Weaning At One
So weaning happened and all I can say is holy hormones! When I first had Winter, I thought breastfeeding would come naturally for us. I literally thought that you just put the child up to your boob and they got milk. My naïve self snuffed at the thought of a breastfeeding class and never thought to ask any other mother I knew what it was like for them. When I first launched this blog, I wrote about my breastfeeding journey here.
Breastfeeding is still and will likely remain the most humbling, selfless experience of my life. It’s been months since that first post and Winter and I are now done with the journey in our relationship. It had been one year and nine months since my body has been entirely my own and while it was been a blessing to grow and nourish this sweet child of mine, I have to be honest, I was ready to close this chapter. Winter has never taken formula (we tried three different kinds), so it was up to me to pump three times a day at work to provide for her, especially before we introduced her to solids. Side note: Winter now eats me under the table when it comes to food. The little 18-pound nugget can pack it in.
Winter started to wean herself; she began showing less interest in nursing and more interest in walking and exploring the world around her. It was never my intention to stop nursing if she wasn’t ready, but in my gut and in my heart, I know that it felt right to stop.
Below is a little outline of how and when we started the weaning process and while I am no expert, I am happy to share our experience with you. Please be advised that we did our own research and while it might not be how you would do things, we decided that this path was best for our family so we stuck with it.
Winter has always drank three to four ounce bottles three or four times while I was at work (about nine hours), so I had to pump before bed and on the weekends to keep up with her needs. But at 10 ½ months, my milk supply plummeted and I could no longer pump enough milk to sustain her needs. My once six to nine ounce daily haul, dwindled significantly and I was lucky if I brought home two or three ounces after pumping three times during an eight hour span. We tried to introduce her to formula, but she just wouldn’t take it. We started to plow through the freezer reserve quickly.
At 11 months we started to soak cheerios in whole milk to soften them up and to introduce Winter’s little body to the milk. We did this every other day for a week and had no signs of indigestion or intolerance. Another side note: Winter also started to drink and ask for water so she was also getting a lot of fluids this way too. So we began to put a little bit of milk into her bottles each day. I still nursed her before bed, in the morning before I left for work and sporadically in the middle of the night if she woke up. I also intermittently nursed her right when I got home from work although she showed little interest. The ratio went something like this per bottle (which was about two to three bottles while I was gone at work):
- Month 11, Week 1: 4 ounces of breast milk to a ½ ounce of cow’s milk
- Month 11, Week 2: 3.5 ounces of breast milk to 1 ounce of cow’s milk
- Month 11, Week 3: 3 ounces of breast milk to 1.5 ounces of cow’s milk
- Month 11, Week 4: 3 ounces of breast milk to 2 ounces of cow’s milk
- Month 11, Week 5: 2.5 ounces of breast milk to 2.5 ounces of cow’s milk
Winter turned one on Sunday, November 6th and the day after I stopped pumping at work completely. I had been dwindling down the pumps for a few weeks before and dropped it to twice a day and then to once. The first week she turned one we were out of a freezer supply and gave her whole milk while I was gone. I was a little bit apprehensive but she seemed to do just fine! That’s when we started to cut down on the nighttime and morning feeds.
We began alternating her schedule. If Perry put her to bed, then I would nurse her in the morning. If I nursed her in the morning, then Perry would give her a bottle at night. We kept doing this for about a week and half. Then, after one really long morning nurse session, I knew it was the last time. Winter was one year and six days old. I am not sure how or why but I could just sense it. As Winter longingly looked up into my eyes and smiled, I felt at peace closing this chapter. I cried a little but knew that it felt right.
The worst pain I felt from weaning was on day two. Day one wasn’t so bad, but on day two, I ran a slight fever and was sore. I took a hot shower and hand expressed a little to take the pressure off. Then, I ended up going to acupuncture and they gave me some herbs to take to help with the process. It took about five days total until I was no longer engorged or hurting. Winter and I are both doing great with the change. She was super clingy for a couple of weeks but that has since subsided too.
Photography by Brittany Renee'