Sunday, August 12, 2012

on weaning

I suppose you could say Bennett has been weaning since he began solids at 8 months.  The definition of weaning is "to accustom an infant or other young mammal to food other than its mother's milk," after all.  Right now I am trying to get him to nurse less at night and during the day.

I feel a little selfish, but I don't think he needs to nurse as often as he does.  I think he's just in the habit of it, if that makes sense.  Bennett has been nursing every three hours during the day and night.  It's too much.  I'm tired.  I'm working on cutting him back to four feeds a day and one-two feeds at night.

It's working really well, but now I'm worried he's not getting enough.  Or that he will up and quit nursing on me when I really want to nurse him to two years if we're both happy with the idea.  I also use nursing to calm him down when he gets overly tired, upset or sad.  I'm already fretting about the moment when I have to calm him and I don't have the power of mama milk on my side.

Bennett's almost a year.  I'm proud of us making it this far, especially after our rough start, and the part of me that always worries about how I am doing as a mother is quite pleased that he's only had breast milk.

After our first successful latch in the NICU

I know I'm not ready to stop nursing Bennett yet.  We both benefit from it and now that he's nursing less I miss him a bit.  I feel like he's growing up, becoming independent already.  There are days when I think, "it's been five hours since your last feed!  You poor starving baby!"  And there are days when I think, "it's been five hours since your last feed!  Thank you for the break."  I wanted to breastfeed at least a year and now that we're almost there I hope to make it to two, but if Bennett weans sooner that's fine too.

When did you stop nursing (or pumping)?  How did it make you feel?


  1. I stopped nursing when my little person was well over 3 years old. I knew it was time because I was more and more annoyed with nursing (pictures of mama moose kicking their young away to make them wean come to mind). I worried so much about how we'd both feel, whether some special bond would be severed too soon, etc, but actually everything was just fine. No bonds were severed and we were all a little more relaxed - it was time, apparently. Of course I missed nursing a little, and maybe part of me still does, but it's like other stages - you might feel a little nostalgic for the "trying to crawl" stage but at the same time you are looking ahead to the walking and running stages and the adventures those stages will bring.

    Kudos to you on nursing (very nearly) one year! That is a fantastic accomplishment. I'm rooting for you to make it to two, if that's what you and your little guy choose. :)

  2. I felt guilty about needing a break, and that was as we got to around 9-10 months. I was having some nipple problems, so that didn't help matters. I would have similar thoughts as you (is he getting enough?) so I started to supplement, and looking back, I wish I hadn't done that. But he still nursed a couple times during the day and once at night (after I started refusing to nurse him 3-5 times per night, as I was losing my sanity). Around 13-14 months, I cut him off from night nursing, so he decided he didn't want to nurse anymore if it wasn't on his terms. It was a little sad, and I always feel some sort of misplaced mom guilt during ANY transition, but overall, the emotional aspect of it passed, and we moved on. I still have my snuggly boy, but now we cuddle while we read a book or even while we watch a little Elmo, or he'll sit on my lap to eat breakfast. Once the emotion of weaning passed, it was great, because now there's all this freedom! But it was still a special time, and if we could have nursed longer without it always being at night, I definitely would have! Good for you on making it to a year, and hopefully beyond!

  3. I fought really hard to breastfeed - I had terrible trouble very early on (an ulcer in my nipple that wouldn't heal and meant I had to take painkillers to feed) and had to supplement with formula, then pump, then use nipple shields. I managed to get to exclusive breast milk by about 6 weeks and continued to 6 months when I had to cut back because I was going back to work. I didn't have the option to pump (I teach) so I managed to get to 3 feeds a day by 8 months supplemented by formula and solids. I continued with that till he was 10 months when he dropped the morning feed and the early evening one and I was left with the bedtime one, which we kept going till he was 15 months and he didn't want it any more. From about 14 months he would mess about and bite me etc, so it was clear he was getting to the end of it. I planned a "last feed" and would have wept buckets had it got to that, but he then got a stomach bug that meant no milk for 24 hours and we just never went back. That was 4 months ago and I still leak a little at night, which is really annoying. Like Devon, the emotional bit passed and we do still have lots of cuddles - just not while nursing - and now I know that when he cuddles it's because he wants *cuddles* not milk ;-).

  4. Wow, this is so me! With both babies. I share many of your feelings. Angus weaned at 15 months without encouragement from me, only that I was 15 weeks pregnant again so it had been a steady decline, looking back in hindsight, since I got preg again. Juliet still feeds quite frequently during the day and at least once or twice overnight but I don't see the end in sight with her, especially as I'm not planning another baby.
    You're doing a great job. I totally understand how equally wonderful and difficult it is. Neither of my kids have ever had a bottle and that is a huge thing to be the one and only milk producer and supplier. I remind Simon how lucky he is every day as he's never a dad who has had to get up and do night feedings! xo

  5. Aeryn just stopped nursing a few weeks ago, and she is almost two. When she was about 11 months I had to start cutting back, too. We had a medication-resistant thrush infection and the constant nursing just wasn't helping with the healing process. She almost weaned in February, and was down to just a few nursings a week, then suddenly changed her mind and wanted to nurse all day again! I sure have mixed feelings about her weaning. She's not the easiest nurseling, so part of me was very much ready. But part of me still feels sad. And now I no longer have any way to get her to take a nap during the day (other than a car ride, which I'm not willing to do just for the purpose of napping). She's been night-weaned for ages, but not nap-weaned. So now every afternoon is just hour after hour of cranky toddler until she finally decides it's night time and she's willing to go to bed. :(

  6. Kaia's over a year old now and I'm down to pumping once a day (and hand expressing once usually because my boobs HURT SO MUCH from being overly full). I still get about 500-600 mls a day for her. I'm cutting back slowly because a) it really hurts to drop pumps (this has been the hardest, going from 2 to 1/day) and b) I want her to get breast milk as long as possible.

    I'm planning on continuing to pump once per day even though I go back to work this week, but I'm planning to stop pumping for good in early September when she'll be one year corrected (14 months actual). I assume I'm going to have to pump at least every 36 hours or so for awhile due to engorgement, but I hope to be all dried up by October (HA! It took me MONTHS after Aidan died to dry up...actually I'm not sure I ever completely did...)

    I'm so proud I've pumped for over a year. It's gotten easier and easier to fit into my schedule as I've dropped pumps and I almost look forward to it now since it's a solid block of time in the evening where I just get to sit and watch TV or read. I'll probably always be a little sad I didn't get to nurse Kaia, but sometimes when I see the struggles other women have with it (being the sole 'feeder' for MONTHS, the initial pain of getting babies to latch, trying to switch on to a bottle when having to go back to work, the dependance on mom and her boobs for comfort), I wonder if being an exclusive pumper wasn't such a bad thing. It might not be as 'natural' but it worked for us.

    Congratulations on getting to this point with Bennett.

  7. B is reaching 6 months soon and I obviously am not going to provide advice but empathize!

    I really fear the day I won't have mama milk to calm him down. It's literally a reset button for him as well. Overly tired? Nurse him. Fussy? Nurse him. I want a break from walking all around with him in my arms and want to write a quick email? Nurse him.

    What about when nursing is over. Scary stuff!


thank you!


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