Letting go – Our booby weaning journey at 8 months
You would be forgiven for thinking that I had a ‘problem’ child, a ‘bad’ boy who didn’t ‘sleep through’ – but you would be wrong. I actually don’t care that he didn’t sleep through. I never really cared, yes sometimes you could stand a spoon up in my coffee and yes sometimes I would apply three layers of under eye concealer, but ultimately it really never bothered me that he didn’t fit in with our archaic western ideals of a baby, the baby that would sleep through. This is why I (or we as parents) haven’t announced to anybody that we have now weaned our little boy off the boob. The milk bar is closed, the jugs are empty, my massive mammaries are minimising. We didn’t tell anybody because the first thing they would say is – ‘once he’s weaned you’ll get more sleep’. Like that’s the reason! That, in fact, is an eventual byproduct (hopefully) of breastfeeding weaning, but ultimately, like a lot of decisions we make as adults, its a bit more complicated than that.
are you a ‘hippy mum’ or a ‘formula mum’?
Weaning from breastfeeding is a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario (they really should warn you before becoming parents on just how many of these situations you will get yourself in). Lets start with the damned if you don’t – If you continue to breastfeed up until or perhaps beyond the World Health Organisations recommendation of 2 years you will probably be put firmly into the ‘hippy mum’ category. However, if you do not continue to breastfeed (especially once you have gone past that 6 month barrier) you will be judged and put in the ‘formula mum’ category. This is why it is so hard to make the decision to stop – because it doesn’t matter if you decide to stop at 3 week or 39 weeks. You will always feel ‘bad’ for stopping. You will always feel like you ‘should’ have continued.
one day we just knew it was time to stop breastfeeding
I was tired, I was exhausted, I was finding the bedtime routine wasn’t working for us anymore. I found he hated feeding in public because he is so nosy and was distracted easily. I found that the shine of mystical milky orbs was wearing off and all of a sudden I was ready. I was scared; how would I parent without my magic sisters by my side? how do you settle a baby? how do you make them sleep? how do you stop them from crying? But… like a lot of things in parenting, the fear was worse than the reality. Because 4 weeks after we started to wean – I have finally fed my last feed.
I couldn’t have done it firstly without the support of my husband who would help me make bottles (something very confusing to me as i’m used to just pulling up my jumper) but secondly a special thanks to my baby boy who adapted like a trooper to this new sticky substance that didn’t quite taste the same as mummies milk. Without those two I would still be getting chilly nipples and clipping my bra on.
The next steps were to slowly drop the feeds one at a time and we started with bedtime. I had read on a lot of ‘helpful’ sites that this should be the last feed to go as its the most ‘important’ daily feed. So of course I was riddled with mum guilt, but for us, this was the feed that was dragging me down the most each day and I needed a rest, I needed to cook dinner and watch the One Show. Next feeds to swap out were the day feeds. This is where I really started to learn the Formula Mums pros and woes. Pros – you know exactly how much they are drinking! This is a revelation to us breastfeeding crew. Woes – feeding on the move. Pre-making vs. pre made bottle vs. making bottles on the move vs. wastage when they wont feed.
Lastly the night feeds and 7am feed had to go. These were tough, I found it hard to be consistent because, basically, breastfeeding is lazy feeding, you barely have to move to feed them and if you’re really skilled you can get some shut eye while you feed. So this part took me a while. But for the last 7 days I have been strict and only let him comfort in the night at the boob.
That was – until last night – because last night he slept through. Yep – that thing they all said he would do when I wean him. That thing I thought he would never do – he blooming well did it. And that’s A-ok with me. Because I know that means he is happy. He was happy and ready to do it. We didn’t force him, we didn’t trick him, we let him set the pace. Its not exactly true baby led boob weaning, but for us its worked out well.
Our bedtime routine has changed too, now I read him a book with his bottle, and we get to snuggle afterwards. It feels more grown up, like a little boys routine. I will always miss and treasure my breast feeding days, but I’m happy with the journey we had. I’m happy with how far we came, and how it ended. I’m happy to wear normal bras again and not wear nipple pads (yes I wore them the whole time due to old leaky lefty!) I’m happy to share feeding with my husband, and i’m really happy he can now feed himself a bottle.