Baby Motherhood Parenting

End of an Era: Weaning Off Breastfeeding

May 9, 2017

IT’S THE END OF AN ERA FOR BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS LIKE ME. IT’S TIME TO WEAN.

Two years and three months, baby.

I breastfed my daughter for two years and three months and I am damn proud of it, thank you very much.

Sleepless nights, back pains, gross lactations, breast swelling, sacrificing my favorite wine and spicy food, hassle of not having enough nursing wear, having to control your pee and poo while feeding, basically not having a decent “life of your own” for more than two years… Sounded like a nightmare, but hey, EVERYTHING WAS WORTH IT.

Truthfully, this is not about showing off or bragging about how far I’ve come. This is a celebration of victory – of conquering any difficult circumstance to achieve what you want for your child. I may have shared in previous posts about how I started my breastfeeding journey. It was definitely a bumpy road…

Just a quick refresher: Right after giving birth, I had to be wheeled to the NICU every 2 to 3 hours to feed my hungry baby but there she was crying because I had very little milk (almost none). We did that for 7 days because she had an infection and we had to stay in the NICU for a week. I tried pumping and hand expression in the hospital too but still couldn’t get enough, which stressed me out, made me depressed, and made matters worse. We continued to latch and I had to endure the pain of wounded nipples. But things started to get a bit better with the help of vitamins and good food. When I returned to work for a month after maternity leave, I had a difficult time balancing work and pumping my milk. I had to decide and I chose breastfeeding over my career. Through the whole process, my husband has been very supportive but I never really had someone to coach me or give me advice. I don’t have a sister and all my friends were still single, engaged, or newly married. I had to endure everything alone. My mom has always been there for me but with breastfeeding, she was not much of a supporter because she didn’t have experience. She never got to breastfeed my brother and me. She also thinks the baby needed formula milk to become healthier. But I refused. My daughter only started drinking other forms of milk at 1 and a half. For one year and 6 months, she was exclusively breastfed. Several months ago, our pediatrician also started discouraging me to continue breastfeeding, but I didn’t let her dictate. Hence, here we are now. Two years and three months of pure love.

Sorry for the lengthy story but the point is simple and clear. Succeeding in this journey is one of my most prized achievements in life as a mother and I am forever grateful to the Lord, to my husband, and of course to my daughter, for letting me fulfill this mission with a full heart.

 

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BUT well, like anything in life, all things, even the great ones at that, must also come to an end. And last month, during my 31st birthday, my daughter has decided to say goodbye to mama’s “dede”. (INSERT UGLY CRY) 🙁

I have to admit; it was more difficult for me than it was for her. 🙁 She was very clingy and dependent on my nursing, that’s for sure. My husband and I thought it would be a real challenge to wean her off. We already planned out some strategies, but to our surprise, we did not need any of them. When the right time came, it was a simple understanding and it went on like a breeze.

In fact, I was the one who suffered a bit of separation anxiety. Not sure about how other mothers went through it, but I was honestly quite upset. More than two years of nursing my baby for nourishment, nursing her to sleep, nursing through a bad cold, nursing for comfort or just a quiet bonding moment between mother and child… And now the sight of my breasts just makes her giggle and hide. OUCH! Yes, there was some sharp pain in the heart for quite some time.

My baby and I #TREEOFLIFE

Today, after three weeks, I could say I have somehow moved on.

Now, I enjoy seeing her finish a big glass of fresh milk and ask for more without any trace of bitterness. I can enjoy a few more hours of sleep or enjoy a quiet date with my husband without worrying much about our daughter having a difficult time sleeping without me. I could wear anything, eat anything, drink anything I want. And most important of all, I delight in seeing the product of my hard work – a healthy and active toddler who is starting to become more independent.

Like I said, and I would repeat it a million times over, NO REGRETS.

photo by Jordan Witt

 

To my fellow breastfeeding moms who are about to embark on the same path of weaning soon, here are some important insights I can share with you.

  1. THERE IS NO RIGHT TIME

Only you and your child can decide on when it’s best to wean, and you don’t have to set a deadline until both of you are ready. Extended breastfeeding is a personal choice and despite what friends, relatives, or even strangers may say, there is NO right or wrong time to wean. If you think you are both not ready, then wait and let things unfold and take the natural course. If you think you are ready and your kid might develop certain characteristics if you don’t wean sooner, then go on and do something about it. Again, there is no right or wrong.

  1. PREPARE YOURSELF TOO

Like I said earlier, the whole weaning process does not only affect the child, it involves both the mother and child. Hence, we also have to prepare for it. List down the possible problems you may encounter and think of a solution of each of them. Anticipate physical changes that may occur. And most importantly prepare yourself psychologically because you have to be the stronger one.

  1. YOUR CHILD UNDERSTANDS

Never underestimate a child’s ability to comprehend. You would be surprised to find out that they are much smarter than you think they are. Communicate with them and try to hear them out as well through their actions. Again, this is a two-way street, and both mother and child should benefit from the process.

  1. IT’S NOT THE SAME FOR EVERYONE. TAKE IT SLOWLY BUT SURELY.

Some children begin to seek other forms of nutrition and comfort at around eight to twelve months. By this age, children start eating a variety of solid food and might be able to drink from a sippy cup as well. But not all kids are the same. So never compare your timelines with others. It also depends on your how your child adjusts to change.

Though some find it effective, I am not a fan of the “cold turkey approach” to weaning. An example of this is spending a week away from your baby so she has no choice but to feed from a bottle or cup. It may be an easy way out but I personally don’t think it’s a good way to end a highly intimate breastfeeding relationship. This abrupt change can be traumatic for your child. Not to mention, it can also cause plugged ducts or infections for moms. Take on a safer road by implementing little changes gradually.

  1. ENSURE OTHER FORMS OF NUTRITION

Even before the child weans, try introducing more forms of nourishment like new varieties of food even milk, etc. So that by the time he has completely weaned off, his health will not suffer. This part has become quite an issue for me because after breastfeeding, my daughter lost a lot of weight. She hated formula milk and she never drank from a feeding bottle. She prefers fresh milk in a cup with straw. But now, she’s slowly easing in to liking all kinds of milk and food. Thankful she never got sick or anything serious but it’s definitely a MUST for us to ensure proper nourishment.

 

That’s all and I hope these were helpful. Remember that not all may be applicable to you. Choose the ones you think will work best for your situation. 🙂

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Before I end my prolonged emotional post, you might be wondering how I actually weaned off my child… It was simple. A week before my birthday, we went out of town to attend the Christening of one of our closest friend’s son. My daughter played with the baby, saw me carry the baby, and was absolutely thrilled with the idea of being an older sister. Since then, she would always say she’s now an “Ate”. So my husband and I took advantage of this and told her that when a baby becomes an Ate, she no longer needs breast milk. Breast milk will now be for the baby and the Ate can drink all the milk she wants from the cup. Since then, she gradually seemed to lose interest. It was only difficult for her at night because she got used to being nursed to sleep. But overall, it was a smooth process. I pumped my remaining milk to avoid plugged ducts and soon enough, the whole chapter of our beautiful mother and daughter breastfeeding has closed. BITTERSWEET but all for the best 🙂

There was no difficulty in the weaning process perhaps because this was really the right time intended for it. Truthfully, everything happens for a reason and when you pray, everything will fall into place beautifully in God’s perfect time.

We are extremely HAPPY and GRATEFUL that as this breastfeeding journey has come to its graceful end, another beautiful journey is about to begin. Soon. 🙂

“He makes all things beautiful in His time.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

 

 

 

Grateful for this journey,

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