Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Weaning


WARNING: this post contains subject matter that may not be suitable for audiences of the male species, read on at your own risk.
 Hallelujah!!! We have officially weaned from breast feeding as of about 4 weeks ago. It was always my goal to breast feed Noelle for 12 months. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to meet that goal. I know so many stories of Mother's who wanted nothing more than to breastfeed their babies but for unseen health reasons were unable to do it or were not able to do it for very long. I'm sure you all have heard me mention the breastfeeding book that I read throughout this journey but when it came to weaning I nearly chucked it across the room. They had me mistaken if they thought I'd take their advice on breast feeding Noelle up to age 7. Now I know that there are many different opinions and articles that may suggest breast feeding your children for longer (and I have no judgements either way), but none of those had any influence on my decision. I had always known that I would not be competing with the Mom on the cover of Time Magazine. Just not my steelo (style for those of you who don't know the group 702). 


While I was at work Noelle took bottled breast milk and did great with her Dad. When I was home I would put her to breast for every feed. At 11 months I started substituting one feed with bottled breast milk instead of nursing her. I was nervous that she would protest because that's just not the way we did things when I was home but she never fussed and took the bottle without a problem. We substituted one feed a day for about a week. During those times I did not pump when she took the bottle, telling my breast to slow down on production. 

I also started stretching out the times that I was pumping at work. I went from pumping three times to twice during my 12 hour shift when Noelle was about 7 months. She was taking food and I still had a HUGE supply in the freezer. I tried waiting at least 7 hours between both pump sessions once I got down to two. After the first week I started giving Noelle two bottles during the days I was home, still no protest. As long as she was being fed it was all gravy.  We eventually got to only morning and before bed nursings and bottles during the day. I did have to do one pump in the middle of the day at home to keep from being completely uncomfortable. 

My production slowed down after a couple weeks and I started pumping just once a shift and not pumping at all at home. I started decreasing my one pump session at work from 25 minutes to about 15 minutes, then 10. Eventually I was able to not pump at all during my shift and Noelle was only being nursed at night. A week before her birthday we started adding whole milk to her bottles. First just an ounce, then half the bottle. My frozen breast milk had gotten her through her first birthday. I slowly introduced the last bottle at night and before I knew it the last time I put Noelle to breast was 2 weeks after she turned one. Sometimes the lumps that you develop just don't come out with pumping and putting your baby to breast is the best way to get them out. 



I was surprised that it had taken over a month to wean. After going days without feeding Noelle or pumping I would end up uncomfortable and have to pump an ounce off here and there, it was the weirdest thing. I was sure it would just go away but slow and steady was the pace. I was consistent once we started the process and the only reason it took so long is because I was extra careful not to push myself to the point of pain or mastitis. My breastfeeding experience had been so easy, I didn't want to complicate the end with an infection. I wasn't so much in a hurry to be done, I was just ready to move on the next phase of parenting. I worried at first about our bonding time after she was done breast feeding but we have found other ways to spend quality time and we've felt no less close for ending that part of our relationship.


 Breast feeding and pumping for a year is a HUGE commitment but so worth it. I was so inspired by stories of other Mom's who had overcome some major obstacles and never gave up. I met a Mom who ended up in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism after developing a clot with the birth of her third baby. She was hospitalized for a week undergoing procedures and taking medications that stopped her from feeding her baby. She was fighting for her life while pumping and dumping to keep up her supply so she would eventually return to breast feeding her baby. If this is something you want to do, you CAN do it. Although I am a big advocate for breastfeeding, whether your baby receives formula or breast milk we all want what's best for our babies and nothing should separate us from supporting each other. Side note: It has never felt so freeing to keep my shirt DOWN, especially in this weather. I almost do cartwheels to this day leaving the house not having to worry about the bra I wear or the type of shirt I have on!

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