During the early days of motherhood, when I was naive and still leaning how to breastfeed, I intended to breastfeed my baby for six months. A year rolled around, and by then I had made peace with my love-hate relationship with breastfeeding. My son turned two, and I “wasn’t ready to wean yet!” Or “did not want to stop abruptly”. And then my son turned old enough to walk back from school and ask for a feed.
I breastfed my son for three years and seven months to be precise, until one day we both mutually decided to stop.
My husband supported my extended breastfeeding, but not everyone I know did! But trust me that was the least of my concerns. I knew I had to take it at our own pace.
And That Was It!
Days before the final night, I could foresee that the time had finally arrived. I was anxious, I wanted to freeze into memory that feeling of him against my skin. One night, I just looked down at him suckling and I knew it was probably the last time ever.
43 months of exclusive, on-demand breastfeeding journey was now a memory. But what I am truly glad about is that it had a simple and easy goodbye.
I was often told that it gets more difficult to wean as a child grows older and honestly I had begun to believe in it too. I had saved a dozen of articles to read but got a chance to read none. Our (extremely) slow and gradual process worked well for both of us.
How we went about it
Once I breastfed beyond two years I knew the weaning process would involve my baby. He would listen to me, understand, reason and we’d work together.
We started off with gradually spacing the time between feeds.
The next step was to decrease the time at breast.
At three years, he was feeding only at night and once before his afternoon nap. Also I deliberately chose to keep these feeds and let the others go because they made sleep time easier.
Over the next couple of months, our goal was to let the afternoon feed go. That’s when I started talking to him about weaning. I also roped in his school teacher who’d talk to him at school too.
We made sure, it was done in the form of stories and by giving references. The idea was to not compare with other kids or threaten and intimidate him in any way.
We started cuddling, reading and listening to stories before the afternoon nap.
Then What Remained Was The Last Leg
We would negotiate and reason every night. My husband would try and put him to sleep, but even in that state of drowsiness he’d want me to feed him.
We reduced the time on breast to almost half. We continued to tell him in silly ways or with a straight face that mumma’s milk is for babies. Sometimes I even had to refuse.
After almost two months, one night when I said “Gunbir you are a grown up now, aren’t you?”
He said “Mumma, one last time” and that was it.
This whole approach of going slow and talking it out worked for us. There is something else that might work for you. as a mother, you will eventually find a way that best suits you and your baby. And then when the little one is finally weaned off you will sit back and think, I stressed to much about it.
I miss that incredibly beautiful journey. And so I sat embrace that little time you have with your baby clinged on to you.