I’ve stopped breastfeeding…forever: How this really makes me feel
I stopped breastfeeding forever two weeks ago. 😭 Today I’m sharing how it feels to have breastfed all 5 of my babies over the course of 10 years, what has happened, how I’ve weaned, and what I’ve learned along the way. (Plus how elimination communication + breastfeeding have been the MAGIC KEYS to my new mom confidence.)
(This is a straight transcript of the improvised talk I did on my podcast, so please disregard any improper grammar.) :)
I've basically been breastfeeding for 10 years you guys. It's been crazy. In the beginning, I just knew I wanted to. I always knew I was going to nurse my babies. I always knew I was going to at least try - because I know a lot of women aren't able to, including some of my friends. But once I had my first baby, I had zero problems. I've had an oversupply with every single one of them and I've been really, really blessed with being able to breastfeed each of them as long as I want to.
My first child, Kaiva - breastfed for 2 years straight
For my first one, I breastfed him for two years - pretty much every two hours, 24/7 for two years. By the end of that, I was kind of a wreck, to be honest. I really wanted to stop breastfeeding him at about 17 months when he started ripping my bras to get to my nanas (which is what we call them). Just to be honest, I felt guilty about that. I felt guilty about wanting to stop and wanting to have my body and my energy back and to have boundaries between me and him, healthy boundaries.
I've definitely learned a lot with the last four babies since him, but with him, I felt guilty. So, I didn't. I stuck with it. What it caused was a lot of anxiety between us because I think he could tell that I was ambivalent and he could tell that I did it. And I willingly did it, but I was also like, I kind of don't like this ripping my shirt off thing. I don't know if you've had that experience, but especially in public, you're just like, "Okay, I don't want everybody to see my breasts every day."
For him, I did abrupt weaning. I read about it first because I was like, "Okay, gradually doing it for me isn't working." I tell him we can't have them right now because of the time of day, or whatever and he wasn't going to take that. He's like, "No, I want them all the time," because there's no reason not to.
To have a very clear ending with my first was a really good idea. I learned about that through the Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning. It's kind of an older book that a friend of mine gave to me. I found out that other indigenous cultures will often use a diaper backup, if anything at all, for a lot less time. Then they breastfeed for a lot longer than we do in America, where we're the opposite. We have kids in diapers till three and we only breastfeed for six weeks or six months. They only use a backup diaper for six weeks or six months, then they will breastfeed for three years - quite the opposite. That's a generalization, but you know what I mean? It's just a very different reality.
Anyway, I found out that they would put things like mustard seed on their nipples, something really spicy like jalapeno, something that the baby's like, "Ooh, I don't like it. It doesn't taste good." We want to deter them from wanting it, right? Then that kind of displaces the responsibility of, "Okay, it's not my mom who's telling me no and stop. It's actually that they just don't taste good all of a sudden and I'm not really sure why, but okay, I'll move on to other things." It's a really nice way of displacing that and not making it a power struggle, if that makes sense. You can learn more in that book, but to move on, that worked.
Within three days, we were done with him checking. But really, instantly, we were done. There was no anxiety, there were no tears. I had a few tears because I was a little bit sad about it, but to be honest, it was just really clear communication for him that this is over and you're a big boy now. He'd say, "I want nanas," and I'd say, "Okay, go ahead and try them." I'd already put the grapefruit seed extract on my nipple before, right when I woke up, and he didn't see me put it on there. He'd asked for them, and then he'd taste and he'd go, "Ooh, that doesn't ... That tastes yucky." And I said, "Oh, that must be because you're a big boy now. They're really only for babies and you're such a big boy." At the same time, we also moved him to his own bed. There were a lot of very clear rituals for ending babyhood and entering toddlerhood - big boyhood. That's my longest story to share.
My second child, Isadora - breastfed for 11 months
With Isadora, I actually had postpartum depression and I was taking Celexa (just to be completely transparent) until she was about 18 months old. (When I became pregnant with Cooper, I stopped.) They say Celexa doesn't pass through the milk to her, and she acted normal, just the same before and after. But, I feel like that's the reason why she just kind of self-weaned at 11 months. She didn't really want them anymore and there's a little bit of self-blame that I have, but that got me through that period. It was a very dark period of my life and very, very hard. I'd had undiagnosed postpartum depression for three years and had no idea. I just wasn't myself. It was really edgy and that helped me. Then I got off of the Celexa, no problems.
My third child, Cooper - breastfed for 13 months
Then I had Cooper in an unassisted birth. While I was pregnant with Cooper (luckily I wasn't also breastfeeding Isadora), but when I was breastfeeding Cooper, I got pregnant with Branson.
When Cooper was about 13 months old, I remember how sore my nipples were from breastfeeding Cooper while being very newly pregnant with Branson. One night I was nursing him to bed and I just screamed. It hurt so bad. I didn't mean to scream but it was an "Ohhhhh" kind of a mommy scream, and Cooper started crying. David came into the room and he asked, "Are you okay? What's going on?" And I said, "It just hurts so bad. My nipples are so sore because I'm pregnant," and he said, "I'll put him to bed," and I didn't nurse Cooper again. That was 13 months old, which is a good long time and I should be patting myself on the back. Yay, good job, mama. I would pat you on the back for that, but I felt guilty again. I definitely felt guilty - like I could've, should've, would've done more if I could, but it was literally excruciating pain, like nothing I'd ever felt before.
My fifth child Twyla - breastfed for 22 months
With my fifth one, Twyla, we just recently kind of stopped and she's almost two. Just to share a tiny bit from that story - I was nursing her back to sleep all night and it was waking me up two or three times a night. After 10 years of being woken up two or three times a night, I was like, "I'm good, I can't do this anymore. David, I'm going to go nuts. You've got to help me." He started waking up with her, bless him. He'd wake up with her in the middle of the night, put her paci back in, and potty her if she wouldn't settle back to sleep right away.
That not only helped her become dry all night, not because of the fluid coming in, but because she just started to connect her sleep cycles and really sleep through the night solidly. Because of that, she was dry all night in the diaper backup at 16 months. Then at 17 months, we just stopped using diapers at night and she's been great. Knock on wood, she's doing great.
With Twyla, I'd breastfed on demand. I also work three hours a day from home and have a couple of hours of help otherwise, because there's a lot to manage here and my husband works all the time. I have help maybe between three and five hours a day, which I'm very grateful for because in the beginning, I did not have any help at all. I think that's why I had postpartum depression, I didn't have any help.
Coming back to Twyla - we co-slept for four months, then I put her in her own crib, and then I'd feed her. Every time she woke up, I would potty her, then feed her, nurse her, and then start our day. Then the first fuss after breastfeeding, I would potty her again. That's just our routine, our cycle.
Over time, it turned out that I would feed her before or after her nap in the morning, when she woke up after her nap, and then at night when I put her to bed. As her naps extended and there were less of them during the day, she naturally started to just choose not to nurse at certain times. This is also along with solids, and I think that's something to do with baby led weaning - when they start salivating and grabbing at your food and you start giving them solids, it's just a gradual weaning. That's exactly what our experience was. You can look more into baby led weaning if you're interested. With her, I didn't have to, and with all the others I didn't have to do any kind of abrupt weaning.
My fourth child Branson - breastfed for 18 months
I didn't talk about ending with Branson. I stopped nursing Branson at about 16 months because I was pregnant with Twyla, and I was just about to have her. I was like, "I don't really want to tandem nurse." I don't feel guilty about that. I commend those of you who have tandem nursed - that's nursing two babies at once. I was just like, "He's losing interest." Actually, he was 18 months. "He's losing interest so I'm just not going to push it. And my milk's about to change, and I really want to preserve that for the baby or reserve that for the baby." I just kind of said, "No, we're not having them anymore," and he was fine. It was really, really easy because of his temperament.
Gradual weaning with Twyla, continued
Okay, back to Twyla’s gradual baby led weaning. We were just doing nursing first thing in the morning and we'd lay there together for 30 minutes to just nurse. This was from about maybe 17 to 22 months. It was beautiful this time when we could just bond and lay there and nurse together. Then she just would do a little bit and just stop and be like, "Other one." And then do the other one for a little bit and then stop. She started to stop wanting it.
Then nursing her at night, she started to just sort of dive into her crib. She didn't want me to rock her or nurse her or anything. She just wanted to go to bed. I followed her lead with that. I was like, "Cool because that's kind of where I'm at too. Great. It's been a long 10 years of nursing. I'm good." It was a little bit bittersweet, but I asked her one of the last days. I said, "Is this the last time we're ever going to have nanas?" And she goes, "Yeah." And I trust her and all my children to communicate. I want to ask them questions. I just trusted that as her answer. Then I think the next night I asked her, "Hey, you want nanas before bed?" And she goes, "No," and she just went off to play. And so that was it.
The end of breastfeeding my youngest baby
Then we had thrush, she had thrush for about a week. I really felt like emotionally, I really wanted to nurse her. I don't know if any of you have felt this way, but I was just like, "Gosh, I really want that connection back." I'd still had milk. I checked, I squeezed, and I still had milk but thrush can be passed between each other so I cleared up the thrush with the doctor's help. I tried natural remedies and then I was like, "Okay, she's in so much pain." Thrush is when you get candida in your mouth and she just couldn't, it was hard to eat. She just wasn't feeling well. She didn't have a fever, but she was definitely miserable.
That said, that week kind of what was a blessing in disguise. It helped me to stick with my decision. At 22 months we were weaned. She did try again after that week of thrush. She was like, "I want nanas." She'd start to open my shirt, which you know is like, "Boundaries girl. Okay, let's do it." She'd suckle and nothing came out and it hurt me. She just kind of gave up and walked away. She tried again the next day and then that's it.
My three-year-old sometimes comes up and he's like, "I want nanas too." They'll open it up and look at them - I let them look at my body because I feel like it's a normal thing for me. I mean, we walk around naked most of the summer inside our house or outside our house. We have a lot of property so we're like, "Yeah, whatever. Bodies are bodies. These are bodies." But I don't let them try to nurse when I have milk because I feel like, "I know you're done and it's baby's turn, this is baby's milk." Now that I have no milk, I'm happy to report my boobs are about the same size as they were before I had kids. My nipples are very different, but that's okay. I took one for the team. It was worth it and I think it's amazing.
How amazing are our bodies, y’all?!
Can we just take a moment to marvel at the beautiful creation that our bodies are, that my breasts can create exactly the food that my baby needs at that moment in her or his development, in that moment in time of their wellness or illness that we are so synced up between our breasts and our baby's mouths?
For those of you who are blessed to be able to nurse or are pumping and bottle feeding (like my friend who just had twins), let’s just take a moment right now and be grateful for our breasts. Yay, nanas!
That's all I wanted to share today. If you want to check out that resource on weaning, feel free. They also talk about gradual weaning in there. I know there are lots of different opinions, and I'd love to now hear yours. Leave a comment down below and let me know:
Have you also stopped breastfeeding or are you about to? And how do you feel about it?
Because we all have mixed emotions about it. There's guilt, there's blame, there's shame, there's just ambivalence, there's also clarity, and boundaries, and wanting our own bodies back, but also wanting to nurture our babies. All of that is totally okay and welcome. In those comments, feel free to write there and we can support each other.
I hope you enjoyed learning about that and just thanks for listening to my story. I'm a little bit sad. My husband has done “the clip” so we are done having babies and I am a little bit sad that I'll never breastfeed again because that means I'm onto the next phase in life, which is nurturing these babies in other ways, homeschooling, and being there for them.
Elimination Communication + Breastfeeding = A More Confident Mother
I just want to add that breastfeeding the way I've been able to and doing EC the way I've been able to have both been very clear choices that I've prioritized with each baby. I feel like both of them have made me a better, more confident mother in everything. My kids are thriving and I feel like it’s because of both of those things - EC and breastfeeding (or nurturing through nutrition, whatever that ends up being for you if you didn't breastfeed. I don't want this to make you feel guilty if you weren't able to breastfeed. I just want to share my story - I think with everybody's stories, we all learn something from our stories, right?).
Hopefully this episode has helped one of you and we can connect down at the comments, but what goes in and what comes out nursing, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, and then what comes out EC are two ways to definitely build confidence in parenting and being a new mom. It's very special.
Thanks for sharing this with me, and until next time, happy potting y'all.
PS - here’s the video version of this episode in case you prefer to YouTube it. ;)
I stopped breastfeeding my first when he was 13mo because I was pregnant and it hurt. I also felt guilty and wanted it back. I had expected for him to maybe ask once the baby arrived and he saw him nursing, but he had no interest. There were many times when he was sick and I wished he was still nursing. Now my second is 18mo and down to 2 feeds. I am starting to get tired of it (bring on the guilt trip) because he wakes between 4 and 6 am and only wants milk. I have mixed emotions, I want my freedom back, but I also know I will miss it once we are done. He’s close I think. We have skipped the night one a couple times now and he was fine. All that to say, this journey is so hard and emotional.
Hi Rebekah! It really is an emotional journey. Just do whatever is best for you and don’t feel any guilt. You are an awesome mom! xx Andrea
We do blw too! I’m starting to encourage more bottles and less breastfeeding during the day and freely breastfeeding at night, cosleeping most of the night. he’s almost a year old, but I expect we will go to 2 or 3 years…. or whenever he wants. but I will send breastmilk to school with him to drink instead of cows milk.
How and when do your nipples change? everyone says this and I just want to know what to expect. I have elastic nipples, so I really like pumpin pal flanges that don’t make my nipples look alien after pumping. but they also have a lifetime sizing guarantee because they can change any time… what causes them to change? when baby’s mouth gets bigger?
Looks like you have a great plan Maya!
I love that you will be offering breastmilk for as long as he wants. ❤️
Andrea, I appreciate so much you sharing so candidly about your experiences of motherhood. As I explore all of the parenting and pregnancy books as I think about pregnancy, your voice is to simple and real and makes me feel like I’ll just be able to figure it out.
Hi Elizabeth! Thank you so much for your kind words! It really means a lot, I share my stories in the hope that they help others. You will be able to figure it out! So much of parenthood is figuring out what works best for your kiddo, you are the expert on your child. xx Andrea
I loved hearing all of your experiences breastfeeding! I’m a big fan of nursing, but have had lots of issues as well. My first had a tongue and lip tie that I didn’t know about so I was in unbelievable pain every couple hours 24/7 for the first few months of her life – that plus a traumatic birth experience led to PPD and PPA. We worked through it eventually and by 6 or 7 months nursing was a breeze and I nursed her until she was 2yo. and loved it. I got pregnant immediately and resolved to do my best to nurse the new baby but to NOT lose my mind over it again. Many many issues with him, breastfeeding, as well – bad lip tie (which we got resolved on day 3 of life), then crazy oversupply, then extreme dips in my supply every time my period would come around. At 6 months I got Lyme disease and had to go on antibiotics that were not breastfeeding-safe and formula fed him while I pumped and dumped for 2 months. When I finished my medication, he refused to nurse again!! I was only getting 1/2 an ounce every 20 minutes of pumping so I decided to just stop trying and continue with formula. I had planned to nurse him till 2 or 3 years old so this gutted me! It was just the way it worked out, though, and I’m at peace with it now even though I wish it could have been different.
It is REALLY HARD not to feel guilty when breastfeeding doesn’t work out or when it ends sooner than planned! Before having kids I used to be one of those naive and arrogant ladies who thought you just had to tough it out and if you tried hard enough it will always work out. But there are some situations (even varying from baby to baby) where it just doesn’t work out, and thank God for formula in those cases! the formula guilt is strong sometimes, but I firmly ignore it when it pops up and am thankful I can still feed my baby. I loved the good times of breastfeeding my children and will absolutely try again with future babies, but hopefully with a little more humility and peace if it doesn’t go a smoothly as planned. :). Thank you for your stories Andrea!!
Hi Victoria! Yes, the mom guilt is strong unfortunately. It really stinks that we put so much pressure on ourselves. I think you have a great outlook for future breastfeeding journeys. I am so sorry you were ill and hope you are doing better, Lyme is no joke. xx Andrea
Loved hearing your story, and it made me cry! My daughter is 33 months and still nursing 2-4 times per day (before becoming a mom, I wanted to breastfeed, but never imagined we’d still be doing it years down the line) Hearing you talk about your daughter say she was done made me realize that, even though I soooo want my body back, I’m not ready myself for the end of nursing! My LO shows no sign of being ready for it to end, either :)
Hi Casey! It is so awesome that you and your daughter are still enjoying breastfeeding. It really is so different for each child. As long as everyone is happy then it is wonderful! xx Andrea
I love hearing about each of your babies nursing journeys. I’m still nursing my 13 month old but slowly trying to wean her off and we are down to only once a day. But man, the guilt is SO real. My goal was a year and I’m well past that, so I really don’t know why I’ve got so much guilt about it!! But it’s nice to know I’m not alone in that respect :)
Hi Shireen! Mom guilt is so hard! I think we always worry that we’re doing the right thing. If you are ready to be done then it is time, try not to feel badly about it. A year is awesome! xx Andrea
I’m nearly done with nursing my 3rd, and last, child. She’s 14 months.
I nursed my first for 18 months. I had to fight for bthst nursing relationship. A bad latch caused problem after problem. Plugged ducts. Multiple abscesses had to be drained. I almost quit at 3 months, and even began weaning, but we turned a corner at nursing became easy. When the time came, he took weaning far better than I did. I was an emotional mess that last feeding.
The second I nursed until he was 2. He probably would still nurse now at 3 1/2 if I let him. That’s how much he loved it. I was pregnant with #3 and needed to wean him before the baby was born so I wouldn’t have to tandem nurse. He struggled, and so did I, but I knew I’d be nursing again soon so managed to not get too emotional. I also made sure to not make up my mind on when the last feeding was until after it had happened.
With this last baby, she doesn’t seem to need it to relax at night the same way her brothers did. She can bottle feed herself (again, something her brothers couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do.) She prefers to be nursed, but takes the bottle okay. I had to day wean her around 8-9 months so I could take some medication and want to wean her all of the way soon so I can try a different medication that lasts all day.
But I also don’t want to stop. The last few days I’ve only nursed her first thing in the morning. I don’t want to drop this last feeding. I’m sad. I’m sad because my mental health is requiring me to take medication she can’t have in her system. I’m sad because I plan on her being my last. Because nursing my babies has been my favorite part of being a mom to young babies.
Hi Britt! You are a rock star! You have worked so hard to breastfeed your babies, and that is wonderful. It’s okay to put yourself first though. I know it is hard to make that choice, but giving your kids a healthy mom is the best gift you can give. When you are ready to make the change I know you will go for it. xx Andrea
Right around when my son was 16 months old I started to get really sick of nursing. He’s 17.5 months now and in the middle of Leap 10, so I think it’s a bad time to wean but I’m trying to come up with a plan to be done when he’s 2. He eats a ton of food but also still nurses many times a day. There’s some guilt because I feel like that means he still needs it, but I’m getting really touched out. I think I’ll have to do the abrupt weaning because he shows no interest in stopping. I just gotta work up the courage and then make that boundary really clear. We’ll see how it goes ;) Thanks for sharing your journey. It was so helpful to read!
I’m so glad it helped Ilana-Ruth! I know it can be hard to take that final step to wean, but you need to do what is best for both of you. If you are done then it is time to be done, you’ll know when it is time. xx Andrea
Hi Andrea, thank you so much for posting this. I am trying now to discontinue breastfeeding but finding it a challenge.
My little girl is 3 next month and she loves breastfeeding even now. It’s like her go-to comfort. I have started to feel weak and drained now with her feeding so much!
I put on some turmeric paste and that puts her off but the paste didn’t stay on long and she keeps checking 3-4 times a day at least and catches me out!
Any tips from you are much appreciated!
Just to add I did part time EC with her and it has been very helpful, thank you very much for your videos and course! X
Hi Mary! Give the grapefruit seed extract a try, it worked great for me. Also check out the book I mentioned, it should help. xx Andrea
Thank you for this episode and sharing so much with us!
My little one is just about 16 months and our journey so far sounds very much like yours with Twyla. She has just started the quick swapping of breasts in the last week which she has never done before.
The emotional component linked to breastfeeding is so strong for sure. I love how soothing and relaxing it is for mom and baby. Our bodies are so amazing :)
Congratulations on 10 years of breastfeeding 5 babies! :)
Thank you Andrea! Breastfeeding really is an emotional journey. I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying yours. xx Andrea
Thank you for sharing your story! It was eye-opening and great to hear about another mother’s EC journey and breastfeeding together.
I feel as though nursing her from birth, EC from just about 4 wks old, and co-sleeping have really assisted our EC journey. My little one is 2y7m – still nursing, in 3T TinyUndies day and night (2T leg holes were getting too tight on her, while the waist size was fine), and still co-sleeping but I’m feeling like it’s time to start transitioning to a toddler bed here very soon.
Short backstory: My husband lives on Oahu (another island) from where we live Big Island (Hawai’i island) due to his military work. And w/the COVID-19 situation, we don’t get to see him very often… maybe four times this year since COVID-19 happened 😢
Anyway, co-sleeping has been fine as we have a queen bed to ourselves (little one and I), along with a three sided crib side-saddled next to the bed, pretty much 24/7. But feeling like moving her to a toddler bed, may or may not alter our nursing journey. She shows no signs of halting. I don’t feel like I mind much, but there are some days I’d like to not have to nurse her back to sleep, for the sake of my own sleep. Given there are days she’s so very tired that she falls asleep all on her own.
Oh the life choices… again, thank you for sharing with us, the world, your nursing journey 🥰
Hi Sherry! I’m so happy my story resonated with you. We all have our own journeys, every kiddo is so different. I know you’ll find the right time and way to wean your daughter. I’m sorry you haven’t been able to see your husband often due to covid, it really is making life so difficult. I hope you will get to see him soon! xx Andrea
Hi! Thank you for this episode! Jeez! I cried throughout most of it.
I am currently on my 21st (ish) month of breastfeeding my third (and last) child. She has been out of diapers since 14 months old thanks to you. <3
I was up at about 1AM last night nursing a cranky toddler, at the end of my rope and googling “how to stop nursing at night!?!?” Then I checked my email and found this episode. Perfect timing. It was so nice to hear your journey through guilt and different kids’ personalities. I think it might be guilt holding me back from finally setting those boundaries and I feel much more confident after hearing your story.
Hi Kaylee! I am so glad this was timely!! It can be hard to take that step to wean (especially on your last baby), you’ll know when it is time. Listen to your gut and don’t feel guilty. You have done a great job with your daughter. xx Andrea
My baby is 27 months and deeply attached to breastfeeding, but I hate it so much. I called lactation at our doctor‘s office for help with weaning and all they would say is to keep nursing her until 3 or 4 if that’s what she wants. But I hate it so much. I don’t want my toddler to think I hate her though. I’ll have to check out the book you recommended.
Hi Sarah! I’m so sorry you were given that advice. If you are done with breastfeeding it is time to stop. You don’t want it to be a negative relationship. Abrupt weaning does work and will improve things so much. xx Andrea
My boy is 19 and a half months old. He still nurses first thing in the morning and anytime I put him down for a nap, or to bed (he doesn’t nurse if dad gets up with him, or puts him down). At this point I feel his nursing is more just part of our routine than it is nutritional or even him consuming milk (sometimes I wonder if I even have milk anymore).
Anyway, if I’m around in the morning, or anytime before sleep, he always wants a little suck time. And I’m perfectly ok with this, in fact, it saddens me ALOT to think about the day this will end. It is certainly our bonding time, and my time to just have my “baby”. He’s a big boy in so many other ways but I’m not quite ready to let go of babyhood just yet.
With that said, of all the women in my life who’ve had babies in recent years, I am, by far, nursing the longest (my sister was the next longest at about 11 months), and I’m starting to feel judged/criticized for “letting it go on so long”. I know I shouldn’t, I know that it will end eventually, hopefully relatively easily, but until then I’m happy sharing those special moments with my baby. But I do wonder if there a stage/phase/age that I should start “forcing’ him to wean.
Hi Jen! It’s so great that you and your son are enjoying breastfeeding!! Don’t let people convince you to stop until you are ready for it. Most kids will self wean around 2-3 years old. I don’t think there’s an exact age you “need” to stop, just whenever you are ready to.be done. xx Andrea
So timely Andrea! I’m really starting to feel into weaning my 16 month year old. Feeling guilty, especially around this whole virus time as I truly believe in its protective qualities for the immune system but it’s no longer enjoyable, hes soooo rough and likes to grab and pinch and bite and throughout the day it’s just quick snacking and then hes off to something else! We’ve cut down night feeds to twice a night which is a step in the right direction but gosh I’d love to stop feeding a night and have hubby step in!
Thankyou for sharing your own varied experiences and I’m going to check out that book!
I’m so glad it was timely for you Samantha! You definitely need to do what is best for you, if you’re done then wean. It will all be okay. You’ll know when it’s time. xx Andrea
I love hearing others breastfeeding stories! Thank you for sharing! It helps me have a new view on my own journey. We are still going with my 21 mo old. It’s been a rocky one and I’ve nearly quit many times. I have dealt with aversion almost since the beginning but didn’t know until almost a year into it. I’ve stuck with it partly out of curiosity for how long we can go. Also, sometimes it’s not so bad or even really good and next thing I know it’s been another month and i’m still pressing through. Sometimes I think it’s an asset to our relationship and sometimes a detriment. I’m really hopeful that I will have a better experience with nursing and EC with our next baby. I’ve learned so much but it definitely has not been a smooth journey.
Hi Arika! Sometimes it isn’t a smooth journey, kudos to you for sticking with it!! You’ll know when it’s time to wean, just listen to your mama gut. xx Andrea
Hi Andrea, I just wanted to add my different story if that’s ok.
Breastfeeding is almost everything to me as a mom but I’m all too well aware of its challenges such as those brought up in your stories and the ones shared above. You’ve done a good job putting into words some of the struggles we have with this most precious intimate way of bonding with our babies. I am and always was definitely for a 100% child-led weaning which as was said is a gradual weaning.
A lot was said about guilt and it’s nice to hear how others coped with it. Although I’m very fortunate and grateful that breastfeeding always worked out for me, it was not without pain and anxiety sometimes. I just wanted to share my experience from a different perspective, that is from someone who has tandem nursed and let her children weaned themselves Without guilt.
And it’s not to brag or make anyone feel guiltier but rather to show what it’s like for those like me who have done it exclusively hopefully that would inspire if not encourage some.
I have been nursing for just about 15 years non stop. I know it sounds crazy but I’m currently nursing my 7th baby, so that explains a lot. But I still don’t tell everyone this because most people will think I’m definitely crazy but I know I’m not (although yeah I had times where I felt like “I’m done”). The reference to indigenous cultures way of doing it might seem impossible for us in so-called advanced societies, but it’s not. We can do it too. I do believe that it is normal for a child to be completely done nursing by 4-5 years old, not before. I’m not judging anyone. But a lot of things including our busy lives make it hard to see or understand that fact. I believe it not because someone told me or I read it somewhere but because I literally lived it and it makes perfect sense to me for many reasons that I won’t list. I’ve been living a child-led weaning life since I became a mom. That means I had to tandem nurse since baby number 2 until now. But no matter what, all my babies who have already weaned, did it themselves around the same age, 4-5 years old. They all had different rhythms and behaviours toward my breast, different breastfeeding experiences, but no matter what, the process was similar. A process that made complete sense to me: very very gradual, so much so that I actually never noticed when they were done or their last time on the breast. And yes they were all at least 4 years old. But I could never tell you when each latched on for a last time. And that’s amazing! Because that bittersweet feeling of weaning that many have expressed, I never felt it really, and funny enough I felt guilty for not feeling it. But I guess that’s the blessing of chil-led weaning.
Yes I breastfed through many pregnancies, yes I experienced some discomfort sometimes pain, but thankfully never too bad. Yes I tandem nursed at least 2 babies at a time sometimes 3, but the older one never took too much of what was supposed to be for the youngest one. In fact tandem nursing definitely was great help when I suffered engorgement after every newborn baby who wouldn’t nurse that much. It wasn’t always easy but I believe with all my heart that it is one big reason why my children are so close to each other and not jealous of each other. There’s no resenting the new baby or feeling left out ever. Now I know some like Andrea managed to successfully wean their child abruptly or before a new baby was born, without any hard feelings from their child. But for me and others committed to child-led weaning, tandem nursing is an absolute blessing.
So to anyone else who is and has done child-led weaning even if it means tandem nursing and nurse till your baby is 5, I want to shout it’s perfectly fine and normal! You’re not crazy!
My number one resource for anything breastfeeding related is LaLecheLeague International. I had to learn all by myself and I had struggles but without them I probably wouldn’t have succeeded. So I’ll add their book as my recommendation “The womanly art if breastfeeding”. I couldn’t agree more, breastfeeding is definitely an art.
Hi Rebeka! Thank you for sharing your amazing story! I am so happy to hear you have enjoyed child led weaning and tandem nursing. I think one of the best things about parenting is there are many ways to do things and have happy healthy kiddos. That way everyone can do what works best for them. xx Andrea
So timely! Although I do plan to have more kids, I am just finishing the breastfeeding journey with my first. He has reflux and lots of food sensitivities, but we were able to struggle through the screaming fits and EBF the first 7 months with me avoiding alot of food groups, followed by supplementing with a hypoallergenic formula for the last 4 months. He started to refuse latching when we switched to supplementing with formula, so I have been pumping exclusively since then, and between all the food I couldn’t eat and the constant pumping, I am just mentally tapped now. EVEN STILL, it is very emotional to stop, as for the first time in his existence, my baby doesn’t need my body anymore. It’s so weird. Your experience with Twyla is my dream, that they would just slowly wean themselves. So awesome :)
Hi Karianne! Doing an elimination diet and pumping would be so draining, you are a rock star for keeping it up! Don’t even feel the least bit guilty about weaning, you did an amazing job for your son. I hope his food sensitivities and feeding get easier as he grows. xx Andrea
My 23 month old Nurses to go to sleep. At night and after lunch, twice a day. I would love for him to be able to fall asleep on his own. I am not sure where to go from here. thank you for this podcast. I will read the book you suggested.
Hi Revah! I think you’ll find the book so helpful. Wishing you the best with finishing up weaning! xx Andrea
Currently weaning my three-year-old. They were EBF and then we gradually introduced solids but kept nursing as formula is not compatible with our family values. My child is mostly weaned during the day, 100% weaned “in public” but still nurses to sleep and sometimes at night and in the morning. I work full-time and need my body back because I’m tired and have ocassional bouts of aversion. I’m working on the guilt aspect of it: I think I’ve done everything I could. Still I’ve decided to wean gradually and we’re making baby steps towards that goal. We’re doing okay.
Try not to feel guilty Elizabeth, if you are ready to wean then it is time. I hope gradual weaning works well for you. xx Andrea
Awasome! Loved to hear your story.
I stopped nursing at night a couple weeks ago and I’m very happy with the decision. My 16m/o girl is dry at night, with an ocasional pee in her backup cloth diaper. I potty her once, usually around 5am, sometimes an extra one around midnight. It depends if she peed right before going to bed or not.
Nature is amazing! Nanas are amazing!
You are totally rocking EC Sandra! It sounds like your little one is doing well. Congrats on night weaning! xx Andrea