I’m having very mixed emotions. I didn’t think I’d wean my daughter until she was 18 months old. I assumed it would be a smooth and natural progression that would be led by her and her needs; a gradual increasing independence, as I looked on with a proud motherly glow.
As with most of my assumptions about motherhood, it’s not quite going to plan! The little girl is 12 months old and she loves her boobs. She loves her boobs every couple of hours. She loves her boobs when she’s had a little stumble; she loves her boobs when she gets a bit scared. She loves her boobs when she’s teething and she especially loves her boobs three times a night. And it’s killing me.
My nipples are quite sore (the occasional biting doesn’t help either) and I’m exhausted all the time. I’m losing weight and my hair is falling out – I’m simply not able to keep my nutritional levels at a point that caters to both our needs. So I’m at a very confusing crossroad where I’m asking myself – do I put my needs first?
This is a really hard one for mums, as the socially accepted image of motherhood is one that is completely altruistic, self-sacrificing and eternally nurturing. Not to mention that stereotypes of womanhood in general are often to be complaisant and giving, even at your own expense. If I put my needs before my daughter’s – am I being selfish? Am I a ‘bad’ mum?
Also, I’m not quite ready emotionally to stop breastfeeding. The little one is growing up so fast and I’m so excited to see my little girl develop, but I want to keep her as my baby for a little while longer.
I have come to the difficult decision that my health must come first. I can’t be physically and emotionally available for my little girl if I’m tired all the time. I want to take her to the playground, I want life to be an adventure, and I want to be excited as she discovers new experiences and objects. And I can’t do this if I’m so tired that I can’t remember the word of that thing…you know…the thing you eat with…the stabby, cutty thing…yes the bloody knife! I just wanted to butter my toast!
I’ve decided to take the approach of simply not offering her the boob. She has a breastfeed now when she wakes up and before she goes to bed. I’ve found that if I’m organised and have her snacks and water ready before she gets hungry then she is happy to eat ‘real’ food. If I leave it too late and she gets upset – only boobs will do! She hasn’t seemed to miss the daytime feeds too much.
The nights are more difficult. So far our best record is twice overnight. When she wakes up I spend time holding, soothing and cuddling her – not automatically offering boobs. Sometimes it works but other times it doesn’t. I think it’ll just take time and perseverance.
These are my personal experiences and I think that the decision to wean either fully or partially is an individual choice for mum and bub. But as usual I’m sure it’ll be completely different to how you expected! I’ll let you know how it goes!
Tell us your thoughts and ideas on weaning. What worked, what didn’t and how did you feel?