Just a few weeks ago, I weaned Kiwi. Although I had a goal to wean her by her second birthday, I thought it’d never happen: She asked for milk all day, every day. Yet bit by bit, we decreased the amount she breastfed. Finally, there came a day when she didn’t nurse at all. And then there was another no-milk day. And just like that, weaning was complete.
Pretty much. (More on that below!)
It’s no secret around here that I’ve both struggled with breastfeeding and loved it. I nursed Peeper until she was 15 months old, and Kiwi until she was almost 2. But even though we’d semi-accidentally become an extended breastfeeding family, I was ready to wean.
Yes, I was ready to wean, but I wish someone had clued me in to some details about weaning I’d never heard—or read—about.
What I didn’t know about weaning
Gradually reducing the number of times, or the length of your breastfeeding session, is easier on you and Baby. You’ll be less likely to suffer from clogged ducts (or mastitis, ugh!), and the transition will make for a less cranky/clingy little one. (If you do end up getting painful, red or swollen lumps on one or both breasts, read my post about getting rid of clogged ducts.)
I never knew that weaning-linked depression is a thing—until I suffered from it myself. When I was in the process of weaning Peeper, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me as I felt sad and emotional and exhausted all the time. When I asked Peeper’s pediatrician about it, even she told me you can’t get postpartum depression from weaning. Wrong. I was very aware of my mood when I weaned Kiwi this time and thankfully I didn’t fall into a depression—though if I had, I’d have been more prepared.
Weaning can be emotional—or not
When you wean your child, you could feel all the feels—or it could feel as logical and mundane as unloading the dishwasher. I kept expecting to feel really sad, or at least nostalgic, when Kiwi and I were in our last days of breastfeeding. But although I cherished those last nursing sessions, I didn’t feel sad—probably because I was plenty ready to wean.
Your boobs will be different
I recently gave away all my bras because my breasts are very different than they used to be. I’m planning to use this as an
excuse totally valid, totally worthwhile reason to go buy some effing awesome lingere. High fives all around!
Milk might stick around
Even if you and your baby are done with breastfeeding, it might take a little while for your breasts to get the memo. You might continue to have milk in your breasts, which isn’t a problem (unless you develop painful clogged ducts or even mastitis. Then see your doctor!)
Baby might still want milk
Weeks after Kiwi had drunk her last breastmilk, she saw me with my shirt off—and immediately signed “milk, milk!” And then recently, she woke up from a nap super cranky and pulled at my top, trying to get to her milk. So even though she’s weaned, she still wants to breastfeed when she’s tired, hurt—or just sees me topless. Ha!
You might wish you hadn’t weaned
Even though I was super ready to wean, Kiwi’s volatile tantrums have made me wish I were still breastfeeding on multiple occasions. After all, boobs fix nearly any problem. Some days, I just wanted to go back to breastfeeding so I could calm her down.
You’ll want photos
I’m so, so grateful for all the breastfeeding photos (or “brelfies”) I took. Now I can look back at a time we’ll never return to.
Ok, so your toddler probably won’t get that you finally want your body back, or you want to wear a real bra without those nursing clips, or you want to choose an outfit based on how it fits and not on how easily you can nurse in it. But if you explain to her that you’re done breastfeeding, she’ll probably understand. “There’s no more milk,” I’d tell Kiwi. “You drank it all up.” Most times, she’d accept the explanation—and move on.
PS – If you’re not quite ready to wean and want to read more breastfeeding posts, take a peek at my other articles about all things breastfeeding! (Yes, I talk a LOT about boobs ’round here.) Just click on the photo to jump to another post.