Forced Weaning Due to Pregnancy

May 28th, 2011 by Dionna | 186 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding/Lactivism, Compassionate Advocacy, Feed with Love and Respect, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting

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I have been avoiding writing this post. Honestly, I hadn’t even spoken the words out loud to anyone until I finally broke down and sobbed to my husband the other night and admitted the truth that has been weighing on me since week ten of my pregnancy:

My breastmilk is gone.

There was a big part of me that was simply in denial. I subconsciously thought, “maybe if I don’t talk about it, it won’t be true.” Or “maybe if I ignore it, my milk will come back.”

But it’s still gone, and despite the More Milk Two that I bought shortly after I could no longer express any breastmilk, I don’t think anything is coming back until my body starts producing colostrum.

Emotionally, this is a pretty tough time for me. I always wanted Kieran to have the choice to wean naturally, and forced weaning due to pregnancy is not what I had envisioned.1 My perceived “failure” to produce breastmilk has sent me into a mini-depression. As I lamented to my husband in the dark hours of the night, I have not been able to form a bond with the baby currently developing inside my body, because I almost feel resentful that I am pregnant. Of course it’s not the baby’s fault, and I know that logically, but these pregnancy hormones can do funny things.

I also know (logically) that I am not a failure – I have given Kieran 3.5 years of an incredible nursing relationship, and if he had weaned naturally at this point, I would never feel that I had failed. It’s merely the fact that the option was taken away because of my own body chemistry.2

Slowly but surely, though, I am coming to terms with the fact that our nursing relationship is changing. Maybe even coming to an end.

So what has losing my milk done to Kieran’s nursing habits?3 Well, so far, he hasn’t completely “weaned.” That is, he still nurses – he just doesn’t get any milk. For any of you pregnant mamas who just cringed at that last statement, I must admit that nursing has not been painful for me during pregnancy. I was slightly more sensitive immediately before I got the positive pregnancy test, but since then it really hasn’t affected me.

I have noticed a difference in his latch, and if he’s still dry nursing by the time my milk comes in, I have a feeling he won’t remember how to nurse effectively (in other words, how to move his mouth correctly to get any milk). He only nurses to fall asleep (he was only rarely asking to nurse at any other time even before my milk dried up), and he’s actually starting to fall asleep without being latched on – he’ll nurse for awhile, roll over, and fall asleep snuggled up next to me. That is a major change from my dedicated nursling of even three months ago. So when he does nurse, it is for shorter and shorter periods of time.

Most surprising to me is that Kieran has made few comments about the changes. When I first noticed my milk drying up, I asked him several times if he was still getting any “mama milk.” Most often he would say yes, but a few times he said no.

Several times over the last few weeks he has randomly come up, given me a hug (while burying his head in my chest), and said “oh mama milk, you are so precious!” (And now here come the tears again!) And then there was the one time where he latched on, said “gross!,” giggled, and ran off. I know that some mamas have said their milk turns almost salty during pregnancy, but that was after I thought my milk was gone, so who knows if he really did taste something “gross,” or whether he was just being silly.4

So this has been my struggle for the past four weeks. I’m ready to share and hear from mamas who have walked this path before me.

If you were forced to wean your toddler/preschooler earlier than expected, how did you and your child handle it? Any tips or wisdom to share?

  1. The technical term is actually “influenced” weaning – see Weaning and the Ways it Happens.
  2. For an awesome post on a related topic, read what Michele wrote so eloquently in her own post-weaning depression post on The Daily Momtra.
  3. This isn’t necessarily a habit, but it is making me sad: coincidentally or directly related, Kieran has been sick for the past three weeks. I can’t help but think that it’s partially due to the loss of all the naturally-designed health benefits my breastmilk gave him.
  4. He’s also been playing with the word “disgusting” lately, so he might have just been trying out a new word.

186 Responses to:
"Forced Weaning Due to Pregnancy"

  1. My Kieran was 19 months when I got pregnant again. I can’t remember at what point the milk dried up, but I do remember hating the dry nursing and also feeling a bit sad that he seemed to be weaning. Once Charlotte was born, though, and the milk returned, he went right back to nursing like before and it’s proved to be a bond between the two of them. Maybe the same will happen with your Kieran. Regardless, good on you for giving him this breastfeeding relationship with you.

  2. Oh, Dionna! I wish so much I could give you a big hug and share some tears with you. I went through very similar feelings when I was nursing through pregnancy the first time. Breastfeeding had been so important to her, and it was the one constant through all the amazing changes in her life. I felt so much guilt and heartache. It is OK to let those feelings pass through you.

    In my case, she did not wean during the first pregnancy, but did during the second. My other two did not wean, despite not getting much and going longer and longer between nursing. I eventually came to the conclusion that if there is really a need to nurse, they will persist, and if they are on the verge of outgrowing that need, they may wean.

    Regardless of what happens, you are an amazing, wonderful mom, and Kieran will be secure in your love.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Oh mama, thank you so much – you really put it into words well. Nursing has been the constant. And it was such a struggle in the beginning, and felt like such a victory when it worked, and has been an incredible way to connect . . . honestly it feels irreplaceable (even though I know that’s not true).
      Thank you mama, I appreciate your input so much.

  3. Melissa @ The New Mommy Files   vibreantwanderer

    Dionna, I am so thankful to you for being open and honest about this sensitive subject. I, too, wish I could give you a huge hug!

    I want another child very much, but the possibility of losing my (or rather Annabelle’s) milk in pregnancy is a big factor for me in deciding on when to work on growing our family. I can only imagine what an emotional experience it must be. In any case, it sounds like Kieran is handling it beautifully and you are continuing to mother him in the wonderful way that you do! Thank you for your example, and your openness. <3

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you Melissa. I think I replied in another comment earlier that we waited until Kieran was 18 mos to think about #2. Even then, we didn’t really “try,” we just no longer prevented. I was torn, because it had taken us so long to get pg with Kieran, and I’m an older mom (I’m 36), so I knew it could take us awhile to get pg again (it did – almost 2 yrs). So we didn’t *really* start trying until past Kieran’s 2nd birthday – and even then I was still hesitant! I think if Kieran wasn’t such an avid nurser, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal for me, but with his sensitive temperament, it really made me cautious. All that to say – I know exactly where you’re coming from :)

  4. Alice

    I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t able to wean naturally, but at least you were blessed with the opportunity to breastfeed for more than three years! That’s definitely an accomplishment and more than other kids are able to get. I could only breastfeed for a few months. I fought hard to continue breastfeeding, but eventually my small milk supply just disappeared and that was that. Count your blessings and be proud that you could give him as much as you did.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you for reading Alice – I struggled with low supply in the beginning as well, so I can appreciate your battle. Big hugs for nursing for as long as you could!

  5. I got pregnant again when my little one was 16 months. I seemed to have milk for quite a while, but then suddenly it seemed to just be gone. I felt so incredibly guilty and cried time and time again that I had stolen her milk from her. Even when I got some colostrum, she said it did NOT taste yummy, but wanted to nurse anyway. I also struggled with resentment towards my coming baby. It was definitely uncomfortable for me to continue nursing, not really painful but more of the heebie jeebies. I then started getting annoyed that she wouldn’t just wean already, but on the days when she wouldn’t nurse at all, I would feel so sad!

    But I’m so incredibly glad she didn’t wean now. Three weeks ago, our newest daughter was born with a completely unexpected, unpredictable birth defect that made her unable to breathe thru her nose. She went straight to the NICU and has been there ever since. My older daughter has done an incredible job of bringing in my milk and maintaining my supply while I wait week after week for the chance to nurse my baby. A toddler is much better at maintaining supply than a pump, that’s for sure. DD#1 has gone back to be almost exclusively breastfed at this point and is thrilled that my milk is back, but I know our relationship will go through yet another change when DD#2 comes home (who knows when that will be, though). Breastfeeding involves complex relationships that grow and change and change again. You can honestly never say you know exactly what’s going to happen and how your little one will react to different circumstances, but man, does it wreak havoc on our mama emotions!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Wow Megan – what an incredible story!! Big hugs for having a baby in the NICU. Kieran was only in for 5 days, and it was such a heart wrenching time for us. I’m so glad that your daughter was able to continue nursing, and you’ll be in my thoughts. I hope that your second daughter can latch on; but if not, I hope you’ll be able to pump for her for as long as you want!

  6. Teresa

    I was 3 months pregnant with most of my boys when my nurselings weaned and thet weren’t as old as yours so you’ve done an amazing job! I think it probably affects the mom more than the child because so much of who we are is tied into our ability to nurture our children and we equate breastfeeding to nurturing. Eventually, the logic of what we know to be true wins out. I think that in time, you’ll allow the logic to take hold and be able to bond with the new baby inside. Best wishes for successful pregnancy and nursing relationship!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Teresa you are so right – it is like losing a huge part of my nurturing ability, and I know it is just going to be a normal process of finding different ways to relate and comfort. :) Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  7. Ashley

    I haven’t read all this yet, but let me just say my milk dried up during pregnancy but my daughter still nursed the whole time. And when the new baby was born (19 almost 20 months into my daughters life) she continued nursing and still is breastfeeding (30 months old now.) Just because your milk dries up during pregnancy doesn’t mean you’re weaning your child. You can continue to breast feed. Hope this helps. <3 This happened to me and we are still stuck to the idea of letting her wean herself.

  8. Anne   bfdboobies

    Hi there –
    Went through something very similar between about 8w and 11w pregnancy. My dd asked me to ‘fix boo boo’ because quite clearly there really was NOTHING there anymore. I was v upset and she seemed to wean (aged 26m). However, at 20w pregnant my colostrum started up and my dd is back to feeding a little every couple of days now. She’s not mad on the taste I think, but tells me that when the baby comes and my milk is back properly she wants to feed more. We’ll see. All I’m saying is, it may not be over yet. And hugs (((()))) because I know how you’re feeling. Keep offering, and doing skin to skin, see what happens. Her ‘leaving’ the breast and coming back were either side of a very fine line involving cuddles and attention. xo

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you so much for sharing Anne. It’s a big comfort to know that kiddos don’t lose their latch even if they’re not nursing every day. I guess I figured that nursing so infrequently would hasten the weaning process – I’m glad to read your story!

  9. Summer

    My 22 mo. old daughter would just scream and cry all night long and wasn’t sleeping at all and neither was I. I ended up just telling her I was sorry but mommy’s milk was empty. We cried a lot together and eventually it was much less frustrating for both of us to stop trying to nurse and snuggle instead. We are still trying to help her figure out how to sleep since she always nursed to sleep. It’s been a long, sad, frustrating process. Somehow I know we’ll make it through, but my heart breaks every night as she has such a hard hard time sleeping and still cries and needs lots of extra snuggles.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Oh Summer, that is heartbreaking! If you’d like, I’d be happy to ask for some input on my Facebook page – I’m sure mamas who have actively nightweaned will have some tips for you. I hope it gets better very soon!

      • Summer

        I’d love some help. The nursing was also excruciatingly painful for me. As much as I wanted to let her wean herself or hang on until the milk came back later in the pregnancy, the pain was also getting unbearable in addition to her frustration and the overall lack of sleep. But yes, she is still having a really hard time sleeping. Waking up every 20 minutes from the time we put her down at night until about 1 a.m. I work from home in the evening, so as much as I would love to cosleep with her from the start of the night – I usually just go in with her around 11 p.m. and co-sleep from then until morning. I need a few hours in the night to work. I don’t have childcare and my husband also works in the evening. But nothing is happening at all anymore because she is so upset!

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Posted on my FB page this morning – I hope we get some replies for you! http://www.facebook.com/CodeNameMama

  10. Kristina   WadeandKristina

    My oldest was 15 months old when I got pregnant the 2nd time…with twins. She knew something was up before I did because she suddenly needed to nurse from both sides to be full after only ever needing one. As the pregnancy progressed, there was less and less milk, and it obviously changed because one day she stopped nursing, said “Yuck” then went right back to it. :) By the time I was about 30 weeks pregnant, it was turning to colostrum and she was pulling harder and harder trying to get milk out. The sensation made my skin crawl, so I encouraged her to wean before nursing her became too negative for me. She was one day shy of 22 months old the last time she nursed and the twins were born 7 weeks later.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’ve been wondering what it will be like once the colostrum comes in (I’ve also wondered what it will taste like – I never tasted my own when Kieran was a newborn!). I think that skin crawling sensation is pretty common though – I’m pretty lucky to have incredibly un-sensitive nipples just about all the time. (Very lucky, since Kieran had a horrible latch in the beginning, and I had perpetual nipple blisters for months!).

      • Amy   Amy_willa

        I have heard the phrase “colostrum is like catnip for toddlers” – and I can testify to the truth of that statement, in my nursing relationship with Abbey while pregnant with Joseph anyway. She was nursing like wildfire in the last trimester! Like, as much as she possibly could!

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Amazing Amy – I’d never heard that!!

  11. Oh, Mama. You’ve done such a wonderful thing for Kieran, and it sounds like he’s adjusting so beautifully. This is only the first of many changes that come along with all the fantastic benefits of having a little sibling – but I know that doesn’t make it any less painful when we’re in the middle of the process of letting go of our plans and ideals.

    Shortly before my older son’s second birthday, we found we were expecting our second child. I continued to breastfeed, grateful for each week that my milk supply remained unaffected, but I quickly became very sensitive to nursing. I nightweaned him, which he accepted with relative ease.

    Eventually my milk supply disappeared and it became very painful to nurse him. I began to shorten the length of time for which I would nurse him at bedtime, replacing that nighttime routine with other methods of comfort. By the time he was two and a half, he nursed for only a minute or less at bedtime. Then it was mere seconds. Then it was less than a second – not even a real latch on. I joked to my husband that he was just “kissing them goodnight” by that point. One night, instead of wanting milk, he asked to lay on them, leaning against my bare chest for a short while before climbing in bed. Then…nothing. He was truly and officially weaned. He handled the whole thing beautifully; I think it was harder on me than it was on him.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      “Kissing them goodnight” is so sweet – Kieran sometimes does that too :) Or just snuggles them. If only all of those people who think breasts are “only” or “too” sexual knew how very unsexual breasts can be :)
      And I think many weaning experiences – I’d venture to say almost all of the ones that are child-led – are harder on mama than child. Because, you know, it’s the child’s choice ;)
      Thank you for sharing with me!

  12. I have nursed through 2 pregnancies and a miscarriage. Both pregnancies my girls nursed through them. My oldest was 2 1/2 when we found out we were pregnant and nursed through the pregnancy until she was 4 (and we mutually decided to wean),my second pregnancy my middle girl was 18 months when we found out we were pregnant again she’s still nursing at 3 and counting. You may still continue your nursing relationship even without your milk being there. The relationship changes a bit but it’s still possible to continue. Hang in there and see what turns out. Also he may return back to the breast after the baby is born.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you for reassuring me that it’s possible for little ones to continue nursing, even after the milk is gone. I always knew natural weaning was a possibility since Kieran is an older nursling, but I think weaning for any reason is emotionally charged for us mamas :)

  13. Amber

    I got pregnant, very unexpectedly, when my daughter was 5 months old. My milk starting diminishing immediately. I had to start supplementing her with formula at 6 ½ months old; she would nurse and would cry and cry because she was still hungry. I nursed her until she was 9 months old and she eventually just lost interest because nothing was there. I was very sad, and I felt the same about NOT being able to bond with my baby and my pregnancy. Everything I had read was about mom’s who got pregnant with nursing TODDLERS, so breast milk did not have to be their primary source of nutrition, but for my baby, it STILL HAD TO BE so I was so distraught that I couldn’t nourish her myself anymore and that I had to turn to formula. I also found it hard that I couldn’t find much support on moms who were pregnant while still nursing an infant. I continued to try to latch her, but she was not interested. When my son was born a month ago, my daughter was 13 ½ months old, I have continued to attempt to latch her, but she’s still not interested. I nurse the baby now and I pump for my daughter and she takes it from a bottle/cup. She watches me pump and I think she understands that’s where her milk comes from, but she won’t nurse. I am happy that I am able to give her BM again, but I defiantly went through some emotional issues when I was pregnant. AND, just so you know I had NO issues bonding with my son, it was love at first sight, and he’s a champion nurser.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you so much for sharing your story Amber – it is a relief to hear that you had no issues bonding with your son (and I’m sure it will cease being a concern as soon as I see that baby gazing up at me, if this lasts that long).
      I’m so sorry that your nursing relationship with your daughter did not go as planned, but it’s wonderful that you were able to pump for her after your son was born. That is such dedication :) And you’re right – it is easier in many ways to be pregnant with an older child, because I know nursing was more about comfort than anything else. We waited until Kieran was 18 months to think about #2 (and obviously didn’t have any unexpected pregnancies), and even then I was hesitant to get pregnant, because I was scared of losing that breastfeeding relationship. You are an inspiration for doing everything you could to continue nursing your daughter – thank you for being the support for others now!

    • Katherine

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m there. My daughter is almost seven months old and I’m about 3 months pregnant. This was SOOOO not the plan but it is was it is. We started homemade formula a few weeks ago because I just cannot pump enough while I’m away to satsify her. On a good day I bring home maybe 5 ounces, and that’s pumping 3 times! A lot of work for that little amount and I nurse exclusively while I’m with her. But she gets 2 bottles a day of formula while I’m at work. She still nurses at night which I would love to stop (I’m exhausted!) but it’s also such a precious and short time that I’m going to be able to nurse just her. I’m hoping to nurse both babies when the newest addition arrives but until then I’m going to fight for my 5 ounces and try to not feel guilty that I cannot sustain dd’s needs right now. I fought so hard to get her to latch correctly in the beginning that I cannot bear the thought of weaning her yet. :)

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        re: fighting for a good latch at first – I totally empathize! I said in an earlier reply that it was such an accomplishment to get Kieran nursing right, and nursing has just been such a blessing for so long, that any kind of weaning would be hard. Fingers crossed for you that you’ll be tandem nursing soon!!

      • Amber

        Hang in there Katherine. yes it can be very tough to pump and pump and get so little, but its nothing you are doing wrong, its your SURPRISE pregnancy! (aahh, that’s how I felt too!). as I mentioned, my DD lost interest at around 9 months, and although sad, I was somewhat relieved b/c I could finally sleep at night, and being pregnant that was very needed, but more so I felt sad that it was “forced” upon both of us. I am happy that I can pump for her now, and I will pump for her as long as I am nursing, and as long as she’ll drink it, she is welcome to it.

  14. I was having very painful nursing when I was pregnant with my second. I had to help her wean a little bit faster (at that point it was almost a habit for her if I sat down). I wanted to share my favorite story about our weaning exp. though. We were changing into our swimsuits and she saw me exposed and giggled. She crawled up into my lap and nursed and giggled the whole time. It was so very sweet and we both ended up laughing hysterically by the end. It was just a precious tender moment and was the last one we had in that nursing relationship. I hope you both enjoy the end. It is probably going to be harder for you than for him. I’d just find new ways to have special moments together especially at night. Start a new and fun bedtime routine, etc.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Bree that is such a sweet story :) How amazing that you have that memory to cherish – I hope it’s in her baby book :) From the response that this post has gotten, it makes me think that we need to do something to discuss weaning and commemorate the end of nursing relationships – it’s such a tender topic for all nursing mamas!

  15. Regina Wade

    I got pregnant when my daughter was 23 months old. I planned to continue nursing her through the pregnancy unless she weaned herself. After 2 months of excruciating pain every time she nursed, I made the decision that it was time to wean her. I couldn’t handle the pain and how it made me feel towards her during nursing.

    She was only 1-2 times a day, so it was easy to drop to one. Then my husband helped by doing the bedtime routine for a week so that she wouldn’t even think about nursing (we hoped). She did ask for it a few times and cried a little, but was easily comforted. Then I restarted doing bedtime routine and we went through the asking and crying a little a few times. Overall, I was very surprised at how easily she took it.

    I’ve tried very hard not to blame the new baby for the weaning and I encourage our girl that when the new baby comes she can try nursing again. I don’t know if she’ll remember how to nurse at that point, but she is excited about sharing nursing with the new baby. :) Too bad it’s still 3.5 months away…

    Here’s where the guilt hits me: my daughter was tongue-tied when she was born and we couldn’t find a doctor to cut it until she was 6 weeks old. During that time (and the recovery afterwards), I suffered through nursing–and it was far worse pain than I have experienced during this pregnancy. I know that nursing a newborn through the pain is very different from nursing a 2+ year old through pain, but I still feel sometimes that if I did that, I should be able to do this.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Oh mama, don’t let that guilt weigh you down. I’ve been around many pregnant nursing mamas, and I know how painful it can be to nurse while pregnant. That’s why I said in the post that I know many pregnant mamas must be cringing even hearing about it!! And like others have said to me, 23 months is amazing – you’ve given two years of breastmilk, and your daughter has benefited in ways we’ll never know.
      Congratulations on the pregnancy, and thank you so much for sharing your experience!

  16. My first daughter nursed through my 2nd pregnancy, and we had much of the same experience. My milk started to dry up around the beginning of the 2nd trimester and she slowed down, but continued to nurse. I was very sore, so I did the best I could with it. When my colostrum did come back in (earlier than normal, just after 20 weeks) it actually caused her to start nursing more again. I could tell she was getting something when she nursed instead of just nursing for comfort. I could only let her try to nurse for maybe a minute by the end of the pregnancy, due to the pain, but once my 2nd daughter was born, the pain went away and I continued to tandem nurse for another 18 months. She weaned herself just after her 4th birthday.
    I’m not pregnant with my 3rd child and my daughter continued to nurse through the beginning of the pregnancy, until my milk dried up. Between the discomfort and the lack of anything coming out, she weaned herself, she was just over 2. It made me very sad at first, emotionally it was hard for me the first few months because it was an unplanned pregnancy and I felt a little resentful that it was affecting our nursing relationship so much. Now that she has been weaned for about 3 months, I am completely at peace about it. She easily transitioned herself to being comforted to sleep for naps and bedtime instead of nursing. She does still ask about “meme” or “milky” and says that she will nurse again when the baby is born. I’m open to it, since I already tandem nursed, but I have a feeling that she won’t remember how to latch on after a 6 month break.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’m interested to know whether you had increased sensitivity after your colostrum came in – I’d never thought about that aspect! I thought I’d just gotten away from the sensitivity as being lucy.
      I’m so glad to hear that you had an easier transition than you anticipated with the second one weaning – this honestly has been easier than I anticipated too (at least, with Kieran starting to fall asleep on his own, etc.).
      Thank you for sharing!

  17. Wow… it’s like reading my own journal! I’m facing exactly what you’re facing now, except my BM stopped when my boy is 25 months old – that’s when I entered into 2nd trimester. It has been a month now, but yet, like your Kieran, my boy still comes to suckle from me only before his daytime nap and bedtime (a couple more times in between the night time). It doesn’t hurt and honestly, I’m OK with it as long as he wants it.

    I’m waiting for the colostrum to come back and see how it goes. I really plan to go for tandem if possible. Thank you for sharing your post.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      How comforting to find someone who is going through the exact same thing (not that I’m glad you’re going through it of course, but it’s nice to know someone who understands the emotional aspects!). We’ll have to keep in touch :) When are you due?

      • Hi Dionna!

        I’m due either 1st or 2nd week of Sept. And yes, we have to keep in touch, it’s really rare to find people around my country who breastfeed past 1 year, let alone one who breastfeed DURING pregnancy. So yeah, I need to find support wherever I can!

        My 1st gynae said I should wean when we went to confirm the pregnancy when he found out I’m still breastfeeding my toddler. He said (while glancing at my toddler up and down) “Your son is past 1 year old, way time for him to wean.” Needless to say, I changed gynae after that.

        My current gynae (his wife is still comfort nursing their youngest child who is 4 years old now) said that I should start weaning to give time for my breasts to return to its function.

        Am not listening much to all this. I’m trusting my own instincts and body response.

  18. Cathi Williams

    Me too but I wasn’t pregnant. I think I am unusually sensitive to prolactin levels, my milk went when she started sleeping through at 2 1/2. Like you I was really upset about it. We dry-nursed for nearly 6 months but I was getting more and more antsy and in the end initiated some very very gentle mother-led weaning. It is hard when you hoped to self-wean and it didn’t end up that way, but goodness sake, let’s be proud of nursing all the way through the toddler years rather than letting that mummy-guilt jump out and get us ;-)

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I think prolactin level issues are why I had problems establishing supply in the beginning – I have PCOS, which affects prolactin. I wonder if Kieran would have weaned himself by now if he didn’t still latch on at night sometimes.
      At any rate, thank you for sharing! And you’re right – there’s no reason we should feel guilty for giving our little ones years of mama milk :)

  19. Heather   xakana

    Oh, sweetie, your milk isn’t “gone”–not completely. You stop being able to effectively express any well before it dries up totally. Naomi still gets milk and I’ve ever heard swallowing from time to time and I haven’t been able to express milk for 2 months now. I look totally dry to me, but she still gets a little. Lilly’s latch went back in pregnancy, but got better after the baby came.

    The milk is like a roller coaster–up, down, up, down. Sometimes nothing but drops, sometimes a whole swallow. And yes, it turns salty–my husband said mine already had before none was coming out for him anymore. But just because it wouldn’t come out for him or Lilly doesn’t mean Naomi couldn’t get it. She just needs a little adjustment on her latch now and then, as it’s getting lazy and hurts me.

    Yes, he might wean during pregnancy, but if he’s a really dedicated nurser and really wants to keep going–he will. And plenty of kiddos wean during pregnancy just to start back up after baby comes, even if it’s just for a short time. Don’t lose heart. <3

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      That’s very comforting to know – thank you! I had no idea I wouldn’t be able to express any.
      This topic is invading my pregnant dreams – I’m dreaming now that I expressed some milk, tasted it, and it was horribly salty ;)

      • Heather   xakana

        lol! Oh, those pregnancy dreams, they’re special.

        Mine didn’t disappear this early the first time, but Naomi’s certainly undaunted. My problem is that even when her latch is perfect, it’s horribly painful for me and I suspect her chipped front teeth are the culprit >_< Still, I offer and we truck on.

        As for expressing–it's just like with the pump. Just because you can't get it out doesn't mean it's not in there ;) You'd never tell a woman to measure her supply by the pump: the same is true of hand expression. While you wouldn't be able to sustain a baby on what we're producing, you can certainly comfort a preschooler.

        And both my kids like salty ;)

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        SUCH a good point!! I have never responded to the pump (but I’ve always been able to hand express a little), and I hadn’t even thought about it at this point (I mean, it’s been years since I even tried pumping).

  20. I have not been through this, but thank you for sharing your experience so far. It sounds like there’s a lot of wisdom in what Dulce has to say.

  21. Kelli

    Hi lady. We are going through exactly the same thing right now. Mine is 2.5 and I am 16 weeks preggo, so the details are a bit different, but same feelings involved. I can only hope that she nurses through it and that it doesn’t get to the “skin crawling” place that everyone talks about. It’s emotional, though. I was nursing her today and had a moment of looking into her eyes and thinking, “God, I hope this isn’t the end of this.” No way to know for sure, I guess. We’ll just keep trucking and cross our fingers that she hops right back on that bus when the milk returns. Good luck, mama! I feel your pain.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I told my sister today that I want her to try to get a picture of Kieran nursing in the next couple of days, just in case. If you don’t have many nursing pictures, I’d definitely recommend it. Fingers crossed for you too!

  22. Raelene

    I’m encouraged to know there are more mama’s out there nursing for more than a year. I too wanted my firstborn to self wean. I got pregnant just a little after she turned one. I continued to nurse til she was 15/16 months. I went to see my ob/gyn and told her I was still nursing and she freaked me out. She said she was surprised that I had not miscarried. I freaked out and wean me daughter that night, that was about the only time she was nursing. I felt so horrible losing that bond. And I regret not continuing to nurse her. Haven’t women from the past done so before the was birth control? I know my situation is not the the same but it’s similar and I understand and can definitely relate. It was really good to hear someone else have a similar story. I feel like I’m the only one out here.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Many, many mamas are out here :) If you’re not familiar with it, check out the series I host called The Joys of Breastfeeding Past Infancy. So many inspiring posts from mamas who continue to nurse!
      Your ob’s reaction isn’t uncommon – but it isn’t necessarily correct either. I wish I had my copy of Adventures in Tandem Nursing with me (I’m out of town), but I’m fairly certain that nursing during pg is safe for the majority of women. Unfortunately, that isn’t common knowledge. I’m sorry you were scared into weaning (isn’t that what happens to so many women when it comes to our bodies re: breastfeeding, pregnancy, labor, etc.?!), but don’t let that guilt weigh you down! 15/16 months is still a wonderful amount of time to nurse! Your little one is obviously very loved :)

  23. Megan

    My oldest was twenty months when I got pregnant. Around twelve weeks she said, “mama your milk tastes like a little bug.” I’m not sure when she ate a bug, little or otherwise, but that’s what she swore my milk tasted like. She cut hernurding back from six or so times a day to once or twice per week. I thought for sure she was weaning. I was really depressed about it as I’d hoped to tandem nurse. About a week after the baby came, she decided to nurse again and resumed nursing like a newborn. The girls have bonded so wonderfully. We have been tandem nursing for ten months. Lydia, my oldest, is now forty months and dropping back to one or two nursing sessions per day.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I love the stories of sibling bonding at the breast – thank you for sharing, fingers crossed I’ll be able to do the same :)

  24. Amanda

    I don’t know how you feel about tandem nursing, but I know several women whose toddlers weaned during pregnancy then wanted back on the breast when the new baby arrived. It’s possible that he’ll “un-wean” himself even if he weans completely so that’s something you may want to prepare yourself for.

    Either way, you haven’t failed him. Hang in there, mama. You and he have/had a beautiful thing and just because your relationship may be changing doesn’t mean there’s any less love. :-)

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you Amanda – I always wonder about the latch, since I’ve heard it’s so easy for little ones to “unlearn” that particular skill. But it’s comforting to hear about those stories!!

  25. Jennifer   TrueRealMommy

    While I didn’t loose my milk during pregnancy, I did have to push to wean about 4 months after the birth because of the extreme feelings of creepy crawlies and resentment from all the time my eldest was nursing. I would nurse the baby all day, and the toddler all night. I never wanted to limit their nursing, but something had to change. It so hard to admit. There was a silver lining though, and I wrote about it here http://trueconfessionsofarealmommy.blogspot.com/2010/08/nursing-un-weaning-and-kind-of-vacation.html

    With L3 on the way, L1 still nurses every few weeks, and I have started using more distraction with L2 just to keep my need for space and honor his need to nurse. I am hoping this time we won’t have to wean, and we can all manage this together, so everyone is cared for and respected. I hope your family finds their way as well.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Interesting turn of the tables with your feelings toward the older child after the birth!
      (And the picture in that post is priceless – what a sweetie!)

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