I nursed my son for 15 1/2 months.
I enjoyed every moment except for the first 4. The first four were hard.
After that, I loved it. I felt very connected to my son through nursing.
It was something very special between us that only I could provide him. It was him that decided to wean not me.
Around 15 months, he began biting. I read everything I could on biting. I did what everyone said, nothing worked.
I finally had to accept that the very final reason listed on every article on biting might be our truth – sometimes a biting baby means they are ready to wean. This was very true for my son.
I, however, was not ready. More about that later.
Weaning before 1 could and probably is a very different experience. Weaning a baby that isn’t ready to wean would also be a very different experience.
So, I am going to share my lessons and how I did it. I provide no guarantee.
While my son was ready, he wasn’t happy with the change. Also, we co-sleep. So, that made it more complicated.
Weaning cold turkey
Weaning cold turkey takes three days. Three terrible horrible days. The first day is the worst. They want milk, they are use to getting milk and they don’t understand why you offer them something else. The key to surviving this, is keep them busy. Offer alternatives. Think we ate ten pounds of cheese that week. The first night is the worst and each day will get better and easier.
Not every baby will want regular milk
I should have prepared him more but offering milk. So if you aren’t weaning right now, after one, introduce cows milk slowly. Mix it with breast milk and slowly decrease the amount of breastmilk. Breastmilk is sweet. It is apparently like a vanilla milk shake. I never tasted it though. So cows milk is not as good and not as fun and not as warm and cozy. So be patient. I did get my kid to drink milk eventually but it took lots of chocolate to make the switch!
How to wean while co-sleeping
You can wean and co sleep. Just be strong and prepared. The first three nights every times he woke up, I offered milk, yogurt or cheese. When he refused, I rocked him, sang to him and walked around the room. I also employed my husband to help when I was ready to lose it.
Get help for the transition
If you can get help- get it. When you nurse, your baby can smell the milk on you. Therefore, when he or she is near you, he or she will want to nurse all the time! If you can get your husband to take the nights or help with alternative foods, do it!
Keep the Band-Aids near by
Band-Aids work great. My son was older so this wouldn’t work on the little babies, but I put Band-Aids on my nipples and told him they were broken. He accept this as a fact and gradually stopped asking.
You won’t necessarily gain a ton of weight back
After about four months of nursing your body regulates to what it needs. After a year, your body doesn’t seem to see the extra energy as substantial. So when you wean, your hunger will dip and you actually won’t notice a gain or a loss. Some woman swear they held onto five extra pounds and lost it as soon as they weaned. Lucky girls.
The emotional side to weaning
There is an emotional side to this. Weaning is not just a physical response. When you nurse your baby, your body produces a hormone called Oxytocin. It is the love hormone. It makes you happy and relaxed. Most woman are happier when nursing. When you wean, your body is also weaned off this hormone.
The longer you nurse the bigger the shock to your system. Depression, tears, baby blues, and anger are all normal reactions. They usually hit 2-3 weeks after you are completely weaned. Most woman don’t make the connection and wonder whats wrong with them.
Weaning and your cycle
Your cycle may not reappear immediately. Woman often wean because they want another baby. They think that their cycle will return and be identical to the way it was. This is not always the case.
For me, when it did return, I got flu like symptoms every month in the middle of my cycle. Not cool. It also took a couple months to return and then a couple months to regulate. These are not fun months.
Wean based on your baby’s temperament
I learned my son is not a gradual person. He is all or nothing. We started out, trying to just skip and replace. This caused a great amount of confusion for him. We then tried morning and bed nursing sessions. This also confused him. Isn’t 9 am the same as 6 am…still morning!
So we had to go cold turkey. I have seen that he is the same with potty training…pull ups and sometimes diapers didn’t work…we had to go all the way to underwear only. This is probably your first opportunity to see how your child wants to learn new skills. Be open to trying multiple approaches.
Your little one still loves you
Your baby will still love you exactly the same as before. I promise. I remember weaning our first night and there was so much crying on both of our parts. The next morning my son woke up and put both hands on my face and kissed me. It made me so happy. I didn’t lose him and I didn’t lose our bond. He is now three and we are still extremely close. Nursing helped strengthen the relationship but weaning did not destroy it.