|Sweet milk drunk baby|
Which is shocking, because if you had asked me that question when I was pregnant- I would've told you that I was terrified to breastfeed and had no clue how long I'd be able to do it. I was more scared of breastfeeding than I was of labor and delivery!
How do you actually do it?! How do I know if the baby is getting enough to eat?! What if he doesn't like the taste?! What if my boobs hurt?! What if I don't produce enough?!
I literally racked my brain over it the entire 9 months I was pregnant.
And with his first latch, I was quickly reminded that God is at work here. Jacob latched amazingly the very first time and we had no issues in that department.
We did, however, have issues with oversupply and a fast letdown. I can tell you during that first month, there were numerous times when I thought I was choking my baby. It was so scary to hear him choke and gag. My solution was to hand express or pump a little bit before each feeding. Enough to ease the letdown, but not start it. In other words, you want your baby to trigger the letdown not your hand. After a few weeks, my body regulated.
Soon after that, we found out Jacob had reflux and a dairy intolerance. I cut out most dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc., but I still ate foods that had dairy in it), any food that made me gassy, and spicy foods. It seemed to make a huge difference in Jacob's temperament. I slowly reintroduced those foods into my diet around the 6 month mark, and never noticed a difference.
After the first 3 months, it was smooth sailing. We continued to nurse every 2-3 hours for the first 9 months, then started on an EASY schedule (eat, activity, sleep, you time). I found this to be a huge game-changer. It helped us develop a routine/schedule, and I noticed he slept better with a more rigid schedule- he knew what to expect, etc.
Now, onto weaning...
Around the 10 month mark, I started cutting out nursing sessions. At that point, he was nursing 5x/day- morning, after morning nap, after afternoon nap, bedtime and once at night.
I started by cutting the nighttime feed, for obvious reasons. I was exhausted and he didn't need those calories. I noticed that when we stopped feeding him at night, he ate better during the day. This is obviously a huge transition for the baby and it definitely involved a lot of crying.
At 11-months, I cut the nursing after morning nap. This was super easy- just don't feed him! Hehe! I noticed that he was hungry around that time, so we just started eating lunch then. Sometimes it means that we eat a little early, but it works for us.
Around 11.5-months, I cut the nursing after his afternoon nap. This, again, was super easy. I introduced snack time at this time, and he didn't even seem phased by it!
So, if you're following...on his first birthday, I was still nursing him 2x/day- morning and night. I was really nervous about these last 2 feedings.
About 2 weeks after his birthday, I cut the morning feeding. I would've done it earlier, but he was teething like a mad man and I felt bad. I suggest doing this over a weekend when dad is around and can help. Josh went in on Saturday and Sunday with this straw cup of milk. Jacob wasn't really drinking much cow's milk at that point, but our pediatrician told us to just keep offering it. Well, just as I was told- when I didn't offer breastmilk, he made up for it with cow's milk! Thank goodness!
Then, 2 weeks after that- around his 13-month birthday, we cut the bedtime nursing. I was terrified, to say the least. We did this over the weekend again, as I expected tons of tears and knew that I could make up for lack of sleep over the weekend. Boy was I wrong! Again, he wasn't even phased! Sheesh! No tears at all. Thank GOODNESS! We did our normal bedtime routine, and when I would typically plop into the rocker and nurse him, I just passed him off to Josh. Josh rocked him for a few minutes (maybe 5) and sang a song and put him down. He literally didn't even cry. AT. ALL. Wow! I let Josh do this for the first 3 nights, and will continue to let him do it occasionally because I don't want Jacob to get used to one of us putting him down. I want him to be comfortable with anyone putting him down.
So, as of now- a few days before his 13-month birthday, he is completely off breastmilk. He hasn't totally replaced the breastmilk with cow's milk yet. My pediatrician told me he should be drinking 16-20oz of cow's milk each day, if he's getting diary elsewhere (which he is). I offer milk every time he wakes up and at meal times. And he gets water throughout the day.
Breastfeeding is such a tough journey that requires dedication and patience. If you are able to breastfeed, I seriously recommend it. You'll grow to love it, you really will.