Shortly after C’s first birthday, I gave up expressing milk during my lunch hour (possibly to the relief of my colleagues, who no longer found ‘mystery’ packages in the fridge). Although it was useful not having to fit a pumping session into a ridiculously busy day at the office, my milk supply took a hit, and it was no longer practical to feed C during the day when I was at home.
Night feeds, however, were still a regular fixture. Breastfeeding C was by far the easiest way to get her to sleep, both in the evening, and when she woke up at night – a frequent occurrence, possibly due to the constant stream of illnesses she contracted at nursery. Part of me was slightly anxious at this state of affairs – what if she couldn’t get to sleep without me feeding her? – but the arrangement was too beneficial for both sides to cause too much worry.
By this point, C was quite happily drinking from bottles (the regular exposure she had to them at nursery meant she now welcomed rather than rejected them)*, so when a few months later she started to appear dissatisfied with the amount of milk she got from me, following up a breastfeed with a couple of ounces of cow’s milk seemed the obvious thing to do. I still continued to offer her the breast, however. I was keen for weaning to be a mutual decision, and didn’t want to stop C from nursing if it was something she still wanted to do.
As time went on, C gradually became less interested in breastfeeding. My breasts were pretty much back to normal, and felt as if they couldn’t possibly be producing milk, although I did still feel a feeble let-down reflex telling me otherwise. My supply had undoubtedly declined, however, and one day, C had her last feed. I think this was when she was around 21 months old, but I didn’t make a note of it, and now I couldn’t say precisely when it was.
I’m glad I can’t remember when we called it a day. Weaning is potentially an emotional event, and just moving on quietly was, for me, the easiest way to do it. Perhaps part of the reason I didn’t give it too much thought was because I knew that my breastfeeding days were far from over. At the time C stopped breastfeeding, I was pregnant, and knew that in six months time I’d be starting all over again.
*The NHS recommends aiming to wean from bottles at a year. I ignored this advice initially as I couldn’t face trying to get C to drink from a cup when she was half-asleep…