A Natural End To Our Breastfeeding Relationship

I certainly never imagined nursing my 4.5 year old!  Come on- he would be old enough to ask for it, have teeth and be eating full-fledged food for cyring out loud!

But here we are, and just a few days ago Owen climbed up onto the couch and asked to nurse.  He is four and a half.  My husband Kris had been away all week and I knew Owen was missing him.

Before this, I think the last time Owen nursed was about a month ago.  He had a significant cut on his leg and was in pain.  Breastmilik is an analgesic and it is always the first thing I offer when one of my children are hurt or sick.

I also have a daughter, Sydney, who is 2.5 and nurses much more frequently- multiple times each day.  I have never scheduled either of my children’s nursing sessions or even noticed the time when they latch on.  This is surprising because I am a “type A” personality who does not typically go with the flow (pun fully intended).  Early on though, Owen taught me that he would tell me when he was hungry or needed comfort, and for whatever reason it clicked, and I understood.

I am now noticing though that each month the frequency of nursing sessions becomes less- slowly both of my children are self weaning. I thought I would feel more sadness about this, but I think a sense of loss can come from regret, and with this particular choice I have none. The process has been so natural for us.  I have not forced anything on my children and we have followed nature’s intent.

I read accounts of moms who know their last nursing session when they sit down to it, which is sort of nice.  I don’t think it will be like that for us though,  I think one day  I will notice that it has been six months since Owen has nursed and realize that he must be done.  And that the same will happen with Sydney.

And this is exactly the sort of transition that is right for my children and I.  None of us like good-byes and we tend not to make a celebration out of things.  A natural and undetermined ending to this relationship seems fitting.

15 Replies to “A Natural End To Our Breastfeeding Relationship”

  1. When my daughter’s nursing slowed down like that, I started marking them on my calendar, and sometimes trying to remember little details about them. I knew that I would want to remember our last nursing session, so this was my strategy for doing it! And it worked!

    • Alicia,

      I LOVE this idea. I am going to start doing this. I have been poor (at best) at keeping a baby book and have no photographs. This and a mother’s milk necklace are how I will mark the relationship. Thank you so much for visiting 🙂

      • What is a mothers milk necklace? I’d love to make one or get one…I will miss nursing!

  2. “To wean” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “Ripen.” And who knows at what moment a fruit became ripe? It’s a natural, organic process. I love your self knowledge and connection to your children. This was more my approach to weaning as well. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Dr. Laura,

      Interesting about the word wean- it kind of changes everything 🙂 It is sort of comical because I have had an “approach” to everything else in life, but breastfeeding has always been led by my children. I am truly not sure how this happened except that I knew completely that my baby would be as comfortable as I could make him. It has provided huge growth both personally and in my relationship with my children.

      Thanks so much for hosting and visiting!

  3. I love how naturally your weaning is happening. I had truly thought ours would be the same so I was very sad when my daughter started biting hard at the end of every session. I am hopeful that my son’s weaning will be slow and natural in this way. I guess only time will tell.

    @Alicia – I love the idea of writing it down on the calendar and details you want to remember. It all slips by so quickly and I often wonder how many beautiful details I have already forgotten. I am going to try and remember this tip!

    • Gwen,

      I hope that your son’s weaning process has a more comfortable ending 🙂 I love Alicia’s idea too and am going to start doing it myself.

  4. With models like you, let’s hope some mothers in the future do think about weaning over years instead of months!

    Here’s to type A’s and our perseverance against the flow…because the flow is actually against listening to your baby’s needs.

    • Jessica,

      We get so bogged down in all the irrelevant stuff around it that it sometimes makes it hard to hear what our babies needs are, doesn’t it? So often (even still) I have to consciously stop myself to focus on what I am missing. And when I figure it out it changes everything. I am so glad that you stopped by!

  5. I love that your husband was so supportive in the beginning. Dads make such a huge difference in making us more comfortable with fulfilling our child’s needs.

    • I agree Gretchen. I think if more Dad’s knew just how they could make things successful they would appreciate it. I think it can be really confusing for them in the beginning. Thanks for coming by 🙂

  6. I really like the slant you’ve taken with this – that your family isn’t good with goodbyes and it will be more natural not to mark the occasion. Whenever I think about weaning (The! Big! Day!), I fret. But our natural progression – this gradual diminishing of nursing sessions – that has been normal. Thank you for reminding me that we don’t need to make weaning a momentous *day* – it’s simply the closing of a beautiful chapter.

    • Dionna,

      I was glad to have this realization because I too thought that I had to be sure to note when we had ended. Realizing that we all end differently took lots of pressure off! T

  7. Your first paragraph sounded like me when I was pregnant with my first. I had the attitude of well, it’s free and good for the baby so I’ll try I guess.
    Neither of my girls ever did the go a week or a month and then ask again. I think maybe toward the end they would skip one day, maybe two here and there, but once it had been 3-4 days I knew. We never really celebrated or marked the occasion in any way, I just know vague dates for each one, not the exact date/time/place. I didn’t really want to know.