Friday, December 28, 2012

Weaning- As Much of a Journey as Breastfeeding



Not easy, but worth it
photo credit: Piccsy

     When I decided to breastfeed, I made it my own personal goal to make it to a year. In the beginning it was really hard, but once I passed the initial stages (every hour feedings and scabby nips) I really felt as though breastfeeding was way easier than bottle feeding. It became almost my lazy way out of Mothering. No bottles, no prep, no hauling stuff, no formula to purchase, and really not much planning. Other than the physical and emotional commitment of constantly nursing and being connected to your baby it was a breeze. It was when I started to consider how to STOP breastfeeding that this whole thing became a little less "blessing" and a little more "curse."

        First of all, no one prepared me for this. Maybe it is my slightly type A personality, but I like to know it when a challenge is headed my way. Having a c-section...ok.....scabby nipples....ok.....sleepless nights....ok. I was prepared for all of these things. Having a kid who only wants boob at a year and throws cows milk back in your face? Not something I ever thought would be a problem.

    So there I was, smacked in the face with the fact that my kid only wanted the boob. I was not only unprepared but I was anxious. You know that pit in your stomach and that feeling that makes you nervously wring your hands and lay awake at night? Yeah, I felt like that....for a while. I mean what if he cried for days while i tried to wean?  What if he needed to continue breastfeeding to feel safe and connected to me?  What if he would never drink cow's milk? So what I did what every probably every Mom does when she is nervous about her child's health and development...I googled the problem. I googled and googled and  found that the majority of all websites about weaning tend to stress why you might NOT want to wean. This just wasn't very helpful to me. I needed help and answers to my questions.

     When I went to the pediatrician for my one year visit I explained my concerns, "He wont take a bottle, he refuses cow's milk, how am I supposed to do this?!?" My lovely pediatrician calmed my fears with her explanation.  She said that it often takes time for them to learn to drink cows milk and suggested that it would take patience and perserverance. She suggested I forgo bottles altogether and start with a sippy cup of some sort. She eased my fears by explaining even if he always refused to drink enough milk that we could ensure that he was receiving enough calcium and vitamin D through his diet. We could even give him a vitamin supplement if need be. She stated that I shouldn't hold up weaning (if I was ready) despite the fact that my son had not yet established good milk drinking habits. Hearing all of these things gave me the confidence boost and permission I needed to continue.

   Armed with good advice (and a little more sanity) I went home and began the weaning process anew. I decided that I would feed Weston 3 meals a day in his highchair with 2 snacks in between to try to stave off any hunger and distract him from what he was missing. Then I did something that some mothers may view as poor parenting. I mixed half a packet of Splenda into his whole milk. That's right people, I gave my one year old artificial sweetener, go ahead and judge. This was not doctor recommended and I did not read to try this anywhere. Necessity is the mother of invention. It was out of necessity that I invented, and it worked!  He started to drink his sweetened cows milk and over the next week I put progressively less Splenda in his milk until he was drinking plain cows milk from a sippy cup. Hooray for little victories!

   We also started new routines. Instead of breastfeeding in the rocking chair prior to naps we now sing two songs or read a board book while we rock. This new routine allows us sweet quiet time and lots of cuddles, but the singing and reading has taken the place of the feeding.


   So, you may wonder where are we now at 13 months old? Weston drinks plain whole milk from a sippy cup (after trying about 10 cups we found one with a straw he drinks well from) throughout the day. We have officially transitioned from breast milk being the mainstay of his diet to food being the major source of nutrition with milk being a compliment. We have weaned all the daytime feedings. The two that remain are upon waking up and when I put him to sleep. I am struggling a bit with letting these last two feedings go. While I never imagined that I would breastfeed my child past one it has still been hard to let go. These two last feeds allow me quiet, calm, non-moving, sweet times with my active boy. Letting these last feedings go will indeed be letting go the last of his babyhood but I am both happy and sad that the time is coming soon.

   I would love it if you would share with me. Did you breastfeed? What was your weaning journey? Was weaning for you a natural progressive thing or did you struggle a bit as well?



 

48 comments:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. Great Tips.

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  2. I had a similar problem with my daughter who was refusing cow's milk. I bought the Gerber yogurt smoothies (banana flavored) and mixed it with cow's milk. Each day, I added progressively less smoothie until she drank just the milk. Worked like a charm!

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  3. My_Twisted_FairytaleDecember 28, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    I never breast fed - just wasn't my thing and my daughter loves all kinds of milk but my niece has never liked milk, she even stopped drinking formula when she was younger.
    Great Tips :)

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  4. I'm in the process of weaning my 2 year old. My older children still don't really drink milk from a cup, although they eat other complimentary dairy foods. Redirection and offering other forms of attention and special time is key. My youngest never really took a bottle, but drinks water and juice from any number of cups just fine.

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  5. Hello from the blogger group! Great to actually read a POST versus reading a product review or a giveaway. LOL. Anyhow, I totally understand the weaning process. I've got 3 young sons. My 6-yr old was the longest nursing baby (2 yrs) and weaning was actually pretty easy; he just sort of grew bored with it, casually, until I just stopped offering it and he stopped asking. My middle son, now 3, nursed for 9 months, then didn't want it anymore. That was the same with my 13 month old now. He nursed about 9 months, and then didn't want it. No problem weaning! But the way my boobs deflated, I almost wish they'd have weaned at 10 years old or something ;-)

    Serena
    Thrift Diving

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  6. I am glad you did this your way. I unfortunately was only able to nurse my daughter for the first two months. Now that I am due with my son in a few months I am wondering how it will go with him. Every mother and child's journey is different. Best of luck with the final weaning!

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  7. What a great post - I just love reading your writing! Thanks for sharing your journey. Unfortunately, breastfeeding didn't work out quite as well for me as I planned with either of my girls, so I never really experienced weaning, but I can imagine how truly hard it is both physically and emotionally on some children and mothers.

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  8. sounds like you have a great pediatrician. that is so important.Also the best advice ever...skip the bottle..Glad you did that! trust me you will be too!!

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  9. I did breastfeed,but that was over 15 years ago !! No more for me!

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  10. I breastfed my middle child till he was about 2. I started to ween him then and it was tough at first but I got pregnant soon after I started and he stopped when we told them about the baby. Thanks for sharing your story. I like reading about other moms that breast fed.

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  11. I had such a hard time with weaning - even though my daughter really didn't! We went to fifteen months, then she weaned because I was 5 months pregnant...I have to admit, I miss that time.

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  12. I had to skip bottles entriely as well with my daughter. Sippy cups saved my life.

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  13. I exclusively breastfeed my 7 month old. I never used bottles or pacifiers so I will be going straight to sippy cups for drinks. I do everything baby led so I'm in for the long haul :)

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  14. I breastfed all 3 of my kids and it is definitely an emotional roller coaster I am so proud of mom's out there that stick with it and weaning can be so hard on mom and baby.

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  15. I wasn't allowed to breastfeed due to my meds I had to go back on after Little Man was born but no complaints I got a little miracle so I'm thrilled it was a great exchange in my opinion

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  16. We tried breastfeeding, and didn't make it very long. I was devastated - I had planned to for at least 6 months, hoped for a year. But, we all do the very best that we can, and have to just be content knowing that's all we can do :)

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  17. Bridgette, I hadn't thought of using the Gerber smoothies. That's also a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

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  18. Thanks for sharing Serena! Very interesting that your kids were different regarding there desire for breastfeeding. I feel ya on the deflated boobs haha.

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  19. I would love to hear about how things go with your next child! Goodluck and best wishes for whatever works for the two of you.

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  20. Lindsey,

    Thank you so much for saying you enjoy my writing. That means a lot! Even though you didn't wean your girls from breastfeeding, did you wean them from the bottle? Was that difficult?

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  21. It is such a bittersweet thing. The funny thing was when I set out to breastfeed I thought at a year that would be it. My plan was to cut it out cold turkey at a year. Joke was on me. haha. Have you already had your next child? Will you breastfeed your next child longer? Same? Thanks for sharing!

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  22. Coupon Gal, Thanks for commenting and goodluck to you and your babe on the long haul :) Enjoy this wonderful time!

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  23. I agree that it is very hard to stick with and yet at a certain point....so hard to stop. Weird isn't it?? Good for you for breastfeeding all three of your kids!

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  24. A friend once told me, "No one shows up in kindergarten with a sticker on their head that says breastfed." We are all Moms. We all feed our children. No matter how you feed it is not without difficulty or love. Congrats on your miracle!!!

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  25. I said it in another reply and I am going to write it to you as well.


    A friend once told me, "No one shows up in kindergarten with a sticker on their head that says breastfed or formula fed." We are all Moms. We all feed our children. No matter how you feed it is not without difficulty or love.


    I totally agree that we all just have to do what is best for ourselves and our little ones!

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  26. Kelly, Thank YOU for reading it!

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  27. I tried to breastfeed my daughter, and she starved for the first five weeks of her young life. I didn't have enough milk no matter what I did. So for six months, I pumped and supplemented with formula. After six months, she bit me, and that was it! She never went back to breastfeeding. You've done well!

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  28. I would never judge you. My thoughts are the opposite...creative problem solving. You should work in the corporate world. It has been a long time for me but I did breastfeed both kids until they were one. I don't remember any real issues with weaning. Good luck to you and Happy New Year!

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  29. First I planned to breast feed for a year. Three years later still at it. I would like to wean and I complain about breast feeding but I think I secretly or subconsciously don't really want to.

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  30. I'm still breast feeding my 3 year old. I complain about breast feeding to my husband but I haven't been able to bring myself to wean. I wonder if I subconsciously want to keep going. She's our 4th and last. Maybe I'm not ready to give up my breast feeding career.

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  31. My son is 13 months old and we are in the exact same boat. He's nursing 2-3 times a day now which is fine with me. Before it was multiple times a day and most of the time just for comfort. After he turned one and started drinking from a sippy cup on a regular basis he slowed down with nursing some. Since he only nurses a few times a day (usually before a nap or bed) I'm going to just let him decide when he's done. Best of luck to you and your nursing journey!

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  32. With #1 I did not bf very long. I think I only tried for a week and pumped for a month. With #2, I nursed for 4 months before getting selfish and quitting so I could partake in the weight loss program at work. Needless to say, I still miss it. Fortunately, with #3 (due in March) I hope to nurse for much longer so we shall see what happens then!

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  33. My_Twisted_FairytaleJanuary 1, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    I did not breastfeed but weaning my daughter off the bottle was hard. I'm not sure if it's because I was pregnant and didn't have the energy it took to be consistant or something else.

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  34. My son is 18 months and we are still breastfeeding. UGH. In the beginning I said that I would stop at 1 year. That was before we found out he has a milk protein allergy. He is also allergic to peanuts, which is scary but much easier to deal with. His milk allergy has had us at the E.R. several times. He has anaphylactic reactions to small amounts of milk. I try to give him other types, but I don't blame him for not wanting them. They taste awful. His allergist actually says it's good that I still breastfeed because my body breaks down the milk protein that I consume and exposes him to it without setting off his immune system, making him likely to build a tolerance. Oh me...

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  35. I am a breastfeeding mama and am starting to try to wean my daughter. She will take cows milk from a sippy but she is not quite a year (will be on the 17). We will start to give her more when she is officially a year and see how it goes. So far she is doing good with the whole milk though. I am scared of how I will feel when she no longer breast feeds though. I have questions and concerns about myself and my breasts after she no longer needs them. I just hope it goes smoothly.

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  36. I must confess to loving this post. I chuckled at giving your baby Splenda and don't think any less of you for doing so. I too am a RN, but currently SAH full time with my daughter.

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  37. I was planning to breastfeed however I tried and it hurt me a lot...then i didn't produce milk so my baby has been on formula and has reflux issues which i felt very guilty about since I think he may not have had this problem if I would've breasffed and tried harder and harder. You are amazing for having stuck to breastfeeding! I'll definitely be stronger if I have another baby.

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  38. I'm planning on nursing to 12 months, at least. We're at 8 months now and going strong. Too strong. My son still wakes up 3-4 times every night to nurse. I would love to get just a little more sleep. Of course ALL of my friends' babies that are the same age or younger are sleeping at least 7 hours straight, so I just feel like I'm doing something wrong. I'm looking forward to weaning to just be done with the burden (yes, gasp! most of the time now, nursing is just a burden to me), but I'm not looking forward to the process.

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  39. I was right in the same boat with you!! W didnt sleep through the night until almost 11 months. It was a killer. In the end my pediatrician ok'ed some sleep training and that's what we did. I promise you your not doing ANYTHING wrong. Parenthood is this crazy game and we are always just playing it the best we can! Also, I was totally looking forward to weaning (like dying to) until I reached my goal of a year....and now its hard to let go. Happy Parenting!!

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  40. Liz,
    Breastfeeding or not you are an amazing Mama I am sure. Don't feel guilt re: reflux. I breastfed and W still had reflux!!! Nothing that can be done about these things. Thanks for reading and posting!!

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  41. I am so glad it made you chuckle Sarah! I kinda love it that you and I are both Rn's turned SAH. Its cool to have someone in the same shoes as me. How old is your daughter?

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  42. Totally hear you. I think weaning (no matter what it is off of) is probaly hard.

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  43. Goodluck with number three! And congrats!

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  44. Pam, Thanks so much for viewing my post as "creative problem solving." I kinda love that! My Mom calls me "Little Miss Alternative" because I am always trying to figure out a way to make things work. Happy New Year to you too!

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  45. I'm glad to know I'm not alone, thanks!

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  46. I only breastfed for 2 weeks but when it came time to get Andrew off formula, he didn't hesitate and starting drinking cow's milk. But now that he eats way more food, I find that he's not as interested in drinking milk. In fact, sometimes I feel like we're lucky if he drinks 8 oz a day! WTH is up with that? I'm seriously considering ovaltine or hershey's syrup in his milk so he'll drink it.

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  47. Arg! I am so not ready to even think about weaning. My daughter is 15 months. I am allowing her to continue nursing for as long as she wants. I am hoping to continue our breastfeeding relationship until she is at least two but hopefully older.

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