Weaning Tess

They say third time is the charm and when it came to my breastfeeding experiences, this was FOR SURE true. Out of all of my kids so far, Tess and I had the best nursing bond. She just loved it. I know I had heard from people before how much their babies loved to nurse and I never really understood that. Both Kye and Britt just weren’t that way. Tess never, ever got the least bit distracted while nursing. I never had to force her head to eat. She never wanted to stop! I could tell it was something she just really enjoyed and it really deepened our bond together as well. 

The downside of her love for nursing was that the child never did take a bottle very well. She wanted the real thing! I introduced whole milk when Tess was 10 months old but she wasn’t a huge fan and continued to just want to nurse over getting milk in any other form. 

I took the longest to wean her out of all my babies and it also made for the easiest weaning experience. 

The week after Father’s Day (June 27th, Tess was a few days shy of 11 months old) I nursed her for her 3:00 feeding for the last time. I like to drop that feeding first as it’s an easy one to replace wth a sippy of milk and a light snack. She did NOT like it the first day I didn’t nurse her for that feeding. We had family over and it was a busy day in hopes that it’d help her not be as upset but she just wanted to be held and cried a good bit that first day. My body didn’t experience any change at all. I had a couple days of tenderness but that was it, I wasn’t even overly full or anything. 

A couple weeks later we were at the beach in St Augustine for the 4th of July. Tess had just turned 11 months old and I decided to drop the 11:00 feeding. We had SO much stuff going on that week that the 11 feeding was tricky and at that point she really wasn’t taking a bottle at all so worrying about pumping and giving a bottle just seemed silly. I might as well drop the feeding and just worry about her drinking the milk from the sippy! 

I nursed her for the last time at that feeding on July 11th. Zach had the big kids down at the beach and I enjoyed the solo time with her. I will say I got much more emotional this time and each feeding made me really sad. 

My older two didn’t love nursing as much, but they both took to whole milk right away and LOVED it. Tess was just my mama’s milk girl. She didn’t want anything but straight from mama! The first day she didn’t have the 11:00 feeding she barely ate any lunch and didn’t drink any of her milk. We kept offering her the milk all day (since she didn’t nurse at 3 either) and by dinner time she did finally drink it all! It was a big moment b/c up until then she’d drink under an ounce of whole milk a day! 

It was good that we were so busy that week as it also helped my drying up. At that point I was down to just nursing her in the morning and evening. By the evening time I was SUPER full and uncomfortable and Tess started nursing for SUPER long at night. Like sometimes over 90 min for that feeding. I just had so much milk and she truly had missed it during the day so I could tell she just wanted to have that closeness and the milk she liked best and she’d be half asleep nursing. Not gonna lie…I LOVED it. 

I went ahead and dropped the morning nursing session right before school started back up. With Kye going to a new school I knew I just wouldn’t have time to get the kids all ready and out the door and nurse. I had Zach get her up for breakfast and had her breakfast ready right away and it helped make the transition smoother for her. I was a bit more uncomfortable when dropping that feeding, but not NEARLY as much as I have been in the past. I dropped it the first week of August (Aug 5th), she was 1 year and 1 week old. It’d been about a month since I’d dropped the 11 feeding so I think spreading them out so far made a HUGE difference in how easily I dried up! I took the kids to CFA the first morning she didn’t nurse which really helped b/c she was distracted and having fun!

I also went through and counted up all my frozen milk. I guess because I used milkies (you can see all my favorite supplies for breastfeeding here!), and because Tess didn’t like the bottle (so she would drink less than I’d pump), and because I didn’t give bottles super often with her I just ended up with a TON of milk! I had 620 oz!!! Currently Tess is a week shy of being 17 months old and she is STILL drinking 3-6 oz a day of breastmilk! I thaw it out and put it in with her morning sippy of whole milk! I was also able to ship around 200 oz to a friend of mine who needed it for her baby when she got pregnant and her supply dipped! Such a blessing!

I really, really held onto that evening feeding. I knew it was time. I knew it was past time! At that point Tess was nursing for SO LONG each night. She was clearly falling asleep at the breast which then started to cause her to wake up mega early in the mornings. It was messing up her sleep cycles by falling asleep while nursing and I knew it was best for her to let it go, I was keeping it going for myself. I loved that special time with my sweet baby girl! I decided to nurse her for the last time on the Thursday that we went on the girls beach trip for Casey’s birthday. It was Sept 10th and I cried SUPER hard while nursing her that last time. I cried so hard that she started crying! You can read all about my feelings surrounding that night here 🙂 

I decided to drop the last feeding then because the girls trip gave me a few nights away. With bottle feeding Tess always did better when I was NO WHERE around so I thought she’d also benefit from me being away where she couldn’t smell me. Zach said she did FINE. She had no issues although the first night he put her down he said she did hold onto him and said “mama” a couple times. Which broke my heart and I know if I’d been home I would have rushed in and nursed that baby!

I took cabbage with me on the trip (yall three major things you need when drying up: CABBAGE, ibuprofen and sports bras!). I put it in on Friday night and wore it for the whole weekend, and changed it out regularly. I was pretty sore and very tender and full but the cabbage really helped give relief!

This is the first time I did NOT bind up while drying up. Many people have told me you shouldn’t bind up so I just wore sports bras. I did NOT get mastitis or clogged ducts or anything this time around. I’m not saying it’s bc of the not binding (I honestly think it’s because of how far out I spread the weaning process) but I do think binding is unnecessary! I wore sports bras a good bit of the time, but especially at night. 

I also took 800 mg of ibuprofen 3 times a day for the first couple of days. Until it messed up my stomach and then I cut it back some. I felt fine both Friday and Saturday but by Sunday I started to feel pretty out of it. 

Sunday night I woke up in the night nauseous and light headed. I didn’t have any hard spots but just felt SUPER full and mega perky (I mean couldn’t the perkiness just stick around?!?!). I continued doing cabbage around the clock and I thought I’d get smart and use some essential oils. OMG y’all. I read that peppermint helps dry up so I put that junk directly on my boobs thinking it help. It was like the lotion leather pants scene with Ross on Friends. I had it on my hands and put it on my boobs and then went to the bathroom and wiped myself. About 3 minutes later my boobs and privates were on FIRE. Talk about minty freshness!!! I was dying! I poured water all over myself but oil and water don’t mix right?! I had no clue how to get it off of me haha thankfully it finally quit burning and I never tried it again!

I did bust out the Booby Tubes (more about them here!) and alternated them with cabbage. I slept on my back and I started to take Sudafed which I think REALLY helped! I had read that Sudafed dries you up and I’d recommend that over the oils for sure. I think the nausea was from too much ibuprofen so I cut that back as well and then got dry mouth from sudafed so I cut that out too. I took a couple ibuprofen a day and it really made the difference! No more upset tummy but also no aches and pains from the drying up process. 

One week after starting I wore a regular bra again and did okay. I never had any super hard spots or redness the entire time. I just had some fullness and discomfort and some leaking but nothing major at all. I quit the cabbage one week after starting it and felt fine and also noticed much less leakage. I had a cold and started taking Advil Cold and Sinus so I quit taking any ibuprofen at that point. 

I got strep that week (turns out the cold was strep) and that was miserable BUT I think the meds I was taking for that further helped me dry up. By the end of that sickness I no longer had to wear any pads in my bra for leakage and felt good to go! I could instantly tell my boobs are smaller. I mean couldn’t they keep the fullness from nursing without the milk!?!?! 

It’s been a few months now since I nursed for the last time. I still will find some leaking on occasion, especially from my left side. I just think I’m a milk machine and am one of those women who would have probably been an awesome wet nurse b/c I could breastfeed forever haha. 

While I was SUPER emotional about weaning Tess, it was a very easy drying up process. I believe that spreading it out so much made the biggest difference. If you are weaning and are able to space out dropping feedings, I HIGHLY recommend it. I’d leave at least 2 weeks between dropping nursing sessions! It made the whole process much, much smoother. 

I still get emotional just thinking about the bond Tess and I shared while nursing. I miss it. I miss those cuddles. I miss that closeness. I’m so, so thankful for the amazing experience and for my precious baby girl! She was worth it all!

You can read more about my breastfeeding, as well as weaning, experiences in these posts:

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