Real Moms Share: Weaning from Breastfeeding
Just as every mom's birth story is different, so is every breastfeeding relationship, from the first latch to weaning. I think it's important to share our experiences during motherhood with others, because your experience and advice may help another mom who is struggling with the very same issue you had. Here are just a few moms sharing their stories on weaning from breastfeeding.
I had to use grapefruit seed extract with both my boys when they came to the point (Archer 2.5 years and Leo 21 months) of using me as a pacifier. It was becoming frustrating for me with both, but the guilt I felt was immense. It was somehow rapidly forcing them out of babyhood into toddlerhood and cutting our special bond. Snuggle time was more important at that point. It was similar to transitioning to their own beds… simply sad, though necessary.
Soren was 16 months and I was about 4 months pregnant. He latched one day, took a few sucks, unlatched and said “ewwww,” and never looked back! Very bittersweet! Happy my boobs had a little break before Roswell came.
I ended up weaning my first at 8 months because I became pregnant again. I fought to pump what I could, tried supplements, lactation cookies, everything but my supply was decreasing. I had no idea at the time I was pregnant. When I went to the OB, he told me the first 6 months were the most important and I made that goal. He told me that his concern was the pregnancy and nursing during pregnancy could send me into preterm labor. My personal goal was a year. I was devastated. I am currently at 8 months with my second baby and I hope we don't wean any time soon. I found out my OB was an uneducated prick, so I could have for sure nursed through my pregnancy, so I was understandably upset about the whole ordeal.
– Tiffany Amber Horty
When I decided I wanted to wean soon it made me more emotional than I thought it would. I pumped so would have enough milk to have jewelry made (not an easy feat when you haven't pumped in 2 years and only breastfeed about 3 times a day). I still haven't weaned or had the jewelry made. At this point it's easier to keep going, but some days I am so over it.
My daughter weaned at 2.5 years, when I was roughly 6 months pregnant. We had started night weaning a few months previous, in an attempt to move her out of our bed before baby arrived. It seemed that her complete weaning was both sudden and gradual all at once. She had been nursing less and less, and one day she woke up and asked for water instead of “baba”. Two weeks later, she wanted to nurse again, but there was nothing left. She lost her latch, sloppily attempting to extract milk as if I were a sippy cup or something. I cried when she looked up and sadly said, “Oh no, it all gone!” As soon as my son was born, she wanted to try nursing again, but still had lost her latch. One time she shocked us both by getting it right and sputtered on the milk she got, making baby brother laugh for the first time! She has pretty much given up attempts now, just a week shy of 3 years, but will drink pumped milk. Now I have another nursling, so I didn't have any long-term emotional turmoil over the ending of nursing my eldest. I think it saddened me most that I no longer had an easy and foolproof way to calm her or comfort her when she felt poorly. At the same time, I felt free for the first time in 30 months. Combined, I have breastfed these babes for about 33 months.
I struggled to nurse my first child and we both gave up around 8 months – it was a mutual “decision” and neither of us seemed any worse for the wear when we stopped. So with my second, who had a much stronger nursing experience, I still expected to be able to stop when I was ready, but she had a totally different plan! I stopped pumping at 13 months and she had whole milk during the day but I still nursed her at nights and on weekends. That was fine for a while, but after a few months I wasn't making much anymore and she was mostly just doing it for comfort. It also started hurting some nights when she just wanted to nurse herself to sleep but there wasn't much milk, and she would nurse for over half an hour – ouch! I was fine with the comfort nursing until it hurt, then it became a struggle. I really wanted to stop, but felt guilty because I knew that a lot of people nurse well beyond that age and it's still good for the baby. I tried offering a pacifier instead to try to wean her, but she was only mildly interested. I struggled emotionally with it for a few months – one week I was in tears and ready to be done, and the next week I felt like it was fine and I loved snuggling with her at night and it wouldn't last forever so I should enjoy it while it lasted! I really wasn't making any milk worth speaking of, however. Last week, at 18.5 months, I got strep throat and had to take antibiotics, so we decided to pull the plug. My husband put her to bed for a couple of nights and that was it. She still sometimes tugs at my shirt and fusses a little when I am rocking her to sleep (and she figured out a long time ago how to unbuckle the nursing bras through my shirt and does that all the time!), but she has seemed to accept the fact that we're done.
I nurse because it's natural and inexpensive. I don't feel the emotional connection through it and I admittedly look forward to weaning.
With my first, we nursed for 11 months solid and then my supply started dwindling (increased running dehydrated me and I didn't realize). He was fully weaned just before his first birthday and I felt so glad to have my body back. It ended 21 months of feeling like my body wasn't my own.
With my younger son, I had to pump exclusively for the first 4 weeks while he was in the NICU and then we had a tough time latching. He finally figured it out, but, at three months old I'd be lying if I didn't say I celebrated being 25% through.
I love my kids and I will nurse them for health and to save money, but I do not miss it when it is over.
I made it to 6 months with my oldest and 4 months with my second before I gave in to my work schedule, and exhaustion and switched to formula full time. My youngest (who is now 4) was born premature and had some health issues so i spent all day and night in the NICU and then the CCU alternating between feeding her and desperately trying to will my body to work with a pump for when i had to be home with my other 2.
Pumping has never worked for me. I could not get more than 2 ounces no matter what machine or manual pump or even hand expression I tried. When I eventually returned to work, this time I had a job that allowed me to go feed her on my lunch break. I was determined to make it to 1 year. She had other ideas though. At 9 months she decided she was done. She absolutely refused to latch, wanted nothing to do with it. Being done the 3rd time was much more emotional for me, I think because I knew she was my last baby.