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Since Swistle Brought It Up–On Weaning

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Here in blog land, we all share our knowledge on certain subjects, give feedback and support each other on a daily basis. I am always taken aback when I am able to do the same thing in real life and in this situation, I really just feel so good about it.

My friend (and employee) Kel was scheduled to come back from her maternity leave last week. I got a frantic phone call 2 days before because she was trying to wean her baby girl and just could not do it. She was hysterical over it, could not stop crying, and the baby, while taking a bottle ok from others, would not even think about taking it from her.

She was adamant about not pumping at work; she just didn’t want to go through it. She thought that weaning was the best option—just get it done with overall. We talked for a long time about it; she knew that I had nursed both kids even after coming back to work and wondered if there was any way she could still do it without using a breast pump. She thought that she was going to hate breast-feeding and that it would be no big deal to stop, but the bond just took here completely by surprise.

I felt like, so pro-lactation in that moment, it was amazing. In short, this is what I told her:

Breastfeeding is different for everybody. I was able to nurse Bud until he was 8-months old, but by the 6-month mark was having a hard time pumping enough to keep him going. I gradually began to stop pumping at work, but still nursed him at home before and after work, as well as all weekend long. Nursing all weekend always boosted my milk supply and I was able to maintain long enough. By the 8-month mark, we were both ready to be done with it, and the transition to all bottle (he was on a lot of solids by then anyway) went very well (I got pregnant the next month, and my boobs never completely emptied, but I left that part out.) Lucy was different from birth. First, because of the NICU, I was unable to nurse her right away, and due to her hypoglycemia, they had to give her formula right off the bat. She came home with strict instructions for supplemental feeding for the first week or 2. She took the breast easily, but definitely preferred the bottle. Once I had gone back to work, and she to daycare, it became harder and harder to nurse her. She weaned herself at 4-months. I was ok with it because I knew I had done my best.

Bottom line is that this proves how different it can be from child to child and for sure from mom to mom. If you don’t want to fully wean her, you don’t have to. If you nurse her before you leave in the morning, and when you get home at night, your body will adjust your milk supply. You can more than likely easily do both. The decision is yours though; try not to feel like you are depriving your baby. Most importantly, the bond you have shared while nursing doesn’t go away just because you stop. You are the baby’s momma for life.

In the end, Kel used her stimulus money to take 2 more weeks off of work to see if she could work out some sort of routine. I’m hoping that everything works out the way she wants it to. And I’m glad she felt better after talking with me, the same way that I feel better after hearing from all of you all the time.

10 responses »

  1. The only thing that really, REALLY sucked about having AD early was that it was SO HARD to get on a nursing routine and she WOULD NOT take the breast, like, AT ALL. So I ended up exclusively pumping, which was SO SUCKY. I really, really hope that goes better if we have another baby.It is so awesome that she could talk to you about it. I would have rather DIED than talked to my boss (a guy, but still) about weaning/nursing.

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  2. Like so many other things about parenting, weaning *is* different for each mother and with each child. Do what is best for you and your baby is the best advice ever.

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  3. She probably really appreciated your advice. Especially since it was so positive, instead of the preachy-type advice a lot of women give on that topic!

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  4. I have obviously not had to wean a child yet, but this, as with most posts in this blogging community, makes me so happy because I feel like I will always have a place to turn for support and advice.

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  5. You are truly fabulous for being such a great resource for your coworker. Women supporting each other in a caring manner without being judgmental seems so rare these days. I hope it works out for your friend.

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  6. Good for you! What great advice. I’m glad she felt better after talking with you. Poor thing.

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  7. I agree with everyone else, it is great that you shared with this woman without judging. I found more support (months later unfortunately) online with my breastfeeding problems than in real life. I felt like there were more people who understood what I went through, and it helped me get rid of the guilt and know that it’s possible to have better luck next time.My son was in the special care nursery and like your Lucy he needed supplements at first. And he didn’t take to breastfeeding right away. I never got a good supply in (and nothing we tried [which was a lot] helped increase it), so I had to continue supplementing. He weaned himself at about 4 months. I was so sad. I was frustrated that my body didn’t do what it was supposed to do. And it was so hard. We went through a time when I had to pump and only feed him bottles (because he’d lost too much weight trying to exclusively breastfeed) and that was horrible. I finally just let him take what he could from the breast then followed with a bottle. He started refusing the breast because he wasn’t get much and was getting it easier from a bottle anyway. Anyway, so I was fine to let him wean at 4 months, because I knew there was nothing more I could do. But it still was hard. Now I know that there is no reason I won’t be able to breastfeed our next baby exclusively and for as long as needed. I hope and pray that’s what happens.

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  8. She is lucky to have you as an ally in this. Poor thing. It was one of the hardest things I ever did to have to go back to work after having Jelly Bean. Fortunately, the nursing thing worked itself out just fine, but I had always built a really solid knowledge base and professional support system around the subject. It makes me wonder why it seems a lot of other folks don’t have a Saly to go to for advice about stuff they don’t know. I am glad you were able to help her.

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  9. When I worked in the infant room of a daycare, there were quite a few moms who nursed in the morning before work, came in and nursed the baby on their lunch hour (not all of them did this one—it depended how far away they worked and how much time they got for lunch), and then nursed once or twice when they got home. Then some of them pumped at work, and some used formula for while the baby was in daycare. I thought it was neat how the milk supply seemed to adjust to whatever worked for the moms.

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  10. I was considered the “nursing specialist” at work since I was the only one who pumped for an extended period of time after returning to work. So I got a lot of questions and gave out a lot of advice. But it got very, very frustrating because a many of these mothers seemed to act as if I “made it look easy” and even after I gave the sought-after advice did NOT follow it. Did not even call my LLL leader’s number that I gave them for the “real,” back-up advice. I was pretty angy after one-such mother was throwing accusitory remarks at me–then I finally realized that these women were just projecting that old fashioned “motherly guilt” back onto me. They felt bad for giving up the nursing and were thrusting all those bad feelings on me because I was able to continue. Hey, folks! Lighten up! Every one is different! Each child is different! Each person’s definition of what is “easy” and what is “difficult” is different. I don’t think you love your child any less if you chose not to nurse or not to pump when you come back! So I still give out advice when asked, but I no longer take it personally when they don’t follow my advice. And I am smart enough to ignore the “sting” from their comments when they make ME out to be a “freak” for doing it as long as I did.Zen, baby. Zen.

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