Sunday, January 15, 2012

Off the Boob

I mentioned during my last post that Amelia is now fully weaned, and I've gotten a lot of questions about what that was like from many curious moms. Some were particularly interested because they are looking forward to weaning their own in the near future. So, I figured a full post about it is in order. If breastfeeding weirds you out (it shouldn't, but if it does, this is your warning), stop reading here.

I will say that as with most.... all?... things child and parenting related, there is no formula to weaning. I read here and there some suggestions about the process but I hadn't done a lot of research. I figured that at some point, Amelia would struggle with her boob addiction and then I would have to turn to the internet or a lactation consultant for help. I am betting that this is why so many moms were curious about how she ended up fully weaning. When you have a breastfed baby, it seems that they love the boob more than anything on this earth. It's their source of nutrition, comfort, snuggling, and bonding, so even when baby is eating solids, a lot of babies are not going to give up mama's breast without objection.

In Amelia's case, this is especially true, as she doesn't take a pacifier or have any other kind of possession that she has a strong attachment too. No special blankie or stuffed animal, nothing will replace cuddles in her book. So, at about ten months, I was starting to worry that Amelia was going to be an extended nursing kind of kid out of desperation rather than choice. I say this while noting that I really don't have anything against extended breastfeeding. It works for some families and I know it grosses some people out, but to them I say, mind your own business.

The big barrier that I could envision to Amelia weaning was naps and nighttime. Our lactation consultant had warned us that nursing to sleep was not a good idea, as many kids have a hard time stopping that habit. However, since we have been cursed with a child that is not a good sleeper, I had given up long ago on trying to make her sleep without nursing. It was easier and more peaceful for everyone in our household, so I went with the flow and did what worked best for her. I had also read about several mamas allowing their children to do this without long term reprecussions, so I figured that much like weaning from a paci, we would stop the nursing to sleep at some point.

For me, it seems like anything that I do serious worrying about, Amelia will just suddenly switch one day, as if to say 'Have a little faith in me, Mom, I'll grow up in my own time!' I started working from home in September, and all of my work is done on the computer. When I started my new job, I would prop a pillow on my lap and let Amelia nurse while I was working. One day, when she was about 11 months old, she crawled up to me, fussing a bit, and I didn't realize that she was tired. So I turned on some soothing kid's music that I had borrowed from the library and started rocking her as I worked. Before I knew it, she was passed out on my shoulder, and I was ecstatic that I had finally gotten her to sleep without breastfeeding. After that, I started trying to rock her for all her naps. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes I gave up and let her nurse. I would say about a month later, she was being rocked to sleep for all naps.

This rocking to sleep was HUGE for me. Because Amelia had always nursed to sleep, it was rather stressful for me to leave her with other people during naps. I knew that they would somehow get her to sleep, but it would probably be a struggle for them. It was easier for other people when she took bottles, but she has refused those since June, so options were pretty limited during nap times.

I should also note that Amelia's lack of pacifiers was not an intentional parenting decision on our part. We did wait until she was about five days old to give her one, per the advice of our lactation consultant. I'm not sure if the waiting made her impartial to them, or if she simply enjoyed the boob more, but at three months I tried to put her in her crib one day while slipping a paci in her mouth and she pulled it out of her mouth and handed it to me. She has never taken one since.

The next task at hand for us was getting Amelia to drink whole milk. We were lucky in this department because Amelia really likes her milk and drinks well from a sippy.... well... one particular sippy. Anyways, we have always left a sippy of water on the floor for her to have when she gets thirsty. This worked best for her because if you try to force anything on her rather than letting her try figure it out for herself, she will refuse it. As far as introducing milk, I diluted it with water at first to get her used to the taste and also to get her tummy used to it. Amelia seemed a tad gassy with it at first, but within a week, she was drinking it 'full strength' and enjoying it.

The last step for us was ending the nighttime nursing. Not even two months ago, she was often nursing two to three times a night, so I thought this could be a huge struggle. Alas, Amelia has had a lingering cold for the past month, and her ability to nurse was pretty limited since she could barely breathe. I had to sleep on the couch with her many times when she had a middle of the night coughing attack, or I would cuddle her back to sleep rather than nursing. Magically, it seemed, she stopped nursing and that was that!

So, we've made it. Amelia has been a 100% breastfed baby, and I'm terribly proud of this. While I was lucky in that I did not face any obstacles with breasfeeding, no latching or supply problems, nor any problems with pumping when I was working outside of our home, I really never loved breastfeeding the way some moms do. While many moms enjoy it for the bonding and snuggling time, I think this was hard for me because of Amelia's colic. I was already holding her pretty much 24 hours a day because of her discomfort and fussiness, so having her latched onto me just gave me this odd feeling of being trapped, at least for the first couple of months. I came to appreciate breastfeeding for it's convenience at some point, probably when she was past her colic, but I still really never thought it was all that fabulous from a mom point of view. Despite that, I pushed through the times that I heard the cans of formula calling to me in the baby aisle, and did what I felt was best for my daughter.

These days, she much prefers her sippy and mama's chili over a plain old boob anyways:
This chili is WAY better than Mom's boobs.

1 comment:

Artistic Creative Mommy said...

Weaning your child off breast milk is one of the hardest things to do! It's great when it finally happens. Glad to hear Amelia is now fully weaned.