Recently multiple women have approached me with questions about weaning, so I thought it was time for a new post…
In my opinion, there is not a specific time that you should wean your child, its really what is best for you and your baby. I know many doctors say 12 months is best and that it is a more natural time to wean for both mother and baby, but breast-feeding is hard. We have jobs and lives and outer environmental factors that make many of us stop nursing before 12 months. Personally, a combination of health issues and my return to work was the impetus for me to wean my son.
The honest truth…weaning when my son was six months old hurt. It was both a physical and emotional struggle for me. I stopped nursing because my son has a milk protein intolerance and was sick even though I had adopted a vegan diet – it just wasn’t enough. I was back at work and pumping all the time – doing my best to give my son a combination of breast milk and formula, and then my pediatrician told me I needed to stop nursing so we could control my sons diet better with a special formula, Similac Alimentum, the Dom Perignon of formula, ugh.
With over 300 ounces of breast milk in my freezer, aka liquid gold, I had hoped to provide my son with breast milk at least once a day for up to a year, but that didn’t happen. Looking to use my freezer for food again, and to find closure in the weaning process I found Mothers Milk bank of New England – and after a blood test and some paperwork I was approved to donate my stored milk to babies in the NICU, I felt good about donating the milk and the sad emotions from weaning were replaced with a sense of satisfaction, that I could help premature and/or sick babies get the nutrition they need and in the absence my breast milk in his diet, my son’s symptoms disappeared.
How I weaned. On the advice of a friend I picked the most inconvenient pumping time and skipped it. For the first 3 days my breasts were so sore it made sleeping uncomfortable…but in time my body stopped producing milk at this time and the discomfort was gone. I repeated this process, one feed/pump at time over the period of about a month. (It is important to note that during this time showers needed to be lukewarm and I had to avoid warm water on my chest because it would stimulate milk production.)
As I was nearing the end my son was exclusively on formula and I was tired of pumping so to get rid of the last feed, which was the most painful, I took Sudafed for a couple of days and it dried me right up. Had I thought of this earlier and I wasn’t donating my milk, I may have done this sooner – although I know this is not condoned, nor am I giving medical advice, I am just telling you what I did and what worked for me. There is a reason why they say nursing mothers should not take Sudafed; it dries you up, and fast.
It should be noted that if you child is older 8+months and has a more substantial intake of solids and has dropped feeds that the weaning process will be easier for you and should be less painful because your milk production will be lower.
I hope this helps if any of you are struggling with this process, it gets easier, I promise!