Raissa and Idrees' story -
Weaning from the breast at two years
Having gone through a loss at 20 weeks gestation in my first pregnancy, when I got pregnant with Idrees, my main goal was to give birth to a healthy baby. While pregnant with Idrees, I knew I wanted to breastfeed and was made aware of the struggles that could come with it, so after birth I gave myself small goals:
Getting the right latch....
6 months...And so on...
Raissa and Idrees at Raissa's Graduation
By this time, I thought “I can do this for a year...”, which I did!
At this point, I started introducing cow’s milk as he was going to nursery while I went to work.
I was a little worried that I couldn’t carry on BF due to work but the part time schedule allowed me to carry on as I only dropped one mid morning feed. I did feel some engorgement while at work but after a few days it started to settle and my body understood that baby didnt “need” that feed.
By 14-16 months of age he was having 2-3 feeds a day plus the night time feeds as I was co-sleeping. It was around that time that I fell pregnant and thought “Should I carry on, or stop?”
In all honesty I didn’t want to stop because I was enjoying it and it was my time with him.
So I decided to carry for as long as I could.
From the very beginning, the maximum that I would BF would be 2 years.
As Idrees would turn 2 at the same time as my baby was due, I made a decision that I would need to start to wean him off before baby comes and have a small gap between the two babies.
It all started when he was around 18 months... My main issue was the night feeds as he was waking up 2-3 times for comfort feeding. I started to tackle that by slowly introducing water during the night and offer it to him at least once. He didn’t take it for the first day or two but after a few days of persistence he started to have some water at night and would go back to sleep straight away.
It started to become part of his routine, so much so that when he woke up in the morning he would ask for water first and then have a quick morning feed.
After a week or so the same started happening at bedtime. He would ask for water first and then have his feed to sleep.
These small signs indicated to me that water in a beaker could be the solution to wean him off BF. As he was ok with having water at night time, I decided to stop all the middle of the night feeds (not the bed time one at this point). This didn’t go well as it made him want me even more and I would sometimes wake up to 4 times in the night.
That is when I started to introduce my husband in the picture. We started by preparing his own room and new bed for Idrees. My husband would be co sleeping with him and would carry out the night time routine with Idrees. We decided that I wouldn’t be involved so Idrees knew that I wasn’t there to give him any feeds.
Idrees responded well to my husband taking over night time routine and allowed them to create a stronger bond. We bought a specific bottle for him for the night time milk so he would recognise it as bedtime.
In the first night it took 20-30 mins for him to settle and understand that mummy wasn’t coming and eventually he fell asleep.
Majority of time there wasn’t crying. Just some tossing and turning.
For the middle of the night at this point we noticed that he would ask for water so we carried on with that as well as a spare bottle of milk in case he needed it.
At first he would ask for both water and milk and would only wake up to drink either or both and fall back straight to sleep.
This was huge for us as he was completely off feeds during the night and bed time.
After 1-2 weeks, he was only on water during the night and didn’t need his milk except before bed time.
At this point, Idrees was only feeding at nap time and occasionally he would ask for comfort feed in the late afternoon.
I was able to drop the comfort feeding by distracting him with toys or something else.
But the nap feed was a bit more tricky. Before starting that weaning process I wanted to make sure that weaning off night time feeds was established.
It worked out that when I was planning to stop the nap feed, we were out and about for a few consecutive days at around his nap time. This led him to fall asleep in the car rather than breastfeeding.
As a family, we also decided that on the weekends my husband would take over nap time too so he understood that Mummy wasn’t here for the afternoon nap.
So the same thing happened as night time routine.
He would go to his room have his bottle and my husband would lay next to him. Once Idrees was finished with the beaker my husband would tell him that it is nap time. He would lay next to his dad and sleep.
This worked well in the weekend. When I had to take over nap time while my husband was working, I repeated the steps and he seemed to have understood. He had his beaker with milk and once he was done, he would give it to me and lay on my chest to nap.
I was concerned that if he was too close to me he would want to BF but he didn’t.
I breastfed Idrees until 22 months and it was the best thing I did.
I noticed that if I stopped any earlier than this, it wouldn’t work and neither of us was ready to stop that journey. It was an act that I thoroughly enjoyed and fortunately I didn’t have major issues apart from having mastitis a few times - looking back at it, it seems something so small in my BF journey.
In summary, perseverance, routine and patience was essential for my positive BF and weaning experience; and knowing when it is the right time for you and your child to start that process.
Samia and Kulsum's story -
Establishing breastfeeding after a difficult start
When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed and was maybe a bit naïve to think it would come naturally. We are all told it is natural so why wouldn’t this be? I also was not able to go to any antenatal classes so didn’t know any hold except from the classic cradle hold.
Anyway, baby was born and I was told she had jaundice. I was told to keep feeding her to flush it out but nobody was looking at my latch to see if she was actually feeding. Discharged and re-admitted on Day 5 as the jaundice hadn’t gone yet. Day 12/13 re-admitted again as her weight loss was 14%.
I was very persistent on breastfeeding and asked each feed to be checked as she was latching on and off again. I was able to leave the hospital in the morning as long as we agreed to a feeding plan. 30 mins on breast and top up with expressed milk and formula.
So I did that when we got home and got in touch with Mammas and La Leche League, and both came out to check the latch and help me out. I was also referred to the Infant Feeding team as the Health Visitor said if birth weight is not reached by four weeks she would have to go on formula. That weigh in was the most tense moment. She had finally reached it after 4 weeks.
Around the three weeks mark I was getting tired and doubting my supply as comments were being passed re supply but I was just trying my best to ignore. I knew I could pump and feed, but I had mixed emotions about that.
Anyway after the four week weigh in I had a few more times when I thought it wasn’t going well and I did ask Mammas for another home visit. She’s now on the 50th centile, for someone who started out not being on the graph at all, and I know I couldn’t have done it without outside help.
I would say looking back I wish I had ignored the comments of ‘Oh, she can’t be hungry again?!’, as it was thought she should go 3 hours without a feed, but breastfeeding is on demand, not by the clock.
And yes, it does get easier. Made it to one year and couldn’t be happier!