I get asked about my weaning journey often.
I breastfed my son from June 2020 to February 2022. It was a 20-month journey for us.
Before I weaned, I was convinced the hardest days were behind me. Joke on me.
Weaning was a different type of beast.
(Please note that I am not a lactation consultant. I'm a breastfeeding mama sharing what worked for her. Please always seek advice from a lactation professional or doctor if you have any concerns.)
I'll start by saying my toddler would have breastfed until he was 5 if I allowed it. He was, in no way, ready to wean. However, this mama was EXHAUSTED, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
My son rarely (when
I say rarely I'm not exaggerating) slept more than 3 hours without waking. We have bed-shared with him since he was fresh out of my belly so a lot of his breastfeeding at night was solely for comfort. I was the queen of popping my boob out to get him back to sleep as quickly as possible. No shame. He would nurse on and off all night. Eventually, this start to impact my mood since I wasn't getting quality sleep. I was waking up touched out and exhausted.
This made my weaning journey a bit more difficult because he was used to sleeping in our bed and being able to nurse frequently through the night. I decided that at night, I would sleep in our guest room and he would sleep in our bed with his dad. That's the thing about my son if I was out of sight, I was out of mind. So if I was near him in any capacity he would sniff the boob out instantly.
The feedings right before he took nap or went to bed for the night were difficult to drop. That was the only way I knew how to get him to go to sleep. So in reality I had to learn how to soothe my son all over again. I felt like I was a new mom all over again. Thankfully I was able to lean on his dad to hold it at night and I just had to push through the nap time since he was at work.
The morning feeding was the last to go. That was his favorite, He would run to the guest room and be ready to nurse. Honestly, they were my favorite too since I would be engorged, and that was our bonding time. I started having milk ready for him before he woke up or would turn on a show for him in the morning to distract him from nursing. He fought it for a while but eventually got used to it.
During the day I would try to keep him distracted and busy to keep his mind off of nursing. I dropped the day times feedings pretty quickly, I just did my best to cave and not nurse him during the day. I treated it like it was my 9-5.
I wore Bandaids ALL DAY and a sports bra to keep my son from going into my shirt
(My son has hulk strength and learned how to rip the band-aids off) I would put like 4 band-aids on each boob to hide the nipple.
Okay, for my next tip, Please don't come for me, it worked for me. I would spray Apple Cider Vinegar on the band-aids. If he tried to nurse I would say "Mama's milk is old eww" Honestly, he thought it was funny. He would come and sniff and say "EW" and then laugh. Eventually, He wouldn't even try after that. If you know the smell, you get why.
But in all honesty, the thing that worked the best was being patient and taking it a day at a time. I tried to go cold Turkey SO MANY TIMES and would get engorged and then end up letting him, nurse. So we were stuck in this draining cycle for a while. I tried to wean for months, but once I made up my mind that we wouldn't do it anymore, It took about 1.5 weeks to 2 weeks to fully wean.
I would let him cry and have big emotions about it because I know it had to be tough for him. SIS when I say he cried, HE CRIED. I cried with him most of the time. Especially during nap time. It would take me about an hour to get him down. I would call my fiancé crying cause I felt horrible and overwhelmed.
I knew I had to stay focused on the goal, even when I wanted to cave. The inconsistency was making it harder to let it go.
I gave him grace when he acted out or would be irritable because weaning is hard for them. Nursing was his drink, his pacifier, his comfort, his quality time with me, and his safe space. It provided so many benefits to him. I get why he didn't want to stop. That's what made me feel the most guilty.
So fast forward to today, my son still shows signs he misses nursing. He tries to breastfeed randomly, and it has been 4 months since he's nursed. He still puts his hand in my shirt for comfort at night, and his eyes still light up when he gets a peek at my boobs.LOL
So, I am interested to see how he handles it once his baby brother arrives in November. I will have to keep you updated on that one.
If you are thinking about weaning or in the process, I send so much LOVE AND PATIENCE. Just know everything you're feeling is valid. IT'S NOT EASY. Just stay consistent and do the best you can and do what works best for you. Every child is different and you know yours best. What works for someone else may not work for you. Everybody has advice but tailor it to fit your lifestyle and family.
For example, the gentle weaning was not it for my son, it confused him, but also cold turkey sent my child into a panic (and me)
You got this mama! Congrats on your breastfeeding journey. Whether you did it for a day or a year. YOU DID THAT!!!!