“Are you kidding me? I would never breastfeed my children. Breastfeeding is such a hassle.” That was my reaction before I had children of my own, because I saw my friends going through an inconvenience that I personally felt was too much.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve been breastfeeding both my boys for six years straight and still counting…and I will be breastfeeding my 3rd baby very soon! YAY!
My firstborn self-weaned at the age of 35 months, after I had given birth to my second boy. I’m really glad that I decided to let him choose to self-wean instead of weaning him intentionally.
I actually had the intention to wean him off during my second pregnancy. It was not the best experience to breastfeed when expecting, as there was hardly any milk flow. It was basically dry nursing. Sometimes, it was very painful when he suckled for too long. At times, I had to really endure the soreness and was close to tears when he started to suckle. I felt like asking him to stop immediately.
I did attempt for a few nights to stop him from nursing, hoping he would completely stop. He did stop for a while, but I could see sadness and disappointment on his face when I said no to him. Being a toddler at that time, he seemed to understand and he tried to sleep without nursing, but I saw him tossing and turning, struggling to fall asleep.
My heart ached when I saw that moment. He wanted to nurse so badly, but at the same time, he understood that I was in pain.
I could feel him trying to get as close to me as possible. He requested a few times, “Mummy, can I drink milk?” I gave him the same negative response each time.
After few days of trying, I finally gave in. I surrendered. I just could not bear the sight of him struggling internally anymore.
He was not READY to be weaned yet.
And when I asked myself if I was ready to wean him off, I realised I was not. I missed the connection, the way he held onto me and the closeness that we had when he was nursing.
I missed all those moments.
The day I surrendered and resumed nursing him, I felt relieved. It felt selfish to have that intention to begin with. (I am tearing as I am writing this article.) The first night after I resumed nursing him, he fell asleep in my arms so quickly. I sensed the trust and security he felt when he was with me. That was the best mother and child moment for me.
I was ignorant that the real reason he wanted to nurse was not because he wanted milk, but he was in fact seeking connection with me, especially since I was still working full-time.
I feel that he can sense there is another little baby inside me and he will need to “share” me with another person. That is why he was trying to get as much attention as he could.
After giving birth to my second boy, the elder is still nursing for a about a week or so. I still remember the sight of breastfeeding 2 children at the same time. It is such an amazing moment that I still miss till today.
2 boys in my arms - that is the best comfort and security a mum can give to their children. This mum and children bonding is indescribable. You have to experience it to really know the feeling.
I know that when I breastfeed my elder boy, I am giving him a security that he needed as he is still adapting the new family dynamic with the additional member. This is the time where he can still feel the closeness to me and have the one to one moment with me.
After a week into my confinement, my elder boy decided that he had enough of breastfeeding. During sleeping time, he just doze off next to me without requesting for nursing. Initially, I thought that he was too tired but these continue for few nights. The only thing he requested for is back rub which he always does.
It seems that he is ready to wean off himself. There is no sign at all… no signal to even prepare me… He is now ready to wean off but I am NOT READY!
I beg him to nurse but he refused and he just go into the dreamland so easily after I gave him a back rub… Oh my… I really missed that moment. How I wished he could just nurse for a couple months more.
When he eventually self-weaned, everything happened so naturally. There was no crying, no tantrums and no disappointment.
Now with my second born who is still nursing while I am expecting the third one now, I let him choose to wean off himself.
I am really glad that I have chosen to let my children to self-wean rather than forcing it through. Along the journey, there are plenty of criticism from friends and even family members on my decision to breastfeed beyond one year old.
There are a few reasons why I decide to let my children self-wean breastfeeding :
1. Both my boys and I enjoy the mother and child bonding time during the breastfeeding moments. Breastfeeding is more than providing nutrients to the child. It is the connection and security that a mum is giving to a child
2. After my attempt to wean off my elder boy, I notice sign of anxiety in my boy (he actually have a mild teeth grinding). That gave me a cue that forcing a child when he is not ready will cause anxiety.
3. I AM NOT READY! I still want my boys to be as close to me as possible.
Despite criticism from various parties, I still firmly stood my ground to do what I believe to be the best for my children. I am the mother for my children and I have every right to decide what I want for them as do you, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
If you’re having any challenges with breastfeeding or deciding whether to wean your child and want a safe place to ask your questions, we encourage you to seek the consultation of a certified lactation consultant (https://jenlia2u.com/) or join the La Leche League meetups at RGB. They meet once a month and the next meetings are 10am on 11th February, 4th March and 1st April. Or feel free to ask any question in the ibu Family Resource Group Facebook page.