I’ve reached that stage in my parenting journey where I have gained some experience with night weaning.
Man, even writing the words “night weaning” fills my body with dread.
Not that I’ve had a terribly difficult journey, all things considered.
Thanks to my milk drying up due to a second pregnancy, weaning my 19-month-old son has been happening gradually in our household.
First, it was less during the day, then none during the day, then less at night, and now only putting him down at night and maybe once during the night or in the early morning.
So, compared to the many mamas out there who are still nursing their 18-month-olds, two-year-olds, three, four, or five-year-olds (yep, you all are doing the right thing for you), do I really have anything to complain about?
Well, in all honesty, I’ve hit a wall.
Many moms ask me lately if it hurts to breastfeed now, as I have no milk. Sometimes it does, yes. Mostly just when he latches, then it’s more uncomfortable. I don’t have any bleeding and know I’m not doing damage to my breasts, but it’s more the intense emotional feeling of not wanting to breastfeed anymore.
Honestly, the only feeling I can liken it to, and this is sad to admit, is the feeling of having sex with someone when you don’t really want to.
And I have done that on more than one occasion. It’s a feeling of betraying your body, of knowing this is not what you want to be doing deep down inside. You know it’s time to change, and yet out of compassion, pity, exhaustion, you keep pushing past the feeling. You deny it, ignore it, subvert it, and sometimes (increasingly in my case), listen to it.
What follows in our house is usually a tearful meltdown.
Luckily, my partner has been sleeping with us again which is a huge help. After we try to console him with touch, soothers, and lullabies, Papa will take him out of the room for a walk around the house. Usually when he comes back, he’s calmed down and I can get him to sleep without the boob. Lately, he’s been “sleeping through the night” (aka waking but not needing the boob to fall back asleep after), which I am grateful for.
It’s been a shock to realize I never thought I would have these kinds of feelings toward breastfeeding.
I loved breastfeeding my son, Zaeden, it gutted me that I couldn’t anymore. But I also know my body is conserving energy for baby number two. I’m also grateful that Zaeden and I have many ways we maintain a deep connection—like lovely snuggles in the morning, reading time cuddles on the couch, and bath time.
I’m not looking for advice on this.
This is all to say that night weaning is hard. And if you’re going through it right now, I see you.
No matter what age or stage you are in.
Also, if you never night wean, that’s great too!
For myself, motherhood is a journey of listening to and honouring my body, boundaries, and needs at a time where I am perhaps giving the most to another.
I have found that the two are inseparable: the more I show up for my son, the more I need to tune in to my own needs and desires. When giving him my breast no longer feels like it’s full of love, I know it’s time for a change.
How has your night weaning journey gone, mama?
How do you feel about saying no to your little one?
How do you feel about setting boundaries in general?
Like so many things in motherhood, we only gain true experience of something after we have gone through it. Throw your judgements and assumptions out the window, tune in to your own experience, own it, and go from there.
With love, all challenges can be overcome.
Now I’ll head back to putting lotion on my sore breasts!