Monday, October 19, 2009

She...is...weaned!

I meant to write about this a few weeks ago, since that's when it actually happened.

I decided a while ago that I would do extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding beyond one year) and child-led weaning (allowing Christina to decide when to stop nursing).  Nursing was always such a special time between Christina and I.  Even on our worst days, when she was nursing, she would calm right down and relax in my arms.  It was great therapy for both of us, so I wasn't in any hurry to bring it to an end.

She nursed almost exclusively until she was about 18 months old.  At that point she started eating food, but she still nursed quite a bit.  Somewhere around 2 years old, she stopped nursing during the day. She would still nurse before going to sleep (for a nap or at night), and then a few times during the night.  By 2 and a half, she had given up the feeding before going to sleep, and she would just nurse when she woke up during the night (although really she'd just latch on for a minute or two and then be done, so I knew she wasn't getting much milk anyway).

A few weeks ago Christina came down with a cold - this was before the cold last week when I took her to the doctor (two colds in a row - no fun!).  One night she woke up asking for milk, but once I got her in position on the Boppy pillow to nurse, she wouldn't latch on because she couldn't breathe through her stuffed-up nose.  So I laid down with her and we cuddled while I ran my fingers through her hair.  Eventually we both fell asleep.  She woke up a couple hours later, again asking for milk, but I knew she'd have trouble again, so I said "No milk right now.  Do you want me to play with your hair or rub your back?"  She was OK with that, and fell back to sleep.

The next night I tried nursing again, but after skipping a night, my nipples hurt like crazy when she latched on.  So that feeding only lasted a few seconds before I stopped her, and for the rest of that night, whenever she woke up, I'd just run my fingers through her hair or rub her back until she fell back to sleep.

I was surprised not to have any feeling of fullness or engorgement after she stopped nursing, although like I said, she wasn't getting that much milk from me at her feedings anyway.  Then, about a week later, I felt that engorged feeling again, and was in pain for a couple days.  It was wierd that it took a week for enough milk to build up to make me uncomfortable.  I even tried getting her to nurse again on one of those painful days, but she just looked at my nipple, then looked up at me as if to say "What am I supposed to do here?"  It's like she already forgot!

Christina still wakes up in the middle of the night asking for milk, but I always just tell her "No milk, but I can play with your hair or rub your back."  She's always fine with those options and falls quickly back to sleep.  I'll really miss breastfeeding - all the cuddling and closeness.  It was a really nice way to just stop and relax, for both of us. 

My little girl is growing up!

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