Do you have a question for me? Every Monday, I take a reader submission and answer it on the blog!
Questions don’t have to be cloth diaper related, just email maria at change-diapers.com with “Mailbox Mondays” in the subject, or fill out my contact form for readers, which you will always be able to find on my Contact Page.
How do you go about weaning?
I am a firm believer that breastfeeding should continue as long as baby and mom desire. When you hit bumps in the road, it’s not always necessary to wean, but I think every mom knows when she’s ready. When you are ready to wean, there’s no shame or guilt necessary, I just want to put that out there since often questions of “how do I wean” are met with “why are you weaning?” or “don’t wean.”
I posted about my breastfeeding experiences last year, and I briefly mentioned our weaning experiences. My daughter gradually cut back on her nursing sessions, but she continued to nurse after I was ready to be done, and what made it worse is that it was “dry nursing” thanks to hormonal birth control eliminating my milk supply. I started by using the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method, where I didn’t ask if she wanted to nurse, or offer, but if she asked, I allowed it. After a while, I started to offer something in it’s place; a drink if she was thirsty, or cuddles if she was after the comfort. Eventually, we were down to night time nursing only, and in time, she no longer needed that. She weaned at 21 1/2 months.
My son loved to nurse, and even when he was nearly two, he was nursing 8 or more times per day. I started to develop a nursing aversion when he was around 18 months (same as with my daughter) but I was not on any birth control this time. I suspect this was caused by hormonal changes as my fertility returned. My son would fall asleep nursing in the afternoons, and that was the only way he would nap. Despite feeling like I wanted to be done nursing, I fell into the guilt trap of not wanting to push him to wean, and wanting to allow him to wean on his own terms, when he was ready. I became pregnant with his brother two months before he turned two, and despite my best efforts to maintain my supply, it virtually disappeared.
Unlike my daughter, who gradually dropped nursings, my son weaned quite abruptly. He would latch on and almost instantly yank himself off and push away. Over the course of a few weeks he would try here and there (mostly comfort sucking while dozing off) and go a few days without nursing, then try again. He finally nursed for the last time right around his second birthday.
While it was always bittersweet to leave that part of our lives behind, I don’t think it’s good for anyone to continue to nurse if Mom really doesn’t want to.
I’ve heard of some people taking drastic measures, like leaving their child with a relative for a few days, putting bitter tasting things on their nipples and the like, but I feel gradual, gentle weaning is easier on everyone. I can’t speak for everyone of course, since I’ve never had any trouble and I know some kids just don’t want to let go as easily as mine did!
How did you wean?