The time has come. Every breastfeeding mother arrives at this point sooner or later. I am talking about weaning. Initially, Kristin and I discussed my writing this post about a month or so ago as my intention was to wean Ellie on or soon after her first birthday. I’ve mentioned before, I am a planner. I like to have things in order and to be able to plan out, at nauseum, how things will play out. What is it they say, the best-laid plans often go awry? That seems to be a quote that many parents can live by. Sort of a delightful take on Murphy’s Law for parents. Regardless, I find that with most mom things, life works itself out in its own way. Often not how you planned.
When Kristin and I discussed this post and I began writing, I quickly realized that I wasn’t mentally ready to share my weaning process. It took an emotionally toll on me I wasn’t ready for. Ironically, I can relate some of my feelings surrounding weaning to learning to breastfeed. Frustration. Exhaustion. Struggling to understand my kid in a whole new way. Crap. Maybe I actually have a pre-teen on my hands.
There are plenty of ways to wean, some people do the cold turkey method and others come up with some master variation of gradually reducing their feedings. I chose the latter. Mostly because I try to avoid pain and the possibility of getting mastitis at all cost. Plus I wasn’t in a rush.
My pump/nurse schedule on a typical (pre-weaning) day looked something like this:
6am – nurse on one side and pump on the other
9:30/10am – pump
1pm – pump
4pm – pump
7pm – nurse
10/11pm – pump
I was provided a lot of advice and did a fair amount (hours, let’s be real) of research. What I ended up doing is slowly cutting out the pumping at work. For the first couple weeks, I went down to two pumping sessions a day at work. Then the following week I pumped once a day at work. Then I stopped pumping all together at work and only pumped/nursed twice a day – and how glorious it was to no longer have to drag around that cumbersome pump. Initially, I then planned to cut the evening nursing, and finally, the morning feeding. Most people recommend cutting out the night nursing session last, because that’s the most challenging one to wean baby from. Zach puts Ellie to bed at night, so it’s actually the morning nursing session that will be hardest to wean for me and the one I intend to wean last.
Daycare has been great about transitioning Ellie to whole milk, she actually is just taking sippy cups there now. This is amazing for me because I no longer need to prep bottles in the morning.
As a final note, weaning is something that is specific to baby and mom. No one can or should tell a breastfeeding mom how and when they should wean. I was taking in a lot of this static noise and putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Interestingly enough, not one single mother who is or has breastfed gave me their opinion on when a nursing mom should wean. I only got this unsolicited advice from mothers who never nursed or people who do not have children, yep, because their the experts (insert eye roll here). It wasn’t until I allowed myself a little grace that I was in a way better place mentally to accomplish this. In the end, Ellie and I will continue nursing twice a day until we decide we’re done. And I’m happy with that.