Q&A: weaning questions

Rachel writes:

"My daughter is 13 months and loves to nurse. I recently found out I am pregnant and due at the end of January. I began to wean her and during the day it has been great, she loves milk and eating just about anything. The problem is our 5:00 am feeding because I can't distract her with the things that work during the day. I've heard horror stories about trying to night wean and thought maybe your readers would have some practical advice. I just need a break before I start this whole process over with another baby - am I crazy or can it be done?"

Congratulations on your pregnancy.

Plenty of us have weaned while pregnant, so it definitely can be done. Before you buckle down for a tough struggle, though, consider these two items:

  • Some women experience a drop in milk supply as the pregnancy hormones change, so the baby ends up weaning just because the milk dwindles.
  • After the first trimester sometimes the milk tastes salty and some babies will stop nursing because they don't like the taste.

So it's possible that your daughter will just wean herself in the next couple of weeks/months if you have one of these issues.

If she doesn't, though (and my son didn't wean himself, despite my fervent hopes that he would), you can still cut out that last feeding, although you'll need help. Get down to that one feeding for long enough that she's basically forgotten that she used to nurse any other time during the day. Then get your partner to go to her at the last feeding time (5 am-ouch!) for a week or two until she forgets about nursing entirely. The first few days are likely to be pretty rough for your partner. You may have to play the pregnancy card to get him or her to do it, but it'll totally be worth it for all of you when you can get the extra sleep and can conserve some of your energy that would otherwise go into nursing. (I remember feeling like even one nursing session a day was sucking out all my life force during pregnancy.)

Does anyone else have any good suggestions for cutting out the last feeding? Bearing in mind that Rachel doesn't have much energy to expend right now to do the actual weaning.