Posts Tagged ‘weaning’

Weaning While Tandem Nursing

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016
weaning while tandem nursingBreastfeeding two children at the same time was not my plan–it just happened. Whenever my son saw my newborn nurse, it triggered him to want to also.
I attempted to wean my son from nursing as soon as I found out I was pregnant when he was 13 months old.  He was not having it.  Thinking about what would happen when my daughter was born gave me anxiety.  Finally, my midwife educated me about tandem nursing and encouraged me to accept the fact that my son would most likely want to breastfeed once he witnessed his sister doing it.  So, I started the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method of weaning.  My son was down to nursing one time per day before my second baby arrived.
My 21 month old son didn’t nurse for 4 days while I was in labor and in the hospital after delivery.  I was hoping that meant he may have been weaned.  That was not the case.  When I returned home, he wanted to nurse.  The frequency that he wanted to nurse increased over the following weeks.  It was overwhelming and exhausting for me.  I felt like a milk machine.  The time had come that I had to break the news to my toddler that his days of nursing were coming to an end.
I knew it would be tricky to break him from nursing all together, especially since he would be reminded of it throughout the day when I fed his sister. To my surprise, once I got serious about it, it wasn’t as difficult for him as I thought it would be.  In fact, it only took one week for him to be completely finished. The following are techniques I used to end his breastfeeding journey:
Singing an upbeat song while he nursed.  One day, I started singing one of his favorite songs (“I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”) anytime he nursed. The next day, I told him that I would sing the song one time and when I was done singing, he had to stop.  Each day, the song got shorter and shorter.  It turned into a game for him.  He actually liked showing me that he understood the game and stopped at the exact time he was supposed to.  After only a few days, this seemed to change nursing for him.  Breastfeeding was no longer something that helped him fall asleep or soothed him, due to the distraction of me singing.
Refusal and redirection.  When my son did ask to nurse, I would say, “Not right now,” and would redirect him to another activity.
Offering other milk options.  Many times when he asked for “mamas milk”, I gave him the option of having pumped milk in a cup or frozen “milk ice” in a bowl.  Those were his choices.
Feeding the baby in private.  For the first few weeks after he stopped nursing, I tried to feed his sister someplace that was out of his site.
Talking about the change.  Communication was key during this transition.  I explained that he no longer was going to have mamas milk because his baby sister needed to have it.  We talked about the other drinks that he could have instead.
Quality time with his mommy.  Having a new baby in the family had to be hard for him to understand. Especially a baby that
took over his food supply and that he had to share his mom with.  I made sure that I spent one-on-one time snuggling, reading, and playing with him as much as often as I could.
Sarah Cole is a stay at home mom of two toddlers who hopes that her youngest will wean from nursing easier than her oldest child did.

Oh, You’re STILL Nursing?

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

oh, you're still nursing?Breastfeeding is a beautiful, amazing gift. It’s not always easy. It can come with pain. I’ve gone through thrush, mastitis, nipple shields, and bite marks. Many moms desire to nurse but it doesn’t work out. So, I don’t take a moment I nurse my son for granted.

But lately, friends, family, and even medical professionals have asked me, “Oh, you’re still nursing?” It’s almost as like once your baby approaches age 1, they expect you to be done. It is normal to not be done, mommas.

For me, I am getting closer. Levi is almost 16 months old, and he is only nursing in the mornings. Is it a habit? Maybe. Do I care? No. I relish in the wee-morning hours when it’s just the two of us awake and he just wants mommy. He smacks his lips and looks up at me and says, “more” in his sweet little baby boy voice.

There are many benefits to nursing past one year for a toddler. Some of them are:

  • Nutrition and disease-fighting goodness
  • Great gains in cognitive development for toddlers who breastfed
  • Aids in social development of older infants and toddlers

And don’t forget about mom! Here are some of the benefits for us, ladies:

  • Delayed return of fertility
  • Decreased risks of certain cancers (breast and ovarian)
  • Aids in weight loss (for some)
  • Can reduce the likelihood you develop cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis

For me, those benefits are worth sticking it out for a little while longer. Some moms nurse babies well into toddlerhood, and I say, “You go girl!” While I wish I could do that with my Levi, I have a feeling we will be done in the next few months. I am just not sure he is my last baby.

So if someone gives you a hard time for nursing an older infant or toddler, just remember they aren’t your boss. Educate them on the benefits, if you feel up to it. Share the amazing stories of bonding and love you get to experience with your child. If some people in your life aren’t supportive of this choice, it’s your choice whether to engage with them on the subject or begin enforcing a boundary. You don’t owe anyone anything.

Remember, you are supermom. You decide what is best for you and your baby, and if “boobie milk” is part of your toddler plan, then let it be.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana where she lives, writes, and nurses a 15 month old little boy with lots of teeth.

Coping with Weaning and Depression

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

weaning and depressionNursing is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a mom, and yet, I experienced a sadness each time when it was over, even though I some ways I felt like I had anticipated this moment from the time my daughters were each born.

Weaning marks a new freedom in your life, but also an additional separation between you and your baby. It’s normal and natural and good, but it can also be sad, especially so if this child is the last time you’ll get to experience the closeness of the mom/baby nursing relationship.

What can really complicate this already very sunrise/sunset moment is hormones. (Don’t they complicate everything? Geez.) Hormones are added and subtracted each time we cycle, get pregnant, have a baby, miscarry, start nursing, decrease nursing, or cease nursing. Each event kind of creates a trainwreck of the old mix of hormones making their way out while the new mix is making its way in, and that can make you feel pretty crazy, especially if you’re under any other additional stressors at the time.

There are some things you can do to help minimize the impact of the just the hormonal ups and downs. If there are additional things going on in your life while you are weaning, these tips may not help by themselves. You may need to talk to someone or seek some other solutions until things settle down in your life or until you adjust. But if you don’t have additional stress, try ideas for helping your body adjust to your new hormonal normal.

  1. Get exercise. When you wean, you’re suddenly deprived of oxytocin, that life-giving hormone that also carries with it a serious natural high. One way to get some of that high again is through exercise. New recommendations by some experts indicate that the average person needs not just 30 minutes a day, but an hour. And if you can get that exercise outdoors, even better. Sunlight and natural vitamin D are great for your immune system and your mood. I stay motivated to exercise by making it me-time. No double jogging strollers for me, thanks. I like to go it alone and have some time each day where I only have to worry about me.
  2. Breathe properly. Many times when we are feeling stress, the shoulders tighten, our chest tightens, and we end up hunched over and closed up. Focus on sitting with your shoulders back and chest open. Breathe deeply for a count of 5 or 8. Focus on your breath and nothing else. Here are 6 great breathing exercises that can help de-stress you. Encourage your kids to participate if they are with you and you need a moment.
  3. Don’t lean on sugar and caffeine to prop your mood up. It’s tempting to reach for a cup of coffee and comfort food when we feel down, but sugar can mess with hormones in a bad way. Make sure you’re eating enough protein and healthy fats, and try to keep processed foods to a minimum.
  4. Regulate your sleep. Sleep has a huge impact on mood and energy levels, but you probably didn’t need a blog to tell you that. Try to go to bed and wake at about the same time every day—even on weekends—and turn off electronics about two hours before bedtime. Dimming lights and eliminating screen time before bed will help everyone in your home transition to bedtime easier.
  5. Encourage the production of oxytocin. You can help wean your body off those big hits of oxytocin you used to get through nursing by giving it smaller hits. You get small doses of oxytocin released from your brain when you hug, snuggle, kiss, or cuddle with your kids and other loved ones. Oxytocin is also released when we spend time with our women friends, too. You heard it here first—girls’ night, doctor’s orders!

If you feel “off” during or after weaning and just can’t seem to recover your mood, talk to your doctor, midwife or doula, naturopath, or a counselor. There may be additional things you can do to help that don’t involve medication, but sometimes medication is a very helpful option, too.

Every mom’s journey is different, even the same individual with different children, so give yourself the space and grace to work through this time without judgment for how you get through it.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City.   

When Your Baby Doesn’t Want to Stop Nursing

Monday, November 30th, 2015

When your Baby doesn't want to stop nursingFellow mommas, here I am writing this blog while I am deep in the trenches. My son Levi is days away from 14 months old, and he doesn’t want to stop nursing. I mean, not at all. This boy could nurse 6 times a day and be as happy as a camper. With my daughter, we started weaning the week after she turned 1, and by 13 months, it was over. With Levi, we are still nursing very frequently.

Now I know this isn’t necessarily a problem. Getting to this point is an accomplishment, and I don’t take it lightly. Many moms struggle with troubles with baby’s latch, poor milk supply, and other health concerns, that hinder their nursing journey. Levi’s journey has been a breeze, except for one devastating bite incident back in the spring.

Do I want to stop nursing? Not necessarily. I want to stop when Levi is ready. I know it is precious to him, and to take it away quickly would not be caring on my part. However, has anyone else ever felt this way?

I would like my body back. While nursing is very beneficial in my bra size, I would like to wear my pretty bras again. I don’t want to wear nursing pads anymore, either. Selfish, maybe. Nursing is a gift of love, and in a way, it takes a part of you.

Many moms don’t experience the return of their fertility while nursing. My daughter was weaned solely so we could try for baby 2. Here I sit, no fertility, and not sure. Breastfeeding can hinder ovulation in moms and this can cause family planning to be a little tricky for some of us.

But, what’s important to me is that I let Levi wean at his pace. Baby-led weaning is a popular technique. I have been slowly introducing cow’s milk to Levi, and it’s going well. He still wakes in the night to nurse, but I know someday soon that may be a thing of the past.

If you are ready to wean your baby, you can take some steps to encourage baby to get on board. Offering milk at nursing sessions or rocking your baby before bed can help. For me, simply singing some songs to Levi before nap has helped.

So, mommas, has anyone else ever felt this way? You wouldn’t mind being done, but your baby just doesn’t seem ready. Here’s what I think. I think it’s important to acknowledge that baby isn’t ready. Sure, I am tired. I dream of the day when I can sleep in and my husband can get up at 6 a.m. with Levi. Sure, I am a little over it. Not going to lie. But, I know that babies don’t keep and babies change so easily. By the time I figure out how to slow Levi down, he will start weaning himself. So, momma, if you’re like me, hang in there. Keep nursing for now. There will be a day when your baby won’t care. There will be a day when I’m sad that Levi doesn’t care. For now, I nurse and contemplate how to wean. For now, I find joy in the fact that my little guy still finds me his comfort, his love, his mommy.

Karyn Meyerhofff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana who will be up at 4 a.m. to nurse Levi tonight. 

When Should I Wean?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

when should i weanSometimes it’s hard to know when to wean your baby. It’s a big decision and labor of love to begin breastfeeding. For many, this journey comes with challenges. Poor latching, breast infections, clogged ducts, or even disapproving family can cause bumps in the road. When you finally get the breastfeeding thing down pat, it can be time to start solids. For me, breastfeeding the second time around has been a breeze. I have loved every minute of it. Now, my baby is 1. So, when should I wean?

The term weaning refers to when your baby is getting all of his or her nutrition from other sources than the breast. Some moms wean because they need to return to a job, as well. Remember to be patient. You have been the source of nutrition and comfort for your baby, and you don’t want to just take that away.

Weaning can be bittersweet. Mother-led weaning is the approach I chose with Johanna. I was ready to have another baby, and my fertility had not returned. We weaned at 13 months. She stopped nursing and started walking in the same day. Hello tears! I was a mess. It can be emotional to stop nursing.

So when should you wean? The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests breastfeeding for a year and longer if you are able to do so. The WHO suggests two years, or as along as comfortable for both mom and baby. There can be pressure from family and friends to wean. I will admit, I am feeling a little pressure. With Levi turning one, people have started asking me how much longer will I nurse. Do I have an answer? No, I don’t.

Many moms choose to do baby-led weaning. This is where the baby gives you the signs that he or she is ready to slow down or stop nursing. Solids being introduced and babies becoming more mobile and distracted can cause babies to lose interest.

Many moms who decide to wean after a year go about it by using these methods:

  • Offer a Distraction. Offer a toy or do something different instead of your usual routine. For my daughter, she had a hard time letting go of the morning nursing session. For a week, we got up, jumped in the car, and went to Starbucks for coffee to try to remove the association of morning nursing.
  • Shorten the Feeding. Allow your baby to nurse for shorter periods of time and offer snacks or something else to drink afterwards. Remember you are still taking care of your little one.
  • Offer Substitutions. After you introduce cow’s milk, almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk or another milk alternative, use this time to cut out one feeding at a time. Be careful because you want to avoid mastitis or clogged ducts.
  • Don’t offer, don’t refuse. Every breastfeeding mom is used to watching the clock to know when it’s time to nurse. With this method, if baby doesn’t indicate they want to nurse, then you let the moment pass. However, if baby wants to, then by all means nurse.

I don’t have the answer on when you should wean your baby. I am honestly struggling with that right now. Part of me wants my little Levi to nurse as long as he wants, regardless of age. I am fine with being his comfort and for him to need mommy a little longer. I will be honest, though. There is a part of me that would like my body back.

My best advice, which I need to take, is just go a day at a time. Be thankful each day you can breastfeed. I am thankful that Levi needed mommy for comfort nursing. (Silly one-year molars!) I am thankful my body can nourish my baby. For those things, I am thankful today.

Karyn Meyerhoff lives, writes, and nurses in Northeast Indiana. She loves the bond of breastfeeding and will really miss it one day.