Weaning: How to start and What to Expect

Alexandria
Lifestyle
April 15, 2018
Weaning is a personal decision and a process.
How do you even start the process and what should you expect when it starts?
 
All my baby’s weaning experiences were completely different. They all had different reactions to weaning, but they all had one outcome: no more boob!
My latest weaning experience took 68 days. I started on Jan 1st, the day after taking a plane ride, because who dare start weaning before a 5 hour airplane trip? And 68 days later I was proud to announce I had successfully breastfed and then weaned my third toddler. He was my youngest to be weaned, as both girls were weaned right after their 2nd birthday. My first child was the most emotional to wean, my middle child was by far the hardest to wean, and this last time was in the middle of those two experiences.
If you’ve seen any of my Instagram stories recently they’ve been featuring Rock’s naptime. This is been the hardest part this go-around. I work from home and putting him to nurse and fall asleep was easy and convinent. He’d asleep in five minutes tops and I was guaranteed a good 2 to 3 hours of uninterrupted work.
Now, it can take up to an hour for him to finally go to sleep and some days naps just don’t exist. He thinks the transition from playtime to nap-time is party-time. For whatever reason, carrying a sleepy Rock to the bed literally wakes him up more than a coffee wakes me up; and after hours of laying in bed getting nowhere, I moved onto Plan B.
Insert the Dock-A-Tot and our nap times have slowly become more routine. He won’t fall asleep on the Dock-A-Tot, but it helps me transition him from laying on top of me at my desk, to him laying in his own cozy “bed”. The Dock-A-Tot stays in my office on the floor and it works!
Your decision and process to wean will be different than mine, maybe similar, but definitely different. Just like with anything in parenthood, every experience will be it’s own.

How To Get Started

Baby-led weaning is when your child starts to lose interest in nursing, about the time they start solids. This didn’t happen with any of my kids. All three were exclusively breastfed, no bottle, and no pacifiers. Trust me, I tried! Therefore, I did what is called Mother-led weaning, which takes time and patience because your child might not be “ready” at the moment. If I waited until my children were ready, they’d probably be nursing going into Kindergarten, and I’m not about that life.
**I do want to add that there are times in a child’s life where weaning shouldn’t be initiated. If your child is sick or already going through a major change (starting school, moving, family dynamic changes, etc), Id hold off until they get through that first.**
The first steps to weaning is to postpone or skip nursing sessions. The easiest feedings to get rid of were during the day for me since I could easily distract them with different activities. I took car rides and stroller rides to help put them to sleep instead of nursing.

Make sure to offer them healthy, filling snacks to replace your milk and water to keep them hydrated. *If your child is under one-years-old, you will need to offer them a supplement milk and/or use up your breastmilk stash from the freezer. All my kids enjoyed Almond Milk and Chocolate Almond Milk.

Once you slim down your number of feedings, you can shorten the time of each nursing. Cut back by a few minutes each time. Set a timer for yourself, if needed. Your child may protest and cry and THESE are the moments that will make-or-break your weaning efforts.

Stay Strong! There will be several moments during this process that you’ll think giving them the boob is just.so.much.easier., but the more times you give in, the more time the process will take. Give it a week. It may be a week of crying, but it gets easier. I promise.

 What To Expect

  1. Someone will be angry. Whether it be you, your child, or both. There will be screaming, crying, and possibly throwing of arms by your toddler who hates your guts at the moment.
  2. Routines will go out the window. Hopefully this is temporary for you or you quickly find a new routine. Our bed time routine stayed the same (besides nursing) but our nap routine goes completely haywire for awhile.
  3. Your toddler will immediately go into the “terrible 2’s or 3’s”. I’ve never seen worse temper tantrums than when I was weaning. My kids always used me to soothe themselves, and didn’t have pacifiers or anything else they were attached to. Therefore, had no idea how to sooth themselves. Keep this in mind when you’re about to flip a lid. It’s a learning process for them. On the bright side, I only had to wean once. I didn’t have to wean from a bottle or pacifiers and I can call that a win.
  4. An increase in appetite. Since your child isn’t nursing (whether they were getting a lot of milk or not) anymore, they will start snacking a lot more. I’ve been told and can say from experience that kid’s rarely sit down and eat 3 meals a day until about 5 years old. Have healthy snacks on hand at all time.
  5. Weight gain. Aside from the crying and temper tantrums, this part stinks. Nursing burns calories and without it…well, you’re not burning those calories anymore. Your appetite may also go back to “normal”, so hopefully this holds off some of the weight gain.
  6. Hormonal Changes. Once you stop breastfeeding, your levels of prolactin and oxytocin will drop. It’s possible to experience anxiety, depression, sadness, mood swings, attachment issues, migraines, and/or skin changes. Yep.

 

However and whenever you start this process in motherhood, hope for the best! You and your boobs will get through it and have some sort of newfound freedom on the other side.

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