Baby-Led Weaning & What I’ve Learned Along the Way
Breastfeeding has been one of the most fulfilling and beautiful experiences I’ve had the honor and good fortune to have been able to do. To still have a nursing relationship currently with Michaela, to me is something very endearing.
Mimi is a year and 2 weeks old and her need for breastfeeding has changed in so many ways. When she first started solids at 6 months old, she very much-needed and yearned for the comfort and nourishment of the breast. As the months wore on, she was still very much dependent on nursing, especially for comfort. But, little by little and the more solid foods that tantalized her little taste buds, she began to nurse less and less.
One less feeding here and there during the day, leading up to where we stand now, which is virtually once or twice a day (more, if anything out of the ordinary happens) and most times at night to fall asleep (sometimes she doesn’t even need the boob to fall asleep) and once or twice a night if she wakes suddenly. There’s been times where she’s gone all night with out nursing.
My body has accustomed to the “weaning” since the decline has been gradual. I haven’t experienced any engorgement that has been painful and I know painful engorgement. My first DD, Gabriella, stopped abruptly and the pain was unbearable.
If you do experience engorgement I find this helps:
- Cool cabbage leaves or a cool cloth placed on the breasts for 20 minutes or until leaves wilt.
- Expressing a little bit of milk on both sides to ease the engorgement a little bit. Just not too much so that your body continues to make milk.
- The one I find works the best is taking a nice warm shower and gently massaging the little lumps that may have developed in the ducts. Blockages may cause mastitis (an infection of the breast) which I’ve read can be very painful.
- Don’t apply heat to the breast because this may cause inflammation which worsens the pain.
- Wear a supportive bra, nothing too fitted.
- Continue to drink fluids, eliminating fluids will not lessen engorgement but, you may end up dehydrated instead.
This is baby-led weaning so it seems.
She has shown interest in weaning but, I don’t plan to just “stop” though she is over a year old and I’ve already heard opinions about that, opinions that don’t matter anyway. She’s interested in food and trying new flavors, spices and textures. That alone is very exciting, to see her eat different foods and show preference to certain foods. It also keeps me entertained in finding new ways to interest her in them. We are kind of in a mezzo of sorts but, I’m discovering new things everyday.
Here’s a few tips that I’ve learned during this transitional time:
- My biggest rule (in lack of better terms) is the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” which I follow wholeheartedly. Though I don’t offer her the “boo boo” unless she asks for it, I most definitely do not refuse it if she wants it. No matter what her pattern has been as of late.
- I’ve been letting Hubby take care of our night-time routine which results in her not needing the breast to fall asleep.
- I know that night-time and nap time feedings are the last ones to go. I never, ever hesitate to give her her “boo boo” if she wakes and wants it.
- During the day, I offer her other fluids in her sippy cup. She’s had no problem transitioning from breast to cup and has been using it since she was about 8 months. She didn’t like the bottle at all really.
- Since she has a good appetite, I’m not worried. But, she only likes water and coconut water and does not like cow’s milk. AT. ALL. I’ve continued to supplement with Baby Ddrops and offer her dairy products which she absolutely loves. Cheese and yogurt? She can’t get enough.
- One thing I do is keep her entertained and busy during the day and last but not least, again, “Don’t offer, don’t refuse.”
Now this may seem all nice and dandy and I’ve learned this on-the-go. Not only is she adapting, so am I. Though it may be nice to have my body “back” in some ways, it’s something that I am finding more and more difficult to accept. As the days tread on and she needs me less and less. It’s a very emotional bond that nursing your baby brings and also the feeling that you no longer are needed to nurture and nourish your child is something hard to grasp. Feelings only because nurturing and nourishing NEVER ends, it only changes.
I’ve been the source of her sustenance this whole time, since the very first few minutes and hours she entered this world.
I know I will and I’ve already started to miss the soft caresses of her little hands, the way she looks up at me when she nurses, seeing her attentively nurse and fall asleep upon my chest and watch her rise and fall with my breathing. Watching her in her milk drunk moments and knowing she is fully satisfied.
I’ll miss it, but I am looking forward on what’s to come because I know that there are so many beautiful things that these little mini-me’s show us and teach us. Though I don’t know what the future holds, not sure if this may be my last breastfeeding relationship, the one thing I do know is that I am absolutely very lucky to have shared this with my girls. I know that the role of being a mother surely doesn’t end before or after weaning, the world of Mimi is only going to grow and expand.
As cliché as it sounds because it may just be, it’s bittersweet.
To be honest, it’s a very sad moment for me yet, I have to be ready for this.
In a way she is sort of weaning me and I’m okay with it.
So, fatty girl and I will keep moving on to the future and see how long she wants to continue nursing. The relationships with my girls only change as the time passes and I’m excited for the future.
How were your nurturing relationships like? Be it bottle or breast. I am looking forward to having a few guest bloggers posting their experience with nourishing their babies very soon. If you’re interested in sharing your story please let me know, I’d love to have you!
So, watch out for that m’loves!
Til then, cheers m’deres!
Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.
Ah Nancy I feel your pain/hapiness. I had a really bad experience with breast feeding and if I were to go into it my comment would be longer than this post…but we'll just say I was forced to stop breast feeding at 3 months.
I love how you say "…the honour and good fortune.." Because it truly is a blessing and an honur to be able to do that with and for your child.
I know recently ur doc had some opinions but I totally believe in and support doing what is right for YOU and YOUR CHILD!
Awesome post! 🙂
Ohh Kelly, that is so unfortunate that you were forced to stop breastfeeding. I say that because I know that so many mothers don't have the opportunity to nurse their babies for reasons beyond their control. Sometimes by choice. But, either way, I am absolutely grateful to have had the chance to nourish both of my girls and fortunate enough to not have encountered any obstacles on this journey. With my first DD, we did encounter a few but treaded on until she was ready.
About the opinions, I'm indifferent. I just can't believe a health care professional would have such an opinion. But, what can you do?
If you ever feel like sharing your story, shoot me a quick email and I'd love to feature you on here! I have a few ladies lined up and I'm sharing every different type of nourishing relationship! Let me know, m'dere!
We tried to let my son wean himself, but we had to finally say enough was enough. He was getting too big for my wife to hold and he was just torturing her. It took about three days and he got it. He hasn't even asked for it since. Our daughter was different. One day, after her first birthday she was nursing and then stopped. She got down and never nursed again.
It is truly a different experience for all children.
She's nursing for comfort now. I know it. My eldest did that, she simply stopped and never wanted it again. Wish it were that easy, it's been a slow process with Mimi.
This is a fantastic article Nancy! I've Stumbled you.
Because of a history of dairy allergies in the family, I was advised to breastfeed until two years minimum. I held off introducing dairy until year two with my first one and it seems to have worked. She self-weaned sort of abruptly when she was around 2 and a half years old, right around when babe #2 came on the scene. It felt abrupt at the time, but really we had been gradually working towards it for quite some time. As you said, don't offer, don't refuse. Once babe #2 was here my daughter randomly asked to nurse a few times, months after having weaned, and I said sure go ahead. She took long minutes to get set up "just so" and then tried a 2 second sip and informed me she was done. All about comfort, and knowing you're still accessible to them.
As you said, I feel blessed to have been able to successfully breastfeed both of my girls. I know for experiences with close friends that it’s not something everyone can do, but I definitely think it was one of the best choices I ever made.