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Thread: Slowly weaning 9 month old

  1. #1

    Default Slowly weaning 9 month old

    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!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Slowly weaning 9 month old

    Welcome to the forum! I won't ask you why you want to wean, because you said not to. But I do wonder what you are trying to achieve? I know that's sort of the same question, albeit in different phrasing! The reason I think it matters is that if you're thinking that weaning will make the baby less clingy or less dependent, or make her sleep better... Well, it probably won't! I personally thought of nursing as my mommy superpower- the one tool I had that could always soothe a hurt or defuse a tantrum or get a cranky, hyper kid to sleep. So I hate to think of anyone throwing away their superpower if it won't make their life easier!

    When you want to cut back on pumping, he's how you do it:
    - Remove 1 pumping session from your day.
    - Wait several days (or longer) for supply to adjust downwards.
    - If you get uncomfortable while waiting for supply to decrease, either hand express or pump just enough milk to restore comfort, leaving the breast fairly full.
    - Watch yourself carefully for plugged ducts and symptoms of mastitis; either one can crop up while weaning is occurring.
    - Once your supply has reduced itself, repeat the steps above until you have eliminated as many sessions as desired.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Slowly weaning 9 month old

    Mostly, I'm trying to achieve more freedom and more time to myself. Now, I really can't (comfortably) meet a friend after work or go for a run (without pumping before and after, which doesn't feel like freedom to me and takes a lot of time).

    I travel (day trips) on a weekly basis for work and it's a constant and serious hassle to find places to pump, to arrange meetings around pumping times, etc. I have had opportunities to travel overnight for really interesting conferences and meetings, and I always have to pass because I'm not willing to leave my baby overnight.

    Also, I do not want to nurse into toddlerhood, so I'd prefer to wean before my daughter really understands what nursing is and that she wants it.

    I appreciate your thoughts about the "superpower" - I too feel this way but I think if I continue to nurse her several times per day I will have enough of a milk supply to be able to pull that out when I need it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Slowly weaning 9 month old

    I know you asked for weaning advice, but I'm going to throw out a few ideas that might enable you to get some of what you want without needing to risk your superpower. While nursing a few times per day is definitely better than complete weaning, it's still going to mean less supply and that can be a big disincentive for a baby when it comes to nursing.

    Regarding interesting conferences, would it be possible to take the baby with you for overnight trips? Have a family member or babysitter accompany you so that you can attend the conference, and then you get the baby back overnight. I like this idea because weaning doesn't always mean you're going to be more comfortable leaving your baby. It means your baby won't need you as a food source, but it can still be really hard to just leave the baby behind.

    At 9 months, you could probably meet a friend after work without having to pump. That is, if supply is the primary concern, because while your supply might take a one-time hit your baby could probably nurse it back up in no time. If discomfort is the concern, then you might be able to run to a restroom or something and do a quick round of hand expression or manual pumping, taking out just enough milk to restore comfort before heading back to the table or the bar or the movie or whatever.

    If none of the above seems like it will work for you, then I stand by the weaning suggestions I made in my previous post. Go slow, watch yourself for mastitis/plugged ducts, be flexible with your goals and timelines, and you'll do just fine!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    COUGARTOWN Baby! From here on in!

    Default Re: Slowly weaning 9 month old

    OK. Hi. So really and truly, we are only talking about you being her sole nutrition for another 12 weeks. Do you think you can stick it out for 12 more weeks?
    The thing is between 9 and 10 months a LOT of women hit a pump slump. That's where they all of a sudden hit a wall. And really and truly have to UP their pumping just to maintain the same amount of milk. So I want to ask how many times a day are you actually pumping? Is it three? If you cut it to two would that be enough cutting to get you through mentally for the next 12 weeks? Because I think there is real danger in cutting your supply now because it won't be something you can control. Where as women who have been nursing a year have a MUCH MUCH easier time with what you are talking about. The nursing only in the morning and to bed at night.
    The other thing is that if you make it to the year point, because of how much more control you have over your supply, you can then pump wean very quickly. Like you cut one session a week and if you are pumping three times a day than BAM pump weaned in 3 weeks. If you go ahead and cut one session now, then at that point we are talking about it only taking two weeks to cut out pumping completely.
    There are so many reasons to allow yourself to be your childs sole source of nutrition until the year point. And IMO one of them is never having to buy or use formula. A lot can change in the next 3 months. Especially in terms of solids nutrition. You MAY find that you are able to cut back the one session simply BECAUSE of how much more solids she picks up between here and 12 months.
    I think that being completely pump weaned by will reduce a LOT of the pressure you are feeling. Also I know that my child who I was home with for 14months but who I was hypervigilant about solids with, started going to daycare at 14months. So we went from being home and nursing on demand to BAM I was gone 8.5-10 hours a day every day. And he was able to take solids and drink water while away from me and nurse on demand while together. I never ever had to pump. So I really think that once you hit that year thresh hold and have pump weaned your life and how much freedom you have to run and go out after work will open up tremendously. I want to encourage you to do what you need to to hang on for 12 weeks. Do you have a freezer stash? If you cut out one session a day would your freezer stash get you through that amount of time?

    Way too lazy for formula

  6. #6

    Default Re: Slowly weaning 9 month old

    Your daughter's age is only 9 months. This is too early for weaning. Try not to wean this year. Your daughters comfort comes first than your job. I think I made my point.

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