Mental Health, Motherhood, Self Care

Breastfeeding Weaning Journey

Breastfeeding Weaning Journey

Today I am sharing my journey from weaning breastfeeding my son, Miles. He is just about 6 months. I am so proud of how far I came and how long I committed to doing this. It was not easy, but it is time for this chapter to come to a close. In this post I will talk through the reasons I made this decision and the tools I used to work through it physically.

Breastfeeding has been a really interesting experience for me. It was one of those things I assumed I would do as a new mom, but truly knew nothing about. I kinda went into it thinking it would be this super natural thing that everyone can do. I didn’t get a chance to take a class because Miles came early and I was extremely unprepared. I barely focused on it in the hospital. I remember them telling me about colostrum and getting it out in the early days, but that went over my head. I did not pump in the hospital. I wasn’t focused on it will definitely learn for next time. I had a C section so recovery in the hospital was really tough for me. I felt so sick for days and could barely eat. I couldn’t really walk either! I know I tried to feed in the hospital, but it wasn’t fully working properly. When I got home, I hired a lactation consultant and it was a game changer. After days of latch troubles, hour long feeds, chapped nipples and more.. we finally got the hang of it. It was HARD. Like really hard. Miles was loosing too much weight and we had to supplement with pumping and bottles right from the get-go. I almost gave up a few times to be honest. All of a sudden it worked. He was able to latch rather quickly and I got more and more used to it. All that said, I totally get why people choose different feeding paths and 100 respect any mama’s choice on how to feed her baby.

Anyways, once we got the hang of it.. the pandemic and postpartum life made it easier. It became routine and I didn’t mind it. We got into a really good flow. I was always home, on maternity leave and just in newborns land. I actually loved the time with him. I still do. It was so sweet to watch him feed and feel close to him. He got bottles of breast milk from other people when I pumped, but I did enjoy the act.

As I went back to work 8 weeks in, I started to feel a little annoyed with it. It just took forever. Even though he was sleeping better at night at this point, I felt like my days were just feeding. Every 2.5-3 hours I would feed for 30ish minutes. I was roughly on the 7am-10am-1pm-4pm-7pm schedule from this time until like a week ago (5+ months). That is 3+ hours of feeding per day. It started to really weigh on me more and more. I would work through breastfeeds on my phone instead of being present. I felt like I couldn’t do anything else and it made me anxious. As our social lives picked up the end of winter (and last covid wave) it felt really straining and I just wanted to be done. I wanted my body back so I decided to begin the weaning process once he turned 5 months.

I want to note that Jacob 100 percent supported me in this entire journey – from helping me get the hang of it in the beginning to deciding to end it at this time. I am so grateful for that because it has made a big difference. I did not feel any pressure to go to a year or anything like that, I made this choice for myself based on what I outlined above and I am happy with it. I feel sad and emotional about the ending of nursing, but I do not feel guilty. More on that in my post here on IG. Miles also had been used to bottles from the start so that was another key part of the transition.

Back to the tactical stuff. Below is the schedule I followed for weaning. I took it really SLOW. Like really slow. Some people choose to do it over 2-3 weeks, but I decided to double that. I wanted to try to experience as little pain as possible physically and give him time to get used to it. The later has been working, but I did not bypass the pain! WOW no one talks about it. It is hard.

Prior to weaning, I was feeding 5 x a day every 3ish hours – 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm. I have not fed at night for many months since he started sleeping through the night. I let my body get used to not feeding at night back then. More on that sleeping journey here.

Week 1: Drop the 4pm feed. I simply did not feed or pump at this time. Feed again at the next feed. Feed was replaced with a bottle (6–7 oz) or half breast milk and half formula.

Note on Formula: I bought Bobbie for Miles. I loved the ingredients and standards they hold. I have found it worth it, but it is not cheap. I buy the amazon diapers and wipes so I feel like it evens out. I also want to note that he has gotten traditional formula too and if Bobbie didn’t jive with him, I would switch no problem. His comfort is number 1. It took about 2-3 weeks for him to get used to formula and regulate.

With this first feed drop, I didn’t have much pain at all. Sure, I felt the let down and I felt a little more full, but that was it. NO biggie at all to drop this first one.

Week 2: Drop the 10am feed. So at this point I was only feeding morning, mid day (around 1pm) and night (around 7pm). The 10am and 4pm were bottles (7ish oz)

With this second drop, I also felt totally fine. Again, a little more full, but that was it. He was still nursing 3 times a day so any build up was relieved. I did start to feel some of the hormonal shifts at this point. I would get very emotional when breastfeeding. It came over my like a wave. It did not happy before weaning. It was manageable because it passed within a minute.

Week 3: this is where it got really tough. At this point, I was dropping the 1pm feed. That means I was only feeding first thing in the morning and at night. So ALL DAY I was not feeding and just giving bottles.

Those first two days I was in incredible pain. I didn’t know what to do so I hand expressed for like 15 minutes a few times a day and used my manual pump. That was a MISTAKE. I thought that hand expressing didn’t stimulate milk flow, but it did. So I got even more engorged. Yikes. That first night omg I was in so much pain. Jacob had to have a hot diaper on my boob at night while feeding to help with the pain. I was in tears. I took Tylenol and it helped, but that was a rough night. The next morning too… a painful feed. That whole day was really hard. I wore tight sports bras, took Sudafed DE and put Cabo cream (similar to the cabbage leaf trick in cream form) on my boobs. That helped me through the day. I also took hot showers and hand expressed briefly just to get relief. Not too much because I did not want to make the mistake I did before. It was hard, but temporary and I made it through.

After a few days this settled down. I was still engorged and sore, but it was manageable. Totally totally manageable.

*In between week 3 and 4, I actually changed Mile schedule because his wake windows are longer and he was fighting his last nap. He went from eating every 3 hours to every 3.5-4 hours and napping 3 times vs 4 times a day. More on that in another post later on. At this point, the bottles got fuller. Around 8oz. Sometimes he would eat the whole thing and sometimes he wouldn’t. I also had been giving him solids 1 time a day since 5 months. Not too many calories there, but it does make a small difference. Still figuring out that whole balance and flow right now at almost 6 months.

Week 4: Partially dropping the night feed. This week I replaced the night feed with a bottle followed by a very short nursing session (less than 10 minutes). This helps me get some relief before fully cutting the night feed. Near the end of this week, I dropped the nighttime feed all together and only fed in the morning. This one wasn’t too bad either.

Week 5: Partially dropping the morning feed. As I did with the night, I would give him an almost full bottle and breastfeed for about 10 mins or less. Even amount on each side. This week was another painful one. I would wake up middle of the night engorged. I used a lot of Cabo creme which helped a lot and Sudafed DE. I was basically only feeding for 10 minutes in a 24 hour period, so you can imagine the build up. It was weird, one of my boobs was used to it and producing less and the other wasn’t. This went on for a few days and I found I was just in so much pain everyday. On the morning of March 24th, I just woke up and decided I was done. I felt a little “softer” so I just wanted to bite the bullet. I am still wearing tight sports bras and keeping my Sudafed / Cabo creme regiment. I am hopeful in a few days, I will be fully dry. 2 days in, I am still engorged slight and feel the milk in there.

Now that I am done, I definitely feel a mix of emotions. Some relief, some happiness and some sadness. But for the most part, I am focusing on feeling PROUD. I am so proud of myself that I did this for 6 months. It was hard and challenging, but I made it through. I never set a goal for myself, so whether it was 6 days or 6 months, it was right for us. That was something I wanted to hold 100 percent of the power in. I am proud of myself for letting go and let allowing guilt to takeover. Why would I feel guilty for doing such an amazing thing? I hate that narrative that is so pronounced in our world.

I 100 percent understand why some women choose not to go down the nursing path. I respect every woman’s choice. And of course, there are some woman whose situation does not allow them too. No one should feel shamed for how they decide to feed their child. Fed is always best and I feel so strongly about that.

Thank you for giving me the space to share this journey. I hope it helpful for other moms.

sending love and support!

Sari

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