A friend recently told me about the sadness she was feeling as her toddler slowly but surely began weaning himself. It started when she replaced her pumped milk with cow’s milk during the work day, and continued as kiddo not only asked for the breast less and less at home, but also began to refuse when this mama offered.
Many moms I spoke with shared similar stories, and we all sat around commiserating on how very hard it can be when our young people decide they are ready to stop nursing. It’s so interesting how sometimes, we get so overwhelmed with nursing we say, “I wish you’d just wean already!” but then when it starts happening, we feel overcome by sadness and other dramatic emotions.
I don’t really have personal insight into the issue of a child self-weaning. I weaned my older son when I became pregnant with #2, and I’m going one day at a time with #2 as I move along my pregnancy with #3, watching and waiting as my toddler drops nursing sessions. I can, however, relate to the mixed emotions that come with weaning!
One thing I’m glad I did when my first son weaned: Create a New Tradition. I started serving my older son chamomile tea in a Beatrix Potter bunny mug. We’d cuddle on the couch and sip tea together, and it was so nice! As he got more verbal, we were able to have a little chat while we drank our tea.
I also checked in with our pediatrician to Make Sure Nutritional Needs Are Met. Breastmilk is a whole milk, so I never worried about cow milk while my kids were nursing voraciously. But as they (or I…) cut breastmilk out of their diets, I needed to make sure they got enough fat, calcium, protein, etc.
Kellymom reminds us that weaning is usually a gradual process (abrupt nursing stoppages can indicate a nursing strike, distractibility, limitations on times/places to nurse, etc.). Stopping gradually allows for mom’s hormone levels and milk production to balance slowly, which is more comfortable for everyone. This is a great article about comfort measures for moms while weaning, discussing everything from engorgement to depression/mood swings.
Once weaning is eminent, some moms like the idea of a Weaning Ceremony to commemorate their experience and bring closure. The Jewish religion has a ritual honoring weaning. Some mothers anoint themselves with herbs to encourage milk to dry up, while others throw a party for their weaned child.
Moms can always buy themselves some jewelry to commemorate their time spent nursing, too!
One important step for the newly-weaned mother is to go get fitted for bras! Our breasts can change a lot through the course of nursing and weaning. It’s so important to find a bra that fits and supports properly.
Did your child wean on his or her own? Leave us a comment to share how you commemorated weaning in your family!