Weaning: How I Stopped Breastfeeding
It's officially been about 2 weeks since the last time I breastfed my daughter! You moms out there who are currently exclusively breastfeeding or who have done it in the past, you know exactly how I am feeling right now. To think, there were times I couldn't even go 30 minutes without breastfeeding and now I don't have to do it at all!
I know every mom has mixed feelings about breastfeeding and when it's "the right time" to start weaning. However, I am very aware that not every situation is the same and no mother and child are alike. Therefore, I am beyond content with my breastfeeding journey and I truly feel it came to an end at just "the right time". Judging by how quickly and easily my daughter was able to become adjusted to not having breast milk during the day, I think my method of weaning was very successful and just right for us. (*For more on how I began the weaning process during the daytime, click here.)
I must admit though, weaning her off the night feeding was not as easy. On my last post in which I discuss my weaning process, I was only breastfeeding her at night in order to get her to fall asleep. Ever since her two top teeth cut through about a month or two ago, I had been anxious to stop breastfeeding altogether. The pain was somewhat bearable when she only had two bottom teeth in the front but, now with the front top two to match, it was like being stuck in between two sharp thorns!
This has been the routine for the past two weeks (something that has been very difficult to try to maintain being that we have been residing at a temporary location):
1) Once we get home from work and daycare, she gets a snack and is allowed to watch some kid-friendly Youtube videos ("Baby Shark, her favorite among others.) while I prep dinner.
2) After dinner, it's bath time.
3) I give her a sippy cup with about 5 ounces of regular milk (*This is another plus of breastfeeding exclusively, you never have to worry about getting your baby off using bottles because they were never on them to begin with.) and usually read her a story.
4) I lay her either in our bed or in her bed to finish her milk while she watches one of her favorite shows with all the lights in the room off.
On my lucky days, she is extremely tired and will gradually end up laying down and falling asleep. On other days, it will take her about an hour to finally begin to whine down and fall asleep. On really bad days, she will cry until I take her out of her bed and lay down together with her. On the positive side, ever since I started implementing the sippy cup with regular milk at bedtime, she has not even tried to breastfeed like she would in the past. There have been a couple nights where she gets really fussy and has difficulty falling asleep. I can tell that it is because she is missing the comforting and soothing effect that breastfeeding had on her. Also, this has helped to keep her from waking in the middle of the night. Yes, at 15 months my daughter still had nights where she would wake up to feed at least once. There were a few times she did wake up in the middle of the night during this transition and all I did was just lay her in my bed next to me and just comfort her until she fell asleep again.
In terms of how my body has been adjusting to the change, I was not feeling any pain at all during the process. As I mentioned before and in my weaning tips blog, I did gradual weaning so that eliminated any severe engorging of my breasts or possibility of mastitis. For the past two days however, I have been feeling a lot of pain and soreness in my breasts. Although they have not been engorged or any signs of lumps at all, I checked to see if I was still producing milk by hand expressing and it turned out I was. I have read that it is normal to feel some discomfort and pain weeks after weaning. Also, that depending on how long you nursed for, you may continue to produce milk after weaning. In other words, it may be a long time before I'm completely dried up!
Mentally, I am relieved to have already ended with nursing. For me it literally feels like one of the many heavy weights I carry on my shoulders has been lifted. I no longer have to think twice or pre-plan before I decide to have a glass of wine or a beer. I no longer have that worry about whether or not I am producing enough milk for my daughter. I no longer have to stay up at night with my daughter glued to my chest in my arms. Most especially, a full night of sleep and NO MORE BACK & NECK ACHES from breastfeeding! It's like I got a piece of myself back. On the other hand, emotionally, I have been a little melancholic about the whole thing. I have found myself really missing those special moments we shared together just my daughter and I. It truly is a unique, special, and priceless connection that stems from providing your child with nourishment. Not to mention that it just makes me realize even more how quickly she is growing up and leaving the "baby" stage to become a toddler.
Again, every baby and situation is different. My method may work perfectly for my daughter and me in our current lifestyle but, it may not work for others. I just wanted to share my experience and what I have learned in order to provide a little insight to mothers who have not yet passed this stage in motherhood. As you have probably heard many many times, motherhood is really all about trial and error. Especially, the first time around so, go with your motherly instincts and please trust that you will know exactly how to go about it once you are there. It was a real struggle at first and my mind was overwhelmed with concerns but, eventually I figured it out...and you will too! I would never trade having this experience with anything in the world, no matter how painful, no matter how many sleepless nights, no matter how much wine or beer I had to pass on. Nothing will ever beat accomplishing this intrinsic artistry we have been given as women and mothers...
...Sew This is Life!