Monday, April 21, 2014

Weaning: All Good things Come to an End

I guess we have" successfully" weaned our toddler off breastfeeding. We have enjoyed the benefits of breastfeeding for good 31 months (and beyond). Though she says she still wants "mama milk", it is easier now to tell her that she can't have it anymore.

We started weaning when she turned one year old. We did it gradually by reducing the number of breastfeeding sessions during the day. We started with removing the late afternoon feed for several weeks/months. Then we removed the "morning snack" feeding session. We replaced these feeding sessions mostly with games and playing outdoors. We were also feeding solids at this time. We were almost able to wean all daytime feeds after several months but we had to travel and spend a very long vacation in Philippines. We travelled a lot, moved from one house to another, got seasonal allergies, and feed our little one with something as she is a picky eater, etc. Direct breastfeeding was the most convenient and safest way to feed our toddler.  So we were back again to breastfeeding day and night. My little one was already 2 years old this time.

When we went back home, we started the gradual weaning process again -- a few weeks of no late afternoon feeds, then the upon waking up and/or morning snack feed til there are no more daytime nursing. This phase now is shorter than our first try of weaning. At this time, our toddler is just also (re)learning to feed from the bottle and beginning to like drinking fresh milk and/or formula milk. She really prefers the boob and really dislikes non-human milk. Though she can already drink from the cup, we still let her drink from the bottle as this was, I guess, more convenient for the caregivers. And the suckling helps her sleep.

After a week or two of no daytime nursing, we began removing the just before sleeping feed and still continued to nurse her when she awakes at night. There were a lot of kissing and hugging to replace the nursing sessions. This lasted for 2 weeks. Then we decided to wean her completely -- strictly no nursing day and night.

It was difficult at first (for the parents) as it is really difficult to get up in the middle of the night to prepare the bottle. To add to that, our toddler likes "hot milk" so preparing milk was really tedious (compared to just giving her the boob). By the way, our little one hasn't learned sleeping through the night yet so imagine the sleepless-nights-like-having-a-newborn.

After a week or two, our little one finally slept a little longer than usual. If sleeping through the night means 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep, then we are sleeping through the night already. Yay. I have noticed too, that after several weeks of no direct breastfeeding (almost 2 months) I don't get milk when I hand expressed. That means, I am not lactating anymore (and my boobs are back to normal even size).

However, around this time that she doesn't take breastmilk, our little one got sick -- colds, cough, fever. It was probably due to seasonal allergies. Our little one took many meds but it seems that it is taking too long for her to get well. When she was breastfeeding, she rarely gets sick (Thank God) or gets well very quickly. I am tempted too many times to give her the boob just to make her feel better. Expressed milk is not an option since I don't have my pump and there is very little to none breastmilk anymore. But I have to be firm in this decision of weaning since I'm there already. It took us more than a year to get here and I'm afraid that it will take time again to wean her off if we re-latch/re-lactate. 

It makes me sick thinking that the "decision to wean" won over "toddler's need".  I can't even remember why we even decided to wean our toddler. I'm just trying to convince myself now that weaning her doesn't have any relation to her current health status. It is just seasonal allergies as all of us have it too. Or at least there are several other factors that caused her to be sick. (she is getting better as of this writing)

If any of you has an option to go through baby-led weaning, please do so. The benefits of extended breastfeeding (and the psychological effects on a worrying mom) is as crucial as breastfeeding a newborn. According to Breastfeeding Inc

"Breastmilk still contains immunologic factors that help protect the child even if he is 2 or older. In fact, some immune factors in breastmilk that protect the baby against infection are present in greater amounts in the second year of life than in the first. This is, of course as it should be, since children older than a year are generally exposed to more infections than young babies. Breastmilk still contains special growth factors that help the immune system to mature, and which help the brain, gut, and other organs to develop and mature." 

For more info on extended breastfeeding,  visit these sites:

Timeline of Breastfed Baby

Oh well,  I just hope all will be better soon. 

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