As some of you may know, we have a family bed, which means Harper sleeps somewhere nestled up against Momma or Daddy in our bed. We've been doing this since she was just a couple of weeks old after screaming from colic for hours and hours would only sleep laying on me.
I have been breastfeeding Harper for over a year now (minus those times when she was in the NICU and I wasn't there, ergo formula supplement). I have always nursed on demand, for comfort, for sleeping, for whatever reason that she needed milk. I am all for baby-led weaning. Or at least I am for the day time.
This whole nursing-at-night-sleeping-with-us has been more of the nursing and less of the sleeping as of late. Harper does use a pacifier (which we call a binkie) and if she loses it in the middle of the night she tends to wake up searching. And searching and searching. Until she wakes herself up and me (possibly even Daddy) and wants to be nursed back to sleep. My boobs have been so sore for the past couple of weeks it's ridiculous. I thought maybe she was teething or sick or was missing out on cuddle-time during the day. I thought perhaps she was on the verge of a major milestone, like walking, and that was keeping her up. After a few weeks (months?) of this I decided to look up night weaning.
Let me just say that the results, so far, have been fabulous.
Since starting this night weaning during the past week, Harper has gone from waking at least 4 times a night wanting to nurse, to once a night (I did not nurse her when she woke, just soothed her and give her her binkie, even held her and sang until she fell asleep), to sleeping for 7 hours straight. Granted, she woke up once during that 7 hour period looking for her binkie, but I quickly gave it back to her and she went back to sleep for another 2 hours. I could not tell you the last time I got to sleep for more than 3 consecutive hours. Rejuvenating, I tell you!
Basically, we have a set bed time routine: bath time (which includes warm water and lots of splashing), getting a new diaper and jammies on, reading a book (so far I've read the same one every night - Rainbow Fish - and I literally know it by heart, word for word), snuggling up on me, wrapped in a blankie, while I rock and sing her to sleep. I then lay her down in her crib so I can get myself ready for bed and do any extra things around the house before she "wakes up" and I bring her to bed with us. May not be the ideal situation, but it has worked wonders for us. Did I just jinx myself??? Even if she were to get 5-6 hours straight of sleep a few nights a week I think I would see an improvement in myself. Oh, and that's another thing! Harper has been less whiney, less tempermental since starting this. Fluke? Possibly. But I'm sticking with it!
I still fully intend on nursing her during the day until she's done. Gradually she's eating more and more solid foods and drinking from a regular cup. I still enjoy our nursing sessions, though they are now reserved for the living room. I don't nurse her while I rock her or right before her nap. I read that the last thing they remember before falling asleep shouldn't be the breast (or bottle).
So, for any Momma's out there struggling like I was, here's to you! It will take time and it's not always easy, but what about parenting is? I just remember that this time is fleeting and we have to make the most of it. If night weaning will help you enjoy the time you have with your little one even more, go for it! I hope this might help someone else. If anyone has any questions, let me know, or if you have any suggestions or stories of your own, share them in the comments! I'd love to know if this worked and how it worked for other Mommas out there!