I debated whether or not to make this apart of my “Motherhood Misconceptions” series, then made the final decision that this deserved a post, all on its own. However, this can still go on the “crap no one tells you when you have a baby” list. Yes, we pretty much are all aware that weaning a babe from the breast is a sad time for THEM. What no one tells you is that it is a very sad time for you.
I know you’re thinking Awe yes, its sad for the mom because she misses the bonding too! No. Its sad for the mom because she gets to be in excruciating pain for 1-2 weeks while her milk dries up. And if you’re lucky enough to have a darling daughter like my own, your weaning babe will hit and punch your water-balloon breasts in protest, only adding to the suffering.
Part of the reason we took this lovely week long hiatus from writing was A) because we left my camera charging cord in our hotel room last weekend and I couldn’t bare to publish my writing unaccompanied by any of my photography and B) because I’ve been so sick and full of milk, I haven’t been able to do much besides binge watch Netflix. Did I mention our baby has also been sick this week? Yeah, its been a fun one.
Instead of using the rest of this post to complain, I thought I’d share with you other poor weaning souls what has helped me through this process, now that I’m on day 6 and pretty much dry.
- Being distracted. The first 3 days, Hubs and I went away for the weekend to this really nice resort. They had a walking trail, pool, and gorgeous surroundings for me to photograph. This really helped me not to focus on the pain during the day. Of course, coming home to a 1 year old is plenty distracting also, so “being distracted” helped even when we came home from our short retreat.
- Cabbage. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard this tip and written it off as a wive’s tale, but its REAL! Buy a big head of organic cabbage [don’t want nasty pesticides on your breasts!] and put one leaf in each cup of your bra. I bought Lanolin brand ice packs made for engorgement, but it was too cold for me. The cabbage is cool enough to add relief, then eventually warms up to body temperature. There is also some science behind it. .
- Peppermint. This is another thing I thought to be a wive’s tale. Consuming peppermint is supposed to have an effect on how much milk you produce. I bought a box of peppermint tea out of desperation but I SWEAR to you, by the end of the day I did not feel as full. Since I’m still battling 1st trimester nausea, the peppermint was soothing for me in that area as well.
- Hand expressing. This is not to be done often. If you milk yourself too much, your body will make more milk. By the end of day 2, I was hurting pretty bad. I also didn’t want to leak breast-milk all over the bed during the night, so I went into the bathroom and hand expressed some of the milk away. At first I thought of bringing my pump, but I wouldn’t recommend that for the same reason I wouldn’t hand express often. You don’t want to risk your body thinking it needs to produce more milk. I did it just enough to feel relief in the small milk ducts that were likely to cause leaking. I was still sore, but not quite as engorged.
By day 5 I felt full, but it was a normal full,not engorged, and the pain had subsided. We’re on day 6 now and I think by the weekend this process should be over! It helps to be pregnant during this process, because I think those hormones take over and help your body do most of the work. We’ve been lucky enough to have Sugar Plum take her bottles easily, so that transition wasn’t difficult for her. If your little one has been exclusively breastfed and isn’t familiar with a bottle, try having dad introduce a bottle for a few feedings in the month leading up to when you want to wean. Our little girl was partial to tommee tippee bottles and Advent’s natural flow. These are great bottles for baby’s transitioning off of the breast.
Good luck Mamas!