While I am fully aware of all the amazing benefits, reaching 11 months of exclusive breastfeeding I felt I am ready to stop. If I am perfectly honest I think I was ready 2 months prior to that but in my head I wanted to keep on going for the same length of time I breastfeed Brendan. So here I am,admitting that the last leg of this journey really pushed my to the edge. I felt more frustrated then ever before with the sleepless nights / with the Man (I am excellent at imagining problems we don’t actually have but I think we do) / the fact that I had to feed on busy busses and trains or just being treated like a school vending machine on a day when all the kids get their pocket money. Having my t-shirts constantly pulled up and my nipples checked and sucked on for a few second. So I thought I come here to write down how I stopped it and why it felt so great at the end for the both of us…
#1 Deciding in my head – I think that is a very important first step. Back in March when I felt I should stop as I am not enjoying it anymore and the lack of sleep is really getting to me I wasn’t ready. I was in the limbo. I knew I should as it would benefit me a lot but I was still hesitant. I felt I could carry on maybe a bit longer. I written here why I felt I still want to keep going. I wanted to get to the goal I set myself on the day when he was born. I wanted to reach 11 months (start weaning off after turning 11 months slowly) so I carried on as normal.
#2 Take it slow – Although I knew I wanted to start weaning him off at 11 months I didn’t set an end date. 1 week or 4 weeks I didn’t mind. I know it will be new and strange for him and I wanted it to be as smooth as possible. I didn’t want to rush him or myself. It was one of those journey when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel but there is no point rushing in, just take it is slow. The light is already there.
#3 Finding alternative snacks – since Caelan turned 6 months I started to introduce solid to his diet. At the beginning it was all about the first taste. He didn’t take much nutrition from solid food and I knew that is perfectly fine. He didn’t need to and I wasn’t here to force him. I was happy for him to taste and test things. As the months went past however he started to eat bigger portions which lead me to add more snacks as well as the 3 main meals a day. So as we were approaching the 11 months mark I made sure that I have plenty of snacks for the time when he usually feeds. I used Ella’s Kitchen pouches as I felt it is a great substitute for milk. It is liquid(y) / he needs to suck it and it is nutritious. I used mainly the one which has a mixture of fruit and veg (like this or this) (FIY – Terracycle recycles these pouches for free).
#4 Introducing formula – I know formula is not a must after 12 months. Brendan had it till he turned 2 so we wanted to give it to Caelan too. We use this brand which come in tin (better in terms of recycling). Since Caelan turned 6 months I have been making a bottle up (only 40 ml) every evening for him only because we take the boys to sleep at the same time and Brendan still has his bottle. So while I am getting both boys ready to bed, Caelan was into stealing Brendan’s. Brendan at that point is usually very tired and want to be left alone. So I decided to make a bottle for Caelan too just to distract him (me also hoping that he takes some which fills him up and we might have a better night. He almost never took it or even if he did he was still up all night.) From month 11 the bottle got a bit bigger and I started to pay a bit more attention after getting them both ready to hold his bottle. Make sure he does take some. By that time he also wasn’t interested feeding from me just played around with the bottle (drinking some) and going to sleep eventually. Now he is taking about 180 ml for the evening without any fuss.
#5 Leave favourite feed until last – His (and my) favourite feed was the 5 am one which also meant that he went back to sleep on me till 7ish. It was one of the hardest to give up. Slowly throughout the weeks as this feed become the only one I felt it is time to say good bye to it once and for all. I didn’t have much by then and I was ready to be done with it. At the beginning it meant we were up from 5 since he just didn’t go back to sleep even with a bottle at 5 am. Now, he is taking a bottle at 5 and going back to sleep till 6:30 which (although it is still early) I am happy with.
#6 Loads of cuddles and kisses – Although I knew 80% of his feeds coming from him wanting to be comforted (especially the night ones) so I knew it will be hard for him. The first week was the hardest as I wanted to finish night feeding altogether. It wasn’t a cold turkey finish but within a week I stopped feeding him every hour and reduced it to feeding about 2x a night. That also meant loads of tears at the first few nights. I was there. Cuddling. Loving. Kissing. Comforting him as I knew it is hard and confusing. I was battling with quilt but I was at the point that I knew we have to get through this period somehow and I wanted to be there for him every step of the way.
#7 Sticking with it – When my little confused, feed-refused baby is screaming in my hands and my heart is breaking, the first thing I wanted to do is feed him. But I knew we just need to get through this first period. It is so tough. Agonising. Cruel. The first few nights was hard and I had to be there for him. Not to lose patience and just hug him, letting him know I am there. It got better. So much quicker then I thought.
Kids are amazing. They adopt so much quicker to new routines than we adults do. I am so glad I got this far but I am also glad I stopped when I felt it was time. It saved my sanity for sure and I feel he is still that happy baby he was before. This period is over but the love, cuddles, kisses and hugs are there forever.
Thank you so much for reading my post today. Hope you find it somewhat useful if you are breastfeeding and thinking of stopping. Or stopped recently and have some comments and suggestions? What are the things that helped you stop? Please feel free to add / share and comment.