Our breast-feeding journey together lasted 15 months. Just a little over a year. I shared a little about the difficulties we had with latching in the beginning, I'll repost for anyone here.
Before I begin to describe how we slowly weaned together, I just wanted to say how grateful I feel that I was able to do this, for the both of us. I know for many women this process doesn’t come easy. Sometimes our bodies don’t allow us to be able to breast feed, our schedules, or many other countless reasons. However, for me breastfeeding did so much more than feed my baby. It boosted my confidence in all situations. For one breast feeding in public was never scary to me. Luckily it was just she and I in our own little world, where she was hungry and I fed her. I never once heard any remarks that are so very common, if I had heard one my response may have been different. I learned that pumping is a full time job. Kudos to those mamas who exclusively pump. You deserve a second medal, because it’s just as a grueling schedule as the baby’s schedule. I pumped for about two weeks exclusively as she got accustomed to fully latching, and that was tough. Making a warm bottle in the middle of the night is way more work than, plopping them on while your close your eyes. Respect. Knowing you have a support system that agrees with your decisions also makes it easier. Being able to provide for her on a whims notice with support from my spouse, family, and friends; and knowing that I could comfort and calm her in almost any situation made me feel so grateful and blessed that I was able to do that for her.
Which in turn, made it pretty hard when we had to start weaning. I never knew when I wanted to stop, I was going to leave it open ended. Maybe she would wean herself? Maybe at 18 months? It was left undecided, until I went to my OBgyn. I went in for a regular yearly visit; I had not been since before she was born. Long story short after some blood results it showed that I had to go back on a medication that I previously was on, that treats my unusually high levels of Prolactin. You cannot breast feed while taking this medication, so that became my reason to wean. I went to the doctor on April 30th and she was fully weaned, sleeping through the night (7:00pm-6:00am) by May 24th. I started the very next day after my appointment. I had read a bunch of forums and watched different videos on YouTube so I made up my own version using some ideas from other moms. The plan was to limit the breastfeeding time each week, and also begin to incorporate some books before naptime. Eventually replacing breastfeeding before naps with a few books. We were already reading before bedtime so this seemed to make the most sense. Plus I didn’t want her dependent on any other type of liquid or treat to fall asleep. I was also only feeding about twice a day at this point since by now she was eating full meals. I would feed before naps, and right before bed. She would still wake up 1-2 times during the middle of the night for a comfort feed. These feeds would last two minutes tops and then she would fall right back asleep. I’ll break down my schedule I followed, and go into a little detail about each week. I used my phone timer, and a few of her favorite books, that’s all it took.
*Nap time. BF and set timer for 5 min. When the timer goes off, de latch and sit her up, and read two books. Then place her in her crib.
*Bedtime. Continue with nightly routine; bath, books, BF. Set Timer for the same 5 mins.
Then place in crib.
*Nap time. BF and set timer for 3 mins. When the timer goes off, de latch and sit her up and read two books. Then place her in her crib.
*Bedtime. Continue with nightly routine; bath, books, BF. Set Timer for the same 3 mins.
Then place in crib.
*Nap time. BF and set timer for 2 mins. When the timer goes off, de latch and sit her up and read two books. Then place her in her crib.
*Bedtime. Continue with nightly routine; bath, books, BF. Set Timer for the same 2 mins.
Then place in crib.
*Nap time. BF and set timer for 1 min. When the timer goes off, de latch and sit her up and read two books. Then place her in her crib.
*Bedtime. Continue with nightly routine; bath, books, BF. Set Timer for the same 1 min.
Then place in crib.
Week 1, Day 1
It was Rough! I told her as she was eating that we were going to read some books, so she knew what to expect. I also told her when she hears the bell that means no more. I had to de-latch her the first day. There were tears, she was mad. I sat her up and started reading. She cried through the whole first book. The second book she had calmed down a little, and she recognized some animals and let me know what she saw. However, as soon as I put her in her crib, she was pissed. She cried for almost 40 minutes. It was awful, and hard, and I wanted to go in but I knew it would set us both back. She wasn’t hungry because she had just eaten a full lunch prior. I knew it was just something new and she didn’t quite understand it yet. That night wasn’t so bad. She was used to feeding and then bed, so it wasn’t too different. The only thing that was different was the length of time she got to feed before bed. She cried for maybe 10 minutes before falling asleep. But.. that night, SHE SLEPT THE ENTIRE NIGHT! She woke up at her usual comfort-feeding hour, but I didn’t go in right away. She made some noise, tossed around, and then she fell back asleep on her own! That moment made up for the stressful afternoon we had.
Week 1, Day 2-7
. Day two during nap time she cried for 12 min. A huge successful jump forward. Day 3, she cried for about 5 minutes. By day 4 and 5 she was falling asleep on her own. No tears. She was even enjoying her books by now and picking out which one she wanted to read first. She is also still sleeping through the night. This part was so crazy to me. She would wake up like clockwork at 11:00, and around 2:00 every night for her comfort feeds, and now she was completly asleep.
They pretty much followed suit as before. She was now de latching all on her own when she heard the phone timer. She was excited to read as well. I took this process really slow, as to not shock her or myself too much. I knew she had been feeding for over a year so I couldn’t just suddenly stop with out letting her know why. For my own supply too, by not suddenly stopping I avoided any Mastitis or engorgement. I will say I did have to hand express milk out a few times, as they were feeling pretty full. I chose not to use a pump, as I only wanted to get enough out to where I felt comfortable again. Once I had hit the fourth week I was getting sad. Friday would be my last day, because Saturday night I was going to be out with some friends visiting so I knew I had to have Friday be my last day. Well Thursday night came around and that was unknowingly my last day. It was bedtime and she had stayed up a little later than usual and she was very tired. We were doing bedtime books and my husband was reading and he told me let’s just put her down now. Which to me I assumed that meant, ‘Ok enough books, let’s feed her and put her down’. I went into our bedroom where the nursing chair is and I waited for him to bring me her. He suddenly pops in alone. I’m like “Where is she?” and he says, “I put her down, that’s what I said I was going to do”. It was obviously a misunderstanding of each other, but I also didn’t hear a peep from her. She had fallen asleep with out me, all on her own. I sat there and cried. I wasn’t prepared for it yet. Friday was my last day; I still had one more day. I wanted to take a picture. I wanted to just hold her a little longer and be in that moment. If only I had known that that afternoon was our last time together. I knew I couldn’t go back now. If she feel asleep once, she could do it on her own now. I was pretty emotional about it, and it still makes me sad, but I am so proud of how she has grown.
It has officially been over a month since weaning. Where now she completely sleeps through the night: and naptimes now consist of reading books, her picking out which stuffed animal she wants to sleep with, and her saying I love you! I swear she says it and it’s the cutest thing ever! Now when she cries, I give her hugs and tell her that it’s ok. Try and distract her with anything I can find, or pick her up and take her outside that usually always works. I also wanted to share that I do also give her a liquid multivitamin with Iron, and in the AM she drinks about a cup of protein enriched Almond Milk. There is a great post about vitamins and toddlers on the Feeding Little’s website that I found very helpful. I wanted to make sure we are still covering all our bases now that she is no longer Breastfeeding. It was a wonderful experience and journey that we had together, and I learned so much from it. I can’t wait until I get to experience this beautiful moment again, but until that time comes, waiting certainly has it's perks!
Stephanie + Brittany here! We'll be sharing different topics week to week depending on what life throws at us! Funny moments, frustrating moments, heart to hearts, epiphanies, ideas, thoughts and anything in between.