The Downside of Weaning

When Lila turned one, we officially began the process of weaning. At that point she was still nursing five times a day, but thankfully took cows milk well. I began to slowly eliminate one feeding a week and replacing it with a bottle.

While pregnant with Lila, I wasn’t afraid of labor or delivery, or the changes to my body, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to nurse. I had heard a lot of horror stories and almost thought it was inevitable that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I am so grateful that we established a good feeding routine and went an entire year exclusively breastfeeding (with food of course).

But alas, after sharing my body with Lila during pregnancy and then a year of breastfeeding, I was ready to be done. Plus nursing Lila wasn’t really the blissed out experience many mothers talk about. She is not the type of baby to lie calmly in my arms, so there was a lot of kicking, trying to stand, arms flailing … lets just say it wasn’t all that relaxing.

After some hiccups in our weaning journey (a cold and three new molars), we are officially down to just morning and night. This week I am planning to drop the night feeding and then a couple weeks later, stop altogether.

I wish I could say weaning has been a positive experience for me, but the more I eliminate feedings, the worse I feel. I started getting daily headaches from 2pm – 4pm, I feel utterly exhausted most of the day, despite getting 8+ hours of sleep and I’ve had bouts of anxiety and sadness.

It took me awhile to connect the dots that this was related to weaning, but after doing some research, it turns out all these symptoms are a result of the change in hormones brought on by stopping breastfeeding. Specifically, the drop in oxytocin – the “love” hormone. Apparently, postpartum depression and weaning are closely linked – who knew?

I have good days and bad days. Today I would rate as a bad one. I got a sitter so I could do some client work, but instead I’m laying in bed moping. I’m hoping that once we’re totally done nursing, that everything will balance out quickly so I can get back to normal.

It makes me sort of sad that something I worked so hard at (breastfeeding) and brought so much good to Lila has to end on this negative note. But regardless of how I feel these next few months (and with future babies) I’m determined to look back on my breastfeeding days as a positive experience that got my little loves off to a great start.

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