I’m Ready To Wean My Baby, And I Need Your Support

I’ve decided it’s time to wean my daughter off breastfeeding. She turned one this week, and it was a breastfeeding milestone I never thought I would reach. And now, I’m ready to stop.

I’m ready to stop because breastfeeding exhausts me: emotionally, physically, mentally. For me, it is a blessing but a huge challenge.

I’m ready to stop because I work full-time, which means I have to make time to pump breast milk during every single work day, and this is not easy. In the past year, I’ve been on a dozen business trips, which involve incredible planning and logistics to leave enough milk at home, and to pump and travel with dozens of ounces of milk.

I’m ready to stop because while I love the bond that nursing created, it’s exhausting to be the sole source of a baby’s milk. It means that every decision – see a friend, work late, exercise (just kidding!) – requires an extra set of plans about how long I’ll be away, whether I’ll need my pump, whether I will have a private place to pump, whether I will need a cooler and ice packs, and what I need to wear to get access to my boobs.

I’m ready to stop because breastfeeding is starting to keep me from other great things about parenting a small child. I watched my husband this morning, laughing with the kids. I spent the first 20 minutes of the day nursing, so while he was playing, I was showering, shoving breakfast in my mouth, and making my son’s lunch before work. Sometimes I want to be the one to play with the baby while someone else sorts out, you know, nourishing her.

My daughter is one, and I’ve produced thousands of ounces of milk for her with a machine, while on conference calls, in airplanes and airports, in storage closets at conferences, and in cars.

My daughter is one, and we are bonded. We love each other.

My daughter is one, and she is funny and silly. I am ready to interact and play with her the way my husband and son do, rather than thinking about the next feeding. I am ready to give up one bond – nursing – to create space for a new type of bond.

I’m ready to stop.

Today, I reached out to other breastfeeding mothers for advice on how to wean my daughter. I belong to some breastfeeding support groups on Facebook, which have been a helpful sort of virtual village to me. I’ve contributed a lot, too, helping first-time moms navigate a practice that seems like it ought to be “natural”, but that can be painful, frustrating, and confusing. I need women like these women to help me figure all of this out.

I posted to one of these groups: Can you help me figure out how to wean my 1-year-old? Which feeding should I drop first?

Four women commented on this request. Two had helpful advice. Then came the other two, who told me, “I never forced mine to wean. That’s crazy to me…” and “I’d suggest aiming for 24 months as a minimum to full weaning, as suggested by the World Health Organization.”

My post made it clear that I’d made my decision. (I did not ask: Should I do this?) Yet judgment and pressure were served up to me within minutes of hitting “submit”.

When I wrote back and said thank you, but I’ve made my decision and am just looking for practical advice, I was called “ignorant” and my membership in this support group was revoked.

Women have raised children in communities for all of human history, and that’s the only way it works. But what I saw in my village today was women discounting my needs, because they thought their own way of doing things was superior. That’s not community. That’s not the village I need.

So I have this to say to the women in my virtual and real villages: I need you. I need you to support me, to build me up, and to come to my house and pour me wine when my arms are full of a screaming toddler. I need you to trust that I am making the right decisions for the complex world of my life, my marriage, and my children, which is different from your complex world. I need you to trust me enough to give me the help I’m asking for, rather than the help you think I need.

I’m ready to stop, and without you girls, I’m lost. Come back to the village.

 

**Update! I’ve written a follow-up to this post, after getting some wonderful and unexpected support from a stranger. You can read it here.**

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19 thoughts on “I’m Ready To Wean My Baby, And I Need Your Support

  1. I can’t believe they blocked you from the group! That is pretty childish. Great job nursing and pumping for your daughter for this long! That is awesome. 🙂

    I don’t know your particular situation, but when I weaned for the first I dropped all pumps except the morning and evening, then the morning, then the evening. It was different for me though because he wasn’t nursing, I was just pumping. If I tried to wean my daughter, I think I’d make the evening one the last one because she has some bedtime associations with it?

    Good luck!

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  2. Only you can decide the right time. I felt your frustration, I didn’t have FB when I weaned my kids. I didn’t know where to start and stop with anything. Personally, I dropped the nursing that coincided with pumping at the office first. Good luck, you’re doing great!

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    1. Thank you! I ended up dropping the morning feed first (I was already down to only twice a day) and that has worked well.

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  3. Wow! I can’t believe that they banned you from the page!! That’s ridiculous. I follow a few of them. And I always thought they were judgement free.
    I’m sorry I don’t have any weaning advice because we’re not there yet. But I do think that you know what’s right for you & your baby better than anyone else will. So if you feel it’s time to wean, then you have my support. Good luck hun.

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  4. I want to wean at a year of age and have gotten comments about why not do it longer? Because I get touched out and don’t let down to a pump that’s why! Congrats on making it to a year-you did an amazing job! I will hVe to see how you do weaning. To help prepare my mamas boy

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    1. Hi Megan
      By the time my daughter was about 11 months, I got down to three nursing sessions a day, so I was pumping at work at lunch, and on the weekends nursing before the afternoon nap.
      After a couple of weeks of that, I dropped the midday feeding/pumping, and have just been doing morning and evening for the past few weeks. The advice I’ve gotten is to now drop the morning feeding first. I usually feed her in bed in the mornings, and I’ve been advised to not do that with a bottle. Instead, I think I’m supposed to get up with her (or my husband…yayyyy) and play with her out in the living room, then give her a cup of cow’s milk (or whatever you’re doing) with breakfast. Eventually we will drop the evening feed as well. I have a business trip next week, so the other option is to go cold-turkey (for her), and bring a hand pump (for me). That worked with my son.

      I also got advise to put cabbage leaves inside my bra cups to help dry out. I’ve heard that trick several times. Good luck!

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    2. Update: We went to morning and evening feeds first, then dropped the morning feed after a week. Helps to distract baby when s/he wakes up. Something fun that you or your partner does with him. Read a book, play with a toy. Make it special time in a new way. Then offer milk after a bit of play time.

      We actually haven’t fully weaned now. Still doing a very brief evening feeding. More for comfort for her than anything. I can’t believe my body is still making milk on one feed a day! I’m sure we’ll finish up entirely within a couple of weeks. It felt SO good to shove my pump into the back of the closet!

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  5. Yay for making it to a year! It’s so hard being a working and breastfeeding momma.

    Sorry those ladies were not supportive. I hope I helped set them straight. Lol.

    No tips on weaning as mine is 10 months and he is my first. But I am wanting to wean around a year too for the same reasons.

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  6. I admin one BF group and belong to another, I’d like to personally invite you to them, and I assure you, you will be helped!

    The one I admin is a secret group, for privacy, but you or ANY other mother that needs BF help and support (or is pregnant or a mommy) can join and get the advice you need. Please use my FB and send me a PM with your email and I will add you.

    https://www.facebook.com/melissa.windham10

    This group is closed, so you can see it and ask to join!
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/Sarahsbreastfeedingsupportgroup/

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  7. Thank you so much for this post. I stopped nursing my daughter around 12 or 13 months and everything you describe absolutely resonates with me. I found it was hard to find this mindset on the internet when I was looking for emotional support through the trials and tribulations of nursing a baby as she got older and more distractable/bitey/bored/whatever. Everything I would find was either about the challenges of the initial month/weeks of nursing, or about nursing a kid that was 2+ years old. And so much had such a militant mindset that nursing was the ONLY acceptable way. I hate how nursing has become so politicized–My daughter drank breast milk exclusively, but I never wanted to nurse to make a statement, I was just trying to feed my baby the way I felt best for both of us!! Your perspective is refreshing 🙂 keep it up!!

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    1. Thank you so much! Totally agree with you that the mommy wars have made this unnecessarily difficult ground. Thank goodness for the internet for helping us find like minded women who are just getting on with it!

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