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Weaned… Just like that!

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Thanks for hopping over from Sunshine Scribbles and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Day 7 The End of the Journey; sponsors today include Close Parent who are providing an organic Close Caboo Organic Carrier, a £20 voucher from Burble Baby and a breastfeeding necklace of your choice from Baby Beads for our Grand Prize winner. Over £700 worth of goodies are up for grabs – get your entries via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

This is a post I wrote at the end of my breastfeeding journey. Beginning the weaning process was a sad time for me as you can read in my previous post.

It has been 11 days since we started weaning, a surprisingly easy process.

Small one has been down to one feed a day for months now, but has been very attached to that single bedtime feed. She has gone without it a couple of times, when she’s fallen asleep on a journey or I’ve been in the bath when she wanted sleep, but it has been a pretty fixed part of her bedtime routine. Often she has appeared to wait for it, not because she is thirsty or not yet tired, but because a 5 second feed before she drops off is enough to complete her day and let her fall asleep content and happy.

For me, one feed at bedtime was a lovely compromise. I got all the benefits and closeness of still breastfeeding, but I no longer had to completely arrange my wardrobe around breastfeeding. Practically speaking, my boobs are so large that I can’t fit most of my clothes and I can’t afford to buy new ones right now so the actual wardrobe stays the same, but not having to consciously think about it or layer up if I’m somewhere where I don’t want to expose my breasts is nice after such a long time.

When, 11 days ago, I first told small one that there was nothing left tonight, we both had a few tears. But that was all. She listened to me, questioned gently, then accepted my suggestion of a cuddle and cup milk while we read a story. I guess this is what happens for Daddy when I’m not there at bedtime.

The same happened the next night – a question, a little sadness on both sides, a snuggle and sleep.

She hasn’t asked for days now, and while the process has been harder from my point of view – we were so close to her weaning naturally – I am coming to terms with it.

If she had resisted more, I would have found it impossible to not continue breastfeeding. As it was, a week away from her 2nd birthday, she understood what I was telling her, listened to me and accepted the alternative I was offering. I’ve had no physical effects – no engorgement and no leaking.

That’s a pretty good second best.

I am so glad I continued as long as I did. I am so glad that I breastfed a toddler. I am so glad that while I didn’t finish breastfeeding exactly as I would have wished, we were able to stop gently and with a mutual understanding rather than with confusion and tears. This must be how weaning is meant to be, so we must have done it right.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding have given me a new relationship with my body. Not only that, but if I hadn’t breastfed I would not have had the inspiration to start MilkChic, which I hope will help make breastfeeding feel easier for other mums.

For more extended breastfeeding experiences please hop on over Fit for Parenting where you can gain further entries into the grand prize draw. Full terms and conditions can be found on the Keeping Britain Breastfeeding website. UK residents only.

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Time to stop

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I posted last night about Breastfeeding a Toddler. It’s something I’ve had written for a while, but I’d been saving it for the small one’s birthday on Tuesday. Knowing what I would be posting today, I have been dithering over whether to change it, but I decided to let it be – my feelings haven’t changed and it seemed fitting to post it as she turned two, in line with the WHO recommendations for breastfeeding.

Sadly, over the last few days, our situation has changed. Some of you will know that I have back problems which developed in pregnancy and am still fighting to return to work. The operation I had a couple of months ago has made a difference, but I am still unable to walk far and struggle with the pain.

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I saw my consultant this week and he thinks I may need further treatment. In the meantime, he has prescribed medication to improve the quality of my sleep and help with the fatigue. If I want to take this medication, I have to stop breastfeeding.

Until now, I have always chosen to bear the pain and work with breastfeeding safe painkillers, but this is different, as it offers something more than temporary pain relief. I talked it through with my consultant and he felt that now is “the time to stop breastfeeding”. It was said without judgement or prejudice, and it has made me think.

I feel less of a mother when I can’t do the things I would like with my daughter. I feel less of partner when I complain about every hug. I am lucky to have reached a stage with my daughter where breastfeeding itself is less important than our wider relationship and I feel she will benefit more from having a mobile, energetic mum, than from a few months more at the breast.

I am very sad that she won’t have the opportunity to self-wean and I’ve cried a good few tears over it, but I have decided that my consultant is right, and now is the time.

Despite my own sadness, particularly that I started without that “one last feed”, the physical process has been incredibly easy. The first night, when small one asked for mummy milk, I apologised and told her that it was all gone tonight and suggested cup milk and cuddles instead. She wasn’t impressed, but agreed and went to sleep without feeding. The following night, we repeated the process.

Last night, she didn’t ask. We read a book, she drank some cup milk, we cuddled, she slept. And I am sat here sobbing. My little girl is growing up.

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