I just recently weaned my 18 month old and it was a very hard decision as I have been exclusively nursing for quite some time now. I knew that had to share my weaning story to let others know that the process is hard in so many ways but at the same time it can be for the better [depending on circumstances of course]
Now everyone will be different and every baby / child will be different but I will tell you that it was a very abrupt choice for me as I initially wanted to do a slow gradual wean. But going the route that I did was for the better for me in quite a few ways. Now don't get me wrong breastfeeding was extremely rewarding and the connection and bond my youngest and I shared was very special and I will forever cherish those times. If you are ready to wean go for it. If you want to do a cold turkey wean, go for it. If you want to do a slow gradual wean, GO FOR IT. You do whatever is best for you. You can wean WITH or WITHOUT a reason. You do YOU.
I want to talk about why I chose to wean/cold turkey as you could call it breastfeeding my one year old. I am very open when it comes to my own mental health and I like to be honest about how I am doing as it helps me also be honest with myself . I chose to see my doctor and therapist to initially help me with my depression and during that time they were able to help me establish other issues that I was also experiencing. During that appointment it became aware that I was needing medication and I needed it to start as soon as I could. The KICKER was I could not breastfeed while I was taking this medication. So I had to make the choice to cold turkey. It was a really hard choice for me but at the same time I knew that it was time to start bettering myself and my own mental health so we decided that night was going to be our last nursing session!
The night before we did our wean I didn't really nurse on demand but I did offer a sippy which she already would take the breast was just something that she enjoyed so she took the sippy and nursed a tad and went to bed. The next day was really rough as she usually snacks in the morning and I just did my best to keep her distracted but I didn't want her to feel bad like she did something wrong. That was honestly my biggest concern was her being mad at me because something we just recently shared since birth was no more. She did really well. The first day was fine but when it came to nap time I just reminded her "hey, no boob we are going to have a sippy!" I couldn't pump and give that to her because of the medication so we just did warm milk, sometimes I would dilute the warm milk just so it wasn't a CONSTANT heaviness of milk into her system or we did lots of water.
Naps and bedtime were off for a few days as she fought but as far as her being upset that I would distract her from the breast that only lasted a day then she moved on pretty quickly. Getting her to fall asleep on her own without the breast was the challenge but I tried to stick to the same schedule, dark room, cozy space and lots of snuggles. After a few days she started falling asleep during her older/nursing schedule. I was pretty nervous that she would try to latch in the middle of the night. Not going to lie as that is something she would do. I kept a tight sports bra on, her in her space and me in mine and it went really well. After three days she was sleeping soundly through the night.
LET'S TALK ENGORGEMENT.
HOLY SMOKES. That was something that I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER but I wasn't really focused on that at the time. After a few days it wasn't BAD but my breasts were pretty sore. I kept a sports bra on and would do pumping in the morning and at night. When I say pumping I mean a LITTLE BIT. Like an ounce or two. If you are weaning and not taking nursing safe medication do NOT feel bad about dumping it! It is BETTER to be safe! If you are weaning but want to save the milk while doing a slow dry up, save it! By doing the few pumps a day that was enough to feel relief without emptying my breast to signal to fill again. I did realize that by doing this it made it easier and less of a risk of super swollen engorgement. In between doing my little pump sessions I did use ice packs and heat along with the tight sports bra.
After about a week I was only doing a small pump session once a day and now that it has been just shy of two weeks I am not pumping at all. I do still feel soreness but not AS engorged as I did a week or two ago.
The weaning process is going to be different for everyone and every baby. You do what you feel is best for you and one thing you have to remember is to not feel guilty in regards to whatever your decision may be. FIND YOUR groove! You will figure out what works best FOR YOU. Never feel pressured to nurse if you don't want to. Never feel pressure to STOP nursing unless you or your baby want to. I felt really selfish weaning especially cold turkey. HOWEVER. My mental health and just my overall feelings of being touched out were at it's max level, I had to make this choice for me and I really do feel that it was for the better. I am happier, I am taking care of myself, my child is STILL thriving. We are good. You do whatever is best for you and remember you can wean or NOT wean and if you need/want to remember to go at whatever pace you want. If you aren't in a rush to wean then you just keep rockin! You are doing amazing!
You should ALWAYS feel proud of your accomplishments. It doesn't matter if you nurse for 1 day or 3 years, you are incredible and should feel very proud of yourself!