My Winning Strategy to Weaning
MY WINNING STRATEGY TO WEANING
By: Lani Weisinger
For whatever reason no one talks about weaning, it's almost like it's this taboo subject matter that's not discussed. Maybe it's because people feel weird broadcasting how much milk they produce knowing others can't? Or maybe it's because other people didn't find it as challenging to quit? To be honest, I’m not sure what it is, but nonetheless, it was a process that I had to navigate on my own. And let me tell you, it was nawt fun.
All 3 of my boys were exclusively breastfed, ranging between 5-8 months. I was not the type of mom that LOVED nursing. I was the type of mom that had a lot of milk and was determined AF to stick to a set goal. There is so much talk about supply and how to increase it, but being an over-producer is such a challenge that isn’t discussed much. Of course there were special bonding moments when I nursed, but overall I found it physically uncomfortable, painful and challenging to incorporate it into my busy life. Between work, my other kids and any time for myself, nursing and then exclusively pumping became a huge stress for me. My boobs were basically inflated and killing me at all times during those months. I was constantly engorged and often left with leaky boobs and blocked milk ducts to work out on my own. I feel like breastfeeding is always portrayed as this beautiful, straightforward experience and I’ve learned that for most it really isn’t.
Fast forward to my next story, the first time I tried to stop breastfeeding. I had zero idea what I was doing. Like with any other mom related thing, I leaned on Lauren for this type of advice, but she really had no issues stopping, nor did she produce the same volume of milk so her experience weaning was very different than mine. That being said, not knowing what else to do, I still kinda followed suit, and pretty much stopped cold turkey. WOW was this a mistake, I almost combusted (I'm not dramatic at all BTW). FYI, I’ve now learned that this can be really dangerous and you can end up with a bad bout of mastitis (a pretty brutal infecton). I quickly realized I needed to navigate this process differently and figure out a separate strategy that worked for me. It took me about a week of trial and error, but eventually, I learned what I needed to do to cut off the supply chain.
Given this was such a struggle for me, I wanted to document the process and the things that worked with all 3 of my boys in the hopes of helping anyone else who finds themselves with rock hard tatas at 3 am not knowing what to do.
The biggest takeaway for me was that I had to remember it was A PROCESS. Slow and steady, especially if you have a large volume or overproduction of milk. Remember it's supply and demand, so naturally the less you express the less you'll produce, but your body can't adjust to that overnight, especially when it is used to pumping out X amount of ounces a day, in my case 25-30.
I compiled a list of the most effective, actionable things I did that helped me while I weaned:
- Cut out one pumping/nursing session every 2-3 days.
- Reduce the amount of time pumping by a few minutes each session.
- Wear a tight AF sports bra, maybe even 2-24 hours a day which helps to minimize milk flow.
- Drink lots and lots of water.
- Massage your boobs all the time - when you start to feel a blocked duct try self-expressing to relieve the pain. I like using oil in the shower or bath because you can massage deeper than with moisturizer.
- Take lecithin which helps dilute breast milk, making it less sticky and prevents blocked ducts.
- Take Advil to help with the pain relief.
- Wear nursing pads in case you leak.
- Use ice pads to help reduce swelling NOT heating pads.
- Don't waste your time with cabbage leaves, it's BS.
- Get onto all 4s when you are nursing or pumping to help drain your boobs and prevent blocked ducts, gravity helps, trust.
- During the last few days when you are basically not nursing/pumping anymore, but you feel the need to self express a bit, get into a lukewarm bath and start massaging. The water is calming, and it's less messy when you express the milk into the bath water.
- Drop the guilt, you did it for as long as you could or wanted to. Happy mama = happy baby.
- Perservere and stick with it. The first few days are horrible but by the EOW you will start to feel relief, and the discomfort decreases as does the size of your perky boobs.
AND VOILA - enjoy running, binge drinking and sleeping on your stomach again - you deserve it mama :)