Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The First Weaning Story (Part I)

When I was pregnant with my first baby I decided my goal was to nurse for at least one year without supplementing with infant formula. (If this was not your goal, please don't think I am judging you. This was just my personal goal.) I went to a breastfeeding class offered by my hospital but they teach about initiating breastfeeding. No one ever seems to talk about weaning; how it happens, why it happens, what to expect. And just as pregnancy and birth are very unique to each woman, so it weaning. This is my first weaning story.

I technically began weaning at 6 months when I introduced solids. Nothing really changed at this point because my baby didn’t change the amount she was nursing during this time. This was intentional since I knew all my baby needed for that first year was breast milk and I was relatively cautious about giving her too much table food because I didn’t want to take any risk of it affecting my milk supply.

When my baby was around 10 months old though I began to notice that my milk supply while pumping was dramatically decreasing. This didn’t initially present a problem because I had previously been pumping twice the amount of milk my baby was taking in her bottles at daycare. So at this point, I was just pumping the amount she needed daily which really didn’t seem like a problem at all. I was actually saving time but not having to freeze so much milk. (And I would certainly call having to take the time to freeze extra milk a good problem to have.)
Throughout the next month my supply continued to drop, though. I tried my best to continue with at least her daily demand. But at that time, I was a nurse working in an intensive care unit. My pumping times were getting pushed back later and later and my time spent pumping was getting shorter and shorter. Around the time my baby was 11 months old I realized that it was taking 2 pumping sessions to pump what I would typically get in 1. And this was still not enough to feed my baby. I went to my deep freezer and counted each and every package of milk I had so carefully frozen. I had enough to feed her one bottle of frozen milk a day for the next month. I decided to take a risk and I dropped to only one pumping session during my 10 hours away from my baby. My baby only took 2 bottles at daycare so one would be fresh, one frozen. I knew dropping to one pump was a huge risk. But I simply could not afford to take the time away from my job duties to pump twice for the same amount of milk I could yield in one pumping session. And I counted my blessings that I had a huge stock in my freezer.
I just needed to get through one more month of pumping once a day. I know this plan could have gone badly. I could have lost the ability to pump any milk at all during my time at work. I was worried about it, for sure, but at the same time, I was confident I would make it to a year. I had made it to 11 months and had such a short time left to go.
I won’t pretend that I didn’t sigh a huge sigh of relief when my daughter reached her first birthday. We had made it. We made it to a year. Despite working full time and having some definite supply issues, we had made it! And, yes, I was happy to have succeeded. But I may have been even happier to know that I was done with that pump! I desperately wanted to treat my pump the way they treat the copy machine in Office Space. Instead, I spent hours sanitizing and storing each pumping part, bottle and nipple and then carefully packed them away. I jokingly told my husband at the time that I told the pump as I was packing it away ‘Good-bye for now, I will see you again in 9 months.’ Little did we know, this wasn’t too far from the truth as I was, indeed, pregnant one month later.
But this is not the end of my first weaning story. It is only the end of my first pumping story. Since my expressed milk supply had been diminishing over the last two months I had absolutely no trouble with engorgement after stopping that final pump. When she turned 1 we were done with the pump, but not with nursing.
Be sure to come back soon to read Part II of the first weaning story on  the series of Gently Weaning from Mommy's Milk.
I would love to hear your weaning story! I'm accepting submissions for guest blog posts of your story of gently weaning your little one. Please send an e-mail to

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