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Breastfeeding for comfort or Stifling emotions

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  • Breastfeeding for comfort or Stifling emotions

    Recently I have come across some theories of Aware Parenting and Magda Gerbers RIE. It seems they differ from AP regarding breastfeeding for comfort and what I got from it is to support the child through the feelings, letting them cry while holding but not nursing.

    I decided to give it a try yesterday and for me, it was the worst thing I have done in a while.

    2.5 yo DD chose a shirt to wear b/c we were going on a picnic. I got it over her head and she threw a huge fit to get it back off. I will admit, this is one of my triggers. It happens rarely and so out of the blue that I have a hard time handling it. I held her, if she pushed me away, I sat her down and stayed with her. She asked for "nummies" and I just held her and said we weren't going to have nummies right now, I wanted us both to get all of our frustrations out and calm down. that got her exponentially MORE upset. i continued holding her on my lap. She'd calm down, then burst into tears again. At one time she was fingering my shirt, but wouldnt' ask for nummies. I offered, she accepted and then fell asleep from the whole ordeal. She rarely naps so she must have been so beyond extremely upset that she couldnt handle it.

    She woke up, but then that night before bed, she said "i dont know if we're gonna have nummies"
    my heart broke in two.
    this is definitely not something I will be attemping again, ever.

    Breastfeeding clearly calms her in a way that she needs and appreciates. I dont think she's quiet just b/c there is something in her mouth. There is way more going on than that.
    During comfort nursing I talk to her about the situation, label feelings, state observations, etc.
    But for our family, withholding nummies is not an option.

    I wasn't sure whether to post this in the Feed w/ Respect section or here but decided here b/c of the tantrum aspect.

    I thought a lot of the aware parenting/RIE things made sense and was unable to find anything that really did a compare and contrast between AP.
    I wondered if anyone else had any informative pages or experiences regarding nursing for comfort to share.


  • #2
    Hi Kim,
    We get the questions about the "controlled crying" aspect of Aware Parenting rather frequently. As w/many other approaches, some of the philosophy falls in line w/AP, while others, like "CC" do not. Are you looking for more information on Aware P vs. AP or specifically just about comfort nursing?


    • #3
      I found this to be a very timely post, as I have been having similar issues with my 27 mth old DS. Since giving up naps a few mths ago, he has a tough period in the afternoon where anything from the colour of his socks to the amount of water in his cup will send him into a meltdown. I have been trying to wean him very slowly for about 6 mths now, and he has not been a daytime nurser for about 3 mths. However, when he gets into these meltdown periods, he will ask for (demand) 'mummy milk', and becomes very upset if I refuse him. Eventually I am able to calm him down by distracting him, holding him, talking calmly with him etc., but there is some (loud!) crying involved before he's calmed down. Here is my issue; I have wanted to wean for several months now because nursing has become increasingly uncomfortable for me, and I really do feel as though I am done. I no longer enjoy nursing him, and sometimes feel somewhat resentful when he asks for it, which I feel is not a positive situation for either of us. I do sometimes wonder if I should just 'suck it up' and let him nurse when he is very upset, but I wonder if this will confuse him or set us back in the weaning process. I always explain to him why I don't want to nurse (mummy's milks rest during the day because they are sore, etc) but I wonder how much of this he is able to understand, even when he isn't upset. I hate to think that I am somehow harming our attachment, or letting him 'cry it out', but I really am ready for our nursing to be over. Thoughts? Experiences?


      • #4
        I know, I know, I've thought about this quite a bit... and I do see the Aware Parenting point of view and Naomi Adorlt writes about holding a child while weaning them at night and the power of this and how it can actually increase the bond and connection.

        I don't think there are any easy answers at all... it is so hard. I did night wean my daughter like this, after reading her article when she was about 22 months old.. it worked and she slept much better and I think it helped her to be able to soothe herself; but I held her, validated her and was there for her throughout the whole thing. She is now 2 yrs 8 mnths and had a regression to night feeding again, after marriage separation and subsequent move of country.. I have gone with it, but that was almost 4 months ago and I am thinking about doing it again. I too, get somewhat agitated and a little resentful too... you are not alone, although I feel really horrible for those feelings.

        Good Luck!


        • #5
          Thank you Reggie22. It helps to know that I'm not the only one who has gotten a little "breast feeding weary"!!!

          BTW, I night weaned my son in the exact way you described, and did find that his sleep improved for the most part.


          • #6
            Hi Dedra

            I think i'm looking for both actually ... i'm interested in learning more about the aware parenting and seeing what pieces or parts i may or may not find useful. and i'm interested on AP's take on comfort nursing and such.

            is aware parenting saying not to assume they want to nurse and that be the first and only thing a mom offers immediately? i would think AP would agree there. but if they ask for it, i dont see any reason to deny (if it's working for both mother and child, of course). i dont think it is stiffling emotion if the child is given the opportunity to express as they want. how is denying being respectful. :|

            Reggie22, thats what the posts i read said was more connection b/t mom and child, but i honestly felt OUR particular relationship was hindered, at least for that short of time. but that is our situation and while sometimes the constant nursing tires me, in all, it still works for us and i dont want to wean. dd is finally starting to sleep 4-7 hour stretches ... <3 i always say you dont appreciate a good nights sleep until u've had a kid!! :P


            • #7
              I can't presume to speak for Aware Parenting. I'm not very familiar with it and I don't know any of the ideology behind the practice. I can speak to AP's stance on comfort nursing, which is totally supported in the 8 Principles. From my own experience, I can tell you that if my child were upset and what they really needed was just to cry, they would make it known. I would trust them to know what they needed. If they would refuse to nurse, I would hold them in the sling, arms, rock, hold, sway until they were done.
              Here is more information from our Attached Family Magazine on crying and AP:

              Hope this helps!