I’m sad to be writing this but I wanted to document my journey of weaning off breastfeeding to help support other mum’s out there that are trying to stop breastfeeding. It’s a really difficult thing to do and it’s really challenging to stop breastfeeding and with it comes a whole load of mixed feelings and emotions.
Daisy is coming up to 14 months old and I decided in January that I wanted to start cutting down her breastfeeds and start to slowly wean her off completely. I made this decision based on a few different factors, I think Daisy is at the right age to start doing this, both my boys were weaned off by 13 months, Daisy now as 13 teeth and sometimes feeding can hurt a little and I also have my sister’s hen weekend coming up in March which will mean leaving Daisy from Friday to Monday which I’ve never done before. I want to be confident leaving her with James knowing that she’s not dependent on me for milk.
It’s been an eventful journey but most certainly one I’ve enjoyed and will be sad to end. The first few weeks of breastfeeding didn’t come easy, I had sore and cracked nipples from Daisy not latching on properly, you’d think having had two children previously that I would just pick it up naturally. I will most certainly say that breastfeeding is a skill that you learn and with each baby you have to start back at the beginning and lean that skill all over again.
Not only did I suffer with the pain and agony of cracked nipples but I also developed mastitis which meant a course of antibiotics for me and more agony. After all of this had settled down more breast pain developed and both me and Daisy had to have treatment for thrush. Daisy had to have oral drops and I had to have a steroid cream.
Once all the bad stuff was out of the way breastfeeding was a doddle and just became second nature, we are now 14 months in and I couldn’t be more prouder of myself for sticking it out despite what people were telling me. On many occasions people told me to switch to bottles, telling me that Daisy would be better off and would sleep better but I stuck at it and I’m so pleased I carried on.
Daisy had her very last breastfeed on the 29th January which marks her 13 month milestone, Daisy’s transitioned really well and doesn’t seem to be too bothered anymore. We now have a new routine which consists of a morning bottle of warm cow’s milk, a mid morning bottle around 11am, an afternoon bottle around 2.45pm and her last bottle of the day around 6pm when I arrive home from work.
Daisy happily sits on the rug in the kitchen and drinks her milk by herself, we then say goodnight to everyone and go up to bed, I pop her into her sleeping bag and then lay her down in her cot. Tonight she played up when I left the room so I had to ask James to settle her. He just came in the room, gave Daisy a cuddle and then settled her down, for some strange reason she just settles but if it’s me trying to settle her she just cries and cries until I give in and rock her to sleep in my arms. I think the new way forward is for James to do the bedtime routine.
I logged a diary of our final feeding journey and I hope it helps for other parents going through the same experience that we went through.
We were at the point where Daisy would have a morning breastfeed shortly after her breakfast, an evening bedtime feed to help her drop off to sleep, sometimes one at 10pm if she ever woke up and 2-3 feeds through the night to help settle her back to sleep.
On the first day of deciding to take action which was a Thursday I decided to drop the morning breastfeed first, I thought this would be an easy one to drop and keep the most important ones until last. On Thursday night Daisy had her 6pm bedtime feed as normal and another at 2am. I decided that I wouldn’t do any more feeds throughout the night after the 2am one. Daisy woke at 5am, I tried to settle her back to sleep but ended up having to leave the room with no success and had to leave her to cry it out, she got very worked up and was screaming. Daisy cried herself back to sleep 15 minutes later.
On Friday evening Daisy had a feed at 6pm and 10pm, Daisy woke at 2am, I went into her room to settle her and when I picked her up she started pulling my hair, hitting me and scratching at my face because I wouldn’t give her what she wanted, it was very hard to have to go through and my heart was breaking but I needed to stay strong and stay focused on the end goal. Daisy ended up waking up Alfie and James, in the end James had to swap roles with me and managed to settle Daisy and get her back off to sleep.
On Saturday Daisy went to bed at 7pm so had her feed at this time and then another feed at 10pm, Daisy woke once which was at 2am, our new approach was to send James in through the night and settle Daisy, this seemed to work like magic, he managed to settle her straight away with no crying and Daisy went back to sleep, all he did was pick her up, give her a cuddle and then put her back down in her cot.
On Sunday this was such a turning point for us, after months of battling to get Daisy to take a bottle I decided when I got up with Daisy at 6am to try her with a bottle again, I warmed up some full fat cow’s milk in her Tommee Tippee bottle and sat Daisy on my knee, I gave her a cuddle and had her lying in my arms. I offered her the bottle and just slightly positioned her back so that we could tip the bottle up. Daisy held the bottle herself and finally started sucking and drank the whole bottle, she loved it that much that she even polished off a 2nd bottle of milk. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see this. For a few months now we’ve tried different bottles and beakers and different types of formula. I think the winning combination is cow’s milk in a bottle with a breast like teat, beakers seemed to flow too fast and Daisy likes the comfort of sucking. For anyone trying to make the transition from breast to bottle I would probably wait until your child is 12 months old and is able to take cow’s milk, Daisy just didn’t like any formula milk I offered her. Health visitors will tell you to use a beaker but if a bottle works when make the transition then go with what works. It’s much harder to transition from breast to bottle than bottle to beaker, you can always work on moving over to a beaker at a later date.
I breastfed Daisy a little earlier than planned which was at 5pm, this was because I’d started to get engorged on my left side from dropping some of the night-time feeds. I gave Daisy the right side at 6pm just before bed and another feed at 10pm.
Daisy woke through the night at 12pm, 2am and 4am, James settled her the first 2 times and I tried to settle her at 4am which didn’t work, Daisy just screamed until James came in and settled her with no problems.
On Monday morning Daisy woke at 7am, I gave her a small bottle of warm cow’s milk and then had her porridge for breakfast. Daisy’s day time bottles were just going to be down to trial and error and we would just see what worked. Daisy had another bottle of milk at 3pm, we also give Daisy water and juice throughout the day. Daisy had her normal breastfeed at bedtime and woke twice in the night, James got up both times to settle her.
On Tuesday Daisy woke at 7 and had cow’s milk throughout the day and her breast milk for bedtime. We had a breakthrough on this day and Daisy slept through the night without waking once, the hard work was starting to pay off.
By Wednesday we were down to just 2 breast feeds (6pm and 10pm). We decided to wait until the weekend to work at dropping the 10pm feed. On Friday night when Daisy woke at 10pm James went in to settle her and she was just fine, she went straight back to sleep. We did a whole week of this and I managed to drop the 10pm feed and was just left with the 6pm bedtime feed. My advice would be to drop 1 feed per week or longer just so your body can adjust and for your milk supply to adjust.
A week later I decided to take the plunge and drop the 6pm feed, I was at a point where feeding Daisy was getting a bit uncomfortable and I knew Daisy wasn’t feeding for the milk supply, she was just using me as a comforter to aid her to sleep. I offered Daisy a bottle of warm cow’s milk just before 6pm and then took her up to bed. I popped her into her sleeping bag which she now associates with bedtime and just settled her in her cot. I say goodnight to her, give her a kiss and then walk out the room. Daisy now settles herself to sleep and is finally sleeping through the night, she will go to bed at 6pm and wakes around 6.45pm. I can’t tell you what a great feeling it is to now have Daisy sleeping through the night.
After 3 days of stopping Daisy’s final breastfeed I started to experience a lot of discomfort and was starting to get engorged. Every time the pain got too much I would express a little bit of milk out with a manual breast pump, just enough to make myself more comfortable. The body works on a supply and demand system so I always tried to take out as little as possible, day 4 I reduced the amount of milk I expressed until my body realized that the demand was no longer there. The most uncomfortable days for me were days 4, 5 and 6. After day 8 everything had gone back to normal and felt fine. There is no harm in expressing a bit of milk if it helps to make you feel more comfortable, my advice would be to express and then reduce the amount of time you spend expressing.
I hope my breastfeeding journey’s helped, I remember feeling like there was no end in sight and that I would be breastfeeding for many more months, I think once you have a plan of action, run with it, be strict and stick at it. There are hard times ahead and I won’t lie, seeing Daisy screaming and lashing out was not easy and was quite upsetting but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I wish you every success if you’re a breastfeeding mum trying to make the transition from breast to bottle and I’m here to help and support if you ever want to contact me.
Sorry this was a lengthy blog post, thank you for getting this far and sticking around until the end.
Thanks for reading