“ You are spoiling your kid by Breastfeeding”
” You should be knowing by now, why she doesn’t eat properly”
” Your kid will be dependent on you forever”
” You can’t wean once she grows up”
” Isn’t she big enough? “
These were the motivational quotes (sarcasm) I heard from people around me when my daughter was just 8 months old.
For the unversed, Weaning is a process of switching the baby’s diet progressively from breast milk to solids ( or adult food). Ideally, the weaning process starts (introduction of solids) when the baby loses its tongue thrust (around the start of seventh month) till then the infant is exclusively breast fed.
With the help of one of the few breastfeeding support groups on Facebook, I got to know how important breastfeeding is for my baby and I. Though, I was late by a few months to be part of this group, l was glad I did.
The group helped me understand more about breastfeeding, the science behind it, how important is human milk to the baby human, its advantages, and so on and so forth. Hence, I made a decision when my baby was 6 months old that I will be feeding her till she turns 3.
This decision of mine, made me face a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes it was people’s opinion as mentioned before and at times I was fighting my own devils. Breastfeeding as a process is difficult right from nipple cut, shallow latch to milk blocked duct they are agonising to say the least and can make you easily crash your threshold but on a sunny day the emotion it brings is pure and grows the bond with your off-spring ten folds every single time that tiny lips sucks the milk in full glory.
As decided I fought inside out to stand up for the decision I made. As the month of her 3rd birthday was approaching, I realized that I was emotionally more tied to this process than my child. I wanted to nurse her more than she wanted to get nursed.
Until 2.5 years I was at home with her so she was fed whenever she needed it. She had a routine of feeding on an average of 5-7 times in the day and endless feeds in the night.
Once I got to know that I had to start the office. By fulfilling her daily need of protein, I started planning my feeds and gradually within weeks I was feeding her only to sleep (once in the day & as per demand at night, some nights for endless feeds). Though I could not work it out for a few days, I did manage most of the time.
But, I could not wean her completely even after her third birthday, every time I thought of it I was having anxiety. How am I even going to do this? My main concern was – from the day she was born to till the day I wanted to completely wean ( my daughter was 3.3 years old) she was nursed to bed. I was terrified to disrupt anything related to her sleep.
But as the months were passing, I could make out the process was taking a toll on my mental health. My sleep was badly getting disturbed with random feeding in the middle of night but still I was pushing myself.
But one night, I was very tired and just let her feed and it seemed like she even fell asleep. Middle of the night, I woke up in pain & literally jumped out of bed. The pain was so unbearable that I blacked out for a second…My little monkey had bit me so hard that my nipple were bleeding (this was not the first time but this was the worst) and next thing I did was spanking the sleeping child who did not have any understanding of what happened.
( I regret doing it) and that’s the time I realised I need to wean her completely else I am going to hurt her & myself badly. I wanted to do gentle weaning so that it is not traumatizing for both of us.
As mentioned earlier, at this stage, she was only nursed to bed but it was irrespective of day or night. I started explaining to my daughter how she has grown big from little baby to small little girl and feeding is something she doesn’t need anymore – these stories I started telling from 2.5 years ago but I was trying to enforce it on her more now. So one night I told her she has to sleep without getting fed. She started crying and tantrums were so bad that she had fever next morning
MISSION Failed! I fed her endlessly in the coming nights till she was back to normal.
Then I asked my husband to put her to bed, he fed her, bathed her and told her stories. After a 3 hour marathon, she slept for an hour and was back to square 1. We tried it for 3-4 days but it was exhausting for all 3 of us.
For a break, I happened to visit my mom’s place. My mom saw my desperation to get some sleep and she said to apply neem oil. I said no initially, but I reluctantly agreed to it because I badly wanted to get some sleep. But my dear daughter just cleaned it well with my tshirt and chugged her most favourite drink.
It was already 2 months from the time I decided to quit. My daughter was 3.2 years old. When I was at the peak of my frustration, a mail notification popped up. It read: 3 days rejuvenating trip to Sakleshpur.. My immediate answer was NO as the obvious feeling comes like how can I leave my kid alone but then I gradually realised why don’t I use this as an opportunity to wean completely.
I had properly a month to plan. I started preparing myself to face a life without breastfeeding my kid. It was tough, I was in tears but this had to happen one day as I could not see any signs of self weaning.
Before 2 weeks of the trip, I requested my mother to stay with me for a fortnight. As we were in a nuclear setup, my daughter wanted some time to bond and her grandma was a magician in gaining her love and trust.
So week 1, I created a support system where I am not with her but she should be comfortable and less messy. My husband and mom took there best efforts give her comfort by engaging with her. Week 2, while I had to leave on Thursday. I made up my mind almost for a week to not give up to her tantrums ( I think this was the most difficult part)
On week 2 – Monday evening, I told my daughter that my bust is hurting. My darling princess asked me for proof could not get a band aid and managed to apply lipsticks to show her wound.
She cried and went to my mom (aww… my heart) and with little resistance she slept with mom. For the 2nd day, I dropped her afternoon nap and took her to the park to make her tired. She came home, had food and went to my mom but she cried that night still my mom didn’t get her to me. We were sleeping in separate rooms. But hearing her cry, my tears were not stopping.
Third day, I had to leave and the weaning blues was sticking to me like glue. I cried endlessly while leaving her as it was my 1st time in 3.2 years I was leaving her alone.
After 3 days of separation and endless explanation from her dad and grand mom. My daughter weaned completely at 3 years, 3 months, 26 days. When she met me after the trip all she did was hug her Pachi. Tears of joy !
SUCCESS! SUCCESS, SUCCESS!
It was very emotional but I am glad the transition was not very hard on her. The things I realize that I did differently to help in this weaning process are below:
- I prepared myself mentally (still I failed but not miserably)
- I explained her over a period of time how she is outgrowing to be a small little girl from a baby
- Improved her diet with proper protein rich food – reduces the hunger to a great extent
- Asked for support every single time without hesitation.
The weaning methods followed by me:
- Band aid method
- Convincing that she’s big enough let go her fav food from mom.
- Slowly building the emotional trust that even if I don’t feed I will be with her.
If your child is above 2 years I personally suggest not to go with harsh methods applying neem oil because they very well know how to handle it. Do not do the mistake, I did.
It was soul wrecking but I had to do for our overall wellness!
My 2 cents to the mom’s out there who are planning to wean there baby’s :
- It’s completely your decision – it’s a beautiful bond between you and your baby. You are the decision maker, ideally you decide when you want to put that end card to breastfeeding and do not get influenced by what others speak.
- Goals are good but mental peace is important. Example is my case, I lost my peace at one point in time. I should not have taken it to that extent.
- If you want to feed for years together make sure you take required calcium & iron supplements (with doctor’s advice) so that your body doesn’t give up.
Thank you for reading my blog!