Welcome to the Carnival of Weaning: Weaning – Your Stories
This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Weaning hosted by Code Name: Mama and Aha! Parenting. Our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles about the end of the breastfeeding relationship.
Funny I should come across an invitation to write a post on weaning for the ‘Carnival of Weaning’ today of all days (which is May 13th as I begin writing this). This day came with a wonderful revelation for me, one that brought a great deal of relief and alleviated a fear that has hung over me for some time during this pregnancy.
This carnival is a great opportunity to share not only my story but what
I have also so recently learned! First though, let’s go back, way back!
I wasn’t a mother-to-be who ever said “I’ll try to breastfeed” or “I’ll see how it goes”. I knew I would breastfeed for at least 6 months come rain or shine, even if my nipples fell off as one ‘friend’ kept insisting they might (just as hers “nearly had”) and that I shouldn’t feel to bad if, like her, I decided to quite nursing at a few weeks.
Why 6 months though? Well, for two main reasons; the first being that I thought that was when you had to introduce solids so it seemed more inappropriate to me to give formula before then, and secondly I knew that my mother had breast-fed me for 6 months, possibly a little longer, and if she could do it, then surely I must also!
My Partner was clear from the beginning that he hoped I would nurse our son for AT LEAST a year. This is something I am deeply grateful for, as he has cheer-led me on through some really tough times when I may otherwise have given up – and deeply regretted it later!
It also helped knowing that his mother had breastfed both of his younger brothers to around their second years.
On the hospital ward (after an unfortunately unsuccessful home-birth) I was glad for the staff who came around to help get breastfeeding established. I found it tricky at first, especially on the one side as one of my nipples was a little inverted, Once my milk came in, it was better, though still rather sore. I persevered and after a few weeks all was well.
Some time around 5 months old, my son had what seemed a most-probably growth-spurt-induced, feeding frenzy; it was relentless! I was exhausted and felt taken hostage by the boobs. I would likely have given up then if it were not for my partners encouragement and insistence that I could get through it. Hurrah for Papa Moon!
There were a few more times similar to this but my 6 month goal rolled by and 1 years old became the new arbitrary date to aim for. By the time that came around though, I felt like an old-hand. I’d lost almost any culturally conditioned hang-ups I held about feeding past infancy, some of my friends were still nursing their emerging toddlers and ultimately I just couldn’t imagine forcing the end of our breast feeding relationship for no good reason when it still held so many benefits to my son; extra nourishment, comfort, security, supported immunity and even help getting to sleep,
I didn’t ever find breast-feeding that easy though, as it always seemed to tax me more physically than it did some of my other ‘mum’ friends. I struggled hugely to keep enough weight on during Mooncub’s extra hungry periods and that in itself, besides the sleep deprivation, was exhausting. (we did, and still do co-sleep. which helped)
I Iooked forward to the day I hoped my little one would naturally lose interest in nursing, but by the time he turned 2 years old, that day still seemed very much out of sight.
By about 25 months, the last of Mooncub’s 2 year molars were coming through and giving us all grief. He was waking 2, 3 sometimes even 4 times every morning to nurse and by the time we finally woke, I was deplete of all energy before the day had even begun! So I decided then that once his molars were finished coming through, I would night wean him.
It was a tough call but it felt right. I didn’t want to let resentment build around our nursing relationship and I knew I would have more energy to enjoy time with him during the day.
I’d read a great post by Kaitlin of Bring Birth Home about how she had night-weaned her daughter using the gentlest methods she could, and I took inspiration.
For instance I spent a good week explaining daily to Mooncub that soon Mama wouldn’t have milk, or ‘beeboo’ as he calls it, to give to him at night anymore, but that we would do lots of cuddling instead.
The first couple of nights were restless and a little fraught, but I stayed consistent and the whole process went much more quickly than I’d expected. By the end of the week he was still waking around midnight but was fairly happy to have some water instead of ‘beeboo’.
The timing had felt just right.
While I had still been night-nursing, my partner and I had attempted for a number of months to conceive a second child, but had been unsuccessful. Shortly after night-weaning we actually got pregnant without even purposefully trying!
It was as if my body knew I didn’t have the physical resources to carry a child whilst nursing a toddler night and day.
Around 8 weeks pregnant my nipples became very sore during nursing. I was not happy about it but I had expected it to happen as my boobs had become very tender around the same time when I had been carrying Mooncub.
At 12 weeks my son started to seem frustrated at the breast, he sucked really hard and clenched his jaw which was unbearable as I was already very sore! I realised that my supply was dropping already (which came as a bit of a surprise) when he started trying to stimulate my let-down of milk all the time, by doing that fluttering thing which I always found set my nerves on edge but now felt beyond awful.
I started to dread nursing and soon (by about 14 weeks) each time he tried to feed on what were now fairly empty breasts, aside from the terrible soreness, I felt almost as though I were being violated. My skin crawled and I couldn’t help but keep urging him to stop almost as soon as he had began. There were a lot of tears on both our parts. I felt so guilty but also powerless. I tried my best to explain to him that I couldn’t make the milk come and that I was so sore – which in no way was his fault, and I was very conscious to try not to give him reason to resent the pregnancy.
At first I managed to get the feeds down to three a day, then to just nap-time and bed-time.
A part of me wanted so badly to continue to nurse Mooncub. I didn’t want it to end this way – it felt messy and not gentle at all for either of us. Mooncub was stressed and unhappy at this point, and I wished so much that it could have happened on his terms or at least at a time of my choosing so I could have been prepared.
By the time I was 18 weeks, I could no longer bear to nurse at all.
I became really quite depressed and carried so much guilt as well as a terrible anxiety that I may still feel unable to nurse when the new baby would arrive. I planned to contact La Leche League for advice as I was so worried.
My son was still asking for ‘beeboo’ before bed and if he needed comforting but I could see he was getting resigned to the situation. At 19 weeks Mooncub and I flew to Sweden to visit my cousin and meet her new baby. It couldn’t have been better timing as aside from cheering me up immensely, I was gratefully surprised that my son did not ask for ‘beeboo’ even once while we were there and he and I felt closer than ever! The tension that had built just seemed to melt while we were away.
I am now 21 weeks pregnant and haven’t nursed for 3 weeks.
I was feeling much better about the situation already but I still had this worry hanging over me that I would not be able to bear to feed my new-born when they arrived, and then came the revelation..via Facebook!
I was looking through my news-feed when a question appeared that was posted on the page of The Analytical Armadillo, by a 38 week pregnant mama.
She described having the same ‘skin-crawling’ sensation when nursing her toddler that I had felt. and was even experiencing the same fear that she might still feel this loathing of nursing when the new baby arrives. She asked if anyone else had experienced this and if so, what had happened?
I was amazed to see so many women comment saying that they had felt just the same and some said that they had read that this was actually very common, normal even! What’s more, it even has a name.. ‘Feeding Aversion’!
I breathed a massive sigh of relief to hear also that it would not affect my ability to feed my new baby, and that the ‘aversion’ would disappear, if not immediately after the birth, then at least shortly after. I gleefully shared this knew knowledge with my partner earlier and I’m delighted to be able to share it with you!
‘Feeding Aversion’ – it’s not fair but at least it’s normal. I developed it pretty early, for most women it often comes in late pregnancy. Some women even experience it anyway, without pregnancy, when their children become a little older.
Many women manage to nurse through it (big kudos to them!) and many others, like myself, do not.
I now feel for the first time, that I can say with acceptance, that Mooncub has weaned.
It was not led by him as I had hoped but it’s a ‘natural’ ending of sorts, and I am now able to feel the gratitude I should, that we were able to nurse for nearly 2 and a half years – that’s pretty good going!
…and should Mooncub decide that he wants to nurse again once his sibling arrives and I have milk again, then I feel that I will be willing to tandem feed him just the one feed before bedtime until HE decides he doesn’t need it.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (and many thanks to Joni Rae of Tales of a Kitchen Witch for designing our lovely button):
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 21 with all the carnival links.)
- On Breastfeeding, Weaning, and One Mother’s Identity — Jessica at Natural Parents Network has been nursing one or more of her children since 1993 – breastfeeding is wrapped up in her concept of mothering and herself. She shares her thoughts on weaning.
- two tales of weaning — Aspen at Aspen Mama writes about their countdown to wean.
- Wean Me Gently — Tam at Please Send Parenting Books shares a beautiful weaning ceremony.
- You say potato, I say bleeeuuuuch… — Anelie at Mindcradle had read the books and knew just how to introduce her baby son to solids—unfortunately, he had other ideas.
- A Post Called Weaning — (Not) Maud at Awfully Chipper writes about how weaning her son took longer than she expected.
- On Weaning, Pregnancy and Emotion — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about her mixed emotions as she allows her son, Little Man, to guide her through his weaning process.
- half of her life — Staci at Springpatch Jam looks back on her nursing relationship with her first born.
- Is it just this After Forty Mom or is it harder to wean when its your last? — Amanda of After Forty Mom shares her emotional journey towards the impending self-weaning of her toddler daughter.
- Nursing Limits — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she has weaned her toddler down to minimal nursing and her guilt about the decision to do so.
- Weaning Video Series #1: Preparation for the Weaning Process — Why is weaning such a taboo topic? Dionna at Code Name: Mama got mamas from across the blogosphere to start talking about weaning – on video. Come check out the first video in a series of five that she’ll be posting this week.
- On the weaning of the boy in the middle — Kelly at Witness To Hope shares the lessons of a little one self-weaning at 18 months in the middle of an unexpected pregnancy, after nursing his older sister for three years.
- Weaning due to anxiety — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about how she had to wean to preserve her mental health.
- When Will I Wean? A Guest Post — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a guest post from a mama who contemplates when her breastfeeding relationship will end.
- On His Own Terms — Momeeezen shares her heartbreak from when her son weaned much earlier than she anticipated.
- Our Weaning Story – Sudden, Surprised, and Embracing a New Season — Weaning doesn’t always go how we imagine. That Mama Gretchen shares the story of her daughter’s sudden weaning and how she has embraced this new season of motherhood.
- A Tale of Two Weanings — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares the similarities and differences of how her nursing relationships with her now six-year-old and four-year-old daughters came to a close.
- She Doesn’t Remember — Alicia at Lactation Narration finds that her 6 year old no longer remembers nursing, only one year after weaning.
- It’s The End of the World As We Know It — A story about the end of a tandem nursing relationship on Never Mind The Rain: A toddler moves on to a new phase in her life before mom is fully ready.
- A Natural End To Our Breastfeeding Relationship — With two self-weaning children, Jennifer at Our Muddy Boots does not know when the end will come, but that it will be natural and without regrets.
- Child-Led weaning: It’s Not Extreme; It’s Biological — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children explains why child-led weaning is based on biology rather than social constraints.
- 6 Years of Natural Weaning in 5 Steps — Jess at miniMum shares how and why she let her first child stop when he was good and ready.
- Is This Weaning?: A Tandem Nursing Update — Sheila at A Living Family bares all her tandem nursing hopes and fears during what feels like the beginning of the end for her toddler nursing relationship.
- Memories of Weaning: Unique and Gentle — Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares her weaning experiences with her two sons, each one unique in how it happened and yet equally gentle in its approach.
- Weaning Aversion’ — Gentle Mama Moon shares her experience of nursing and unplanned weaning due to pregnancy-induced ‘feeding aversion’.
- Three Months Post-Mup: An Evolution of Thoughts On Weaning — cd at FidgetFace describes a brief look at her planned (but accelerated) weaning, as well as one mamma’s evolution on weaning (and extended nursing)
- Weaning my Tandem Nursed Toddler — After tandem nursing for a year, Melissa at Permission to Live felt like weaning her older child would be impossible, but now she shares how gentle weaning worked for her 2 1/2 year old.
- Every Journey Begins with One Step — As Hannabert begins the weaning process, Hannah at Hannah and Horn‘s super power is diminishing.
- Reflections on Weaning – Love Changes Form — Amy from Presence Parenting (guest posting at Dulce de Leche) shares her experience and approach of embracing weaning as a continual process in parenting, not just breastfeeding.
- Weaning Gently: Three Special Ideas for Success — MudpieMama shares three ideas that help make weaning a gentle and special journey.
- Guest Post: Carnival of Weaning — Emily shares her first weaning experience and her hopes for her second nursling in a guest post on Farmer’s Daughter.
- 12 Tips for Gentle Weaning — Dr. Laura at Aha! Parenting describes the process of gentle weaning and gives specific tips to make weaning an organic, joyful ripening.
- Quiz: Should You Wean for Fertility Treatments? — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries talks about the key issues in the difficult decision to wean for infertility treatments.
- I thought about weaning… — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her story of how she thought about weaning several times, yet it still happened on its own timeline.
- Celebrating Weaning — Amy at Anktangle reflects on her thoughts and feelings about weaning, and she shares a quick tutorial for one of the ways she celebrated this transition with her son: through a story book with photographs!
- Naturally Weaning Twins — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings discusses the gradual path to weaning she has taken with her preschool-aged twins.
- Gentle Weaning Means Knowing When to Stop — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes about knowing when your child is not ready to wean and taking their feelings into account in the process.
- Weaning, UnWeaning, and ReWeaning — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy discovers non-mutal weaning doesn’t have to be the end. You can have a do-over.
- Prelude to weaning — Lauren at Hobo Mama talks about a tough tandem nursing period and what path she would like to encourage her older nursling to take.
- Demands of a Nursing Kind — Amy Willa at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares her conflicted feelings about nursing limits and explores different ways to achieve comfort, peace, and bodily integrity as a nursing mother.
- Breastfeeding: If there’s one thing I know for sure… — Wendy at ABCs and Garden Peas explores the question: How do you know when it’s time to wean?
- Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Two, Three? — Zoie at TouchstoneZ discusses going from 3 nurslings down to 1 and what might happen when her twins arrive.