Whether to wean

My youngest son is just a year old. He’s an avid nursling and I quite enjoy this special relationship we share. The nursing experience I’ve had with him has been&nbsp different than I had with his older brother. The differences have been subtle, but different nonetheless.

From the beginning both took to it well and eagerly. I had few issues, and those I did were easily resolved with the support of my midwives and husband. It was a comfortable, easy experience from very early on. The learning curve with both boys was short and we settled nicely into a routine within weeks. I was fortunate and I’m thankful for it.

My first son self-weaned by the time he was 12 months. He had reduced his nursings to just once a day before bed and then one night he decided he didn’t want it. He was an independent little man, busy and eager to seize the day. I suspect nursing slowed him down. For a time he enjoyed the comfort of it at bedtime, but soon he was ready to move on and I was content to let him. We’d had a wonderful experience and I had no reservations when he weaned.

My second son’s nursing experience has been different. I would describe him as a voracious nurser who at 12 months shows no signs of slowing down. Whereas my oldest had dropped to just one nursing session a day by 11 months, this little one is content to nurse as often as five times a day. He asks for it in a way I never experienced with his older brother. He nestles his head down and shows me what he wants and, of course, I can’t deny him. Why would I? Nursing offers him comfort and security. It’s an amazing gift I’m happy to give him and a special bond we share just the two of us.

The problem is, we are apart most of the day while I work. Often I leave in the morning before he’s up and we aren’t reunited until later in the day. This means he makes up for all the daytime nursings at night and I’m exhausted. I’m struggling to keep it up, but I’m not sure I can. A few weeks in and it’s affecting me physically, which in turn means it’s affecting my milk supply. I’m so tired I’m not producing milk as quickly. It’s a vicious cycle, because he gets frustrated and I get frustrated and we just go round and round. Some nights he nurses and nurses and I don’t have a let down. He’ll roll over and go back to sleep only to waken an hour or two later to try again. Even though I WANT to, I don’t think I CAN keep it up.

It’s a difficult impasse. I’m not sure what to do. It’s entirely possible that this will be my last baby. I’m reluctant for this time to end, but in my heart I feel it might best if I gently encourage him to wean. We both need our rest. I’m not an effective mother to either of my boys, as a wife to my husband, or as an employee when I’m this exhausted. I can hardly think straight most days and I’m starting to dread nights once again. I don’t want this to become bitter. I want to end it positively, lovingly, and without feeling like it was because I couldn’t do it.

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35 thoughts on “Whether to wean

  1. Jana@Attitude Adjustment says:

    Christine,Read my post today. You are being too hard on yourself. You know the plane oxygen mask metaphor? If you don't put yours on first, you're no good to anyone else. Remember that. Of course your son wants to continue a bond with you, but you can continue that bond in other ways. The thing I always try to tell myself–something I heard once–is this: children don't make lasting memories until they're three. So. Kindly, gently, do what you need to do. He won't remember. He won't judge you. You need to be the best you can be for your WHOLE family!

  2. Jana@Attitude Adjustment says:

    Christine,Read my post today. You are being too hard on yourself. You know the plane oxygen mask metaphor? If you don't put yours on first, you're no good to anyone else. Remember that. Of course your son wants to continue a bond with you, but you can continue that bond in other ways. The thing I always try to tell myself–something I heard once–is this: children don't make lasting memories until they're three. So. Kindly, gently, do what you need to do. He won't remember. He won't judge you. You need to be the best you can be for your WHOLE family!

  3. Jana@Attitude Adjustment says:

    Christine,Read my post today. You are being too hard on yourself. You know the plane oxygen mask metaphor? If you don't put yours on first, you're no good to anyone else. Remember that. Of course your son wants to continue a bond with you, but you can continue that bond in other ways. The thing I always try to tell myself–something I heard once–is this: children don't make lasting memories until they're three. So. Kindly, gently, do what you need to do. He won't remember. He won't judge you. You need to be the best you can be for your WHOLE family!

  4. Jana@Attitude Adjustment says:

    Christine,Read my post today. You are being too hard on yourself. You know the plane oxygen mask metaphor? If you don't put yours on first, you're no good to anyone else. Remember that. Of course your son wants to continue a bond with you, but you can continue that bond in other ways. The thing I always try to tell myself–something I heard once–is this: children don't make lasting memories until they're three. So. Kindly, gently, do what you need to do. He won't remember. He won't judge you. You need to be the best you can be for your WHOLE family!

  5. Christy says:

    I only nursed my first son till he was 6 months (nursing didn't go well for us) and my second is already starting to wean himself at 7 months. All that to say I don't have any experience – but I think you summed it up in your last paragraph. SLeep is a necessity. When you are back at work you don't have the opportunity to nap, to take it easy, to rest when the baby rests etc. You both need sleep, you have done a wonderful job nursing him until now and maybe if you start to wean him a bit he will be down to one nursing a day so you can continue, but just less of it. Like you said though, it's better to end it on a positive note then for you to end up not enjoying it.Just my two cents. P.S. you are a WONDERFUL mother!!

  6. Christy says:

    I only nursed my first son till he was 6 months (nursing didn't go well for us) and my second is already starting to wean himself at 7 months. All that to say I don't have any experience – but I think you summed it up in your last paragraph. SLeep is a necessity. When you are back at work you don't have the opportunity to nap, to take it easy, to rest when the baby rests etc. You both need sleep, you have done a wonderful job nursing him until now and maybe if you start to wean him a bit he will be down to one nursing a day so you can continue, but just less of it. Like you said though, it's better to end it on a positive note then for you to end up not enjoying it.Just my two cents. P.S. you are a WONDERFUL mother!!

  7. Christy says:

    I only nursed my first son till he was 6 months (nursing didn't go well for us) and my second is already starting to wean himself at 7 months. All that to say I don't have any experience – but I think you summed it up in your last paragraph. SLeep is a necessity. When you are back at work you don't have the opportunity to nap, to take it easy, to rest when the baby rests etc. You both need sleep, you have done a wonderful job nursing him until now and maybe if you start to wean him a bit he will be down to one nursing a day so you can continue, but just less of it. Like you said though, it's better to end it on a positive note then for you to end up not enjoying it.Just my two cents. P.S. you are a WONDERFUL mother!!

  8. Christy says:

    I only nursed my first son till he was 6 months (nursing didn't go well for us) and my second is already starting to wean himself at 7 months. All that to say I don't have any experience – but I think you summed it up in your last paragraph. SLeep is a necessity. When you are back at work you don't have the opportunity to nap, to take it easy, to rest when the baby rests etc. You both need sleep, you have done a wonderful job nursing him until now and maybe if you start to wean him a bit he will be down to one nursing a day so you can continue, but just less of it. Like you said though, it's better to end it on a positive note then for you to end up not enjoying it.Just my two cents. P.S. you are a WONDERFUL mother!!

  9. becca says:

    Oh how I loved nursing. I had the opposite experience with my two kids. Hannah and I had an amazing experience until 15 months. We both loved the special time and I was sad to wean but felt I couldn't keep it up. I simply wasn't able to keep up with Luke's appetite and felt like he was never patient enough to sit with me… he wanted to be up and about. It crushed me to stop at 11 months but it was the right decision. You have to go with your heart. You have given your son so much in this year and you're right, you don't want it to become a "chore". What he needs is a happy, well rested mommy… the origin of his nourishment isn't as important anymore! You'll bond over the bottle. Or bond with the goodnight stories and other quiet time. Good luck!

  10. becca says:

    Oh how I loved nursing. I had the opposite experience with my two kids. Hannah and I had an amazing experience until 15 months. We both loved the special time and I was sad to wean but felt I couldn't keep it up. I simply wasn't able to keep up with Luke's appetite and felt like he was never patient enough to sit with me… he wanted to be up and about. It crushed me to stop at 11 months but it was the right decision. You have to go with your heart. You have given your son so much in this year and you're right, you don't want it to become a "chore". What he needs is a happy, well rested mommy… the origin of his nourishment isn't as important anymore! You'll bond over the bottle. Or bond with the goodnight stories and other quiet time. Good luck!

  11. becca says:

    Oh how I loved nursing. I had the opposite experience with my two kids. Hannah and I had an amazing experience until 15 months. We both loved the special time and I was sad to wean but felt I couldn't keep it up. I simply wasn't able to keep up with Luke's appetite and felt like he was never patient enough to sit with me… he wanted to be up and about. It crushed me to stop at 11 months but it was the right decision. You have to go with your heart. You have given your son so much in this year and you're right, you don't want it to become a "chore". What he needs is a happy, well rested mommy… the origin of his nourishment isn't as important anymore! You'll bond over the bottle. Or bond with the goodnight stories and other quiet time. Good luck!

  12. becca says:

    Oh how I loved nursing. I had the opposite experience with my two kids. Hannah and I had an amazing experience until 15 months. We both loved the special time and I was sad to wean but felt I couldn't keep it up. I simply wasn't able to keep up with Luke's appetite and felt like he was never patient enough to sit with me… he wanted to be up and about. It crushed me to stop at 11 months but it was the right decision. You have to go with your heart. You have given your son so much in this year and you're right, you don't want it to become a "chore". What he needs is a happy, well rested mommy… the origin of his nourishment isn't as important anymore! You'll bond over the bottle. Or bond with the goodnight stories and other quiet time. Good luck!

  13. Lisa @ This Mommy Works says:

    I would agree with you that you should encourage him to wean because at the point that it becomes stressful for either of you, it is not worth it. At least that is how I see it.I nursed both of my girls for 7-9 months and spent hours pumping to make it happen once I went back to work when they were about 4 months old. It was hard. I was determined. But, in the end it was best for both of us to stop.You can still find great things to do together and can still cuddle πŸ™‚

  14. Lisa @ This Mommy Works says:

    I would agree with you that you should encourage him to wean because at the point that it becomes stressful for either of you, it is not worth it. At least that is how I see it.I nursed both of my girls for 7-9 months and spent hours pumping to make it happen once I went back to work when they were about 4 months old. It was hard. I was determined. But, in the end it was best for both of us to stop.You can still find great things to do together and can still cuddle πŸ™‚

  15. Lisa @ This Mommy Works says:

    I would agree with you that you should encourage him to wean because at the point that it becomes stressful for either of you, it is not worth it. At least that is how I see it.I nursed both of my girls for 7-9 months and spent hours pumping to make it happen once I went back to work when they were about 4 months old. It was hard. I was determined. But, in the end it was best for both of us to stop.You can still find great things to do together and can still cuddle πŸ™‚

  16. Lisa @ This Mommy Works says:

    I would agree with you that you should encourage him to wean because at the point that it becomes stressful for either of you, it is not worth it. At least that is how I see it.I nursed both of my girls for 7-9 months and spent hours pumping to make it happen once I went back to work when they were about 4 months old. It was hard. I was determined. But, in the end it was best for both of us to stop.You can still find great things to do together and can still cuddle πŸ™‚

  17. Pam says:

    This is such a difficult situation to be in. The most important thing is that you and your baby get the rest that you need. Any chance you can pump during the day to keep your milk supply up? Not sure if that would help with the let down issue, though. Your other commenters have great advice: bond over cuddles, books and the bottle. Maybe the bottle will allow him to sleep for longer periods. Try not to beat yourself up about this. {{hugs}}

  18. Pam says:

    This is such a difficult situation to be in. The most important thing is that you and your baby get the rest that you need. Any chance you can pump during the day to keep your milk supply up? Not sure if that would help with the let down issue, though. Your other commenters have great advice: bond over cuddles, books and the bottle. Maybe the bottle will allow him to sleep for longer periods. Try not to beat yourself up about this. {{hugs}}

  19. Pam says:

    This is such a difficult situation to be in. The most important thing is that you and your baby get the rest that you need. Any chance you can pump during the day to keep your milk supply up? Not sure if that would help with the let down issue, though. Your other commenters have great advice: bond over cuddles, books and the bottle. Maybe the bottle will allow him to sleep for longer periods. Try not to beat yourself up about this. {{hugs}}

  20. Pam says:

    This is such a difficult situation to be in. The most important thing is that you and your baby get the rest that you need. Any chance you can pump during the day to keep your milk supply up? Not sure if that would help with the let down issue, though. Your other commenters have great advice: bond over cuddles, books and the bottle. Maybe the bottle will allow him to sleep for longer periods. Try not to beat yourself up about this. {{hugs}}

  21. A Crafty Mom says:

    What a tough decision for you . . . I have not been there b/c I have not been back to work yet. My boys were definitely earlier weaners than my daughter – one at 12 months and one at 18, but my daughter was not slowing down at all at 12 months and nursed until she was 20 months.I can't imagine how hard it would be to work all day and come home, tired and spent, and have the energy to produce milk and nurse. If he is keeping you up and preventing you from sleeping, then you need to think about your health too. I would hope over the next few weeks he would adapt and nurse less at night, but with no guarantee it's a tough call.Good luck – most importantly, be sure to take care of yourself!

  22. A Crafty Mom says:

    What a tough decision for you . . . I have not been there b/c I have not been back to work yet. My boys were definitely earlier weaners than my daughter – one at 12 months and one at 18, but my daughter was not slowing down at all at 12 months and nursed until she was 20 months.I can't imagine how hard it would be to work all day and come home, tired and spent, and have the energy to produce milk and nurse. If he is keeping you up and preventing you from sleeping, then you need to think about your health too. I would hope over the next few weeks he would adapt and nurse less at night, but with no guarantee it's a tough call.Good luck – most importantly, be sure to take care of yourself!

  23. A Crafty Mom says:

    What a tough decision for you . . . I have not been there b/c I have not been back to work yet. My boys were definitely earlier weaners than my daughter – one at 12 months and one at 18, but my daughter was not slowing down at all at 12 months and nursed until she was 20 months.I can't imagine how hard it would be to work all day and come home, tired and spent, and have the energy to produce milk and nurse. If he is keeping you up and preventing you from sleeping, then you need to think about your health too. I would hope over the next few weeks he would adapt and nurse less at night, but with no guarantee it's a tough call.Good luck – most importantly, be sure to take care of yourself!

  24. A Crafty Mom says:

    What a tough decision for you . . . I have not been there b/c I have not been back to work yet. My boys were definitely earlier weaners than my daughter – one at 12 months and one at 18, but my daughter was not slowing down at all at 12 months and nursed until she was 20 months.I can't imagine how hard it would be to work all day and come home, tired and spent, and have the energy to produce milk and nurse. If he is keeping you up and preventing you from sleeping, then you need to think about your health too. I would hope over the next few weeks he would adapt and nurse less at night, but with no guarantee it's a tough call.Good luck – most importantly, be sure to take care of yourself!

  25. amotherworld says:

    You have nothing to feeling guilty about. You've breastfed for 12 months – that's amazing in itself!

  26. Chantal says:

    I have not yet experienced this but I will agree that your health (physical and mental) is more important. Your boy will be better to have a happy Mom who nurses him once a day, or not at all, than to have a tired frustrated Mom who is us all night. Hugs Chris, I know this is a hard decision for you. Would this have anything to do with your dizzy spells?

  27. Dawn says:

    Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, or without it. Luckily, both my kiddies weaned themselves, very gradually, at 10 months. The night feed was always the last to go. The attitude I adopted with my daughter was to let things happen naturally.It's sad that it's the end of an era, so to speak, but maybe it's just time :(Good luck!

  28. Mama C/Catherine says:

    I adopted one son, and birthed the second (and last). He could have probably nursed until he was 100. I weaned him rather suddenly when a medical oddity caused me to take some meds that would been toxic to him. one week later and it was over. Like you I was exhausted, and had let it go one too long to the point where I was becoming resentful. Long winded way of saying what I worried about was how he would handle it. He was fine. We cuddled a lot. We still do. Trust yourself, and take care of your needs. He'll be FINE and take his cues from your new found energy and ease.

  29. @WannabeMomErin says:

    I don't have any experience to relate. I just wanted to lend my emotional support. Also, it sounds like you know what the right thing for you and your little guy is, but you are feeling a bit guilty about it. So, if you need some of your friends to tell you not to feel guilty about doing the right thing for you and your little guy…. Don't Feel Guilty!

  30. Allison says:

    That's such a hard decision. I had the same thing happen when I went back to work with my son. I was pumping during the day, but just couldn't keep up. I tried to keep nursing him in the evening, but I didn't have the supply, and he was used to a quick meal from a bottle rather than a slow meal from me. One night he just decided that he was done. But if he hadn't, I think that I would have. If it's stressing you and your son out, it's not worth it. You will both be happier if you make the switch.

  31. Loving Life says:

    Christine – Be proud of what you've accomplished wrt breast-feeding in the past 12 months…regardless of how (or when) the nursing journey ends, don't let that define or overshadow your amazing bonding experience with your son! My 2 1/2 y-o nursed until he was 11 months, and then he self-weaned. My 6-m-o is now slowly weaning himself. I'm sad that it's happening so early 😦 I can relate to your statement that this may be your last baby, and are sad that it will end. That being said, think of all the future bonding opportunities we'll have with our respective boys! We are truly fortunate!!

  32. Charlotte says:

    I think it is great you lasted a whole year, which is longer than I did with any of mine. When the nursing is no longer a bonding experience, I know it is time to move on. You'll so best to trust your instincts.

  33. coffeewithjulie says:

    I'm so glad to see you've received so many supportive comments. I'm not in a position to provide any kind of advice, but one thing my mom said to me when I had to make a difficult decision with regards to breastfeeding is that it's not a "decision" now that I have a family, it's a "family decision." So that means that everyone in the family's needs and wants have to be considered. You have a number of people in your family (including you) that need you to be emotionally and physically healthy. Regardless of your decision — it's wonderful that you've been able to breastfeed for so long and that it's been such a positive experience for you both.

  34. Stephanie says:

    Big hugs, mama. It's tough for sure! I'm still nursing my 2 yr old son. Like your son, at 12 months he showed zero signs of wanting to give it up, so I decided we'd do it as long as he wanted/needed. It's the last of his "baby" stuff, and I don't think we'll have another, so it's special for me too. I went back to work when he was 11 months, and for the first little bit he was still nursing at night, and I was working during the day… it was too much. So we night weaned him (which wasn't too bad for us since he knows how to self-soothe, so it only took him 2 nights of DH going in to tell him no milk for him to get it). Now he still nurses multiple times per day, but only during waking hours. My breasts figured it out quickly and adjusted supply.Anyway, just wanted to give you my little story since it's similar. Whatever you choose to do, you will do great! Do whatever you and your family need. If you wean now, you've done an amazing job of going for 12 months. GO MOM GO!!

  35. Jen says:

    I know how you feel. It's so difficult to know when to wean. My youngest (and last) baby is 18 months old. She still nurses before bed and when she gets up in the morning. I stopped pumping long ago. Some days I wish the weaning had already happened, but some days I enjoy the quiet of our short time together. She is so full of energy every second of the day, except when she is nestled in against me. Just trust in yourself that you and your baby will make it through the transition just fine!

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