Breastfeeding, Co-Sleeping and Self Weaning
When I was pregnant I thought about how I was going to care for this miracle once she was born. My husband and I had looked into how she was going to enter the world and I was happy with my birth choices. Rather than having a ‘grand plan’ that we would stick to, we decided to have some ideas and adapt them as we went along – something I had learnt from having my first child!
The focus today is on three aspects that we looked into and how it worked for us…..
I wanted to breastfeed the baby from the start and I had discussed this with both my husband and my son. I am so proud of both men in my life, because they gave me their total support during the full time that I was breastfeeding.
The Early Days
Were beautiful, loving and wonderful. They were also painful, frustrating and tiring. Finding the right position for the baby was difficult, she would cry and I would cry. My previous experience of breastfeeding had been relatively easy and I naively thought that I would have no problems at all. However I did seek advice and asked for help from a wonderful nurse who specialised in home visits to breastfeeding mums. She observed how I was breastfeeding and soon helped me adjust my baby’s position. Soon my daughter and I were enjoying a much more rewarding and pain free breastfeeding relationship!
My nurse warned me of the different growth spurts that occur during the early days and that it can feel like you are constantly feeding. Her advice was to have snacks, drinks and a book or the TV remote to hand so that I comfortable during these mammoth feeding sessions.
Breastfeeding in Public
I wanted to get out as soon as possible but I was nervous about feeding in public, especially with the earlier issues we had with feeding positions. I soon realised that most people either don’t know you are feeding or they are just not bothered by it. I can honestly say that peoples attitudes had changed in the years since I had my son and I was soon confident enough to feed virtually anyway that was comfortable and clean, be it a park bench or seated in a cafe.
The support I had from my family was great too. My husband and son were fully supportive and we were soon enjoying family days out and even the occasional evening out too! I loved this time and I never felt under pressure to switch to formula or express milk for bottle feeds. It was tying at times and our baby never spent a night away whilst we were breastfeeding which did mean our social lives were restricted BUT I knew this would change once she was weaned.
I must admit we sort of just ‘fell into’ co-sleeping because I was breastfeeding so much. We were getting little sleep and I seemed to spend most of my nights trying not to fall asleep with a suckling baby in my arms. Luckily we had not bought a cot yet and I found a co-sleeping or side car cot on line. This seemed to be the solution that we were looking for – a cot that attached to my side of the bed. She could sleep close to me and feed when she needed to without having to be in the bed with us. This was an ideal solution for all of us. We were getting much more sleep and I felt more rested and happier too!
As we were in an established breastfeeding routine and my daughter was thriving, we decided to let her self wean. This basically meant that she would decide when to stop feeding. I was prepared to be breastfeeding well past toddler stage and we were being strong about our decision. Once she turned 12 months I did start getting some ‘well meaning’ comments about stopping breastfeeding and putting her onto formula or cows milk. These were soon gently but politely dismissed.
I knew that nursing my daughter was providing not only essential nutrition but it was also a source of comfort and bonding for us both. If she was unsure of her surroundings or if she was upset then a quick nurse at the breast was enough to reassure and comfort her.
Self Weaning is Just That!
I must admit I had a ‘rosy’ idea about how she would self wean. I imagined long summer days where she went from nursing to snuggling and that the breastfeeding would naturally fade until she stopped.
I remember the exact moment she self weaned. I was at my parent’s house and she had come over for a nurse. She seemed fine and then just gave me a huge nip as if to say STOP. I was rather upset by this painful nip/bite and cried out in pain. At the time I did not realise that this was the penultimate breastfeed.
A little while later she snuggled in and had a small nurse and fell asleep. When she woke up she was weaned and refused the breast from that moment on. It was two weeks before her 2nd birthday.
It was more of a shock for me and it took a few weeks for my body to adjust and for me to emotionally adjust as well. I had a preconceived idea self weaning would happen gradually and naturally – not with a painful nip!
May be it did. May be I just did not see the signs that she was ready.
Whatever the reason and how it happened – it was time for both of us to let go….
Once I stopped offering her the breast, she began to snuggle in for cuddles and sleepy naps. I must admit we still enjoy snuggle time today even though she is nearly 5 now!
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