Balance and breastfeeding

How do you find the balance between gentle parenting and permissive parenting? Do you see a solid definition or have trouble walking that very faint line? What is really ‘being too soft’ vs a childs natural right, and where do your rights fit?


While guiding my children through life with unconditional love and upmost respect for their needs, I also believe it’s important for them to learn that other people, including their parents, have needs too. By being a permissive parent I would not only be ignoring my needs, but I’d also be ignoring their need to learn that there are boundaries within our society, and for everyone to be happy we need to find a balance based on love and respect. Surely it is better for them to learn such life lessons from their loving parents, then from the harsh world they’ll eventually be thrown into?


I feel  I give so much of myself to my precious babes, so it shouldn’t be too much to ask for a bit of space sometimes. Right? Yet, as an attached parent I have this internal battle going on whenever I find myself saying no, or putting my need before theirs. How will my current action affect them now and in the future? Every decision that we make has a direct impact both in the short and long term, and the pressure of getting it ‘right’ is huge!


There are so many topics I could go into, based on this, and I’ll probably link back as a slow evolving process, but what sparks this for now is weaning.

Trystan self-weaned whilst I was pregnant with Sylar, dropping overnight feeds first around 18 months old, followed by complete refusal at 22 months. It was a gradual process, completely instigated by him, and whilst I didn’t fight it I was sad when it was all over. I didn’t fight it because I was in pain.. I feel extreme sympathy for anyone that suffers from nipple vasospasm, because the pain when breastfeeding during pregnancy is horrendous. At least for me (pain experienced varies from woman to woman). I’d love to tandem breastfeed, and I believe the benefits to the new older sibling are multifaceted, but getting through the preceding 8-9 months is a challenge.


Sylar is now 22.5 months old, so older than Trystan when he weaned. It has always been my goal to feed him until he is at least 2 (as per WHO recommendations), and after that until he’s ready to stop. Sylar has always loved his ‘booby’ and still asks frequently both day and night, so I doubt he’ll wean any time soon. Breastfeeding Sylar has always been a dream, and I love that our booby time makes the world slow down for just a little while. Until now, anyway. As I enter my 5th month of pregnancy I find myself battling with toe curling pain once again. During the daylight hours it’s not too bad, and usually settles after a few minutes or a letdown, but overnight I struggle. Gone are the nights of barely waking when he latches on and quickly drifting back off to sleep together. Now I lie there willing him to let go and attempting to delatch him after a while when he chooses not to. I’m tired. I want to keep our breastfeeding relationship. I want to tandem feed (if Sylar does). I want HIM to choose when he’s ready to move on from this stage. But I do need some space, or at least less frequent night nursing.


I’m terrible at saying no. And I hope that some overnight refusal on my part will be balanced out by the free access he has during the day and evening.. I won’t traumatise him, so complete night-weaning is out, but I do expect some anger. I’d be angry too. But maybe, just maybe, if I can gently encourage him to have less booby overnight we can both get some more sleep. And hopefully tandem feeding will be easier too.
So, being that he’s well, we took a sippy cup of water to bed with us last night. As well as blankie (his recently acquired comfort item, a massive blanket with dogs on it he was gifted as a baby) of course. He surprised me greatly. Yes, he repeated his request for booby a few times on the two occasions he woke, but he was neither upset nor angry and after offers of water, blankie, cuddles and promises of booby when the sun shines, he drifted back to sleep in my arms. We had talked about it lots during the day, and during one of his many pre-bed cluster feeds, but I wasn’t quite sure if he understood. Seems he did *smile*. If he falls ill, or requires extra comfort all bets are off, but in the meantime future nights sleeping with my babe look more promising, restful and pain free. So, in the interests of balancing our needs, I’m trying to remind myself that my loving arms are enough overnight and there is always the promise of booby in the morning.




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