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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Breastfeeding 101: Weaning

Weaning...such a scary word. Even a bad word in some circles of Mommy's.

I remember joking in the beginning that I would be the one that would have to be weaned, because I loved the bonding experience so much I thought I could do it forever. Little did I know there was a lot of truth to that, just in a different context.

Mini-D breastfed for 9 months from the tap when she decided she wanted nothing more to do with it. I didn't have time to take a "nursing retreat" or whatever you want to call it. I had to go back to work on Monday and she would get a bottle. She still nursed from the breast at night until about 13 months, this time I weaned her. I exclusively pumped for her until she was a year old even after she weaned. I knew I had done my best for her, but I also knew that extended breastfeeding had it's benefits. Luckily, I had three months of stored frozen milk to offer her.

Anyone that has tried to wean themselves from the pump knows it is NO JOKE. Your body is used to producing a set amount of milk on a schedule. Stopping cold turkey is not an option, and can actually be hazardous for your health.

So how did I wean myself from the pump? 

I didn't use compression's or leaves or anything like that. I just slowly cut down my pumping time at each session. After about two weeks I completely cut out one of my pumping sessions altogether. After the third week I would only pump to relieve the pressure. It took me about a month to wean completely from the pump.

What about night weaning? 

By 13 months we were only night nursing. She still wasn't sleeping through the night so we thought weaning may help us all get more sleep. I think we were ready to close this chapter of our journey. In order to wean mini-d at night I would hold her close to me and give her a little bit of breastmilk in the bottle. Because she was so familiar with taking a bottle already she really didn't have any problems. Now weaning her from the bottle, that took another 6 months.

PS: She still isn't sleeping through the night...

When mini-d stopped nursing at night I was still producing quite a bit during the night-time hours. If I couldn't sleep because of the pressure pain I would get up and go express milk in to the bathroom sink until I felt enough relief to go back to bed. This again lasted about a month...or two.

I will say that drying up is almost as painful as the beginning of your nursing journey, but again, SO WORTH IT.

Side Note: Don't mistake mastitis for typical drying up pain/pressure. Know the signs of mastitis. If you start running a fever and experiencing flu-like symptoms consult your physician.

Looking back I am so proud of my nursing story. The emotions when I stopped nursing were a little overwhelming, but that may have just been the hormones talking. Research tells us that breastfeeding until at least two is ideal. I'm going to tell you that breastfeeding at all is something to be proud of. Whether you nurse your baby for 6 weeks or you are still nursing your 3 year old, you are a rockstar! Don't feel ashamed if you have to stop for unforeseen circumstances. Like my Daddy always said..."as long as you tried your best and gave 100%, that's all that matters."

Much Love, Misti

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