I am a full time working mother and have breastfed my daughter exclusively for 9 months (pumping 2xs per day at work). I am ready to start slowly moving toward weaning and I'd like some suggestions for how to make that happen. I have agonized over this decision so the "I'm wondering why you want this?" kind of questioning won't be helpful to me at this point. Taking into account the total balance of my life, I feel that combining breast milk and a little formula (if needed) until she reaches one year is the right choice for me. I would actually be okay with nursing her morning and before bed beyond one year, but I just feel exhausted from being her sole nutritional source and not getting enough time to myself/with my husband.
We have had an excellent breastfeeding relationship from the start -- a little too excellent. She is VERY attached to breastfeeding and has wanted to nurse frequently from the start. When I went back to work (starting a new job with lots of travel), she started reverse cycling and would get up to nurse at night every 2 hours for the first month or two and was pretty much attached to my breast from the time I got home from work until she went to bed. Needless to say, this was exhausting, and I had to give up most aspects of my life other than working/nursing/sleeping to get through that phase. She was also quite sick (pneumonia, vomiting, coughs and colds) more than not during that phase and I feel like I'm still a little traumatized from that experience and I haven't had a chance to fully recover.
Since then, we have gradually moved to a more sustainable schedule. I feel more sane and rested but feeling that mentally and physically I can't be her sole source of nutrition for much longer -- and I''m just ready to be a human with needs of her own again. I was at a very healthy weight before pregnancy and I am 10 lbs below my pre-pregnancy weight. I have a crazy appetite and don't have time to eat as much as I need to (I eat quickly while pumping at work so I can get home more quickly to be with my daughter, nursing a lot at night and not having time to prepare dinner). I should mention that I have an amazingly supportive spouse and we're both running on empty getting life logistics handled.
Here is her currently schedule: She goes to bed at 8 p.m., gets up once or twice per night to nurse, nurses when we get up at 6:30 a.m., takes 3-4 bottles (~10 oz) per day at daycare (and I pump at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), nurses when we get home from daycare (5 p.m.) and then sometimes twice before bed (7 p.m. and 8 p.m.).
She has been eating solids since 6 months but until recently has not been a big eater compared to what I see from the other kids her age at daycare. On average, she takes in about 10 oz of breast milk at daycare, whereas she took around 12 before solids. I think this is changing slowly, so I'm hopeful. She is also slowly taking in more solids.
However...I feel like I want to cut back on pumping and start giving more bottles. I am aware this could result in a lower supply, and I'm ok with that, because I want to take it slow and make it somewhat her choice. I feel like it will be an emotional battle to get her to reduce her dependence on the breast and to acclimate myself to soothing her in other ways as well.
It seems like many women I know have gone through this process unintentionally because they didn't have time to pump enough at work, their supply dwindled, and the baby started to prefer a bottle. I'm hoping to sort of intentionally start this process and see what happens. I have no strict timelines other than wanting to cut out 1/2 pumping times at work as soon as possible.
Thanks for your thoughts!