Reader Question: Are you planning to let sweet Janet pants self-wean? Have you done that with all your littles? Mine is 1 soon and weaning terrifies me-but so does another year or two of nursing! Any tips or experiences you can share?
I have nursed all my children for at least a year. I was able (see tips below) to gradually gently wean (no baby angst-I can't take baby angst, it hurts my heart!) within a few months. So that means generally give or take I was finished breastfeeding by about 15 months with the five (exception is Janey, more on that below). As much as I am passionate about breastfeeding and know in my heart its deep importance health-wise and emotionally-wise for both mom and baby, I wanted to throw a nursing- bra burning party in my back yard each time! But that would be weird. Can you imagine the invitation?
I know this for sure: Nursing is time consuming. It ties us mommies to our babies-we are irreplaceable-we are what keeps them alive. It's very very selfless. It takes lots of energy, physically and emotionally. It makes us sit down, and slow down. It rearranges our priorities. And that is EXACTLY what nature intended. I know that my babies needed not just the nutrition of the perfect food for babies, but also the emotional "nutrition" also. I think it's best for both parties-mom and baby-to take weaning slowly and to be aware of the baby's needs, whether they fit in the "mold" of our culture or not.
For me I need a little plan to be consistent with the weaning process. Just like potty training I want to be consistent to make it as stress free as possible for both of us. It's not complicated: I take the feeding that is most easily "forgotten" about and drop it. I distract during that time, make sure the baby is being fed enough in meals and snacks, and avoid at all costs my nursing chair or even nursing room. Springtime and summer is great for this because I can take a stroller ride and get outside during that time and the baby doesn't even notice. I just gradually did this until only the nighttime feeding was left. (I don't have a perfect memory but I think all my babies woke up at night at least once even at one year to nurse.) This is the hardest feeding to drop, because it's difficult to distract in the middle of the night. All of my babes but two took a pacifier so I would just wake up with them when and offer them the pacifier-maybe the first night or two they would protest a little but no hard crying. I would rock them back to sleep and after one or two or three nights that was that and they were weaned.
Janey, 17 months, is a big nurser...she still nurses 3 or 4 times a day and at least once or twice at night. She never took a bottle or a pacifier. I feel like right now, my mom gut tells me that she needs a little more time. I am thinking this spring we are going to work on dropping day time feeds slowly and then we'll work on the night time. I never planned to nurse this long, honestly. I said at her first birthday, "My goal is to be finished this month", then I said by Christmas, and now I am saying by spring. I just know she needs to take this slow, and that's OK with me.
For more help I always refer to Dr. Sears-I love his books-The Baby Book was my first year reference book for all my babies, and I think he is right on spot with just about everything from birth to breastfeeding help to discipline. Here is a short article of his on weaning.