I have to admit, we were just nursing away, night and day, until I learned that it was possible to wean your little from his/her nighttime nursing sessions. I was just shocked, and relieved, and excited. As a single mom, 18 months of nursing throughout the night was starting to take its toll. Although I loved letting my son nurse anytime he liked, I needed to start getting more rest, for the both of us, and so did he: it was time for night-weaning.
When I was first introduced to night weaning, I had a lot of questions. I also was very concerned how I could effectively make it happen, with no one at home with us to help soothe him throughout the night (someone who doesn’t have breasts full of milk, that is). But, I knew we had to try. He was old enough to be able to sustain himself throughout the night and I wouldn’t be taking anything away from him that was vital to his nutrition or well-being.
I decided to start with the earliest feeding and work my way through the night from there. My son is a stickler for routine and falls into them quite quickly. I wasn’t quite sure if that would help or hinder the process, but I dove in feet first. The first night, I nursed him and laid him down to sleep. A few hours later he was asking for milk. I went in, did not pick him up, but instead, laid him back down, kissed his little head, and began rubbing his back. It took him a little while to settle him back down and back asleep, but I didn’t mind that at all.
I continued this process over and over again. I would find different things to rub or massage to calm him down and soothe him (his back, ear lobe, check and temples, etc.). When he continued to ask for milk, I would tell him that mommy’s breasts were sleeping too and he could have milk when we all woke up in the morning.
There was crying, there were fits. There was no avoiding it and no getting around it. My son loves his milk, and he was not used to hearing no. I just did the best I could to soothe and comfort him when he was upset, without picking him up. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t hard. These nights were some of the hardest we had to date. But, I just had to keep reminding myself, this was what was best for us both. And with time, the crying dwindled down and became less and less.
My goal was to completely wean him from the time he fell asleep until the sun came up. This didn’t happen overnight though, and took quite a few very long nights to finally happen. But I had to remember there was a light at the end of the tunnel. His night time feedings became spaced out more and more, until eventually he made it until around 5 am without nursing at all.One thing that I found to help in this process was to make sure he was eating plenty of healthy food throughout the day. A full belly was very important to making it through the night without nursing. I made sure he was getting enough healthy fats and proteins to keep his little, precious belly full. What I didn’t expect was that he actually started eating better and eating more as he became night weaned. It was as if his body made the adjustment all on its own.
There was, and is, a small part of me that misses, and will always miss, those precious moments in the dark with him nestled against my chest nursing. Those were some of our quietest and most intimate moments. But, as I have written before, breastfeeding is a journey and it was time for this part of our journey to come to an end (as I sit here crying while writing this…oh this journey is such an emotional one for me and each transition, such as this proves to be, is so very bittersweet for this momma).
Have you considered night weaning? I know moms that have night weaned at twelve months all the way up through their little’s second birthday. When did you choose to night wean? I found my son and I right in the middle and it was the right time for us and for this transition in our breastfeeding journey. Sleep is important for us to be the best mommies we can, but is also important for our littles to grow and develop. Have you given yourself and your little the gift of sleep? Or are you considering night weaning? Comment below, I’d love to hear about your night weaning experience!
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