There are many aspects of parenting that are based off of opinion. I may be passionate about Babywise and scheduling but I also know that there are other parents who are passionate about co-sleeping. I love Baby-Led Weaning and other mamas love jarred baby food. We all have opinions. We all have preferences. We can debate things to the death but, really, we can all find good and bad things with all areas of parenting choices.
There is only one area of parenting that I can think of where there is really no debate to be had and that's when it comes to breastfeeding. Some moms may not breastfeed and I'm not judging or knocking them for that decision. But even formula feeding moms know that breast milk is what is BEST for a baby. Heck, all the formulas on the market try to out-do each other by saying they are the one that is the "closest thing to breast milk." There is really no debate!
I am so, so thankful that I have breastfed my children. It has not been an easy journey for me. I've had pretty much every rough thing happen that can happen in the world of nursing. I've had mastitis four times. I've had encouragement issues. Clogged ducts. Bleeding nipples. Inverted nipple issues. Etc etc. I'm thankful I kept going when it was hard. I'm thankful that I nursed Kye exclusively for over nine months (my goal for him was only 6 months so I exceeded my goal) and I'm especially thankful that I made a longer goal for myself when it came to Britt. I think in many areas the first born child benefits, but for my kids Kye will most likely be the shortest nurser. I nursed Britt for a little bit over a year and plan to do the same with all future babies.
Reading back about when I first decided to start weaning Kye (remember?) really makes me realize how much I have changed as a mother! My goals with Britt have been SO different when it comes to nursing. I had ZERO desire to EVER give her formula and I never even considered weaning her until she was close to her first birthday. Seeing the benefits of nursing makes it easy to want to continue to do it for as long as possible. Neither of my kids have EVER had an ear infection. Not one. Britt has NEVER been sick. Not once. And we don't even do the flu shot. She's only ever had a fever due to teething and has only had to take Tylenol when she gets shots or is teething super bad. My kids are healthy. I haven't had to take Britt to the dr ONE TIME for a "sick visit." That's pretty amazing and I know it's thanks to breast milk! Liquid gold for sure ;)
Kye struggled with the transition to formula so I wanted to make Britt's transition to whole milk as smooth as possible for her. My sweet friend Kelly had the GENIUS idea to just start offering her whole milk in her sippy at meal times like I did water. I decided to introduce the whole milk a few days before Britt turned 11 months old. I wanted her to get used to drinking whole milk before I started dropping any of the nursing sessions.
On the morning of November 3rd Britt had her first taste of whole milk. With Kye we had to heat it for awhile and it was super annoying (read about his whole milk experience HERE)...I wasn't going to go through all of that with her. I gave it to her cold and just sat back to see what she would do. It's also interesting to see how WORRIED I was over how much milk Kye was drinking each day. I have never one time worried about that with her. I fill up her sippy cup and let her go ;) Life is easier with baby #2, huh?
First time seeing her cup with milk in it ;)
It was LOVE at first SIP!
She literally didn't want to put down the cup and drank roughly 2 oz her first time trying it!
That day was the same day we celebrated my birthday with the family. Since she took to the milk so quickly and enjoyed it so much I decided just to skip nursing her that afternoon for her 3:00 feeding. She didn't mind one bit! The 3:00 feeding is def a great one to drop first. Instead of the typical nursing session as her "snack" I gave her bits of cheese and the sippy cup of whole milk. She didn't care and seemed happy as could be to get a "big girl" snack :)
She drank a good bit of the milk and ate all the cheese!
I felt FINE when dropping the first feeding. I would get a little tingle around that time of the day for a bit and was a little bit uncomfortable for a couple of days, but nothing major. I don't think she was drinking all that much at that time of the day anyway since it wasn't a "meal time."
The whole milk continued to go smoothly. I continued to nurse Britt at 7 am (followed by breakfast with the whole milk offered), 11:00 (followed by lunch with the whole milk offered) and at 7:00 (which was after we ate dinner as a family and she also had the whole milk offered). She was fine with drinking the milk and eating a snack at 3:00. I actually think it HELPED her to be happier because she was getting to eat more at that time of the day than she had been when just nursing.
I wanted the process to be a SLOW one. I wasn't in any hurry to stop nursing her so I took my time. Two weekends later Zach and I went to Atlanta for our UOT Trip. I wanted to drop the 11:00 nursing session with enough time before the trip so I'd be comfortable shopping and trying on clothes and such. That week Mrs. Charlotte kept Britt one day for me while Kye was at school because we had his Thanksgiving Feast. I knew it'd be easiest for Britt if she wasn't around me so I asked Mrs. Charlotte to have her lunch ready to go right at 11:00. Usually she'd nurse at 11 and then not eat lunch until when we get home from school with Kye at 12:30ish. I hate having to spread the two out so much but it's one of those things we just have to deal with b/c Kye has school. Anyways, she did great! She ate all of her food and drank the milk wonderfully!
I was a little more uncomfortable with dropping that second nursing session, but still nothing major. I think it was a tougher adjustment for her because there are so many days (Kye has school three days a week) where she wakes up from nap at 11 and doesn't get to eat lunch until 12:30. But I don't want her to eat lunch at 11 and then Kye to eat lunch after school. I want them to eat together so we can enjoy that together time so I just try my best to distract her and keep her busy until lunch time ;) And the days that we are home we always eat closer to 11 for her :)
I went on with just nursing her twice a day for quite awhile. Really, life is pretty easy with nursing at night and in the mornings only. I was able to stop wearing my pjs 24/7 and wear more legit clothes because I wasn't nursing throughout the day. When it came time to decide which feeding to drop next I did something a little different than most people do. I dropped her night nursing session first. We always eat dinner as a family at 5:30 or 6:00ish. Then the kids have bath. Then I'd nurse Britt. Well she had ZERO interest in nursing. I had to like FORCE her to nurse at that point. She would nurse for like maybe two or three minutes. Our kids are both HYPER at bed time and she was more interested in getting down and being wild than she was in cuddling with me and eating. Especially since she hardcore GRUBS at dinner time!
So the night of her birthday party (Dec 8th...she turned 1 on Dec 6th) I nursed her in the evening for the last time. I went in our bedroom to nurse her (I usually do it in the living room) and asked Kye to play with Daddy so I could have a little quiet time together with her for that feeding. It wasn't very sentimental or sweet because seriously...she was just ready to be DONE with it ;) By that point I couldn't even cradle hold her anymore...I would sit her up and have her wrap her legs around me facing me and let her nurse that way.
Again, she did great with dropping the nursing session. She never woke in the night or seemed overly hungry the next morning. I continued to nurse her in the mornings as that was my favorite time of the day to nurse. She was the sweetest and most cuddly at that feeding and it was easy with our schedule because I'd nurse her while Zach made the kids breakfasts and when she got done nursing she'd eat her solids while Kye had his breakfast.
I originally planned to nurse her for the very last time on the morning we left for our North Carolina trip (December 15th). I didn't want to deal with pumping while on the vacation and had made it past my one year goal so I thought it'd be a good time to be done with it. The night before we left I was packing everything to go and decided to go back and read my blog post about drying up with Kye so I could be prepared for what to expect. Holy cow. I'd TOTALLY forgotten how intense that experience was for me!!!
At like 9:30 that night I changed my mind. We had enough frozen breast milk to let her take to Mrs. Charlotte's to drink each morning while we were gone. I packed up my pump stuff and decided to just pump each morning while we were there and continue to nurse her until I was really ready. The drying up process with Kye was rough and I wanted to have a solid chunk of time where I knew I'd be able to rest and recover. Being on vacation and having a ton of pre-Christmas stuff was NOT a good time to do that!!! Plus I didn't want to be rushed in my last nursing session with her...with my MRI that morning I would have been so I'm thankful I waited.
I did decide on Dec 14th to go ahead and start using 10 oz sippy cups for her instead of the 6 oz ones. She had no trouble drinking from them and loves her Princess cups!
While in North Carolina I pumped each morning...and only got three ounces max each time. That really let me know that Britt was barely drinking anything at our nursing sessions. Of course Mrs. Charlotte and Mr. Rusty were eating her UP and were feeding her 8 oz of breast milk in a bottle each morning before her solid breakfast ;) I told them that was fine with me because I didn't have a clue how much she normally drank at home off of me! I also didn't want them to have to mess with heating the breast milk and transferring it to the sippy cup so I just said to keep giving her a bottle with it. A few days wouldn't matter! She had her last bottle ever with them on the morning of Dec 19th :)
On the day we checked out of our hotel to head home I pumped for the last time (at least until I have another baby!). I was not sad about it. I hate pumping. I admire those moms who have to exclusively pump for their babies. To me, pumping is giving your baby the nutrients they need without any of the benefits for YOU. Nursing brings me joy and I love the closeness and togetherness I get to have with my babies. Pumping is just ANNOYING!!! I did bring all the milk I pumped home with me and froze it! I wasn't sure what I'd be doing with my left over frozen milk but I will NEVER let breast milk go to waste!
I continued to nurse Britt in the mornings and decided to nurse her for the last time on the morning of Dec 26th. We had a VERY lazy Christmas break so it was a super perfect time to go through the drying up experience. My last nursing session was in our bedroom. Again, I asked Zach and Kye to give Britt and I some alone time. And this time she was sweet and cuddly and it was wonderful. I felt sad that this phase with her was coming to an end, but I know we were both 100% ready to move forward. She sat facing my lap with her legs wrapped around me and she pulled on my shirt like she was ready to nurse! She did kinda seem playful with my breasts which made me even more sure that it was time.
The next morning I made sure to have her breakfast ready for her to eat AS SOON as she woke up because I knew she was used to nursing right away and that she'd be hungry. I was right and she was. I had 108 oz left of breast milk in my freezer and wasn't sure what to do with it? I looked into donating it but our local hospital doesn't offer any options. The lactation specialist actually remembered me and said she doesn't know of anything locally at all but that she remembers how much I research and she'd love to know more about what I find out haha ;) I debated putting it out on Facebook and on the blog that I had 108 oz up for grabs if anyone wanted it. Then I changed my mind and decided to be selfish with it. It's flu season after all. So I decided to thaw out 5-6 oz each morning and mix it with her whole milk in her sippy cup. I didn't heat it, just thawed and mixed it. Thawed breast milk from the freezer is only good for 24 hours so I just made sure not to add any more whole milk to the sippy cup until she drank it all that day and if there was anything left in that same sippy by the next morning I dumped it.
As far as my drying up went...it was WAY better this time around and I have to give credit to myself haha. I'm SO SO THANKFUL that I blogged alllll about the drying up experience the first go round (Are you about to experience it? READ THIS POST for tips!!!). I followed all of my own advice and it went great :) I took 800 mg of ibuprofen four times a day. I took it when I woke up. At lunch time, mid-afternoon and again before bed. I think it made THE difference. I never had a fever this go round!
I bought cabbage and changed it out a TON. I think I went through 3 or 4 heads of it. I did bind myself up using the same method I described in the post but then I had multiple people tell me NOT to bind myself. So after a week I went to just wearing sports bras with the cabbage. I also used my Booby Tubes instead of freezer packs. They are made for your breasts so they are shaped to fit and aren't as FREEZING as the freezer packs were! I did wear a lot of layers all the time because I did have the chills quite a bit. I also avoided showering and when I did shower I avoided allowing my breasts to get in the hot water too much. I did my best to not stimulate them at ALL in order to avoid my milk being let down. They did go through a super itchy phase like last time and they did get super hard but not overly painful (again, I think the ibuprofen and the SLOW weaning process really, really made this a better experience!). I also avoided sleeping on my stomach and wore the sports bras even in public. I was rockin the mega flat chest look for awhile.
I bought a BIG clear tub and loaded up ALL my nursing supplies and put it up in my closet to wait for baby #3 someday ;)
I heard from many people that drying up would take about a week. Well. For me it took longer. About 10 days after I nursed her for the last time I tried to go without a bra. I was eager to do this as I have been wearing a bra non-stop since I got pregnant. My milk comes in early and I leak a lot so a bra is a must for me. I guess old habits die hard because within 20 min my shirt was soaked through with milk! Even after 10 DAYS of not nursing and doing all the methods to dry up!!! CRAZY!!!
After two weeks of not nursing I stopped wearing the sports bras 24/7 and quit the cabbage. I still had a little bit of a hard spot in one breast, but not too bad. I continued to sleep in sports bras and wear them around the house. It's been almost 2 months now since I stopped nursing completely and I still haven't gone completely bra free. When I do undress I still have one breast that leaks milk!!! I'm just a natural milk making machine huh? ;)
I am totally bummed about my post-nursing body. Ugh. With Kye I held onto about 5 pounds while nursing and when I quit, the weight fell off. It hasn't been that way with Britt. If anything, my belly has gotten more bloated looking. I think it's because my chest is SO SMALL now. Omg. Like tiny, tiny. Bigger boobs means they stick out further which makes your stomach look smaller haha. Flat chest = Fatter Tummy!
I have decided not to get back on birth control. The more I have thought about it the less I feel comfortable with putting hormones into my body like that. I've been on the pill consistently since I was 16. That's a LOT of hormones. We're just being extra careful not to have any surprise pregnancies ;) I think life birth control free is a lot better. I think my hormones are a more natural balance and I'm less moody. However, I just had the MOST intense cycle of my LIFE. Ohmygoodness. It was insane! I heard that when you quit nursing it can be that way for a bit. Even though I had my cycle while nursing Britt, it's def much more LEGIT now!
Britt continued to have breast milk in her sippy cup each morning until January 14th (she was 13 1/2 months old). I used every last drop that I had in the freezer and I feel good about that decision. I think it's AWESOME to donate breast milk but I worked hard for the milk I had stored and I just wanted my own child to benefit from it!
last breastmilk sippy..
While parts of me are sad about the days of nursing my sweet girl being over, I totally realize I am a TODDLER FAN! Goodness! Life is just so much easier and so much more FUN now that Britt is over the 1 year marker!!! I know that these stages are easier to accept because we plan to have more children. I'm sure, without a doubt, that the last time I nurse my LAST baby I will be an emotional wreck. I'll probably nurse that kid until they are like 12 haha.
Hopefully my experience this time around can be useful to some of you! Do you have any weaning/drying up tips I didn't mention???