Stop nursing now or taper off more?
February 12, 2010 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Is my daughter basically weaned?

My soon-to-be 11-month-old was born with an H-type tracheoesophageal fistula and esophageal atresia. The repair went well, but the attendant swallowing issues meant she was fed from a bottle in the hospital and didn't start breastfeeding until she was about 6 weeks old. Since then she's been both bottle fed expressed breast milk and nursed when I've been at home. My work schedule is such that during the week, she would nurse when she first got up and maybe once more in the morning. We would exclusively nurse as much as possible on the weekends.

For the last month or so I've run out of steam. My supply has gone down to about 4-6 ounces pumped a day and I'm pumping maybe once a day, if that. We started mixing formula with breastmilk to compensate and because of chronic ear infections and weight loss, our doctor put her on Pediasure as well to gain weight. For the last couple of weeks she's been nursing once in the morning and on a mixture of Pediasure and formula the rest of the time.

During the times she does nurse, she'll nurse for a few minutes and then either start biting me or "zerberting" my breast. She's good with both the bottle and the sippy cup.

So is she pretty much weaned from the breast and can I just stop nursing/pumping all together or does there need to be more tapering off? And if so, how?
posted by lemoncello to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
Well, at 11 months, if she still wants to nurse, I say let her. Doesn't necessarily sound like she wants to, but if she does, you know, why not?

But as far as pumping goes, with an 11 month old, you can give that up if you want and just nurse if she wants it. My body sucks, so I didn't even make it to four months of nursing, but when I did quit pumping (I was getting as much as you are now at three months postpartum), I quit cold turkey on the pump with no problems. But then I never had a full supply. You may need to taper off a bit at a time for a few weeks to avoid plugged ducts and mastitis. My LC said to drop one pumping time a week, so if you're pumping three times, drop the middle one first. After a week, drop the third (now second) pump of the day. After another week, go ahead and drop the final one. You may be able to drop a pump every few days if you're not feeling bad from it.

Another way she said to do it was to drop a couple of minutes off of each pump over the course of a few weeks if that would be easier for my body. So, if I were pumping for twenty minutes three times a day, pump for 15 minutes three times a day instead, and then the next week about 10 minutes and so on. But as I said, I didn't listen to her because I was just not in a place to do so and had no problems.

It's highly individual, but I suspect as long as you're not suffering from plugged ducts or anything, you can probably just quit. But hopefully if you need the tapering, these suggestions will help.
posted by zizzle at 11:53 AM on February 12, 2010

I'm unclear if you want to quit nursing and pumping, or if you would like to continue one or both?

At 11 months PP, your body can definitely handle quitting the pumping and just nursing. Don't read too much into the shortness of her nursing sessions, older babies are super-efficient nursers, so she may be getting a nice snack and then stopping because all she wanted was the comfort associated with nursing, plus that small snack :)

If you want to drop both nursing and pumping, then personally I would cut out the pumping first (because pumping is just no fun!), over the course of a week if you really do only pump once. Then leave it a week while your body adjusts, and if you want to stop the nursing, then try the "don't offer, don't refuse" method. If she asks for it, then go ahead and nurse. If you feel uncomfortable and she hasn't asked to nurse, then hand express a little to relieve the pressure.
posted by Joh at 12:00 PM on February 12, 2010

I don't know if this will be an issue for you or not, but during the weaning process, putting refrigerated cabbage leaves in your bra will help with any weaning discomfort and will help dry up your milk.
posted by meggan at 12:45 PM on February 12, 2010

Per here: "Distractibility is also common around 8-10 months, and can lead mom to think that her baby is trying to wean. If your baby is younger than a year, it's highly unlikely that this temporary disinterest is self-weaning. It's very rare for a baby younger than 12 months to self-wean." On continuing. A blog entry about Pediasure that may be of interest. You can quit the pumping.
posted by kmennie at 12:50 PM on February 12, 2010

I'm wondering what you would like, for yourself. It sounds like pumping is not really worth the effort any more and your child has other options (and already has the most important benefits of breast milk) so unless the doctor says otherwise, it will probably be a relief to stop pumping. As for nursing, I would think about what feels best for you and your child. With my kids, I kept the early morning feeding in bed for as long as they wanted (I think it was about a year for my first and about nine months for my second) - we both liked the cuddle time together. If she nurses for a few minutes and then loses interest or bites, I would stop the session when she stops really nursing. She may get more serious about it or she may shorten it nothing. But it seems like there is no harm in just doing whatever it is that works best for the two of you.
posted by metahawk at 12:26 AM on February 13, 2010

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