My story of gentle weaning
Shannon shares her journey through the self-weaning of her two-year-old daughter.
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Shannon was told she was creating a monster by feeding on demand and nursing to sleep. Here's her response:

When I set out on my breastfeeding journey with my first born, I knew I would allow her to self-wean. I wouldn’t push her to do anything she did not want to do. My thinking behind this was that she is learning and experiencing so many new things every day, I wanted to let breastfeeding be the one constant comfort in her life. It would be the one thing that didn’t change, until she felt ready to accept that change, and initiated it herself. This went well, I got used to the comments, usually shocked, sometimes nasty and rude. They didn’t bother me, we were all happy with the decision that we had made as a family. Frankly that was all that concerned us.

Sticking it out

That is, until I fell pregnant. Nausea, nipple tenderness and a severe case of nursing aversion had me dreading feeds. My little girl was 18 months when I found out and feeding nights only. While this gave me a break during the day, nights were spent with her drinking every 2 hours. I spent a lot of feeds in tears, I hated it so much. I wanted it to be over. Still I was determined; I would not forcibly wean her. So I took the decision to suck it up, to grin and bear it and hope it was over soon. I trusted that my body would be able to cope and I was right. Within a few weeks I started getting over the early pregnancy hormones and started to feel normal again. The nausea lifted, the nursing aversion stopped and my baby was growing beautifully.

About a month after my toddler turned two, she fell asleep by herself. She simply kissed me goodnight, rolled over and went to sleep. No boob was needed. I was shocked and slightly hurt. Nothing stings more then not being needed! The following night I was needed for bedtime soothing again, and while it was great to feel needed again, I was slightly disappointed. A week later she did it again, and a few days after that she went three nights with no breastfeeding.

About a week later she was fully weaned. All in all the whole process was quick and easy and, asides from a few nights of engorgement, painless. I was relieved that I did not have to tandem feed, something that I was willing to do, but not something I was overly excited about.

Feeding a toddler is so rewarding. The quiet time I got to spent with my child is something that I will cherish forever. A few quiet moments every day that were carved out for just us. I am thankful that I was able to feed her for so long, with no issues and the full support of my husband.

A message to naysayers

To the naysayers, those who believe that a baby that nurses to sleep will never learn to self-soothe, that I was creating a monster by feeding on demand and nursing to sleep, I say this: how many 16 year olds do you know that still need to be nursed to sleep?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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