Learning about how to stop breastfeeding a toddler is a tricky task! There isn’t a lot of information on stopping at this age! Even going to the Early Childhood clinic nurses they didn’t have much helpful advice to share. It’s all advice about continuing to breastfeed a baby. So here’s my thoughts on the whole process.
Not in a million years did I ever think I’d still breastfeeding a toddler of nearly 20 months! It hasn’t been uneventful either with grazes, vagospasm and blocked ducts, and a few times I’ve wanted to just give up on it all. But I’m quite proud of this achievement we’ve reached together.
Breastfeeding with toddlers is trickier
Toddlers are NOT like babies when breastfeeding. They’re wriggly! They have some teeth (which they seem to forget every time a new one pops up)! And are super distractable! It is not a task for the faint of heart to breastfeed a toddler! They can feed from any position- sideways, upside down, downward dog- you name it, a toddler can probably breastfeed that way. For the last 9 months I’ve had to feed her in a quiet room most of the times or she just stops and starts for hours.
With my first daughter I decided at 14 months that I wanted to wear pretty bras again, instead of nursing ones, and by 15 months she was weaned. But she was also only on 3 feeds a day from the age of 9 months when I went back to work full time. And it was fairly easy to do.
My newest addition is more stubborn. She really loves the comfort of breastfeeding. At 11 months old I managed to get her down to three feeds a day, and separated them from sleep times, thanks to a 4 night stay at sleep school. And a week later was teething again, and that all went to pieces- the sleep and the feeding!
We have lasted through a relapse of my multiple sclerosis, requiring me to have high dose IV steroids and a hospital stay. Luckily the hospital supported my breastfeeding rights, and arranged for her to room in with me. When I met up with my new neurologist and MS nurse it was recommended I should go back onto medications to help with the MS, which then meant weaning her.
All the advice I could find was to either completely stop cold turkey (which I didn’t like with my tendency to get blocked ducts and the risk of mastitis) or to just let her wean when ready, or to not refuse if they ask but not ask if they wanted it. What I’ve ended up doing is just trying to drop one feed a day for a week or two and then trying another. It’s not a perfect method, but is better than being in pain with engorged breasts.
I’ve had mixed feelings about this. Yes, it would be nice for her to be finally weaned! But on the other hand, I also miss that closeness you get nursing a little one who so enjoys a breastfeed.
How we’ve gone so far
Anyway, my little miss had other ideas. She is highly resistant to weaning. It took me months to get her back to 3 feeds a day, then to two. Now 6 months later, she’s down to one feed a day in the morning. Of course when sick, or upset, she tries her best to get another one. Toddlers know where the boobs are hidden and try their darnedest to get at them! (And are VERY determined!)
And as the end of this breastfeeding journey nears, I get more and more sad feelings about it. Yes I know it is best for my health to go back on disease modifying medication, but I will miss it! She is my last one and this won’t be experienced again. I will miss being a breastfeeding mum.
But we have had the best possible start to her life! It has helped with any illnesses she’s caught in 19 months, including a doozy of a flu virus we had locally a couple of months back. It’s also been found to be best for MS to breastfeed at least 12 months and more if possible. And should reduce my risk of breast cancer in life. I think those are all great things to have achieved with my two girls!
In the meanwhile I’ll continue trying to wean my girl, so other things can start.
How have you found weaning from breastfeeding? Easy or hard? Comment below.
Come read more about my parenting journey here.