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"How I Weaned My Baby"

Vera Skinner, mom of Taylor, 2
Hometown: Baltimore, MD

How breastfeeding went: I didn't have any problems, and I loved the opportunity to bond with Taylor¿ -- holding her close and nourishing her were among my favorite parts of being a mom. (A nice bonus: It helped me lose post-baby weight.)

When I weaned: I started at six months, and the process took three weeks. I wish I could've continued nursing longer. I pumped for two weeks after I went back to my job as a teacher but couldn't keep it up¿ -- my schedule doesn't allow enough breaks.

How I did it: I started with a bottle at her first morning feeding because it was usually the shortest; after eating only two ounces, she'd go back to sleep. After four days, I substituted her next feeding with a bottle too. Every few days, I'd replace another breastfeeding with a bottle. After a couple of weeks, my husband, Dorsey, began to give Taylor bottles too. It gave him a chance to experience that closeness I'd felt, and I wanted Taylor to get used to being fed by someone other than me, since I'd be going back to work. The evening feeding was the last one I gave up because it allowed us some time to relax together before settling down for the night.

The first time I bottle-fed: Taylor kept turning toward my chest and rooting with this frustrated look on her face. It was hard not to give her what she wanted when she seemed to be pleading with me to breastfeed. I warmed the bottle nipple in the hopes that it would feel more like my breast, and I just slid it into her mouth and held her close. Thankfully, she took it and didn't fuss much after that.

How I felt: Weaning actually caused more anxiety for me than it did for Taylor. I kept thinking I wasn't doing the best thing for my baby. I worried about how she'd be affected by formula. (At first, we put expressed breast milk in her bottles, but as my supply dwindled, we had to introduce formula.) I missed the emotional connection too¿ -- my breasts literally ached for Taylor when they got engorged at work.

A low moment: About a week after she started on formula, she developed a terrible diaper rash. I immediately thought, "If only I'd tried harder to pump, this wouldn't have happened!" I kept thinking I'd failed as a mom. Fortunately, Dorsey assured me that not breastfeeding didn't have any effect on what kind of mother I was. My friends also helped me realize that I shouldn't be so hard on myself.

What I'd do differently: I would've started pumping right after giving birth so I'd have more breast milk stored up.

Words of wisdom: Get help¿ -- don't be afraid to turn to friends or a lactation consultant for advice and support.

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