Business Travel & Breastfeeding
I so enjoy the blog–thanks for all you do.
I have a 15-month old that I’m still nursing a couple times a day. Mostly at night before bed (if I’m putting him to bed) and right when he wakes up since it’s usually far earlier than we actually want to get up. Then it’s maybe one other time during the day unless we’re home all day together in which case we do nurse more frequently.
The main time he asks for it is after he’s been at daycare for most of the day and we’re ‘reuniting’, if you will. The main time I offer it is in the morning so I can doze for another half hour in my bed! I’m curious as to how you and/or other moms went about weaning? I’m not a cold turkey kind of a mom, so I’m unsure of how long one would recommend taking–a couple weeks? a couple months? I am not sure of where to start–with the one that will be most difficult for him or for me? We don’t have any pressing issues for it, btw–just a need for me to eventually do some work travel this year so I want to think ahead. Lastly, any clever ideas for what to do at 5:30am when he is ready for 1st breakfast and we’re just not ready to be fully functioning yet?
So even though I have two children, and I breastfed both of those children for as long as circumstances allowed, I’m not sure my “weaning experiences” will be very helpful to anyone. And I don’t really have much weaning knowledge beyond my personal experiences, because both of my children weaned looooong before it ever hit a point where I had to go, “Hmm, I think I would like to be done with breastfeeding. How exactly does one DO THAT?”
With Noah, my always-craptastic supply dried up around five months or so. Pumping, supplements, etc. were no match for my returning to work and Noah’s growing disinterest in anything other than the bottle. I offered him the boob one morning, he took one or two sucks and pulled off in fury — there was just nothing there, and though I tried again that afternoon and night, he would only turn his head and refuse to latch on. And we were done.
With Ezra, weaning was not even on my radar at all when he, too, started gradually losing interest in the undertaking. I figured we were into nursing for a relatively long haul, and was so focused on trying to find solutions to his nasty little biting habit that I didn’t notice that he was cutting out nursing sessions at a somewhat alarming rate, and nursing for shorter and shorter periods in between. I thought it was a phase and kept going, kept offering. Finally it dawned on me: My baby was weaning. I felt a bit panicked and sad and went through a few days of pretending that no! Phase! And I went back to artificial supply-boosting measures (fenugreek, Mother’s Milk tea, pumping) to keep things going until he snapped out of said phase.
He never snapped out of it, and finally — I don’t remember exactly how long my denial went on for — I realized that I would much, MUCH rather have my baby make the decision now, when he was ready, than…well, any other scenario I could think of that involved me withholding it or me getting sick or otherwise having to force him to wean, for whatever reason. Child-led weaning, if you want to retroactively slap a label on it. So I decided to only offer nursing if Ezra asked for it or initiated it. He didn’t. And we were done.
I have to say your current set-up sounds mostly ideal and beneficial to you both, since the morning session allows you some extra rest and I have no doubt that the post-daycare and bedtime sessions are extremely comforting for your son, AND (if I’m inferring this correctly) it sounds like Dad manages to put him to bed without breastfeeding occasionally as well. So personally, yeah, I wouldn’t be in any rush to change any of that.
As for business travel…a lot of moms (a LOT) will use trips AS the weaning period, or at least an all-important test run. You’re not going to be there regardless, so it’s not the same as “withholding” a nursing session from a confused baby at home, so in many ways a business trip can be the perfect opportunity to see if your baby is ready to wean for good. This does mean you’ll have to pack a pump for your trip (though whether you chose to transport milk back or dump it behind is entirely up to you), just in case you return to a baby who is still rooting around in your shirt the minute you’re reunited. If that happens, then you’ll really need to decide what YOU want — parent- or child-led weaning. You may be able to travel for work and resume nursing just fine…or you may notice a natural dip in supply that doesn’t return, or that he’s less interested or equally happy with a 5:30 am bottle or cup of milk instead of the boobs. In that case, weaning may more or less just happen on its own, with just the slightest push from you.
(My boys eventually altered their waking time on their own, by the way, post-nursing, to eliminate First Breakfast. They slept a tad later and we eventually learned to sadly say goodbye to the chance of “just a little more sleep” and resigned ourselves to waking up and getting Real Breakfast going. BUT. It does not ever happen at 5:30 am anymore, thank God.)
I’m obviously interested to hear everybody else’s weaning experiences — particularly from those who maybe DID have to make the choice for their baby, instead of just letting it happen. (NO judgment, by the way, swear — travel, hospitalizations, nursing difficulties, there’s no right or wrong, just shades of real-world gray, like everything else.) And of course there’s the question of weaning toddlers and children who are old enough to know what’s happening and be involved in the discussions.
I’m sure there are books and steps and advice and how-tos, though from my experience, it seems like weaning can just…happen when it’s supposed to, and while I would have very much liked to have nursed Ezra for longer, I’m happy that the choice, ultimately, was left to him. Even if I did fight him on it for a good month or so! It still happened when it was supposed to. It’ll hopefully go that way for you, too, be it a future business trip causing juuuust enough of an interruption…or it be even sometime after that, when you both just feel ready for it.