During my pregnancy I decided that I would breastfeed for one year.
It seemed like a nice round number and I figured that baby would probably be eating a varied diet by then, so she wouldn’t need my ‘second hand’ sustenance.
That year went by in a flash, and before I knew it my self-imposed deadline had arrived!
I heard all these horror stories of how stressful it can be for both mother and child to cease the big BF, so I was really anxious when it came to it – but with the tips I’ll share in this blog, I had the babe off my boob pretty seamlessly by 13 months, which is when we chose to stop.
Breastfeeding is not for everyone, but those of us who do it quickly fall in love with the insane process of having a little person sucking on your titties all hours of the day and night.
Believe it or not there is a romance to it; the emotional ties that you develop with the little munchkin while you’re nursing.
The pride you feel at your body’s new found ability. All those feel good hormones generated from regular skin to skin contact. YOU are queen of all things baby. YOU have all the answers. And when all else fails and he or she is going ape-shit, BOOB will reign supreme!
So why would you want to stop?
You don’t truly understand the impact that breastfeeding will have on your life, your energy levels or your ability to eat and drink what you want until you’re in the thick of it.
It doesn’t feel like a massive sacrifice at the time – you are in love (aka the hormonal stupor that gives you superhuman self-sacrificial powers).
But around 6 months in, I found I had a niggling desire to get my body back.
I started thinking about reclaiming my breasts for sexual pleasure, wearing clothes that didn’t require boob access, and generally being more independent from my little life.
You do and you don’t…
Saying all that, when I began the process of weaning her off I was emotional!
I cried when I realised we were coming up to the last days of this magical bond. My partner Daniel thought I was going mental, as I’d previously cried about how much I wanted my boobs back!
But when it came to it, I was worried: I feared I wouldn’t have all the answers anymore and I worried she wouldn’t love me as much as she did before I cut off her boob supply.
Many, many irrational things came to mind… but our method really helped to lessen the blow.
So how did we wean a boob crazy baby off the boob?
The key to weaning you and your baby off of the boob is to take your time.
We started weaning Pepe slowly off the boob at around 9 months – it was mainly circumstances that lead to this transition.
We were one month into a three-month trip around Jamaica, and with the heat and the pressure of travelling around I was completely exhausted by the amount that Alleppey was breastfeeding.
She reverted to a new-born state; either through thirst or just comfort, I was feeding her every 3 hours – she was insatiable!
After a bit of coaxing from my cousins and aunts out there, (Jamaican’s are big on ‘feeding a baby up’ and they were convinced my milk just wasn’t enough for her anymore) I started to substitute one feed a day with non breast milk.
I went for a day-time feed as the first feed of the day to go, but boob before bed was still sacred to us.
We started off with just half a cup of early formula – one for 0-6 months that is marketed as being close to breast milk. Pepe was already drinking water, so we snuck the milk into that same beaker.
At first I served it warm as I was trying to emulate my milk as much as possible, but Alleppey would not have a bar of it! In fact, after a bit of trial and error I discovered the only way she would drink milk that wasn’t from my breast is if it was ice cold!
Try, try again
It took just over a week to get her on board. Like introducing any new routine to a baby who is used to the old one: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again.
That first feed exchange was a turning point. From there gradually substituting feeds was easy.
I was dropping a feed every 2-3 weeks and by the time we got back to England and Alleppey was 10 months old, we were pretty much down to just morning and bed-time feeds – plus the odd cheeky suck in the shower when my tits were out!
My milk supply had been steadily going down over 3 months, so I didn’t get that crazy boob ache that I’ve heard many women suffer with.
I stepped up from stage one milk to a more age appropriate formula and eventually cow’s milk – but that transition is a whole other blog post.
We did have a few hiccups – teething is the arch enemy to weaning a baby off the boob, as is sickness, so my girls had to come back into action for extra feeds here and there to help soothe Alleppey and share antibodies.
The final hurdles to boob freedom were dropping those last two feeds.
As Alleppey’s first birthday approached, I had to be real with myself and realise how much of this last push to stop relied on me letting go of my baby girl and letting her grow up a tiny bit.
I started taking pics of us breastfeeding in the mornings and making little videos for myself of her crazy boob acrobatics (see above!)
We also focused on her diet, and made sure she was eating well and thriving.
I allowed myself space to mourn that chapter of motherhood, and I meditated on the fact that I would continue to support and sustain her in a million other ways as she grows.
Next I brought myself some new sexy underwear – and it felt sooooooo good to wear flattering bras without special clips and flaps!
The last time
To get over that last hurdle I used the ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ technique, offering a cup of milk if she asked for boob, but not refusing her breast if she really REALLY wanted it.
The morning feed was gone in a matter of days. The bedtime feed was a little bit trickier to snuff out, because it was not only about trying to get Alleppey off the breast it was also about establishing a whole new bedtime routine.
Daniel stepped up here; letting daddy take over bedtimes was a great way to take me (and my boobs) out of the equation.
Sure enough – after a couple of weeks of offering a cup of milk instead of boob she stopped resisting, and one night in Portugal my little girl suckled my breast for the very last time.
So in summary:
1. Take your time. Set a deadline and give yourself a couple months head start to get there.
2. Choose which feed to get rid of first. Let it be one in the day when there are lots of things around to distract your little one from the fact they are not getting milk from their preferred vessel. Bedtime feeds are often the last to go.
3. Choose your desired milk. I found newborn formula “closest to breast
milk” was a good place to start.
4. Try introducing your desired milk warm, cold, in a beaker in a bottle, in your baby’s favourite cup. They may resist at first – it’s new – just stick with it! That first feed exchange unlocks this whole process.
5. Allow yourself time to grieve that aspect of motherhood. It is hard to let go, but remember you have at least 18 years of rearing to do…
6. Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse. There will be hiccups, and challenges and only you know will know if scenarios arise that only boob can remedy.
7. Ask your partner to take the lead where possible so boob is nowhere in
8. Buy some sexy underwear, or some new clothes that don’t have flaps. Reclaim your boobs for femininity and sexuality, if you so desire!
And here’s a video of mine that may help too.
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