Nightweaning or not?

11 Nov

I’m so tired at the moment that I’m seriously considering nightweaning my daughter. She’s a little bit over two and a half years old and shows no signs of thinking about stopping breastfeeding. Although it gets a little bit exhausting sometimes, I’m quite glad that I’m still feeding her: when she has a cold, it reliably clears her stuffy nose, when she has a tummy bug, I know it’s definitely the best way to keep her hydrated, and I read somewhere that breastfeeding for two years (not necessarily just one child) reduces my risk of breast cancer by 40%. So that is all lovely, and the snuggles aren’t bad either.

It’s just that my daughter especially enjoys ‘nom noms’, as we call them, overnight. All night. Sometimes she joyfully jumps out of (my!) bed in the morning and proudly declares ‘me having nom noms in mummy’s bed AAALL NIGHT!’

So I have been considering not letting her have any at night anymore.

The arguments for:

  • She eats quite a bit of food during the day, so nutritionally, she doesn’t need to be breastfed at night.
  • She’s old enough to understand my explanations so that hopefully she wouldn’t feel rejected, and I’d double up on the cuddles.
  • Sleeeeeeeep! I’ve not slept a whole night for the past three years (no joke, not one full night). I think it’s catching up with me now.
  • Erm…
  • That’s it.
The arguments against:
  • Prolactin levels are highest at night, so feeding then is important to ensure an adequate milk supply, which makes me worried that nightweaning would be the beginning of a slippery slope to full weaning.
  • So far I’ve let my daughter take the lead and my parenting approach has been quite gentle: breastfeeding so she could decide when and how much she wanted to eat, ditto with solids (we did baby-led weaning), co-sleeping, letting her figure out her own daytime routine. It’s worked well so far – whenever I’m worried how to respond to a new developmental stage, she usually shows me and it all turns out fine. So I don’t really want to force her to give up feeding at night.
  • I might regret it and go back on my decision, confusing my daughter in the process.
To conclude: I have no idea, but instead lots of migraines and nausea from the tiredness.
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7 Responses to “Nightweaning or not?”

  1. Mummylimited November 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    It’s so hard isn’t it, especially when you parent in a child-led way. I had the opposite quandary. MM weaned himself at 16mo & I wanted to carry on, but decided I’d done everything else on his timetable.
    I wouldn’t worry about the milk levels. I know lots of people that have stopped at night and been fine in the day, including me.
    As you say at 2.5 she’s old enough to stop & you may find she’s quite ok with giving it up. Maybe dip your toe & see what happens?

  2. eliminationcommunication November 11, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    I’m nursing my 2yo and wecosleep. I think it is fine to set limits for personal comfort. We nurse to bed and when the sun comes up (8 hours or so). She still wakes at night but i only nurse in the event of teething pain or severe nightmare. I’m expecting number 2 in february and need her to be patient at night.

  3. attachedmummy November 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Thanks, it’s great to hear other mums’ experiences. I’m leaning towards trying it, but being more lenient when she’s unwell or upset. I’m just worried that I might regret it, she’s so grown up already, I don’t want to accelerate it.

  4. Anne Whitehouse November 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    I stopped going to my son at night after this frightening experience…. I was driving and the road literally dissolved in front of my eyes. I was so exhausted that it nearly led to an accident. That was a big wake-up call for me – literally! Remember that your daughter needs you to be strong, safe and healthy. If exhaustion is killing you, it really might be time to stop. The bond you have developed with her won’t diminish if you do.

    • Jem January 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      There are ways to catch up on sleep without weaning completely.

  5. Jem January 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    My daughter weaned at night (her choice) around 17-18 months and I feel this ultimately led to the end of our breastfeeding relationship (gradually diminished; her last feed was 2 weeks before her 2nd birthday in Nov). I miss it dearly.

    (Are you on Natural Mamas? I’m trying to figure out if I ‘know’ you, heh)

    • attachedmummy January 3, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

      Yes, I imagine I’ll be very sad when she decides she’s had enough. So far so good though. I say no to most bf in the middle of the night now, except when she’s poorly/crying etc.
      Not on Natural Mamas, but might join now I’ve just had a look!

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