I’m about to begin breastfeeding again in just a few weeks and I am happily looking forward to it! :) It’s not that nursing is easy or without its challenges, but it is SO rewarding and enjoyable once any issues are resolved. I truly have loved breastfeeding my kids. ♥
Weaning is bittersweet, though. I have always found it to be a relief, of sorts, when the time has come because it really is a big job that takes a physical (if not emotional) toll on me. But, I also never really feel completely ready for the effect weaning has on my relationship with my baby. Of course it’s necessary, but it’s still hard.
Related post: Homemade Nursing Necklace
I have no idea how nursing will go with baby Elizabeth, or how/when weaning will go down, but I wanted to share my three weaning experiences so far because they are all so different from each other, even though I am (obviously) the same mama!
I had a very easy time with her, both with the actual nursing part and then with weaning. She took bottles of expressed milk from my husband while I worked part time and had no real issues to speak of with breastfeeding from me. She slept through the night by four months. Easy, right?! I had decided that breastfeeding for exactly one year was my goal and it seemed to really match up with her personality, so it was a breeze to implement. I didn’t just stop nursing her at twelve months, though; I wanted it to be a gentle and gradual process.
Because she enjoyed eating solid foods in her highchair, I just started replacing nursing sessions with meals at the table after her first birthday. First we got rid of the morning feed; instead of milk, she had French toast, cereal, or eggs. She still nursed mid-morning. Then, a week or two later we did away with the lunchtime feed and she ate a sandwich, or pieces of ham and cheese, fruits, etc. instead. Mid-afternoon was still milk. Then, dinner went a few weeks later, and finally the evening/bedtime nursing was replaced by snuggles on the couch and a bottle of water. She was fourteen months old when she was completely weaned.
He wasn’t exactly difficult to breastfeed, but he was challenging at times. He was a big boy, eating almost all the time. He was 8lbs1oz at birth and was 20lbs at just six months. It was hard for me to keep up with his appetite. He wouldn’t take a bottle from anyone (but I no longer worked outside the home, so it wasn’t a catastrophe). He woke to nurse all through the night, every night, and by the time he was one year old, and weighing 28lbs, I couldn’t see continuing for much longer. But we did for a few more months.
He nursed to go to sleep for naps and bed at night, so weaning was not the easiest thing to do. It wasn’t just a matter of replacing feeds with meals at the table. I tried different things to change our routine for going to sleep, and in the middle of the night, I attempted to just cuddle instead of nurse. But he was pretty unhappy. He fought me and wouldn’t let me cuddle him – but when I’d give in and nurse, he wasn’t happy, either. Finally, at sixteen months, my husband and I decided it was going to have to be that he take over bedtimes for a whole weekend and see if Joshua would adjust.
It was miraculous. Remove breasts from the room and he was happy as could be. Go figure! And once bedtimes didn’t include nursing anymore, he started sleeping through the night. He was completely done at sixteen months.
This little guy was my most enthusiastic nursling. He didn’t eat any more than his older siblings did as a little baby, but how long and how often he nursed as he got older made them look as if they’d been totally uninterested! As a toddler, he requested milk (or, “nook”) throughout the day and would just grab a burp cloth and climb up into my lap. He was a little sweetie pie! I had a fair number of problems with the actual nursing part; from clogged milk ducts to having a severely painful (tiny) cut on my nipple after being bitten, it was not easy to continue breastfeeding him.
As we approached his second birthday, I was feeling like it was becoming too much. I wanted to be done, mainly because my husband and I were trying for another baby, but also because I didn’t like the idea of nursing beyond the age of two. I gently weaned him by limiting feeds to nap and bedtime. He didn’t like it, but it helped to make the transition. When he was 25 months old, I got a painful breast infection that required antibiotics. Because of my allergies and the already-limited meds allowed during breastfeeding, I ended up taking a drug that required me to wean. He actually took it quite well, and after just two days, he stopped asking. That was it, we were done.
♦ ♦ ♦
Emotionally, I found it the hardest to wean Samuel, perhaps because we weren’t given a choice in the matter but I also think it had to do with how happy and interested he still was in nursing at the time we weaned. My advice for weaning any age is to do it as gradually as possible; the breasts are able to adjust more comfortably and emotions don’t run quite so high. ;)