Story Time - The Drama Behind Breastfeeding

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This week,  I’ll touch on a topic that might be taboo to some, but it’s a reality that some mothers might have faced or might face in the future. Below, you’ll find a story about my experience with breastfeeding and some facts about it too!

I had NO IDEA that weaning Edith, my daughter, from breastfeeding was going to be such a challenge. It’s been exactly one month since we embarked on this weaning journey and I can confidently say that it’s FINALLY over.  

I loved breastfeeding! For the past two years, the bond I felt with Edith during our feedings was unparalleled. We would gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes and as she would fall asleep, oxytocin would flow through my veins. We started calling it “leches” and this quickly became “chi chi’s”. First it was cute, but then it faded. She started to become more demanding for the “chi chi’s”. She couldn’t fall asleep without it, woke up through the night needing it and even said, “bye chi chi’s” as she left. She was a toddler, and I was her “chi chi’s”.

Feedings got creepy, as she would go back and forth from one breast to the other.  I started becoming resentful, frustrated and tired from 2 years without a full night's rest. I was done. Just like a smoker trying to quit, I set a date. March 29th.  Edith and I got tickets to Chicago with a plan to leave her with my mother while I take off for the weekend. We called it the “chi chi detox” and started planting the seed with her for a month before our quit date.  

We landed in Chicago on March 26 and that night I just stopped. I don’t know what came over me but I did it, and she HATED it, particularly during the night. During the days she was fine. We successfully replaced daytime feedings with gum, treats and other distractions. She took to cows milk in a bottle and drank an uncomfortable amount. I decided not to leave her with mom because she was inconsolable at night and it didn’t feel right.

My boobs were beautifully but painfully engorged and my mood was down from the sudden drop in prolactin. I came down with the weaning flu and vomited one night and without the strength to open a bottle. Edith and I were miserable.

Back to Portland and ten days into weaning, we still weren’t sleeping. It took a month of sleepless nights, but we did it!  She sleeps through the night, my body has returned and we can cuddle without expectation on her part. This is a new chapter, and I feel free.

My advice to those weaning: read through La Leche League International’s information on weaning and however you wean, be flexible with the plans and ask for help; consecutive sleepless nights are not cool.

Benefits of Breastfeeding - According to the CDC, breastfed babies have a lower risk of:

  • Ear infections

  • Asthma

  • Diabetes Type 2

  • Gut infections (vomiting/diarrhea)

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Eczema

  • Obesity

  • Respiratory infections

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Benefit to Mothers:

  • Lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers

  • Diabetes Type-2

  • High blood pressure

How long to Breastfeed:

The American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed for 6 months, followed by breastfeeding in combination with appropriate foods up to 1-2 years and beyond.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK52687/

  2. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/faq/index.htm