I’ve mentioned several times that I have been having enormous trouble with milk supply over the past few months. I’ve gone to great lengths to try to maintain it, including taking herbs, teas, consulting with various breastfeeding specialists, and nursing or pumping more frequently. Despite all this, Aili would frequently finish a feed and appear to still be hungry. When I took her to be weighed and found out she’d lost weight, I felt it was time to find a more reliable source of nutrition for her, so we introduced bottles with formula. The intention was to breastfeed her in addition to formula feeding – my goal was twice a day, breakfast and before bed.
After some time on that routine, however, Aili began to show a reduced interest in breastfeeding and would pop off the breast, looking dissatisfied. Once offered a bottle, however, she’d enthusiastically drink it all down. Ultimately, she was nursing less than a few minutes total per day, and was rejecting the left side altogether. I decided that it was time to give it up.
So as of last Thursday night, she’s been weaned. First, let me express my agreement with you: that is a terrible word! But it’s technically the right one, so that’s what I’ll use. I hadn’t planned for it, but Johnny and I discussed and it and agreed that she has had an excellent foundation and it’s time to move on. So I just didn’t nurse her at all on Friday, and she showed no disappointment at the loss of it.
Now, there are a couple of things about weaning that I hadn’t considered. The first is engorgement. That is also an awful word, but also the correct one. Ironically, although my breasts didn’t want to produce enough milk to sustain a tiny life, neither do they want to give up producing the trickle of sustenance they’re used to. With no one draining this production, however, you can imagine that, well, a supply builds up. And up. And up. OUCH! I spent all day Saturday wincing every time I picked her up! If you pump the milk to relieve the pressure, it’s just sending the message to your body to make more, so there’s nothing to do but grin and bear it. Except for – – and you’re going to laugh at this – – it’s believed that cabbage leaves (cold and raw) help with reducing breastmilk production. No, you don’t consume them. You WEAR them. A friend described it as a ‘cabbage bikini’. Imagine that, if you will.
I do think it helped a bit on Saturday, if you must know. The leaves need to be replaced every two hours or so. But it’s cold, and lumpy, and I’m tired of smelling like cabbage. The engorgement is not gone, but it’s better, and I’m sure I’ll deflate entirely in the coming days. (At which time I’ll need to go shopping for some VERY supportive undergarments.)
Another issue that never crossed my mind is constipation resulting from formula and food. Both formula and rice cereal are fortified with iron as maternal stores deplete when baby is about 6 months old. Breastmilk has natural laxatives in it, so everything tends to keep on running smoothly until then. Poor Aili loves her applesauce, but she’s now discovering what it does to her digestive tract! Apparently baby foods starting with ‘p’ are helpful: peaches, pears, peas, and – you guessed it, prunes.
This weekend was absolutely lovely. We went our neighbour’s place on Saturday for supper. After dinner we did a little experiment, and put Aili to bed in a playpen in their bedroom. And if she didn’t go down without a peep! She’s turning out to be very versatile, which we’re delighted about. We’re going on vacation next week, and I was concerned about transitioning to different beds. This actually doesn’t seem like it will be too bad! *fingers crossed*
Smiles for the mirror girl while on Mommy’s shoulders!