Weaning Scout – Post 2
I shared the decision to stop breastfeeding at the start of weaning and at the time I’d dropped one breastfeed a day. Although I was not entirely sure where to start, dropping individual feeds seemed like the best place to start and it turned out to be a great method for me as I did not struggle with engorged breasts throughout the process. It took about five weeks for me to get down to the last feeds and, when I’d stopped, it felt like a natural and almost uneventful moment in our lives; perhaps learning that Scout actually had far more food allergies than we had originally thought, in the same week I had intended to have my last feed, helped me accept that I did my best and that we’d made the best decision. It Might seem strange that I say ‘we’ when I speak about feeding but I have always felt that Wesley played an active and supportive role in my breastfeeding journey as he had to learn to bottle feed her (with stored breast milk) when I returned to work in June; he was also tasked with introducing formula to her when we learnt of her food allergies and donated our frozen supply of breastmilk. We found that it was easier for him to give her a bottle because she seemed to fuss less when she could not smell the milky goodness on me. It’s important to acknowledge the role that dads play in feeding, which is often thought to be a mother’s role in a child’s life. Now that Scout is solely on formula Wes helps by getting her bottles ready for the night, sticking one in the bottle warmer so that it’s ready for her 2am feed. We now take turns supervising her nighttime feeds which has been a great relief for me as I was solely responsible for her nighttime feeds when I was breastfeeding. I now get to rest a little more and don’t have consecutive nights of broken sleep. She has responded well to the formula and I find that she stays fuller for longer as well. These are some of the logistics around transitioning to formula feeds but what I would like to share with you in this post is some of the physical and emotional changes I was not prepared for once Scout was fully weaned.
The change in hormones affected my mood.
I became incredibly irritable and grumpy and even felt feelings of dread; my anxiety, which I have always lived with, seemed to be at its worst as I started feeling really sad and worried all of the time. I tried to exercise and pray through it but I was really struggling with my emotions as my thoughts would take me to the worst case in every scenario. Apparently post-weaning depression is common but it is something that I was not prepared for. I cried often, and not for the reasons I was told I would as I did not feel that Scout and I struggled too much with separation anxiety; perhaps my hormonal response was my body’s way of adjusting to no longer feeding but it was honestly the worst time I went through as a mom. These feelings lasted for around four weeks and it was the nudge that I needed to seek professional help to deal with my anxiety as a whole.
I felt guilty for overeating.
I expected that when I’d stopped breastfeeding, that my appetite would lessen but, in reality, the opposite happened. I was hungry all of the time and could not stop myself from eating. I had not realised how much my body had been starved of nutrition while I’d cut out food groups because of Scout’s food allergies. In hindsight, I should probably have stopped breastfeeding when she was six months old but I do not regret continuing for the four additional months as I felt satisfied that I’d done all that I could have for her; I really wanted to breastfeed and feel that we were blessed to have a 10 month journey together. Anyway, I felt really guilty when turning to the pantry or fridge for the fifth or sixth time for an afternoon snack. I’ve since adjusted my diet and my attitude which has helped me to make better food choices. I can feel my body healing and strengthening as the weeks go by.
I had stomach cramps and lower back pain
I’ve barely struggled with menstrual pain, even as a teenager I’d get through my monthly cycle without it affecting my ability to cope with my day. I have had friends struggle with terrible menstrual cramps over the years and could only understand what they were speaking about when my body readied itself for the first menstrual cycle since I gave birth to Scout. Some moms have regular menstrual cycles even though they are breastfeeding and some of us don’t. I will admit that I am not ready to have the red sister make her monthly appearance but I have accepted that it is part of the next chapter in my journey as a mom. I just hope that the pain and cramps subside as my body resets itself.
I had to find other ways to bond with Scout
This was the easy part of weaning. As mentioned, we were down to one breastfeed a day so it was not a sudden disruption in her routine when I dropped the final feed. I had noticed, though, that she wanted to be close to me and so I made a conscious effort to hold her tightly when I give her the bottle. Apart from feeding, I now make time to lay with her snuggled up against me, even when she is not ready to sleep. I sing to her, tickle her belly and play silly games when we cuddle and I believe it has helped us both since we have detached physically from one another. I witnessed a mom share her skin to skin time with her toddler on Instagram and it reminded my that the physical time is as important for a growing child as it is for a newborn in their first weeks of life so I often undress Scout before her bathtime and remove my t-shirt and spend a few moment breathing her in. I love that our bodies get to be close in a new way and I’ve appreciated that weaning has been a pleasant experience for our family.
These days, I am able to eat my gluten-free bread, enjoy a glass of wine on occasion and am free to eat what I want, which has freed some of the guilt I would sometimes feel for wanting my body to take care of itself (only). I feel blessed to have had a beautiful breastfeeding journey (even through the challenges) and am thrilled that Scout continues to thrive and grow while she eats her little meals and drinks her ridiculously priced hypoallergenic formula.
Moms, what were your experiences when weaning your baby? I would love to read your responses. And to all my loyal readers, dads and those who are not parents, I appreciate you sharing in my journey and hope that you’ve taken something away from this post. I would love to know your thoughts, too! So feel free to leave a comment.
Until my next post,