Parenting

How to Stop Breastfeeding

From the get go, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed for a year but never gave it much thought beyond that.  As we approached Little Ro’s first birthday, I had a moment of panic.

Holy crap!  How do I stop breastfeeding?

We’ve been doing this for an entire year!  My days, nights, and essentially my life, have revolved around my baby’s feeding needs for 365 days!  How in the world do we stop breastfeeding?

I talked to a few friends of mine who had nursed their babies and they all said the same thing, “My baby just lost interest in nursing over time.”  Now my moment of panic was heightened.  Little Ro LOVED nursing and was not losing interest at all.  Even at 11 months old, she was nursing as many as 7 times in 24 hours.  The “advice” of my friends did the exact opposite of help.

Like any scared and confused mother, I called the pediatrician.  She chuckled a little and said, “I know.  It’s horrifying!”  She explained that it may be a little difficult and would take as long at two months to be completely “done”.

It’s a process.

She recommended that we replace one feeding per week with milk from a sippy cup until we were no longer nursing.

This is what our nursing schedule looked like when Little Ro turned a year old:
1. When she woke up
2. Before going down for her first nap
3. Before going down for her second nap
4. Four o’clock snack
5. Before going to bed for the night
6. Midnight snack
7. Sometimes nurse at 4 am

Let me just tell you, I was so ready to be done with this schedule!  Exhausted didn’t even begin to explain the state of my life.

We did as the doctor advised and started replacing one feeding at a time with a sippy cup of milk.

When we started the weaning process, I went through a roller coaster of emotions.

Was I really ready to stop breastfeeding?  Was Little Ro ready?  Would she be ok?  Would I be ok?  I knew I wanted to regain some independence and I knew that in order to do it, I had to be consistent.

Because of this emotional roller coaster, I faltered some days.  Especially at the beginning, I gave in more than once.  It was so incredibly difficult to look at her when she had tears in her eyes, pleading by patting gently on my chest.  I gave in.

The doctor had said that it would take between six and eight weeks to stop breastfeeding completely.  Because I wasn’t totally ready, especially at the beginning, in took us a little longer.  I waited almost two full weeks between the first and second feeding.  Then between the second and third, I waited a week and a half.

By the end of the first month or so of our transition, both Little Ro and I were much more comfortable.  We had established a new routine to incorporate the sippy cup and it was working well.

We were actually getting there.

As we came to the final days of our breastfeeding journey, I knew that Little Ro was done.  She was totally comfortable with the sippy cup and was becoming much more confident in herself.

I’ll never forget the last time we nursed.  In that moment, I was overwhelmed with sadness because I knew that it was the last time.  I soaked up every second of it, holding her a little tighter.  I put her back to bed, gave her a little kiss and went back to bed myself.

Reflecting on the process…

Overall, I think the entire process was much easier than I anticipated.  I was so incredibly scared initially but when it came time to actually stop, it was pretty easy.

Initially, Little Ro was not happy about it but she adjusted.  She has been more clingy since we stopped but our pediatrician has assured me that this is all age appropriate and is very unlikely to be because we stopped nursing.  (I only half believe her but that might be because I’m a little clingy, too.)  It was absolutely an emotional journey for me but I’m happy to have done it.

See what you can expect from your body as you stop breastfeeding here.