.

    When you do start weaning, 'spot weaning' seemed to be the best option for my firstborn. Pick a spot of usual nursing and gently discourage nursing at that time... Our first to go was his 11:00pm nursing. From a fertility perspective, removing nighttime nursing is said to improve things but transitioning out of a daytime nursing might be easier for him? When one spot is good, try another and so forth. You can also pick a place as a spot, like not in this one chair anymore...etc. Here are some links that might be helpful.

    Weaning: How does it happen?
    By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC, Becky Flora, IBCLC and Paula Yount

    Frequently Asked Questions about Weaning
    Gradual weaning allows you to gradually substitute other kinds of nutrition, affection and attention to compensate for the loss of nursing. Gradual weaning also allows the immunity levels in your breast milk to increase (as overall milk supply decreases) and thus give your child a last bit of extra protection against infection. Weaning should occur as slowly as your situation permits to make it easier on both you and your child.
    Start by skipping a least favorite feeding, such as in the middle of the day. Instead, engage in a fun activity together, such as reading a book or playing a game. Nap and night nursings are favorite feedings and will probably be the last to go.
    Minimize situations that induce breastfeeding, such as sitting in a rocking chair or cradling baby. If you put baby in a familiar breastfeeding setting, he will want to breastfeed.
    Use the "don't offer, don't refuse" method. Don't go out of your way to remind her to nurse. However, if your child persists, or her behavior deteriorates, this may indicate that breastfeeding is still a need rather than a want. Watch your child and trust your intuition.
    Good luck!


    • #3
      Thanks for answering Naomi - I did more research from the sites you recommended - I think we might start experimenting now w/ something at night just to see what happens. Overall I'm anticipating that if she is really resistant to weaning now then we may still try the fertility treatments anyway even though it will make it harder if I'm still breastfeeding - I just don't want to push it on her if she's truly not ready! I know that the fertility drugs will probably drop my milk production drastically which is another interesting factor. Wish us luck and thanks again!