I have been so emotional. Crying like crazy, and feeling so sad that my little baby is growing up. Although I am so sad to be done breastfeeding Sorel, I am also SO HAPPY that this chapter is closing.
As moms we often have opposing feelings about stages in motherhood. One moment we’re wishing that our babies stay little forever….and the next moment we can’t wait until they are off to school! We can’t wait until bedtime….but then we stay up late missing our kids & staring at pictures of them. :) Those opposing emotions are exactly how I felt about breastfeeding with both of my girls.
I thought I would share my breastfeeding journey (with both babies) today, along with some tips & tricks to help make the weaning process go much more smoothly! I am NO expert, and every baby/mom is different…so remember that when reading this post!
MARLOE + ME BF JOURNEY:
Right after Marloe was born, the hospital I delivered at immediately put her on my skin. Before they weighed, cleaned, or even cut her umbilcal cord they placed her on my bare chest. They let Colten cut her cord while she layed on me, and within a few minutes after coming out of me I put her right on my breast to nurse. It was CRAZY. She was only minutes old…and she began to suck! It was instinctual & pretty amazing to witness this tiny baby continue to receive nourshinment from me.
Ever since that moment, she didn’t skip a beat. She was amazing at nursing & wanted to eat CONSTANTLY. After a few days, it hit me. The PAIN. My boobs were adjusting to this new job, and they were working overtime. My nipples were hurting & nursing went from being beautiful to straight up MISERABLE. I kept thinking…is this what it’s going to be like? Can I even make it another day?
With every nursing session I held my breath…and just waited for it to end. Along with the pain from my breasts, my uterus was hurting and aching every time I nursed. One thing they don’t tell you before having a baby, is how bad the cramps are when you breastfeed in those early weeks. When you breastfeed your body releases a hormone that tells your uterus to contract. Those contractions KILL. They feel like labor pains, and they are the worst. But on the bright side those contractions help your uterus & belly pooch to shrink a lot faster! Is pretty amazing how our bodies work…and how one thing is a catalyst to another.
After getting through those first few postpartum weeks, breastfeeding was no longer painful. My boobs adjusted, and were tough enough to handle the rigors of breastfeeding a hungry baby!!! I think those first weeks (especially with baby number 1) are the hardest to get through when it comes to nursing. If you can get through those weeks, then you can get through the rest easy! I also believe that having a support system is KEY to keep on going. You need a partner that supports you, and helps get through the hard times. Pain while breastfeeding DOES NOT LAST FOREVER. You just have to get through those hard weeks!
I nursed Marloe all around the clock (on demand) up until she was 15 months. She would get up countless times in the night to nurse, would only fall asleep if I nursed her, and was OBSESSED with “comfort nursing”. I had initially only planned to breastfeed her until she turned one…but quickly realized that stopping was a lot harder than I originally thought. My relationship with nursing had changed once Marloe went from being a little baby that needed the nourishment to a toddler that wanted comfort. Nursing that last month with her was terrible. I developed something called “Nursing Aversion”.
“BAA or ‘aversion’ is a phenomenon that some breastfeeding mothers experience, which includes having particular negative feelings, often coupled with intrusive thoughts when an infant is latched and suckling at the breast (Yate, 2017).” I would start nursing Marloe (she was 14.5 months at the time) & immediately I would feel overwhelmingly agitated, and want her to stop. I realized that breastfeeding was no longer healthy for me & no longer '“needed” for Marloe. SO IT WAS TIME TO STOP FOR THE BOTH OF US. I’ll share my tips for how to do that at the end of this post!
SOREL + ME BF JOURNEY:
Sorel’s birth was MUCH easier and more smooth than Marloes. I feel like most second babies are, and us moms just know what to expect with 2nd & 3rd babies better! After Sorel was born, she was more interested in sleeping, than she was in breastfeeding. It wasn’t tough to get her to latch, but it was tough to get her to stay latched. She would nurse for 1 minute…then pass out asleep. This lasted the first week or so, and I was stressing about her getting enough nutrients. Since she wasn’t nursing near enough, my boobs were engorged. I had to pump them just to get release.
After those first weeks…she finally figured it out! She stayed awake much longer, and was able to empty my boobs, so I didn’t have constant breast pains. I also tried pumping a few times & giving her a bottle. She did pretty well with the bottle (only gave her one maybe 3 times), but she obviously preferred the real deal!!! I love the convenience that comes with breastfeeding. You can feed your baby anywhere and everywhere that you are with your baby.
I did notice that this time around my boobs didn’t hurt nearly as much as they did the first time. It’s like my body had it all figured out better, and everything knew was to expect!
Things went pretty smoothly, up until she got teeth.
Sorel loved to bite me. She thought it was hilarious…I swear everytime she would bite my nipple, she would just start giggling. If you’re a breastfeeding mom that has experienced little sharp baby teeth biting your sensitive nipple skin….then you know HOW PAINFUL IT IS. This was about at 7 months, and I seriously debated stopping nursing altogether. I would pull her off immediately after she would bite, and this taught her pretty quickly that she shouldn’t bite….or no more booby milk!
At 9 months she started to show less interest in nursing, and interest in solid food instead. I should have taken that as a sign to wean her, but instead I kept on going. I would nurse Sorel about 3 times a day & 3-4 times a night….and I was just over it. She was eating more than enough solid food, and didn’t need to nurse anymore. She was using nursing to fall asleep, and it was no longer about actually being hungry. I started weaning a few weeks ago….and last night was our last night nursing EVER.
WEANING PROCESS + TIPS:
I weaned both the girls in pretty much the same way. I started by cutting out all the random nursing sessions, and for the first time didn’t nurse on demand. If my Sorel would randomly whine to nurse, then I would put her in her highchair with food/snacks to distract her. I would only nurse once before her morning nap, once in the afternoon, and once right before bed.
I didn’t however cut ANY night time feedings. Anytime Sorel would wake up, I would nurse her back to sleep. Sometimes it was once in the night….and other nights it was 3-4 times. AFTER A FULL 14 MONTHS OF THAT. I WAS SO OVER IT. Sorel co-sleeps with us, and nursing her back to sleep was more out of convenience…than it was anything else.
In my opinion it’s been easier to start the weaning process slowly. That way your breastmilk supply adjusts regularly, and also so your baby isn’t bombarded with a new routine. Be sure that when you cut out feedings, that you don’t give in. This is super confusing to your baby/toddler and makes them feel like they are in control. They learn that if they cry and scream enough that you will give in. Make sure you don’t!!! Also if you’re weaning an older baby/toddler like I did with both my girls…then you can verbally communicate that your not going to nurse them. I would tell Sorel that my “Booby milk is all gone”. And although she isn’t talking full sentences…I could see that she was slowly understanding.
After weaning out a few daytime feeds, I started cutting it down to one during the day. The only one that really mattered to me…..the session right before bed!! I had been able to get Sorel to sleep during the day (without nursing) by wrapping a warm blanket around her and rocking her to sleep. When you’re used to nursing your baby to sleep for so long, you think there is no other way they will fall asleep. But I promise, if they get tired enough and they KNOW they aren’t getting to breastfeed, then they will eventually fall asleep on their own. You just have to be okay with them whining and crying for a few days while they adjust to it!
NIGHT TIME WEANING IS THE HARDEST FOR ME.
When you’re an exhausted parent, you’ll do anything to get your baby back to sleep. Losing those late night/early morning sessions is the hardest for most moms. But I have learned through both my experiences that it can be done. You just have to be persistent and consistent.
IT TAKES 3-4 NIGHTS…AND THAT’S IT.
I’ll be honest with you, the first night will be hell. It will take everything in you not to give in and nurse your screaming baby. Continue to tell your baby that its “all gone”, and comfort them back to sleep. If you give IN even once, they will have their grip on you…and they will scream even louder the next time to get you to give in again. SO DON’T!!!!! YOU CAN GET THROUGH 1 HARD NIGHT! :)
The next following nights are WAY better. Your baby may wake up the same amount of times, but they will most likely begin to learn that you aren’t giving in…so they will give up a lot quicker and go back to sleep. Keep water (not milk) by your bed to give them if they seem thirsty. This way you aren’t giving them those extra calories that they are used to!
Sorel woke up a few times in the night on nights 3 & 4. She cried for a second, and immediately fell back to sleep. On night 5, she didn’t wake up ONCE. I WOKE UP FEELING LIKE A NEW WOMAN!
Although I had cut out the night time sessions, I had continued to keep that one sessions right before bed. I kept that session for a few days after ending the nighttime sessions. I did that because my boobs were engorged and I wanted to ease into weaning as slow as possible. But last night was my very last session. The strange part, Sorel didn’t even seem interested in nursing. She seriously nursed for about 5 minutes, then popped off to play. Its crazy that we are already to this point with our second child….guess it’s time to start this whole process over again with another baby! ;)