Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Weaning for the Exclusive Pumper

It's that time people! It's time to wean. First of all, I just have to give myself a HUGE pat on the back for this one. I am going to make it to P's first birthday without her ever having a drop of formula( not that there is anything wrong with formula feeding). I breastfed exclusively for 2 months and pumped exclusively for the other 10. As far as commitment goes--exclusively pumping is one of the biggest ones I have taken on. You know, other than marriage and motherhood. It ranks a good 3--I guess. Anywho--I never would have thought that I would make it till 1 year when I first started exclusively pumping. I hated it so much. You can read my rant about it here.

Nevertheless, I will admit that I am a little sad to be giving it up. There are a few reason for this. One, Breastfeeding helps to keep the weight off. I am more than happy to be sitting here weighing 5 pounds less than I did before getting pregnant with P. Two, I just love the idea that I was able to sustain P with my body alone for so long. I mean--it's cool, right? What's your superpower? I birthed a human and fed her successfully for a year. Take that! Three, giving it up means that P is a year old. ONE YEAR OLD. I know, I know, get over it already. I promise I am going to stop complaining soon--but not yet. Oh why, why, why does my baby girl have to grow up? Can't she just be little forever?

Oh yeah, back to the topic at hand--weaning. Weaning was not unlike most undertakings that I have come across in my motherhood journey. I knew it was time to start the transition and I started doing my research. There are some different ideas about how to do it. A lot of women who exclusively BF--they just let their babies regulate them and wean naturally. As much as I would love to do that--it was not an option for me. Therefore--I have to decrease my milk production myself and try to stay as comfortable as possible. I am now down to only 1 pump a day and feel only slight discomfort at times that is totally manageable.  So--here are my tips for all my exclusive pumping friends out there.

1. Weaning can and should go with whole milk transition
I started the process of switching P to whole milk at the same time that I started weaning. It just makes sense to me. I do know a lot of women who wean before they transition to whole milk for their babies because they have a freezer stash big enough to sustain their babies. I had one too that I could have used--IF P would drink frozen milk. She just became such a picky milk drinker (we struggled with milk intake mightily for months) that she wouldn't drink the frozen milk. So I literally threw out around 500 ounces of milk. And by I--I mean J. I made him do it when I was asleep so that I wouldn't have to see it. I would have cried my eyes out. I donated all that was fresh enough and had him toss the rest--sigh! If your baby is like mine--then you can follow my same plan.

2. Use the 4 day rule
This rule applies to both transitioning to whole milk and weaning. With whole milk transitioning--every four days I up the percentage of whole milk in each of p's bottle by 1/4. So the first 4 days she was  on 3 ounces breast milk and 1 ounce whole milk in each bottle. Then it goes to 50-50, and then 75-25. At the same time I dropped from four pumps to three pumps. Four days later I was at 2 pumps. Then 1, and then none. Both processes take 12 days. By the thirteenth day P will be on whole milk and I will be free of the pump. PERFECTO!
For those of you who like charts and are visual-- here is a chart that I made

3. Decrease the quality of your Pumpings
Usually before I drop a pump I will stop worrying about how much I am getting from that pumping and instead just pump for relief. This helps to keep you from being really uncomfortable when you drop the pumping. I usually just cut my pumps a few minutes short each day during that 4 day cycle.

I hope this helps all of you out there in my situation. If you are not there yet--just file it away for future reference.

How did you wean, or what are your plans for when you do?

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