Healthy Kids

Can You Teach an Older Baby to Nurse?

I have always held onto the dream that it is possible and that I would get to exclusively nurse Penelope one day. I dream of not having to pump of course, and the freedom that it would give us, but I also dream of having a true nursing relationship. I am thrilled and very thankful  for the nursing experiences I have been given, but I want more. I have it in my head, that if I can teach a older baby to do yoga and go poo on the potty on their own, I can damn well teach an older baby to nurse. I feel like Penelope is getting to that stage. I feel like she is almost ready. By ready, I am not sure exactly, but I feel like this moment I have been waiting for, her whole life, is getting closer. When she nurses, I say things like “do you want milk from mama?”  When I offer her a bottle, I say “do you want milk from your bubba?”  When I feel her sucking harder or make swallowing sounds, I say “Yay, Penelope! That’s a good girl, get that Mama milk, you can do it!!”  She is beginning to comprehend. She also eating more and more solids each day and she is drinking slightly less milk in a 24 hour period now too.

I am a part of an online support group for women who have had to exclusively pump and not by choice. Of the almost 500 women on the group, only two (that I know of) have had success getting their babies to 100% nurse full time. One mom got her baby to fully nurse at 4 months after the baby’s third frenotomy and one got her 12 month old to exclusively nurse after stopping the bottle cold turkey and switching to sippy cups and the result was the baby wanted to nurse more than use a sippy cup. Both babies were comfort nursers like Penelope before they went to exclusive nursing.

I have found as much information as I think I can published online, but I would love to see if there are any other mothers out there that have gotten their older babies, specifically ones around Penelope’s age (she is almost 10 months) to exclusively nurse after bad starts, pumping and baby being able to comfort nurse. I have also looked up information on women who adopt an older baby and get them to nurse, and toddlers who re learn how to nurse once baby number 2 comes along and they want to nurse again after they have weaned, but still would love more detailed information from personal accounts.

So here’s some information about our situation and the questions I have:

I have talked about my nursing woes and successes here a couple of times. I am still not ready to tell the detailed story, because like I mentioned in my birth story, this story is not over yet and not ready to be told. I am still in the thick of our breastfeeding journey. The short version of the beginnings of our story is that Penelope had severe tongue tie. The first frenotomy at day 6, did nothing to free her tongue. Finally, at 8 weeks, I went with my gut and got a second opinion and we did in fact need  a second, much deeper, frenotomy. She also had TMJ from her Atlas vertebrae being out. It caused her muscles on the right side of her jaw and neck to be so tight they would spasm and they caused her pain. She could hardly move her jaw enough to open her mouth wide enough, and then she couldn’t drop it down to create the proper suction movement. On top of both those things, I have flat nipples. I also think there might have been some issues with her palate being on the smallish side and my nipples being on the biggish side.

Finally, after taking her to 5 million different appointments and trying every breastfeeding contraption and trick known to man, AND spending a small fortune, I was finally able to get her to comfort nurse the day before she turned 5 months old. She nurses to sleep and if she is fussy and wants a little comfort. I am basically a human pacifier. But to eat, to really get a full feeding, she wants her bottle. Or as we call it, her bubba.

Lately, I have been feeling like something needs to change. Maybe its because Fall is in the air. I don’t know. Or maybe, like I mentioned before, I just am starting to realize that Penelope is ready to try. Mostly, I think its because I am so. damn. tired. of. pumping. Maybe my urge to quit pumping is the signal she is ready. My original goal was to pump for 12 months. To try to follow the World Health Organization guidelines for breastfeeding as best I could. Soon after that, I decided I wanted to pump for 2 or 3 years, because if I was exclusively nursing Penelope, we would do child led weaning and would probably nurse for at least that long. I am pretty damn close to my original goal. Only two more months to go. If I have pumped for 10 months, I can certainly last two more months.

Right now, I pump two times a day. Not bad you say? Yeah, well, each pump session is over an hour. The mid day one really is not that bad. It’s during her nap and now a days her first nap is an hour and half to two hours, so I have some time to get things done after the pump session. It’s the night time one that is killing me. Penelope goes to bed late, and that is not the problem, it actually works for us, because she usually sleeps late too. So I put her to bed about 9:30 or 10p. It usually takes about 10 to 20 minutes to get her to fall asleep by nursing. By the time she is good and asleep, I could easily fall asleep myself. But instead, I have to force myself to get up and go pump for over a damn hour. Then make bottles. Then clean bottles. Then wind down all over again. By the time I am just about to drift to sleep, she wakes up for night time wake up #1.
My specific questions are this:

1. If I quit the bottle cold turkey, how long do you think I could go without starving/traumatizing her before I re introducing milk in a sippy cup. The plan would be to quit the bottle and only offer the breast for a day or two, trying to communicate to her that if she wants milk, she has no other option than to get it from me. I will try the SNS again when we quit the bottle to see if it helps, but it has never helped us in the past.

2. Is there anything I can do to teach her how to be a more efficient nurser and suck harder? I already give her praise, massage/tickle her jaw, tug on my nipple as if I am about to pull it out to get her attention and pull it back in, and do compressions to squirt milk in her mouth to get her to get going more or have more interest.

3. Check out my “game plan” to get her ready for the Big Switch, let me know if there is anything else I should add.

GAME PLAN:

1. Start introducing more solids. As of now, she eats a handful of blueberries and half a piece of bacon for breakfast, nothing for lunch or snacks, and then at dinner she gets one egg yolk, and pieces of whatever we are eating-usually mixture of meat, veggies and fruit. The total of the evening food is only about a handful or two at most. I already started this today and added another full egg yolk for breakfast. I will also give her some fruit throughout the day for snacks.

2. Get her back to cuddling in a nursing position when she gets her bottle. Up until a few months I ago, I held her in a cradle position and had her rest her check on my boob (also called bottle nursing), to mimic breastfeeding as much as possible. I had gotten really lazy about this in the last two months. Penelope had gotten so active and mobile that she didn’t want to sit still long enough to get her bottle. She would much rather play than eat. She hasn’t gained a pound since she was 6 months old (she is 21 pounds then and now), so I started to get a bit worried and decided that getting milk in her body was more important than her getting the skin to skin and being in a cradle position with her head on my boob. We also get lots of skin to skin from nursing to sleep and baby wearing, so I didn’t think she was being deprived. So we started having her sit in my lap, in a reclined position, but her head facing out so she can still look around and do her dance/kick routine. She was more willing to sit and get her bottle this way. Then she started wanting to sit up or stand up and have her milk, and I let her do that too, again, because I was more concerned about getting milk in her. But now that she is eating more solids, I think this is a good first move. If she wants milk, she has to be in my lap, no question about it.

3. Offer her the breast more. I do this a lot already, but I need to do more consistently before I offer the bottle.

4. Maybe start putting the SNS on, while we nurse to sleep. Getting her to take in more milk while nursing to sleep, and thus needing less from the bottle to begin with before we even make the switch. I wonder if she would more readily accept it when she is sleepy?

5. Get rid of the nighttime bottle. I have already started doing this too. We are down to 2.5 ounces in the bottle. I have been giving her a bottle at night this whole time, even though she would nurse at night, because I wanted to give her a full feeding at least once at night in hopes that it would help her sleep longer stretches.

6. Wait for the sippy cups to arrive. I ordered this one.  If the Big Switch fails and she is starving and miserable, then I am going to reintroduce sippy cups for milk, no more bottles ever. The reason I am using these types of sippy cups is because they are BPA and Phalate free and one of the lactation consultants we have worked with told me to use a sippy cup with a straw because the negative pressure sucking a straw is similar enough to the negative pressure sucking while breastfeeding and it might actually make her more of an efficient sucker now that she is older. Also, if the Big Switch fails at 10 months, I will try again later in a few months.

7. When I do the Big Switch, I am going to dedicate a few days to doing nothing but hang around the house with her, so that I can offer the breast as much as possible. I will also be topless most of the day. Penelope always comfort nurses in the bath with me. As soon as I am naked and she sees my boobs, she opens her mouth and makes a dive bomb for them!

8. Once the Big Switch has started, I am going to cut each pump session by 15 minutes or so, leaving me a bit more fuller for her. If it goes well, I will continue to wean myself from the pump in 15 minute intervals.

9. I will try the SNS at all regular bottle feeding times, in hopes that the milk will flow faster for her to keep her nursing for a full feeding. In the past, this has never worked for us, she either can’t transfer enough milk even with the SNS, or it tickles her mouth and annoys her and she wants nothing to do it.

10. During the Big Switch, give her lots of attention, skin to skin and praise. Giving up the bottle, the thing that has given her milk and comfort since she was 2.5 weeks old could be pretty traumatic. Even though its going to be a little traumatic, I really feel that going cold turkey is the only way to get some success. I feel like when we gave  up the paci cold turkey when she was 3 months old (I gave her one at 4 weeks when I felt like nursing had been shot to shit), it was a big piece of the puzzle that helped open the door for her to latch on to me.

11. I will give her more water from her water bottle to keep her hydrated. And closely monitor her pee and poo output.

12. Spend lots of time visualizing success. I am big believer in the Law of Attraction. I need to visualize me putting the pump away, or Hanging Up The Horns as we exclusive pumpers say. I need to see the milk flowly freely and in large quantities from my breast into her mouth and belly. I need to picture myself putting away the bottles and pump parts and see myself nursing her in public or at home, no matter where we are or what we are doing.

13. Lots and lots of praying. I have been doing this every day for her entire life. Every day, I pray: “Please dear God, if its your will, help Penelope figure out how to transfer more milk so I can exclusively nurse her and be free from pumping.”

And on that note, if you pray, please pray for us. To get her to 100% nurse to get the milk she needs at this age, is going to be a full on miracle.

Thank you for taking the time to read this entire post and thank you in advance for any advice you have for us.

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  • Leah
    September 6, 2010 at 9:21 PM

    Hi I have been a FB lurker for awhile, but I wanted to leave you a comment to let you know I will pray for you and Penelope. It sounds like you have a well thought out, detailed plan. Leave the rest up to God, He will take care of it!

  • Jamie Willow
    September 6, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    reading this was impressive. you seem to have a plan and that seems to be more than what most have so you are ahead of the curve on that.

    I will pray!

  • Hannah
    September 6, 2010 at 11:06 PM

    I don't know you or have any advice, but I am rooting and praying for you!

  • Sarah
    September 6, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    I don't have any advice, but some encouragement. I have a mama friend who had to wean for a few months due to a severe infection of her nipples. She was able to relactate and re-introduce breastfeeding to her child. It was hard and took several weeks to get him latching, but she succeeded. I hope that you will too – and you certainly have a great attitude about it. Just know that if you don't succeed, you're still an amazing mom for taking on the effort of exclusive pumping and for responding to your daughter's needs.

  • J Conklin ;)
    September 6, 2010 at 11:36 PM

    which sippy did you end up getting? Couldn't get the link to work. I've tried tons of the special sippys and the Playtex straw sippys are the best I've found and are BPA and phthalate free. Sounds like a great plan!! Prayers to you guys!!

  • Reagan & Aftan's Mom
    September 7, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    I have heard of people nursing exclusively in the warm bath tub b/c it mimics the feeling of the womb and "resets" the baby. I have heard of people doing this for sometimes older adopted babies w/ success, so I would imagine it'd be good for your biological child who is already nursing some. You said that she nurses in the bath with you and does well, so maybe there is something to that.

  • cd
    September 7, 2010 at 3:28 AM

    Pumping sucks! Best of luck to you – hope you can shelve that machine ASAP! 🙂

  • Katie
    September 7, 2010 at 4:14 AM

    My 10mo was traumatized by pain during bf in his first couple of days, and he hasn't bf more than half a dozen times ever. We're dealing with his issues, and I've even tried rebirthing. He asks to nurse, but as soon as he gets to the breast, he freaks out and jerks away like I've hurt him. I've been trying to stop hoping he'll bf, but I just can't let go. I look forward to ideas from your commenters.

  • Tamara
    September 7, 2010 at 4:43 AM

    I exclusively pumped for 15 months, for a lot of reasons. During that time I had a few instances that I really wanted to try to have my daughter learn to be at the breast, but I never went through with it. If I could do it all again I would give it a good hard try.

    Good luck and wishing you lots of love and support. Pumping is a pain, but it is still better then formula. Keep up the great work!

    And, I am sure you have this link already, but if not hope this helps a little with your plan.

    http://www.kellymom.com/bf/supply/relactation.html

  • Anonymous
    September 7, 2010 at 5:58 AM

    The only experiences I can think to add are these…

    My second son is also 10 months old. Although our situation certainly doesn't compare to yours, he has always been very tricky to get to nurse. From 4 months to 9 months (just like my first son), ANY outside stimulation made it impossible for him to focus on BFing. With my first son, I pumped during the day for those 5 months (and he nursed fine at night), but with my second son, I had to go into the bedroom, close the door, turn off the light (and my room is darkened like a cave) so that he wouldn't be distracted by ME either, before he would "usually" nurse completely. Sometimes I think quietly singing helped him to focus.

    Also, you didn't mention nursing while lying down. In the nearly 4 years that I've been BFing, this is usually how we've done it. My first son began playing with the strings on my pants at a very early age, and it became a necessary part of his nursing experience, as it kept him "grounded". I would literally change the pants I was wearing if they didn't have strings on them because if he didn't have them, he would flail all over the place!

    I just thought I would mention these things in case they helped you to think of ideas to apply to your situation.

    I wish you the very best!

  • Michelle
    September 7, 2010 at 7:42 AM

    I have a comment re: your plan (8) above. If you leave yourself "fuller" your body is going to reply by making less milk, so it might be better to try to offer at the time you'd normally pump and then do a full pumping afterwards.

    Also re: nursing to sleep. A lot of women have found it's better to go sleep with their baby in the evenings (for you that'd be 930/1000 you said), skipping that pumping session and instead pumping when they baby wakes around 1 or 2am. Your prolactin levels are higher at this time so make more milk for your efforts. Also, if you can get a 4 hour chunk of sleep, pump, then another 3-4 hour chunk, you may feel more rested than if you get 6 hours straight.

    Also, do you have anyone to help you out in this time? Partner, Mom, friend? Are you going to a live support group, such as LLL where you can SEE how older babies nurse giving you ideas for getting your daughter to the breast more often?

    Good luck.

  • arieschk
    September 7, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Sounds like you've really got a plan and want to make this work! I wish you the best of luck. Pumping DOES suck.
    The only thing I could see that might backfire is the same thing Michelle mentioned before me. If you pump less it will end up causing your body to respond by making less milk. Have you tried shorter sessions but increasing the amount of times per day you pump? Maybe building up your supply just before you make your big switch so she gets more of a reward when she nurses.
    Again, best of luck!!

  • Anonymous
    September 7, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    My oldest was never able to nurse, he lacked a sucking reflex for a very long time. I pumped and he got breast milk exclusively for 8 months. I desperately wanted him to breastfeed, but it never happened. I felt like a failure…I want you to know that whatever the outcome of your plan…exclusive breastfeeding, or continued use of a bottle or sippy cup does not measure the success of your parenting or the quality of relationship you have with your daughter. While there are two of you in this relationship, remember to put her needs before yours in terms of nursing. You are building a loving relationship with your daughter, by meeting her needs beyond what most mothers would do. Most would have converted to formula and been done with it. My son turned out just as happy and well adjusted as his younger siblings who never had bottles. He still got the love and attention he needed, even though he was finger fed and bottle fed exclusively. Not once did he take the breast.

  • Robyn
    September 7, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    I've been exclusively pumping for almost 7 months and my heart still breaks when I compare this to the nursing relationships I had with my other two children.
    I have not given up hope that as he is older and can understand a little better and that his mouth becomes large enough to compensate for his high palate, that he will nurse into toddlerhood.
    I will be praying for you, and following your progress with great interest and hope.

  • Kim Ann
    September 7, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    My friend sent me your blog post. I haven't read your whole blog yet but wanted to give you encouragement. You have a great start that your baby will comfort nurse. That is huge that she will latch and do that so I think you both can do it. Also, has she gets older it doesn't have to be about the milk but can be about the comfort.I agree with you about the cold turkey thing, I too sometimes think that may be what is needed to move to the next step. It sounds like you have a great plan. I second the idea of having your daughter SEE other babies nurse, go to LLL or around friends that nurse and point it out to your daughter. You could also take pictures of you nursing her and make a book that you can read together and talk about how you are weaning from the bottle and just going to get milk from you. I wish you the best and hope one day my little guy will latch back on too. Also, I look at it this way when someone may say I want to nurse for me— I say no it is for him! He is supposed to be nursing and it is not wrong to get him to nurse, it is what he should have been doing and it is good for him I know your blog will be an encouragement to me that I am not crazy for wanting to nurse my older baby.

  • Jill Ball
    September 7, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    Hiya – read with a lot of interest. You sound mentally prepared which is good. I would suggest you offer more solid food. I did a mix of spoon feeding and baby led weaning with DD1 (still bf at 4) and 100% baby-led weaning with DD2 (still bf at 20 months) and by 10 months both had reduced their breastfeeds and were comfortably eating 3 good meals a day and often at least one snack in between as well. Neither are big girls, my 4 year old weighs 32lbs and my 20 month old is about 22lbs.

    A 10-month old nurses very differently from a tiny baby. It's a lot more hit and run and you may well be surprised that she's possibly getting more milk from those comfort sessions than you realise.

    Have you tried nursing in the bath? It can be hilarious but it's also really relaxing especially if the water is a good temp for both of you.

    Most ff friends I know were also dropping bottles by this point so perhaps swap some milk for water with her food? Have you ever tried a doidy cup with her. They can be quite effective although they're very light so not great for older toddlers making a transition between a sippy cup and open cup.

    Anyway skin to skin is always good to stimulate bf. My 20-month old only has to see my naked torso to start asking to nurse. Not great when we go swimming I can tell you lol! Have you heard of baby mooning? If possible spend a weekend in bed with her – eating and snacking too but both topless and just see if that sort of environment makes a difference.

    I am so in awe of any mummy who exclusively pumps for so long. Hats off to you and hold your head up high because you are dedicated to providing optimum nutrition to your baby come what may. Wow!

    In the UK we get 9 months paid maternity leave – not necessarily full pay but at least £480 a month from the state and can be off for up to a year with the last 3 months unpaid – so pumping is a very different option here. I really feel for you US ladies who have to return to work before your babies have even had solids – it must be such a wrench.

    Take care and good luck

    Jilly xxx

  • Anonymous
    September 7, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    I have no advice or answers but I feel you and have alot in common. I've been exclusive pumping for 5 months and "bottle nursing". The people in my life think I'm totally crazy. I think we are amazing! 🙂 I will be sending positive thoughts your way.

  • Lisa
    September 7, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    I'm not in exactly the same position as you, but my son was "supplemented" with formula at 4 months because of failure to thrive. (He was considered by most people to be huge, but his height to weight ratio was off, so the doctor assumed he was starving) For various reasons over the next 6 months, he was getting the bottle for most of his meals, and the breast for bed and comfort, much like your baby. At Christmas, when he was about 10 months old, he was given a sippy cup, and he liked it so much that we just switched him. Well, unintended but totally awesome consequence is that he began nursing more, and we cut out all formula within about a week of the switch because he was nursing so much and so well. So I would say go for the couple days of no bottle and see what happens. She might surprise you!

  • Lucy
    September 7, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    HI. Total respect to you for getting through all this! My dd took 10 days to latch and that seemed like forever. I went cold turkey, which did work for us.
    Some ideas. Cut down on bottle times by introducing a cup. Why not just use an open cup? Cut it down gradually and encourage more breast contact. This need not be for feeding but just for contact.
    Try a nurse-in, ie taking her to bed for a weekend or a day or so and snuggling up with a book, snacks, tv…. sometimes that helps the urge. Just relax and don't stress about the latch.
    The positive thing for you is that she does comfort nurse. That's brilliant!
    Good luck
    Lucy

  • Meghan
    September 7, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    I don't really have any suggestions except have you considered taking some supplements to increase your milk supply? – I have zero idea if this would work but if you took some supplements and had lots of milk for a few weeks it might mimic after birth when milk is in high supply until it regulates with what the baby wants. If you have lots on hand all the time for your daughter it might help.

    Again tho, not sure it would help/work.

    I will be sending good vibes your way tho 🙂

  • Brandi
    September 7, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Is there anything I can do to teach her how to be a more efficient nurser and suck harder?

    Have you taken her to see an osteopath? That's what I did for my little guy. She did cranial manipulation, which helped him to be able to open his jaw wider (which in turn helped him develop a stronger suck). She also messed with his palate, which helped him suck. By the end of just the one visit, he yawned, and it was the first time I'd seen him open his mouth so wide. I also let him suck on my finger, and it was noticeably stronger already. It helped him to both finger and bottle feed much more effectively.

    Unfortunately, he never went on to nurse. I've been EPing for about 8 months now (still at 8 pumps a day though, and still have to supplement. Boo.). I fingerfed him for the first 8 weeks, because I was so desperate for him to latch on. I think if he didn't associate breastfeeding with pain (thanks to the blood draws to check blood sugar that the docs would do every single time I tried to latch him), I might have had more success. He NEVER latched though, so I don't think he ever will 🙁

    I'm really interested to see how things go, because I would LOVE to be able to nurse my baby. Like you, I've tried every single idea/gadget/technique/etc. known to man, to try to get my son to just nurse. My goal is to make it a year.

    It sounds like you have a pretty detailed plan in place. I'll be praying, and hope that Penelope learns how to nurse well.

    I think it's amazing that you've been EPing for 10 months!! Pumping sucks. I really hope that you can hang up your horns soon♥

  • Anonymous
    September 7, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    It may be that no one ever understands why us Mothers tend to want to Mother our babies in a way that satisfies our own idea of who or what a great Mother is to them. I too once walked in your shoes, trying to get my 4th child to BF from me and not the bottle, I mean I NEVER had a great start to BF besides when I had my 3rd & my 2nd was still @2, nursing. It is easy for some (NOT ME) to do what everyone claims to be so natural. I dealt with issues of breast infections before my 1st child was ever even born, to milk blisters & thrush. You name the problem, I've researched or had it. I was very lucky to have a husband that was my ROCK. Reality is you only have them for a short time and you can do your best to give them everything that is important to them when they need it, nothing else really matters. You will succeed in making her a happy healthy little girl, you already have, 6 mths 21 lbs WOW, that is great! Something I may have a bit of advice to is that my youngest was a quick nurser 7 minutes tops was all she ever needed, I swear I really never got a let down started before she would pop off and be done, my others would sit & suckle for hours 'till they were milk drunk, no matter it was all she needed to make it through. I nursed them all according to what they needed, they all weaned at different times for all different reasons, 15 mnths-"milk tastes yucky" I was 6mths preggers w/#2 & my milk changed. #2 weaned by my choice @ 30mths cause "cookies tasted better" & I was exhausted, preggers w/#3 &it was Christmas (holidays are hectic in my house). #4 just weaned against all my best efforts a month ago @21mths a week before my older 3 & hubby went back to school. I have tried to get her interested again but it is officially over. No regrets they all are very healthy happy kids that know that I love them dearly. I have been criticized for my parenting & lost many of family & friends for my choices but it was all for the better. I love to know that there are other Passionate Parents out there willing to make their families top priority like I have. I'm personally VERY PROUD of you and your efforts.
    Best of luck and hoping for more success in all you do!
    Rose Mother of 4

  • existere
    September 7, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    Sorry I can't answer any of your questions, but I CAN say some stuff about baby/child led weaning. It's a myth that only breastfeeding babies can do it. I've got 12 month old twins who have been exclusively bottle fed. We've been doing BLW since they were 6 months old, and you've never seen better eaters in your life! Please do get in touch if you want more info.

  • Stephanie
    September 7, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    Thank you to everyone for their advice and encouragement! I SO appreciate it.

    @Katie…making the boob a "happy" place was one of very first things I did on my road to get her to comfort nurse. The second she fussed or cried, we did something else. I really need to get on telling our story in more detail. I have so many tips and things that worked for us to have success in Penelope having a positive association with my breast.

    @Tamara..yes, I have seen that link, but thanks for sharing. KellyMom.com was a Godsend to me, every time I needed accurate breastfeeding information. I can't recommend it enough!

    @Michelle…those are really good points! I do have lots of support from friends and family, but I have not been going to any official breastfeeding support groups. I have felt very out of place at the ones I have gone too. It was too painful to sit around and watch women breastfeed, while I sat there and pumped or bottle nursed. But I think I would have the courage to go, in order to show Penelope more babies breastfeeding. Although, she does get to see it once a week when I get together with my close friends.

    @Kim Ann…those are great ideas. I actually forgot to mention that in my Game Plan that when I ordered the sippy cups I ordered a couple of "we like to nurse" type books. Penelope has just gotten into being able to sit still for a book in the last few weeks. I love the idea of making her a picture book! Thank you!

    @Brandi…we have never tried an osteopath, but we have taken her to three different cranio sacral therapist,a physical therapist, an chiropractor (two different ones), two different energy healers and an two different acupuncture doctors. Hence, the spending a small fortune part! 🙂 I pretty confident that we have finally fixed all her physical problems that were impeded her to be able to nurse, or cause her pain when she tried to nurse.

  • Jenn
    September 7, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Here from the Mothering FB post.

    My son was born at 29 weeks, and though he was able to latch on and comfort nurse two weeks later, it took us 5.5 months to get to exclusive nursing. He was younger than your baby is now when it finally all clicked, but I really do believe it's possible for you, especially since your daughter comfort nurses.

    have you had a chance to do a pre/post weigh with a lactation consultant to see exactly how much milk she's getting when she comfort nurses? That was a piece of info that was really helpful for me. We rented a scale when my son was finally starting to get more than an ounce at a time, so I could monitor our progress more slowly.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that your body is making milk on a demand basis now, so if she's isn't taking much when she nurses, your body has been conditioned to make most of its milk for those two times a day when you pump. You might consider pumping right after her comfort nursing session to get your body used to making more milk at the right times.

    Another thing to keep in mind i that 10 months is exactly when a lot of babies go through a super-distractible phase and lose some interest in nursing. Don't give up if she seems hard to keep on the boob — it's totally developmental and will pass.

    Good luck! You won't regret making this effort, no matter what the outcome! My little guy is now 2 years and 8 months, and still nursing. It was worth pumping 10 times a day and triplefeeding for 5 months to get there!

  • Stephanie
    September 7, 2010 at 8:24 PM

    Hi Jenn, thanks for the advice!

    We have rented a scale twice, once when she was a newborn and once more when she started comfort nursing. Each time, she can only take in about .5 to 1.0 ounces, both boobs, nursing for 20 to 40 minutes or more. When she was 5 months old, the scale was difficult to use, because she was a 20 pound baby and didn't want to be on it. I wonder how she would do now with it, being able to sit up on her own. Do you think it would still be accurate with a bigger, older baby?

    Such a good point about pumping. I can pump 10 to 12 ounces at each session, so I am very curious to know if my body quickly fills back up after the pump or its a slow increase. Say an hour after I pump, do I have one ounce in my boobs or 10?
    To add more pumps back in, literally makes me feel panicky but I could probably handle it for a bit just to even out my supply.

  • Maureen
    September 8, 2010 at 2:33 AM

    I have no advice to offer… just wanted to let you know you inspire me everyday (though I think you know that), and that I know you will succeed. <3

  • Alli
    September 8, 2010 at 6:03 AM

    I *LOVE* your Big Switch plan, especially dropping off some of the pumping to allow for more milk during nursing. You've put a lot of energy into this, and I believe in you and Penelope. Please remember to listen to your heart and intuition through this process. Blessings on your new breastfeeding life!

  • Alli
    September 8, 2010 at 6:05 AM

    Also, have you considered a chiropractor or DO trained in cranial osteopathy for the TMJ? It could make a world of difference.

  • Sheila
    September 9, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    I thought I posted a comment before, but I don't see it. I'll just post again —

    Before you nurse, it might help if you train her suck a little by having her suck on your finger. If you put it in her mouth nail down and touch the roof of her mouth, it stimulates her to suck, especially if she's hungry.

    I also agree with the notion of changing up your pumping routine to make sure you have milk there for her when she needs it. Since your letdown is trained to the pump, it may also help to pump to letdown before latching her on.

  • Anonymous
    December 19, 2010 at 6:43 AM

    Hi Stephanie!
    By some act of "google" I found your blog and your story and we share alot of the same challenges in BFing our babies! Add to mine, she was 5 weeks early, plus a cleft lip, plus my flat nipples. At one point I had her BFing for 20min each side (awesome!) but then pediatrician told us she wasn't gaining as much weight as needed… as soon as she was off boob and more bottle, she developed an aversion to BF completely and now I am DESPERATE to get her back on and make her a more efficient sucker.
    I would love to know what you did to make the boob a happy place. Did you end up writing about it somewhere here? I really need some ideas on how to do this.
    It's literally breaking my heart to watch her getting further and further away from BFing. Did you end up using a nipple shield at all?
    Thanks for sharing your experiences!
    Cat

  • Stephanie
    December 19, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    Hi Cat!

    That is so awesome google brought you, I still have no idea how the rankings work, but if it came up I must be getting higher up!

    I am so sorry to hear about your difficulties. Are you still exclusively pumping and have a good supply?

    I have not written more about our experience, one because time is hard to come by these days, and two I feel like I am not ready yet. But you are the second person in a week to ask me the same question, so I need get on it!!

    And to answer you question about the nipple shield. Yes, we used one. We used on in the very beginning on day 5. She had destroyed my nipples the first 5 days with her bad latch, I am talking huge chuncks of skin missing, a bloody, scabing mess. So the IBCLC we were working with at that time, suggested we start using it to let my nipples. In hindsight, I wish I hadn't done that. She got even less milk that way, and I think it confused her.

    Later, I would try it intermittently, between 4 weeks and 5 months, as I was trying to get her back to the breast and latch on. It is worth a try for sure, but we never had much success.

    Have you heard about the yahoo group for Exclusive Pumpers? Everyone on there is a EPer and not by choice, mourning the loss of the breastfeeding relationship,etc. It has been an amazing source of information and support.

  • Cat
    December 21, 2010 at 12:20 AM

    Aww Stephanie, thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I really think few people can understand the pain of not being able to BF your child. One of the LCs I saw said to me "you know, it's so unfair, we (LCs) coach women through this process and encourage them to keep at it, then there are moms like you who would do ANYTHING to be able to BF their babies but just have to overcome so many challenges" Sigh…
    And it just doesn't really help when people tell you "well the good thing is that she's getting all your milk, it doesn't matter how she gets it" AAAAAAAAAHHH! Like nails on chalkboard. They just. don't. get. it.
    I will go check out that group! Thanks for sharing it!
    I am EPing still and like you… I'm not ready to give up.
    Thanks again and Happy Holidays! I'll be reading along if and when you decide to share your story!

    PS- I've included my blog post about the things I wish I'd known about BFing my preemie.

  • Stephanie
    December 21, 2010 at 8:45 PM

    Congrats on EPing! Keep up the good work!
    Oh, I feel ya…most mama's just do not get it what its like for us. Hugs to you this holiday season!

  • annette
    May 11, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    Hi, I stumbled opon your blog, and I experienced, and am experiencing AGAIN, the same thing. I had a terrible time BFing my son 3 years ago, and couldn't nurse my daughter 12 years ago. I gave up with my DD, was 21 and didn't have much support. My I EP'd for 11 months, when I gave up, he FINALLY caught on. You are just around the corner for it to work out! Now, I have 5 week old twins, who won't nurse either, and I am going through the pumping hell again. I was very active on IVillage EP boards 3 years go. They saved me so many times. My son after he causght on, nursed untill i was 4 months preg. witht he twins, and he was 2 1/2!!! I also have been visualising the twins nursing, but it is MUCH harder with too. I have tried the SNS and lactaid, and spent a FORTUNE as well on these things, herbs, 3 diffrent LC's domperidone, pumps, etc. etc. I was doing all lact-aid and sns feedings untill theyw ere 3 weeks old and couldn't do it anymore. It's crazy how many moms go thru this. It's GOING to ahppen for you, and your plan is going to work, it's basically what I didn, and the co-sleeping helped ALOT he used to nurse ALL night untill I night weaned him, (latched on ALL night and drove me bonkers) at 18 months. I didn't get AF untill he was 17 mos, so I believe he got a decent amount of BM.
    good luck!!! It's going to happen!!!
    [email protected]
    feel free to contact me!!!

  • Elizabeth
    December 27, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    I know this is an old post but i just found it. My first child was nursed until he was 6 weeks old, then my pump broke and didn't have the money to afford a new one. My second child was born with RDS and did not eat anything until she was 2 weeks old. I pumped for 4 months until she became exclusively breast fed. I pumped every 2 hours until about 2 months, until she started sleeping through the night. With my third child she was born with RDS as well, and didn't nurse until 8 days old. She was a pro, and had no difficulty after. It is possible to train an older baby. good luck!

  • Stephanie
    December 27, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    @annette…sorry to hear about your troubles, thanks so much for your encouragement! Penelope was never able to fully breastfeed, but she is a comfort nursing champ, even now at just over 2 years old!
    @Elizabeth…sorry to hear about your struggles too, but so happy to hear your third was a champ! I am pregnant now and I really hope this baby is a nursing champ!

  • Liz Bruns
    April 26, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    I so wish I would of found your site before I had my daughter 11 weeks ago, I am at the point where I have pump all the since she was 2 weeks old because I had my gallbladder out and she didn’t want to switch back to the breast after having a bottle for 5 days at such a young age.

  • Rachel
    January 5, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    I’m sitting on my bed at two thirty in the morning. I’ve just pumped and bottle nursed my daughter and letting her sleep close a part of our grand plan…my last ditch effort to get her back on. I’m crying reading this. I know it is an old post but sometimes I feel so lonely in my ep story. And I know of no one who has been successful or even has experience in this attempt. I needed to not feel alone. 🙁 sometimes it is so defeating.

    • Stephanie
      January 6, 2013 at 7:51 PM

      Oh girl, I know that pain. Big hugs to you, you are not alone. Read ALL of my archives. There is still hope. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

      • Corina
        February 27, 2013 at 3:20 AM

        Thank you for sharing your story! I NEEDED to read this! I definitely have a love/hate relationship with my pump!! I’ve been EPing for a year and although I’m grateful that I’ve been able to give my daughter breastmilk, I’m so so tired of pumping. I’m giving nursing one last try. I know it’s a long shot but I want to know that I’ve tried everything before I give up. So thank you for sharing your story. It’s nice to know that I’m not crazy for wanting to nurse my daughter so badly, or that at least, I’m not alone 🙂

        • Stephanie
          February 27, 2013 at 4:50 AM

          You are not crazy, nor alone. Please don’t hestitate to email me if you need anything.

  • Karen
    November 13, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    I was researching about how to teach my 1 year old boy to nurse and found your blog. Though it was an old entry, it’s still a very inspiring and encouraging story, thanks so much for sharing! I have visited quite a number of LCs on if I can still teach my 11 month old son to nurse, and all of them told me about replacing breastmilk with other alternatives. I have been a EPer for the past 11 months as my milk supply was low and my son preferred bottle. After 11 months of pumping, my nipples are cracked and bleeding all the time when pumping, and my hands are strained from hand expressing milk, but I didn’t want to wean my son because of this, your story has given me hope and told me I am not being unreasonable for wanting to reteach my son to nurse at 1 year old! Thanks thanks thanks!

    • Stephanie
      November 17, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Anything is possible Karen. Moms who adopt older babies do it all the time! Lots of love and blessings to you both!

  • Mariesa
    May 25, 2016 at 4:28 PM

    I was wondering how this turned out for you? I am currently going through this same exact thing! My baby just turned 8 months i have been forced to exclusively pump… I do 2 one hour pumps (am and pm) and also pump for 20 minutes every 2-2.5 hrs! I’m so desperate. He won’t even comfort suck ☹️

    • Stephanie
      June 15, 2016 at 9:57 PM

      Hi Mariesa. I was able to get Penelope to comfort nurse at 5 months but never escaped the pump. She could never suck hard enough to draw out enough milk for a full feeding and supplement feeder systems never worked for us. Keep up the good work and so sorry for your breastfeeding loss, I know how painful it is.

  • Anindita
    October 10, 2016 at 4:06 AM

    Hi Stephanie,

    I BF my baby for 10 months and suddenly she refuses BF since 5 days ago.

    I am so sad and broken heart by this because im not ready to weaned her.. im planning to BF her until 2 yo..

    After reading your sharing, im positive that i can get her back to BF..

    But im still wondering what makes my baby suddenly out of nowhere stop BF..