Two months ago I wrapped up my breastfeeding relationship with my son, we breastfed for about 21 months. I had had plans to wean Davis at a year, easier said than done. We had been offering him food since he was 6 months old and he welcomed the experience of eating solids. When he turned one I experimented with dropping a few breastfeeding sessions throughout the day, but I was not very consistent. When I was truthful with myself I realized there was no rush. I stilled enjoyed breastfeeding and he seemed to still need it. Breastfeeding was a helpful sleep aid and seemed to provide comfort and relief for my teething baby.
I tried to let my heart led me in my weaning process. Every couple of weeks I’d check in with baby and myself and experimented with dropping feedings. One of my first successes was to stop nursing in public and create a personal and kind of sacred moment around our nursing sessions. This also required me to begin bringing snacks along on our outings. In retrospect organizing meal times with solids was one of my weak points. It probably took me about six months to find breakfasts, lunch, snack and dinner routine for my son. I believe at about 15 months Davis and I were down to three distinct breastfeeding sessions within a 24 hr period for naptime, bedtime and a quick middle of the night snack to get him back to sleep. This felt good as I perfected solid meal offerings for my son.
Nursing my son before sleep time was a routine that became tiresome to me around 17 months. I wanted my partner an active role in the getting ready for sleep routine. Since he works nights he began bottle-feeding him goat or cow’s milk before putting him down for nap. This felt liberating and helpful way to parent as a team.
At about 19 months I felt over breastfeeding, but felt confused how to wrap it up. Davis was eating well and rarely breastfed during the day. Our breastfeeding routine was centered around sleep. After a long day I enjoyed our feeding session before bedtime, but it was the middle of the night waking and using breastfeeding as a sleep aide that was wearing me out. After a month of feeling a slave to breastfeeding I need some help and guidance, I re read a chapter in Kim West book The Sleep Lady’s, Good Night, Sleep Tight, she recommends disassociating sleep with breastfeeding. So not to shock my little one too mush I switched our routine a bit, I nursed my son when he woke in the morning (something I had not done in a few months) and shortly after dinner, but before beginning bedtime routine. This transition went surprisingly smooth. After 3 days I eliminated the evening feed. Inspired by a friend who began weaning her child I stop nursing all together about two weeks after my initial change of routine. The middle of the night breastfeeding sessions where the hardest to stop, but we cuddled and cried our way through and within a week he stopped asking. A month after quitting breastfeeding he is sleeping through the night.
My engorged breast was the worst aspect of weaning for me and was extremely painful. I believe my experience was so extreme because I had a slight breastfeeding at night relapse for two nights right before officially stopping breastfeeding all together. Therefore inadvertently I had upped my supply. After eight days the swelling went down and I stopped regretting my decision to end breastfeeding.
Since ending breastfeeding Davis interests in food is exploding. I am enjoying exposing him to different types of food and helping form his healthy eating habits. Although I feel like I fumbled through the weaning process and of course hindsight is 20/20 upon reflection it felt pretty organic and the timing seemed perfect for both of us. The best advice I could give is to listen to your heart during the process.