Forced weaning due to pregnancy - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-04-2012, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just got a BFP after 2 months of low milk supply issues.  I have my dating ultrasound on Monday, but I imagine I'm somewhere around 12 weeks along, plus or minus 2 weeks.  My DS is just over 8 months old.  I'm having a hard time finding specific resources/experiences regarding weaning an infant this young.  Either they are talking about an older nursling (>1yr) or they are encouraging to nurse through pregnancy and then tandem nurse.  Even if I wanted to do that, I couldn't - my milk supply is absolutely shot, to the point that DS has been losing weight.  I can't imagine trying to dry nurse him for the next 7 months. 

 

(1) I'm pumping at work still.  I'm down to 4 oz a day.  (DS needs 10-14 oz/day and I used to pump 20oz a day. *sigh*)  Pumping has started to become really uncomfortable on the border of painful and I would like to stop. What do I need to do to stop?  Should I drop to pumping twice a day for a week, then once a day for a week, then stop?  or can I just quit cold turkey?

 

(2) On weaning DS in general, it breaks my heart to see our breastfeeding relationship end this soon.  But like I said, I have no milk.  How can I wean him gently and with respect but firmly?  I've been nursing him first and then offering a bottle of expressed breastmilk (from the freezer stash) that may or may not be mixed with formula.  But he just still wants to nurse.  Will he eventually get the idea that there's no food there if I keep doing this, or should I be cutting him off more?  How long should it take to ease him out of this?  Should I attempt to stop cold turkey?

 

(3) Related to 2, DS is a big time comfort nurser.  We nurse to sleep.  And when he wakes at night (which is frequently, especially since he's been trying to deal with my low milk supply), he nurses back down most of the time.  The past few nights I have tried to offer the paci or the bottle instead of nursing, and he just gets REALLY MAD at me.  I don't know how to change my strategy for either putting down to sleep or handling nightwakings.  I was happy to use nursing, because I figured we were going to do it for a super long time.  I'm opposed to using a CIO method at this age, but I'm open to a middle-of-the-road method like the Baby Whisperer's "pick up put down."  How gradually should I change his sleep habits/associations?  Is it harsh to try to switch cold turkey or after one awful long weekend, is it possible that I could fix it?  Any suggestions about how to do this -- I'm really overwhelmed, especially after the last few nights of upset baby.

 

(4) Related to 3, we've been co-sleeping to make nighttime nursing easier.  Should I continue co-sleeping to provide him with non-nursing comfort at night? or will the proximity of the boobs torture him?

 

Please help.  I'm having a lot of trouble dealing with this.  I'm excited (if surprised) about the pregnancy, but I'm very emotional about weaning my DS who I had hoped to breastfeed to 2.


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#2 of 6 Old 01-04-2012, 09:21 PM
 
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congrars on your pregnancy.I"m sorry it's causing you to have to deal with this :( (nak btw)

 

1) I would taper down, your plan sounds good...maybe decrease the time pumping too, to help with the pain.

 

2) Ah, I would taper down his feeds too. Start offering the bottle instead of nursing at a few feeds and increase bottle feeds as he becomes comfortable. Dont go cold turkey!!! I imagine it would take a while to get used to this, every child is different, but definately dpnt go cold turkey.

 

3) It will probably take some time, and some very long miserable nights, but when my DS had to go off the breast for a 5 day stin due to my needing nipple rest, my DH would give him the paci and bounce/shush him. He was about 2 months old, but is a HUGE comfort nurser also, and was miserable being taken off the boob (cold turkey) and had never had a paci before. I would have bounced/shushed him but I was too distraught about the whole thing to do it...and I was likely hooked up to the pump. It will not be fun, but if you give him the paci and bounce/shush him, he will likely eventually calm down and figure out he has a new soothing process. Once it works cut out the bouning/shushin part, and maybe just shake him in bed next to you...hope that helps.

 

4) DONT STOP BEDSHARING! It would be way traumatic for him to lose his boob and his bed partner. Keep bedsharing and try the method above.

 

My DS still comfort nurses, and because he causes such oversupply I have had to continue letting him use the paci, and sometimes all I do is take the boob out so he feels my skin and smells me, and bounce him while he sucks onthe paci. The important thing is that he sees that unfortunate things happen (like weaning), but mommy will be there for him no matter what. You both need to stay close, more now than ever.

 

 

Good luck mama, happy new year and have a healthy happy pregnancy!


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#3 of 6 Old 01-04-2012, 09:44 PM
 
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Sorry Mama-

Don't have much advice, just to say that my milk dried up right away when pregnant with DD2 and DD1 didn't mind and comfort nursed through the pregnancy (she was older though).  She never really  cared that nothing came out.  

 

Good luck with whatever you decide.


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#4 of 6 Old 01-05-2012, 12:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by askins View Post

On weaning DS in general, it breaks my heart to see our breastfeeding relationship end this soon.  But like I said, I have no milk.  ...
(snip)
Please help.  I'm having a lot of trouble dealing with this.  I'm excited (if surprised) about the pregnancy, but I'm very emotional about weaning my DS who I had hoped to breastfeed to 2.

I dried up during pregnancy and weaned because the dry nursing was like nails on a chalkboard for me so you'll get ZERO judgement from me about weaning.
But you don't mention pain or annoyance at nursing as an issue and you seem to be really grieving losing your nursing relationship with your little one so early.
If you don't want to wean, why not just ditch the pumping, allow him to comfort nurse whenever he wants (and get whatever milk is there) and give him formula in a cup? I would think you could just comfort nurse and not supplement at night given that many eight-month-olds STTN without feeding.
I know from experience that you don't need to have a full supply to have a nursing relationship. Breastfeeding is about more than just the milk.


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#5 of 6 Old 01-05-2012, 12:20 PM
 
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I'm sorry your stress about this is coloring your excitment. Congrats!

My milk dried up at 3 months, and DD weaned herself- she was 16 months so a bit older than yours. I wanted to nurse until two, but couldnt. I would start tapering down on feedings, supplement with the bottle, and keep bedsharing. If you want the babe out of your bed by the time the new babe arrives, Id move him later on, after nursing has stopped. We started DD in her own bed about a month ago, and she's sleeping there every night after two weeks of getting up to soothe her.

Good luck!

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#6 of 6 Old 01-17-2012, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi ladies - thank you so much for your responses and support.  They've been very helpful.  I just wanted to update you all on the situation, after a couple of weeks.

 

(1) Pumping: I took a gradual approach and pumped twice for a couple days, then once, then I went a few days and only pumped when i felt engorged and then only for about 3 minutes to take the edge off.  It only took feeling engorged twice, and I haven't pumped since. 

 

(2) Weaning: DS took to formula like a duck to water.  I don't think he's a very picky eater at all!  Once he discovered that he could have as much formula as he wanted, he quickly lost interest in my almost-empty boobs.  He was completely on formula within 3 days.  We started by mixing the frozen breastmilk in with formula, but he liked the formula so well, that we decided to save the freezer stash of BM in case he gets sick or some other emergency.  It was very natural - DS was very happy the whole time.  I didn't feel rejected by him, and he seemed to still be very attached to me, which was my chief concern.

 

(3) Comfort/going to sleep:  The first couple nights were really rough, but once he was weaned and realized he didn't want to nurse anymore, it was reasonably easy to give him a bedtime bottle while awake, then rock him to sleep (or to drowsy-but-awake).  Within a few days, he was pushing the bottle away when he was finished/tired, and then curling up in my arms and closing his eyes like it was the way we'd always done it.

 

He continued to wake every 2 hrs (+/-) even after weaning, so I did take a weekend to do some gentle, minimal-crying sleep training, based on the pick up/put down method.  After 4 or 5 cycles of pu/pd, he rolled on to his tummy and drifted off to sleep with only a few pats on the back.  He can now put himself back to sleep if he stirs in the middle of the night (miraculous), and we are down to two wakeups - one non-feeding and one with a feed.  I'm hoping he will drop the non-feeding wakeup soon, but after months of sleep deprivation, two wakeups is a DREAM!!!   The first wakeup is variable and comes as early as 10:00 and as late as 1:30.  The second (feeding) wakeup is consistent at 4am. 

 

I half wonder why we didn't try a little sleep training earlier, but (a) he was hungry for two months, for crying out loud! and (b) I have a strong feeling that he wasn't developmentally ready for it anyway.  We should be past (or passing) the nine month sleep regression now, so I'm really hoping this will stick.

 

(4) Co-sleeping: Once he weaned to the bottle and stopped asking to nurse during the day, he also stopped asking to nurse at night.  He hasn't seemed tortured by my proximity at all.  How much we co-sleep depends on when his wakeups are.  If his first wakeup is before about 12a, DH goes in and cuddles him back to sleep, and lays him back in the crib or on the futon mattress on the floor.  If he goes down on the futon, DH will stay and cuddle with him until he is asleep before sneaking back.  If his wakeup is after 12a, then i will go in and co-sleep with him for the rest of the night, otherwise, I'll go in at the 4am wakeup, when he needs significant cuddling to get back to sleep (because he feels like he has had a full night's sleep already!)  This morning he would not go back to sleep by rocking, or being bounced on the ball, or anything.  The only thing that worked was bringing him into bed with me and cuddling him close -- and it was so sweet! 

 

So all of that is to say that we continue to co-sleep or not as the sleep schedule requires/allows it.  But DS seems happier than ever, and still so attached to me, and it's such a relief for this mama!

 

And a quick update on the pregnancy: I was much farther along than I thought - nearly 17 weeks at the time of my ultrasound!  After getting over *that* new shock, and seeing DS be happy, healthy, and increasingly independent, I am more and more unabashedly excited about my new little one.

 

It seems we've navigated this bump in the road -- on to the next one!


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