A Night Weaning Journey
Posted on February 12th, 2013
My sweet little angel is 31 months. For those of you who don’t want to do the math, that’s around two and a half years. Some days, these two and a half years seem to have gone by in the blink of an eye. On the “black rings under the eyes” days, they have seemed to last forever. You see, I was breastfeeding Amelia on demand all day and ALL night up until about a week ago.
Let me rewind a little and let you know that we do co-sleep and that I adore breastfeeding. In fact, when our breastfeeding relationship comes to an end, I know I will shed many a tear. For the most part, breastfeeding at night was easy. She would roll over, mumble, “Bom bom mamma” (Bom-bom being her term for the breast!), and we would have a cuddle and a feed and then drift back to sleep. In the few months prior to weaning her off the breast at night, we even had an agreement. When I would say, “Mama needs to roll over and go to sleep”, she would de-latch and roll over on her own.
I imagine this pattern could have gone on for many more months….or dare I say it…years?! However, there was something in me that thought she was READY to go a full night without feeding. There was something in me that KNEW that I was ready to sleep longer, uninterrupted stretches at a time. I also knew that at two and a half, these night feeds were a habit rather than a need.
As a Breastfeeding Consultant, I was aware of the options or paths that I could follow on my night weaning journey. I recommend Dr. Jay Gordon (http://drjaygordon.com/
As a La Leche League leader, I also knew that another approach was to literally close up shop when it was dark and open up again when it was light. I felt that Amelia was old enough to be rational about it and wanted to give her a reason as to why we wouldn’t be feeding at night – we went with this route!
I will say that I was overly ambitious in my process. I actually wrote a rhyming children’s book (just 8 pages but it’s rather cute and catchy). I added pictures of Amelia and my breastfeeding journey and had everyone read it to her and discuss the pictures and concepts so that she understood what was going to happen.
The first night that I said she could not have “bom bom” was really traumatic. I was So. Very. Close to giving in and allowing her to breastfeed. I’ve never let her cry without comforting her at the breast so it was heartbreaking for both her and I…or maybe just for me. I have a feeling she was half asleep.
The second night she protested just a little. Honest-to-goodness, by the third night she was sleeping for far longer stretches and upon waking, if it was still dark, she would ask for water and a tickle (our agreement). Now, upon waking, when the sun is just barely up, she exclaims, “It’s sunny outside….time for Bom-bom”. And I, thankful for a divine night’s sleep, reply with, “Yay!…let’s do it”.
While we were ready to night-wean, I know that we are far from ready to wean altogether. I’m thankful for more sleep and am thankful she is happy to comply. But I’m most thankful that we continue on this breastfeeding journey together…loving and learning along the way!
Taya Griffin is a Mother, Homeopath and Breastfeeding Consultant.