Thoughts + tips on weaning from breastfeeding

All of a sudden I’m done breastfeeding. I can hardly believe it! I nursed Clara for 18 months (the last 6 months of that time was just at night and in the morning) and I thought I would go that long with Isabelle before weaning from breastfeeding.

However, nursing literally drained me in every way possible and my plans changed. (As they often always do in motherhood.) What can I say, my youngest was sucking the energy straight out of me! Around her birthday I decided to stop nursing her during the day, and then a few weeks ago (at 13 months) I decided to be done completely.

(And my boobs immediately deflated – wah wah. RIP, breastfeeding boobs, I miss you already.)

I’m no expert on weaning, but I have done it twice and one time definitely worked better than the other. Meaning that weaning Isabelle hasn’t seemed to traumatize anyone whereas weaning Clara was awful for all parties involved.

My tips on successfully weaning a baby from breastfeeding!

Here are my recommendations to successfully wean from breastfeeding:

+ Night wean first. I waited a while to night wean both girls, but it happened before a year for each of them (which is late, I know!). I’m not sure, but it seems like it would be harder to night wean if you already weaned during the day. I imagine that if I had cut out nursing during the day but still breastfed at night, my baby would have woken up more at in the early morning hours to eat and catch up on missed meals.

+ Get on a schedule. If you aren’t nursing on a schedule (if you’re nursing ‘on demand’), now is the time to try to form a routine. A routine helps because it allows you to predict when your baby is going to be expecting to nurse and you can easily decide which of those feedings will be bottles or breast. Clara nursed on-demand and I thought it was REALLY hard to wean her because she constantly wanted a 5 second ‘snack’ and would freak out if I deprived her of such breastfeeding goodness. I think if you cut out ‘snacking’ on demand, that’s a good first step, and I wish I would have done that with Clara.

+ Cut out one feeding every few days. Once you’re on a feeding schedule, it becomes much easier to cut out one breastfeeding session to replace with a bottle feed instead. And then when your baby seems used to that, you can cut out another one! (Honestly, I didn’t do this approach either time, but I think it would have worked pretty easily and it’s the approach our pediatrician recommended! With both of my girls I cut out all daytime breastfeeding sessions at once, but that was really hard on Clara. Isabelle, however, had a much easier time since she was only breastfeeding once or twice per day anyways – not including the morning and night feeds. Plus, I was out of town around Isabelle’s first birthday so Tim bottlefed her for a few days and she did great! We never went back to the breast after that.)

+ Snuggle while bottle feeding. Some babies still like to get their snuggles on, so if you can, offer skin-to-skin or at least some quality snuggling time with bottle feeding. Sometimes Isabelle seems like she’s in the mood to cuddle, but other times she crawls away from me and drinks her bottle by herself. Either way, I think it’s important to recognize that breastfeeding is a source of comfort for babies and it’s possible to remove the feeding element but still (hopefully) provide some comfort.

+ Make sure you’re still offering plenty of liquids. The girls’ pediatrician recommends babies drink whole milk until they’re three years old, so that’s what we stick to in terms of milk. We also offer as much water as Isabelle wants throughout the day, and we give her bottles of milk when I would normally have breastfed, which is after she wakes up in the morning and from both naps, and before she goes to bed at night.

+ Banish any ‘mom guilt’ thoughts. I actually thought I’d feel more guilty about not breastfeeding anymore, because I know there are still health benefits for Isabelle, but I just don’t have those guilty thoughts. None at all. My body helped create and grow and nourish two lives for a combined total of four years of continuous pregnancy/breastfeeding/sometimes both, and it is ready for a break. Neither of my girls needed formula, which means that I produced a lot of breastmilk over the 2.5 combined years I breastfed them. My body felt done – totally done – and I look back with fond memories but a sense of relief that the breastfeeding (and probably pregnancy) phase of my life is OVER. Once you decide you’re ready to begin weaning from breastfeeding, no matter how long you did it, you should feel confident and good about your decision!

To celebrate the end of my breastfeeding journey I’m working out more (because I honestly have more energy!) I bought some cute bras from ThirdLove (because even though my breasts are smaller, they look cute in these bras and are super comfy!), and am wearing alllll of the not-nursing-friendly summer tops and dresses I can find!

Cheers to the end of a chapter! If I missed any obvious tips, please let me know in the comments so I can edit the list!

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12 Responses to Thoughts + tips on weaning from breastfeeding

  1. Laurie Olsen says:

    Ah the end of an era right!?

  2. erinhzauner says:

    cheers lady! you should be very proud for what your body has done!! I have to confess, I am so jealous of the people who get to choose to wean. my body just doesn’t produce what it needs to produce. I managed to eke by and get to 12 months with Amelia (we partially transitioned to milk a month early which helped get us there), and on her first birthday she decided she was done with my dried out boobs. with William, I told myself I wouldn’t make myself insane like I did with her, and so we have already started supplementing on days I’m at work (pumping has killed my breastfeeding experience). I’m getting more and more concerned that he is now not getting enough from nursing when I’m home, so on his 8 month birthday we will be cutting it out completely. I’m sad, but trying to be proud of myself. it helps that he doesn’t have time to nurse and could care less about it….

    • Lisa says:

      I cannot imagine breastfeeding if I worked… I HATE the pump and don’t get much from pumping. The only reason I was able to breastfeed for so long is because it was always convenient for us!

    • Amanda says:

      You should be proud of yourself, Erin! The pump hates me too and it’s hard on us working mamas. He’s growing and healthy and that’s all that matters 🙂

  3. Susannah says:

    These are fantastic tips! I’m glad you did what was right for you and your gal! Nursing can be so draining and it’s great to make it to 13 months! <3

  4. Amanda says:

    Congratulations on nursing for so long with two babies! I stopped BF R around 13 months too and it was basically a non issue. I expected her to care at least a little but I think she was done too. I’m so thankful to have been able to nurse her but I felt zero guilt about stopping. I was ready!

    • Lisa says:

      YEP! Zero guilt over here because I’m sooooo happy to have my body back that it overshadows any other potential negative feelings! 13 months is such an accomplishment – GOOD JOB!

  5. I’m so impressed with how long you breastfed both your kids! Both my kids pretty well quit on their own around 11 1/2 months. It was my goal to bf them until at least a year, but they were done and I wasn’t going to fight it when we were already so close to weaning.

    It’s quite freeing isn’t it?

    • Lisa says:

      It is soooo freeing! Congrats on making it so long with your two! I think if the kids can self wean that’s the ideal scenario for everyone!

  6. yay! congratulations and you are so impressive! no formula at all means you and your body were working hard around the clock! thank you for sharing this story and totally checking out ThirdLove – my little (no longer nursing) boobs deserve love too!

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