While pregnant with Eleanor, I often tried to imagine the various different aspects of motherhood, and for me, breastfeeding was always in the picture. My plan had always been to breastfeed Eleanor for 1 year, and I’m proud to say that together she and I fulfilled our goal!
At 12 months of breastfeeding I was comfortable, confident, but also ready to move on to the next stage. I talked to Eleanor’s pediatrician about a plan for weaning at her 1 year appointment. She said it was completely up to me how I wanted to proceed, but not to try to do too much at once as it might be unsettling for E and uncomfortable for me.
I set a new goal of being completely weaned by our trip to Dallas. I didn’t want to have to worry about when, where, or how I would breastfeed. I knew from our plans that I wouldn’t be around to put her to bed every night, so I thought being 100% done with breastfeeding ahead of this trip would be easier on Eleanor in the long run.
So, how did I do it?
When I finished student teaching in May, I put my pump away and went back to exclusively nursing Eleanor (aside from her solids). Within a couple of weeks we had settled into the following routine:
- 5:30 – Wake up and nurse
- 6:00 – Breakfast
- 8:00 – Nurse and nap
- 10:00 – Snack
- 12:00 – Lunch
- 2:00 – Nurse and nap
- 3:30 – Snack
- 5:30 – Dinner
- 7:30 – Nurse and bedtime
That added up to four breastfeeding sessions a day. Following her 1 year appointment, I decided to cut out her nap time feedings. Obviously the girl was getting enough to eat from other sources throughout the day (3 meals + 2 snacks), and nursing had become just a comforting routine. For the first few days, she screamed when I put her in her crib without nursing.
I followed our standard sleep training procedure and gradually increased the time I waited before going in to comfort her. Some naps never happened, but eventually she adapted to the new normal and happily went down with no milk. Within a week, we were back on track.
At 13 months I weaned 100%. I woke up one morning and decided to try the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method, and she never requested milk again. It all happened SO quickly! I took it as a sign that we were both ready to move on. Some moms talk about their toddlers grasping at their shirts or signing milk over and over again, but we had none of that. It was all very smooth and natural.
Physically: I was pleasantly surprised by how easy weaning was on my body. I had flashbacks to the initial engorgement that followed birth, but weaning was nothing like that. About 10 days after weaning, I had a bit of leaking and pressure, so I just self-expressed until it felt better. Since then, my chest has gradually returned to it’s normal (aka – small) pre-baby state. After nearly 2 years of my body belonging to Eleanor, I FINALLY feel 100% back to Joanna again!
My nursing bras have officially been packed away (yay), and I’ve treated myself to some much needed new bras (double yay)!
Emotionally: I don’t miss breastfeeding as much as I thought I would. I cherish that time with Eleanor, but she still requires snuggles, kisses, and songs to fall asleep which fills that void in my day :)
More posts on breastfeeding:
How did weaning go for you?
What worries you about starting to wean your babe?