It's been 36 hours since I last pumped and 48 hours since I last breastfed my daughter. Sounds like I'm in an AA meeting, doesn't it? But no...I've just weaned my daughter after a year of nursing.
As I blogged about last week, weaning from 4 to 2 nursings a day wasn't as difficult as I thought. But as I also wrote, and expected, dropping the last two (morning and night) was definitely more of a challenge. But as they say: the deed is done.
Before I continue...for all those breastfeeding moms who are deadset against weaning until their child does it on their own (hello, 8 year old!), please don't bombard me with your hate mail. I am, by no means advocating for early weaning. I am simply trying to help mothers who are already planning on weaning their breastfed children, by sharing my own experiences...all of which were a combination of trial and error and pediatrician recommendations.
Since I've already written, in detail, about my experience getting down to these two last feedings, I won't repeat all that. If you'd like help on starting the weaning process by cutting all feedings except for the morning and bedtime, I suggest you read the post on "Bye Bye Breastfeeding Pt. 1" before continuing further.
So to pick up from where I left off...about a week ago I was only nursing my daughter in the morning and in the evening. I decided, since she seemed slightly more attached to the bedtime nursing I would leave that as the last to cut out completely. Before I can explain who I cut out the morning I need to explain our normal morning routine.
Olivia would wake up around 6am. I would go into her room and nurse her immediately in the rocking chair in her room. I would then bring her into our bedroom and let her play on the "big bed" while my husband got ready for work. Around 7 we'd all go downstairs and within a half an hour I would start her on breakfast. I would then put her down for her first nap around 9:15 or 9:30. When she woke up from the first nap (around 11) I would give her a snack and then feed her lunch around 12 or 12:30.
I knew that cutting out the morning breastfeeding session would mean that I would have to give her breakfast pretty much as soon as she woke up. But my husband brought up the point that we should probably change things significantly enough that she realized things were now going to be different. The biggest thing we did, is had my husband get her out of her crib in the morning. Instead of bringing her into our bed to play, we went downstairs. My husband would occupy her for a few minutes until I could get breakfast ready...usually fruit and a waffle, pancakes, or toast and a sippy cup of whole milk. (I tried to include something kind of dry so she would be more likely to drink the milk. But remember, by this point she was already a fan of milk, which made it easier.) Around the same time, she's also been slowly extending her morning wake time. Because she eats so early now, she needs a snack (usually some yogurt and apple sauce or half a banana) before her morning nap. This actually works out well because it's allowing me to slowly push her nap back closer to 10am. By the time she wakes up around 11:30 we play for a little while and then I feed her lunch around noon. I give an afternoon snack before the second nap which holds her over until dinner. I followed this routine for about three days before weaning from the last and final feeding.
Actually, the opportunity kind of feel in my lap. My husband and I were going out to dinner and my neighbor, girlfriend, and the mother of my daughter's same-age playmate babysat for us. (We do a baby swap so we can all have a couple's date every few weeks.) Anyway, I knew that when offered a bottle or sippy cup, before bed, my daughter usually refused it...but still went to bed fine and slept through the night. So, I told my girlfriend to offer her expressed milk in a sippy cup and/or a bottle. Olivia refused both, as I thought, but went right off to sleep. That was my opening (and it's now your excuse for a night out sans the baby!). I told my husband while at dinner, that if she didn't take the bottle/sippy cup that would be the end of breastfeeding. Even though she went to sleep without the milk, I wasn't sure how well she'd take it when I was there...ya know, boobs bulging with 24+ hours worth of milk. So tonight was our big night. Instead of nursing my daughter, I used that same time to read her a few books and snuggle in the chair where I normally breastfeed her. My husband and I laid her down did the normal routine and left. She didn't like that too much. In fact, she cried for about 10 minutes. I thought she might need a little extra snuggling tonight, it was her first night of non-nursing. So I rocked her and rubbed her sweet little face for a few minutes. I laid her down, awake and she drifted off to sleep.
It was tough not to nurse her...that precious little baby doing the baby sign for milk, not to mention I forgot what engorgement felt like...but we're done. With each day it will get easier for both of us. While I already miss the closeness and the special breastfeeding bond we shared, I think we're both ready. For us...it's time.
Weaning 101: Tips for Breastfeeding Moms
More Breastfeeding Resources
And just to leave you on a high note...that's my girl (and the son of my wonderful friend, Christie!)