My daughter will be two-and-a-half in November. She goes to gymnastics, attends preschool classes, and has been diaper-free for months. She also still nurses.
She doesn’t nurse much, and she doesn’t nurse long, but every few hours, up to a few times a day, she will ask for “a quick sip.” We nurse at bedtime, nap time, and when she has an ouchie. I do the “No Offer, No Refuse” method of long-timeline weaning. I limit to a count of five seconds on each side, which incidentally has been a great way to teach her to rote count. Why 5 seconds on each side? Well, for one thing, it hurts — I’m pregnant.
At the time of this writing I’ve just entered my third trimester. My milk dried up in my first trimester. Nursing isn’t HOLYCRAPOWTHATHURTS painful, it’s just really… irritating. I don’t hate doing it, but I don’t get the rush of oxytocin with a letdown, since I don’t let down. As a lot of breastfeeding mamas know, the oxytocin is what helps keep breastfeeding from hurting.
But I keep doing it for many reasons, and intend to tandem nurse when the new baby comes because it’s important to me. In a few weeks I will begin to make colostrum, which will keep my daughter healthy during cold and flu season. When I have my new baby, my oldest can help me out with engorgement that would often gag a newborn, and she can help my milk to come in quickly after delivery. When I nurse the new baby, my nipples will all ready be accustomed to the use, and hopefully not crack and bleed. But truth be told, it’s also in no small part because I am too lazy to put my foot down about weaning. It’s a battle I choose not to pick. Nursing is still the fastest way to get her to sleep, still the best way to get her to stop crying when she is scared or hurt. It’s a crutch, I will admit.
I get some well-intentioned remarks now and then from friends and family about weaning. People know me well enough not to lecture me about it, but also feel the need to “gently” prod me in the direction of cutting her off. They cite all sorts of rhetoric about how she will take advantage of me, be spoiled, not be independent enough, be jealous of the new baby, etc. I smile, nod, ignore. My child couldn’t be more independent or secure. She doesn’t run all over me, and she has firm boundaries and expectations.
As for what will happen when the new baby comes… I don’t think anyone can accurately predict what will happen to our nursing relationship when that changes. One thing is for sure: having a new sibling is hard on a lot of kids, and it’ll definitely be different. We talk about the changes to come every day and she loves to hug and kiss my belly. I hope that by allowing my oldest to keep nursing this will reduce feelings of jealousy and alienation instead of creating rivalry of some sort — but honestly I know I’m crossing my fingers on that. I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m just doing what I hope will work for us.