Breastfeeding Personal Posts

Full Term Breastfeeding – Weaned at 3.5

Full term #breastfeeding via @chgdiapers

My son is 3 1/2 now and I think I can call him weaned. It was an incredibly gradual, gentle process and was rather different than what I expected. The other day he pointed to my shirt hanging down as I leaned over and said “that’s so I can nurse!”

He hasn’t nursed for nearly a month but I am so happy I truly allowed him to self-wean. I’ve talked about my experience breastfeeding my older children, and how I felt they weren’t able to really self-wean. When my oldest was a newborn, even the idea of nursing a 1 year old was foreign to me.

I even made it through years of nursing in public and my “personal problem” (lopsidedness) when he refused my left side. The weaning process began in earnest a year ago when we transitioned from bedsharing at 2 1/2. He went from nursing day and night to largely at night, then gradually dropping night nursing sessions. When I attended ABC in September he went to sleep without nursing for a full week, and my supply dwindled to nearly nothing.

After that my husband sporadically took over bedtime duty for him while I put the then 9 year old and 5 year old to bed. Sometimes he asked to nurse, sometimes he didn’t. By this winter, he was only asking to nurse a few times a week. Sometimes he nursed himself to sleep and sometimes he latched for a few seconds and was done.

The last time he “nursed” was the week after Mother’s Day and that consisted of a halfhearted latch for about 10 seconds, after me asking if he was sure he wanted to nurse.

I definitely have mixed feelings about this. In the absence of memory loss, he will be my last baby. I’m saying goodbye to that little towheaded baby and hello to a pre-schooler and I’m excited, nostalgic and sad all at the same time. Yet, nursing a toddler isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows, and I was definitely ready to be done!

If you had told me even 3 1/2 years ago that I would nurse a 3 year old I would have laughed at you. No way.

In fact, this would have been my face.

socially awkward seal

But here I am. I did it. I allowed a child to self-wean, even if it did involve a large helping of “don’t offer, don’t refuse” encouragement from me.

Whether you are thinking “oh, you pushed him too much” or “oh that is so gross,” I am proud of our achievement, and that I have spent 70% of the last 10.5 years breastfeeding. After so many years of layering tops and “if I can pull it down it’s a nursing shirt,” I’m glad to no longer make fashion choices based on boob access. 😉

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • jessica long
    June 14, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    my baby is almost two and I am feeling really ready for him to wean. I am not sure how to get him to stop. I have been stopping “on demand” and letting him know he cant just come up and pull out my breasts. I tell him “this is Mommy’s body, you have to ask first” hopefully this will help him to learn not to just come upto me and pull at my shirts! I dont think he is ready to just stop but we have to set up some rules now that his “Maamas” are supplemental and for comfort.

    • June 14, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      I think having some rules is definitely appropriate. Of course I encourage you to nurse as long as you & baby like but the key there is as long as you like! If you are ready to wean I think it is OK to try to distract/drop a feeding at a time. 🙂 Congrats on making it this far!

  • Anna
    June 11, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    We have 4-the youngest is 6 months and my 3rd is 3. I nursed her until 2.5 when I was pregnant with the baby. It was a bitter sweet ending to a long haul that I never thought would be possible. I was so proud of that achievement-maybe even more proud than my double bachelor degrees! God bless you for sharing your journey. I’ve heard from other moms that nursing a toddler is not for the faint of heart, and it’s not, but it’s also an achievement worth boasting about! I hope to be able to nurse my little guy as long as the last one. Kudos to you!

  • Anel
    June 10, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    Finding cute shirts to nurse in, is very hard! I’m not sure how long I will breastfeed. I know I am aiming for after the first year. After that, we will see what happens. It’s all new to me, so I didn’t even realize you could let your baby set wean!

  • June 10, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Wow! I don’t know the stats off the top of my head, but don’t you decrease your risk of certain cancers by a certain amount each additional year that you breastfeed? You’ve done a great service to the both of you, so way to go! (But now enjoy being FREE!) 😉

    • June 10, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      I sure hope that works out for me, LOL!

  • Hey Jen
    June 10, 2015 at 11:58 am

    My daughter is 11 months and I hope to breast feed as long as possible. I often wonder how it will work, if it will be her choice or if I will try to gently wean her because I’m just over it. I’ve never breast fed this long before so I really don’t know what will happen. All I know is I love the closeness we have right now and the littles, they grow so fast. I know this because I have a 16 year old and an 18 year old.

    • June 10, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      My oldest is 10 and I swear she was just born yesterday. 🙂 I hope you meet all of your goals and enjoy your breastfeeding journey!

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