I sat there and nursed him for one of the last time and cried. He put his hand in the other side of my bra like he always did, he snuggled in and looked up at me like he always did. I cried so hard. I wasn’t quite ready for us to be done, but I knew it was time. I took a few photos and a video I will keep forever… those nursing days are some of the best. I love that deep mother/child connection and I feel so lucky to have been able to nurse him for 14 months. That time was such a gift.
Here is how things went:
My plan was to nurse him until he was ready to be done. That was my plan. I thought it was a good plan… but sometimes plans change and things dont go exactly as you would expect. If I am being honest, I felt really guilty weaning him, even at 14 months because I had put these massive nursing expectations on both of us because of my nursing experience with Ezra. (Not my ideal and I vowed that the second time around would be different.)
That was my first mistake. Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we put extremely high expectations on ourselves as mothers, especially ones that we cannot fully control? Anyway, don’t do that. First mistake. Create a plan, yes… make a goal, yes… but don’t kill yourself over it and don’t feel guilty if things don’t go exactly how you wanted them to. There are two people involved after all, and we cannot control how our little ones are behaving or feeling!
Here is the why:
After 14 months of nursing, Curren and I had a pretty good nursing relationship. But as he got older and more active, he started to want to nurse CONSTANTLY. Any time he would see me he would run over and pull my shirt down (or up). Any time I sat down he felt like he needed to nurse. If he was bored or concerned, sad or even happy, he would nurse. I wanted to be his comfort and allow him to know me as his person without feeling the need to connect in that way every time. Because a lot of the time, I couldn’t stop what I was doing (for the 100th time that day) to nurse.
I was afraid that if I weaned him our relationship would change. I thought that he might not want to connect with me, like we did in those sweet nursing moments. I was worried that his fast paced toddler roam around would take over and I would lose touch with my babe! (Which was also a silly assumption… I am, after all, his mother. His favorite. ????????)
Here is the how:
- We started weaning in the night first. I was nursing 1-2 times per night up until this time, so this was kind of a big deal. Clay took over the night time wake up calls. When he cried, Clay would go in with a bottle of water. At this point, he wasn’t crying out of hunger, but just out of habit. We wanted to give him a little bit of familiarity, so we brought in the bottle just so he had that sucking motion. He wasn’t happy about it. At all. He wanted me, he wanted to nurse. But after a couple of nights he realized Mom wasn’t coming in, and accepted that Dad was there with water. Water is way less exciting. ????
This went on for a few days (maybe a week?) until he eventually started sleeping through the night! We didn’t need to do much more, he wasn’t interested in waking up for water and learned quickly that I wasn’t there to nurse him in the middle of the night anymore.
During the day was a bit harder. A lot harder, actually. He wanted to nurse and I had to say no. I tried the 3x a day nursing and that just wasn’t working for us. He was still trying to nurse all the time. So, as hard as the decision was, we decided to quit it… cold turkey. I cried. SO hard. But looking back, it was the best thing for us.
- When he would try to nurse, we would shift gears… go on a walk, get in the car, pull out a toy. If Clay was home, I would leave the room for a few minutes until he forgot. This went on for a while, probably 2 weeks or so. Not going to lie, there were moments when I would cave and just nurse him which prolonged the process. But I missed it, he missed it, and I think that was ok.
- Snacks were also key. I had snacks with me on hand ALL THE TIME. I would reroute his need to nurse with a little snack and it would usually be enough to distract him for a little while.
- I used a little hand pump with me and pumped whenever I became engorged. Just enough to ease the pain, not enough to create an additional let down. I only pumped maybe .5 oz each time. (If you pump too much, your body will react by creating more milk which will prolong the process. If you can get away with no pumping at all, that is probably best. But they were really engorged and I continued making milk for some reason long after weaning…) I went on a little trip (3 days) and that really sealed the deal. I used the hand pump while on this trip in the same way, only enough to take the edge off.
- I also used cabbage leaves over my breasts to help soothe and decrease inflammation. To do this: massage the cabbage leaves and put them inside of your bra for about 20 minutes (no more than 3x per day.) I also used ibuprofen and massaged any large lumps while in the shower that occurred during weaning to ward off any possible mastitis.
Fast forward a month and a half, and I am here on the other side of weaning to tell you it only got better. He can now sit with me and cuddle without feeling the need to nurse, which is so great for both of us! I feel like our connection is even better now. Weaning and nursing is such a personal journey. Do not place guilt on yourself for your decision! You know what is best, each situation and scenario is so different. If you and your baby are both happy and have a wonderful nursing relationship, keep going! It is so great for your baby to have that additional nutrition and comfort through their babyhood. But if one or the other is unhappy and you feel it isn’t going well, it is okay to considering going a different direction. There is no right way to do motherhood, we are all doing our best… only you know what is best for you and your baby.