How do you know when it’s time to stop nursing?

photo (8)I’ve made it through six months of this whole nursing thing. That was my goal, and I did it. It may have been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done – I tell people it’s a lot like when I trained for my half marathon. Every single day you wake up and you have to do it, whether you want to or not. Whether you’re in the mood or not. Whether or not you have time. Even if it means sleeping less, missing something important. You just DO it every. single. day.

Part of me loves it. Like LOVES it. There’s something so wonderful about being able to feed your baby in a way that nobody else can. To bond with her, to hold her close, to have those moments in the still parts of the night when everyone else is sleeping and it’s just you and that beautiful, chubby-cheeked baby cuddled together.

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Mr. Right and I have been talking about weaning lately. My goal had been six months, and then I said I’d reevaluate. My new goal is to make it nine, (basically until the end of cold/flu season) then throw in the towel, you know, before she gets any teeth. But there are moments when nursing (or pumping, really… this working mama does a LOT of pumping) is starting to infringe on my sanity. Most days I’m fine, and then there’s a day where it feels like I HAVE DONE NOTHING ALL DAY EXCEPT FOR PUMP/FEED/PUMP/FEED/STORE MILK/THINK ABOUT PUMPING/CLEANING PUMP PARTS/DOING MATH IN MY HEAD TO FIGURE OUT WHEN I HAVE TO PUMP NEXT and there is no time for things like showering, eating, getting to church on time, actually leaving the house at all. It’s hard.

I’d quit, but once I do, there’s no going back. I see the health benefits (like three weeks ago when she had RSV – I really believe her case was milder because I was nursing her). I see the bonding benefits. And there’s a small part of me that knows that this may be my only time to ever get to do this. We want to adopt other kiddos, so this may be my only chance to experience this part of motherhood.

Quitting is just, so… final.

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And then there’s the allergy meds. I fantasize about the day I can take just ONE Advil Cold & Sinus. Or one of those amazing Claritin Ds that you can only buy behind the counter. They keep the good stuff behind the counter, the stuff I’m not allowed to have.  And because of that I haven’t been able to breathe through my noses since I got pregnant. I kind of miss that.

I just can’t decide, and so while I wait, I nurse. I may end up being one of those mamas who nurses her kiddo until she goes off to college with a stuffy nose as red as Rudolph’s.

Fellow mamas, what about you? How did you know when it was time to throw in the towel and ween? And no judgement here, whether you went one day or one year. We’re all on the same team. Only loving and encouraging comments please.

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13 Comments

  1. Oh this was soooooo me while I worked and Will was little. I started having to take supplements to keep my supply up and having to schedule my client visits around pumping times was HARD! I even pumped while driving to a client’s office in Galveston (thank you, hands-free bra! And yes, I’m sure it was a sight for other fellow drivers on 45…
    But then I calculated how much I was spending on supplements, and how much more I could potentially earn in commission just by adding ONE more client visit in a day (outside sales…you eat what you kill, and my hubby was a stay at home dad at this time, so it was allllll me!). Let’s just say, I stressed so much about the decision that I had a knot in my stomach for 6 weeks. And then we finally introduced formula mixed in with his bottle…and he didn’t notice. We gradually had to do 1/2 formula, half breast milk because my freezer supply was so.darn.low. By the time we did his full bottle of formula, I saw he was thriving and it was no big deal. I felt so good about that decision. It was hard, but freeing. I made it 7-1/2 month with him, but was able to nurse Hazel Grace for a full year (my kids got teeth really early – like at 5 months). Go with your gut! And be in prayer over your decision 🙂 You are an amazing mommy!!

    Reply

    1. Jenny – we’ve been supplementing all along because I just can’t keep up with my hungry girl. For a long time she HATED the bottle and HATED formula. Like, go on hunger strikes hated it. But the last month or two she suddenly doesn’t care and is just hungry – she’ll take a bottle of formula without any complaining. However, she still prefers to nurse and always leans in when it’s time to feed her, even if I have a bottle in my hand. Way to support your family AND nurse… you were super mom!

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  2. I nursed both of mine for 11 months, and quit because it was too hard to keep up with anymore. My work schedule was too crazy. I miss it so much, even now when they’re way to old. That was MY time with them.
    There’s no shame in quitting whenever you feel is right for you. You’ve done such a wonderful job for Wrenn. I would recommend, though, having will take some photos of you nursing, and keeping them privately in wrenn’s baby book, or in a hope chest. Those I have of me nursing Dorothy (my last baby to feed), are treasured possessions.
    Proud of you, mama!

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  3. I wanted to nurse for a year with both boys and my body is what stopped me, both times at 6 months. It was crazy. It’s like somebody hit the off switch and I just stopped producing milk. I was disappointed in myself but I know I did the best I could. I’m anxious to see what my body does with Baby Eli.

    Reply

    1. I’ve heard of others having the same experience, Erin. I’ve started going longer between feedings/pumpings (I’ve always had to supplement with formula because my supply could never keep up) – the crazy thing is that I produce the same amount now that I pump less often. But there’s been a few times (like my last week at my old job when Will got unexpectedly sick and I was running all over town) that my supply almost completely dried up because of stress or getting off schedule. So. Much. Work!

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  4. Like the previous comments I say: You know what you can handle and what is best for your baby and your well being. I nursed Adelaide until she self weaned at 14 months… I know I was glutton for punishment. But like you said, it felt so final to just stop and so I trudged on because, well I loved nursing. I HATED pumping. Like wanted to pull an Office Space (to the fax machine) when I was able to stop taking her bottles to daycare. I did the same thing you did, though I made smaller goals (six months, nine months, etc.)and once I met those goals I reevaluated. (although they didn’t seem like small goals at the time) At 12 months I stopped pumping and transitioned her to whole milk in the sippy cup for daycare. She would still nurse with me certain times of the day (like first thing in the morning and right before bed until she weaned) but I didn’t prepare anymore bottles.

    If you want to keep nursing after a certain point, just nurse and take formula bottles to her daycare provider or whenever she still seems hungry after a nursing session. I think our biggest problem is that we feel like it has to be all or nothing. You can make it work for you Bethe. I hope when our babies are Mamas they can appreciate the amount of time we worried over these things 😉

    Happy New Year!

    Reply

    1. Ashley, I sure wish you lived closer, because I’d be all about play dates with you! Did your supply stay okay when you dropped to just nursing in the morning and at night? I’m considering dropping to just three a day (morning, noon, night) but am concerned about what it will do to my supply. Not that it matters, I’ve been supplementing with formula since she was two months old.

      I don’t think anybody appreciates what they’re mom went through until they became a mom themselves!

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  5. So proud of you 🙂 I remember these days and they almost make me not want to do it again! We had a rough start…and by ‘we’, I mostly mean me…and I wasn’t able to nurse. Looking back on it, it was a combination of a zillion things. I assumed it came natural and easy…I guess I forgot to read that chapter of the book! I can relate, though, to the feeling of it completely consuming your life and then the negative feelings of selfishness/failure/uncertainty. Breast feeding is one thing…it’s the pumping that feels like it completely consumes your life. I tell all my mama friends…’trust your mama gut’. It’s part you, part the Holy Spirit leading you in being a mama 🙂 Again…so proud of you!!

    Reply

    1. Wonderful advice sweet friend! Your’e right – I could nurse forever, it’s the pumping to keep my supply up and stay on schedule that drives me batty. And I love your explanation of the mama gut… so true!

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  6. I wish we were closer too! That way we could have play dates when I start all over again in May!

    I feel like my supply leveled out with her needs. She needed less at the time, but never fussed or acted hungry after a feeding. We just went with flow by that point, but it was a little later in the game too. I also think you are surrounded by supportive friends and family who will encourage you every step of the way! Which is pretty fantastic 🙂

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  7. With my five, I’ve gone until either I dry up or the baby decides to quit. Which was so far between eight and 13 months. Right now number five is 10 1/2 months and I don’t anticipate her weaning incredibly soon. Honestly, I find nursing much easier than formula, having done both on my first two. Either way, it’s just worked out. My two cents is not to rush it. 🙂 it’ll end soon enough. Also, life will never slow down again with children, it may be nursing today, potty training tomorrow….there’s always something “stealing time” when there’s children… I finally realized They are what I was given time for! That above realization helps a lot with my impatience with certain stages or phases. Ps teeth have never been an issue…they learn and I’ve only been bit a hand full of times ever. My current one has five teeth and has for four months. She’s never bitten me. Just an anecdotal story for you. 🙂 good luck, whatever you do don’t wean ubruptly or you’ll get engorged. You could always cut one feeding for a few weeks/months and then reevaluate to keep cutting or increase your supply and bring it back. Just an idea on a compromise. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Great info Amanda – thank you! You’re totally right on the time thing… the part I hate is that the time pumping is time not spent with baby or my husband. But, for now I think I’m going to power through for awhile longer. You’re right… no reason to rush any decision. And thanks for the scoop on the teeth – Wrenn went through a stage already where she would bite me (with just gums, she doesn’t have teeth yet) – drove me crazy for a few weeks, and then she abruptly stopped. I think she was just experimenting.

      Reply

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