I nursed my first son for 14 months, and am in the 13 month of nursing my second. And I’m finished, mamas. I’m just finished. I’ve had mastitis more times than I can count (I stopped counting at 12 the first time around and 6 this time), I’ve got systemic thrush, and I seem to be allergic to all of the treatments available to me. So I’ve decided it’s time to wean.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved nursing. I love the snuggles and the knowledge that I was doing the best I could for my sons before I was able to expose them to the wide and luscious variety of “Big People Food.” I loved the convenience and the oxytocin surge. I loved the immune boost. I loved the magical sleeping effects it seemed to have. I even loved vaguely scandalizing people as I nursed my sons on demand. (Honestly, though, I live in San Jose and I never got so much as a side-eye for nursing in public. I love that bubble I live in, too.)
But now — chronic mastitis and even more plugged ducts, thrush, cracks, teeth, diminishing supply, and an insatiable baby…I could try more approaches, I could eat more lactation cookies (or bacon cheddar lactation muffins), I could do any number of things, but Walter eats more People food than my 3.5-year-old, and I’m pretty sure that, aside from the midnight session, nursing now is mostly for comfort.
So here’s what we’re doing: Night weaning happens first. Our approach this time (as last time) is pretty straightforward: I’m nursing Walter at bedtime, and then he goes to sleep on his floor bed in his room. He does not get boob again until at least midnight. Before that, he gets love and snuggles and water if he wakes up, but he doesn’t get boob. After the single night feeding, the same is true until 5:30 or later. Then he gets breakfast — whatever we’re eating plus yogurt (if he’s interested). He gets frequent snacks during the day and I never offer boob. If he asks (either by signing milk or trying to access it directly), I either comply or redirect him toward a cup or snack, depending on the time and reason. Right now we’re down to nursing 3-4 times in a 24-hour period, with lots of filling meals and snacks in between. Luckily, he really loves food and is interested in trying everything he can get his hands on, so I can make sure he gets plenty of the nutrients he’s not getting from my breastmilk anymore.
It’s not easy — emotionally — on either of us. He doesn’t understand or appreciate it when I refuse to let him nurse at will. He doesn’t always like my explanation and on more than one occasion I’ve offered him solid food only to have him throw it back at me. But every day it’s a little easier, and he’s eating more Big People Food and relying less on Mommy. It helps even more on the weekends when Daddy can step in and offer alternatives. They’re bonding, and I’m healing. It feels like a win for everyone involved.