Friday, May 29, 2015

Weaning Before You Expected

Breastfeeding my daughter has always been something so special to me. I feel blessed to be able to provide such perfect nourishment, not to mention comfort, for her. I always knew I wanted to allow her to self wean, especially because she had such a strong attachment to her nursies. However, sometimes things change and we have to adapt.

I found out I was pregnant when Nora was around 19 or 20 months. In the beginning there was expected discomfort during nursing. I always found ways to distract myself and push through it. At this point, she was nursing a handful of times during the day as well as 4-5 times each night. Once some of that pregnancy exhaustion set in, it was so difficult to keep waking up so many times. We also decided it might be a good idea for Nora to slowly and gently transition to her own bed (we were still bedsharing) so that it wasn't a sudden change when her sibling arrived.

As time went on, nursing became more and more awful for me. I started feeling so bad every time she wanted to nurse! I developed a pretty severe nursing aversion that I never would have expected. I mourned the loss of our enjoyable nursing relationship while struggling with feelings of guilt over the way I was feeling. There were times when I wanted to rip my skin off and push her away from me when she was nursing. After trying to battle through this for some time, I decided the current relationship wasn't healthy. I was starting to resent her and have very little patience with her. When I stepped back and took a hard look at the situation, I realized holding out for a goal of self weaning wasn't best for us when I was so resentful and really struggling. Breastfeeding is a tandem relationship and should continue as long as mom and baby/toddler are mutually happy. When one isn't, it may be time to reassess.

I utilized the book Nursies When the Sun Shines to help us with the transition. Before we started, I spent about a week talking to her about nursies going to sleep at night and everyone sleeping all night long. We read the book consistently, then jumped in one night. Of course she was extremely unhappy and let me know it, but I continued to snuggle with her in her bed and provided comfort in other ways. It was hard on both of us and took some time, but she finally got to the point where she would easily accept when I told her "nursies are sleeping and mommy needs to sleep, too."

The day weaning was a little tricky, but I also had other ways to distract her. I would also gently tell her "nursies are hurting mommy right now. It's time to be all done with nursies." It was heartbreaking when I would deny her something she had been used to her entire life and she would be distraught, but we worked through it.

Today she is a vibrant little two year old awaiting the birth of her baby brother. We talk about how baby brother will eat nursies, and she doesn't seem phased by that at all. Of course she may be more interested once her actually arrives, and we'll cross that bridge when we reach it. My advice for anyone struggling with a nursing aversion is to give it a little time to see if things improve for you, then decide if you need to change course. Try not to let yourself feel guilty. I think many times as moms, we forget to take care of our needs and they get put on the back burner. While I'm not saying to become selfish and only consider yourself, you must make sure you are a happy mother to be the best you can be for your family. Be kind to yourselves, mamas!

Napping with baby brother

Enjoying a beautiful day on the lake