Weaning

This post is about boobs and the milk that comes out of them.  You have been warned.

Back-story first:

Bug has been a primarily breastfed baby from day 1 and I was determined to make it to a year.  We made it through some pretty intense bruising & dryness during the first few weeks, plus mastitis at a week and a half… which pretty much ruined Hubby’s first Father’s Day.  Before too long, breastfeeding was easy and wonderful and I am so glad we persevered.

I went back to work when Bug was just 7 weeks old.  I’m not going to get into my wonky work schedule in this post, but until he was 6 or 7 months old, I pumped 2 times while at work… and he usually had 2 or 3 bottles while I was at work.  I stressed about stocking up on frozen milk for a few months, but quickly decided that it wasn’t worth the stress on my body to try to pump extra.  Once the busy season rolled around (winter for us Florida folks living in retirement-ville) and Bug was about 7 months old, I started only pumping once at work… it was all I had time for.  Luckily, I could pump 2 bottles worth of milk in one 15-minute sitting.  Needless to say, Bug still ended up with 1 or 2 bottles of formula a week… usually his bottle before bed.  We ran out of formula when he was 11 months old and switched to whole milk cold turkey at that point instead of buying another can of formula.

Onto weaning:

I started weaning Eli when he was about 11 1/2 months old.  At that point he was nursing/having a bottle 4 times a day: 7am (good morning!), 11:30am (after nap #1), 4:30pm (after nap #2) and 7:30pm (good night!).  Let me interject real quick by saying that I was a little stressed about weaning.  Not about how painful it would be for my boobs to dry up (no pain, and he hasn’t nursed in 10 days).  Not about how emotionally difficult it would be on the Bugger (he doesn’t seem to care so much).  I was just stressed about how to go about it all.  What feeding do I cut out first?  How do I make sure he supplements that good mommy milk with nutritious big-people food?  Like most things in mommyhood, I really shouldn’t have worried.  I just did what felt natural and ta-da.  All worked out.

I cut out his 11:30 feeding first and just started feeding him lunch when he woke up from his first nap and then a snack a little later on.  After a week, I cut out the feeding after his second nap and gave him a snack instead and then dinner later on.  After another week, I cut out his morning session and fed him breakfast when he woke up and then a snack a little later on.  Then, after another week I cut out the bedtime feeding and he just gets a bottle of whole milk before bed.  I figured that waiting a week between each would be better for my boobs and easier for baby to adjust as well.

I should also mention that I stopped pumping as soon as I started weaning.  I became a little engorged at first when I would go 2 or 3 days without nursing him, but by the time we finished weaning there was very little engorgement and no pain.  10 days later, I definitely still have some milk in there, but it seems very watery.  I am very surprised that I haven’t had any issues with huge, painful boobs.  Of course, the ladies are now about the same size as they were when I was 16, except for obviously nowhere near as perky.  And I was a late bloomer if that tells you anything.

So, how did I know that it was time to start weaning?  Like I said, I was determined to make it to a year, and that we did.  When Eli was right at 11 months, though, he started to give me signs that he was ready to be done.  At all of his nursing sessions (with the exception of his bedtime feeding), he started this fun game of nursing for a minute or two, then stopping and trying to pinch my nipple.  Um, no thanks, little dude.  Then, when I wouldn’t allow him to pinch me, he’d start nursing again and bite down a little bit.  Obvi, that wasn’t okay with me either.  He’d end up nursing for a total of like 5 minutes and then want to be done.  That was a big sign.  The other sign was, when he had a bottle (with Grandma or Nana) during the day, he started only drinking drink 2-3 ounces instead of his usual 4-5.  He had much cooler things to be doing, evidently.

This is Bug’s schedule now:

  • 7:00-7:30 – wake up & eat breakfast (half a Nutri-Grain waffle, fruit, yogurt and milk)
  • 9:00 – snack (milk & fruit)
  • 10:00 – nap
  • 11:30-12:00 – wake up & eat lunch (lunch meat or eggs, cheese, fruit, whole grain crackers, water)
  • 2:00 – snack (avocado spread on whole wheat bread or graham crackers or something to that effect and milk)
  • 3:15ish – nap
  • 4:30-5:00 – wake up.  If he wakes up before 5, he gets a little snack with some milk and then dinner around 5:30.  If he wakes up after 5, we wait and just give him dinner around 5:30.  Dinner is usually 4 ‘cubes’ (ice tray cubes of homemade food) and water.  We try to get a good mix of veggies, grains & protein every night.
  • 7:30-8:00 – bedtime with an 8oz bottle of whole milk

He probably drinks a total of 20 ounces of whole milk a day, plus about 6 ounces of water.  In the end, weaning wasn’t nearly as difficult/traumatic/painful as I thought it would be!

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