Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pregnancy Led Weaning: My Experience Nursing Through Pregnancy

At the one year mark, Baby Boy was nursing four times a day: wake-up, before or after 2 naps, and before bed. Right after his first birthday, we found out that I was pregnant again. Almost immediately nursing became a lot more painful for me and by 6 weeks I had developed severe breastfeeding agitation. Basically every time I nursed Baby Boy, I got really annoyed and was praying for him to be done. It also coincided with the onset of nausea and lasted for about a month. I did not make any effort to wean Baby Boy though because we were on our many trips and in my mind he was still so young.

When we got back home, and just as Baby Boy was turning 14 months, I decided that as we dropped his morning nap we would also drop that nursing session. It was definitely accompanied by some guilt on my part but went well. For about a week after we dropped that session, Baby Boy would ask to nurse right around his old nap time, but I just offered him a snack instead and after a while he stopped asking. Luckily, by this point the agitation on my part had stopped and it was not that uncomfortable to nurse.

I had always assumed that by the second trimester of pregnancy my supply would dwindle and that Baby Boy would naturally wean, but I was thrown for a loop! By 16 weeks my milk had changed into colostrum (or some transitional milk) with no intermediary supply loss. The result was very loose stools on the part of Baby Boy, and bowel movements going from a regular once a day, to 5-6 times a day! This alone was reason enough to motivate me to drop our last middle of the day session.

Since nap time was usually around 1:30 p.m. Baby Boy had just had lunch, so a nursing session was really just a matter of habit and not a dietary need. One day, I just laid down with him and cuddled before his nap and he easily started falling asleep. The next day we did the same thing and within a few days, that nursing session was all but forgotten. Our loose stool situation stabilized at 3 times a day, still more than I liked dealing with, but much more manageable. At this point, nursing became completely comfortable again, and I was prepared to let Baby Boy nurse morning and evening as long as he still wanted to.


But then around weeks 18/19 my supply took a major dip! It really frustrated Baby Boy, and I felt so sad when he would cry after a feeding because he wanted more milk but there was really nothing there. We continued until 21 weeks with our morning/evening sessions. Baby Boy then got sick and just wanted to be cuddled all the time. He wasn't necessarily asking for feedings though and so I decided to move on to the No Offer/No Refuse method; if he asked for it I would feed him, otherwise I wouldn't be offering it.

We continued at twice a day until week 23 or so (16.5 months). M was usually getting Baby Boy from the crib in the morning, and while he was always really thirsty for water, if he didn't come to our bedroom, he didn't ask for a feeding. We were down to one evening session and it was just a matter of time. About a month later when Baby Boy was 17.5 months and I was entering my third trimester, M started intermittently taking over the bedtime routine.

All in all, it was about a 4 month process to get down to that one last feeding. I definitely have some guilt about taking the lead on the process, because I think the kiddo probably would have continued for several more months if the situation had been different. But with a baby on the way, and all the other changes that were coming up in the following months, I just couldn't fathom tandem nursing. In retrospect, all the initial struggles were SO SO worth it, for a nursing relationship that could not be replicated or replaced in any way. The bonding, comforting, and ease, that seemed like bonus features to me when we first started (over the nutritional benefits) are something that I came to cherish, and they will be on my mind as I embark on the journey with Baby Brother. 

*When I first wrote this post, I thought it was the end and that by 18 months Little Boy would be weaned. That's sort of laughable now, and hopefully I can come back with another post on the next part of our journey. 

No comments:

Post a Comment