Category Archives: Weaning

Q&A: Toddler losing his latch?

Heather writes:

"I don’t think you’ve addressed this before, and I’m having a hard time finding any info elsewhere. I have to attend a conference this summer and will be gone for 6 days. My son, at that time, will be 18 months old. I don’t intend to wean before that time, and I don’t intend to take him with me. I was wondering how long it takes for a kid to "forget" how to nurse or how to get a proper latch. I intend to pump during that time to keep up my supply, but wonder if he may wean himself in 6 days (which I am sort of ambivalent about, but would probably be sadder than happier). I was also wondering if there are some "data points" on the lengths of time women have been gone from their babies at different ages and what the effect was on nursing."

I’m not sure if there is much info about toddlers losing their latches out there. I know when I weaned my first son (at 2 1/2 years+), after about a week my mom (the former La Leche League leader) said to me casually, "Oh, and you know at this age they just forget how to nurse if they haven’t done it in a few days."

Um, OK.

So I thought that might happen when I was away from my younger son for two nights when I went back to work when he was 22 months, but it didn’t–he just ramped the nursing waaaay up. (Seriously. He was down to once a day for maybe 5 minutes, and I thought we were almost through, but then I went away all day M-F and he picked up the nursing to 3-4 times a day for longer sessions. I thought he was literally never going to stop nursing, and I would have to eat my own words about "you won’t have to FedEx your kid bags of breastmilk at college." But then miraculously he just forgot to nurse for a few days in a row while we were at my mom’s a few months ago, and that was that.)

So I definitely think there’s an age at which they forget how to latch if they don’t do it for a few days. But I don’t know what that age is. In my experience, it’s somewhere between 22 and 34 months.

Anyone else have data points about toddlers losing their latch?

And does anyone want to share experience about being away from a baby or toddler and how it affected nursing? None of my work trips affected my son’s nursing, but he was between 22 and 30 months when I went away, and the trips were all 2-3 nights long.

I suspect that it’s as much about your child’s personality as anything else, but would love to hear others’ opinions on that, too.

Q&A: “baby led weaning” for a formula-fed baby

Suzie writes:

"At our 4 month doctor visit the other day, the pediatrician brought up the idea of already starting to feed the little Pumpkin solids (rice cereal, purees, etc.), and my internal thinking was, "OK, whatever, I’m waiting for the girl to want to eat before offering her anything to much on." But the ped did leave me wondering: when you start your baby on "real" foods, do you offer only one thing at a time (a la "wait 2 weeks before adding anything new") or just go whole hog and offer a little bit of everything? How do you handle the potential for allergies?

Also, I know the whole premise of BLW is breastfeeding; but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t give it a go with my formula-fed baby once she shows interest in what hubby and I are eating, right?"

First of all, BLW (baby led weaning) is explained by researcher Gil Rapley on this page, which now has a photo of a woman nursing about halfway down, with exposed nipple. (I’m not sure why that’s necessary. And if anyone knows who makes that sexy nursing bra, please post in the comments.) If you don’t want to or can’t look at that page, just read the quick and dirty on Wikipedia (taking it the same way you take everything you read on Wikipedia). If you don’t want to do that, the basics of BLW are:

Kids will eat solids when they’re ready to, and if they aren’t ready yet they won’t swallow. They tested a bunch of babies and found that in general they were interested in tasting food at around 4 months but wouldn’t really swallow until 6 months. Kids have more control over big chunks of food they can hold onto and shove in themselves instead of purees that are shoved to the backs of their mouths that they can’t control. So in general they develop the smal muscle coordination to pick up small pieces about the time they can safely eat them. Keep giving them breastmilk or formula until at least a year, and they’ll just transition to solid foods gradually and naturally. The End.

Anyway, the trend in the US is to offer only one thing (and people usually start with the totally disgusting rice cereal, which by now everyone knows I hate and think people should skip and go straight to bananas or avocado or something orange instead) for a few days because then you’ll know if the baby is allergic to it before you move on to something else.

The problem is that I don’t think that there’s been any research about whether that has any effect on allergy rates or discovery of allergies, or if it’s just something people came up with because it’s logical. I don’t think there’s any harm in doing one thing every few days, but I also don’t know if it’s necessary. I’d like to see if there are any differences in allergy rates or allergic reaction rates in groups that separate and groups that don’t.

I also think that parents know a whole lot about what our kids may be or probably aren’t allergic to before we get to the solids phase. You know if they have problems with dairy or soy if you’re using formula, and perhaps if you’re nursing (anyone who’s had to eliminate that sweet, sweet ice cream because of a baby’s dairy intolerance is cringing right now). If your baby is your biological child you also know some family history of allergies, and you may have this info if your kid is adopted. Lots of food allergies seem to be connected to skin rashes and other external things you alreayd know about. So definitely take all of this into account, and if your child tends to have allergies to one thing, be cautious about introducing too many new things that tend to be allergens.

And, yeah, of course you can do BLW if you’re formula-feeding. She’s a human baby, after all, so all the stuff about food size and choking and her learning process (which BLW is about, as much or more than it’s about actual nutrition) is the same for her and you as it is for the kid on that site whose mom is wearing that black lace nursing bra. Formula should be her primary source of nutrition for at least the first year, and she’ll tell you when she’s ready to eat other stuff.

Just beware of veggie burgers, because garlic poop is indescribable.

Q&A: Abrupt weaning, and autism (no causality!)

Hmmm. I’ve republished the entire website, and the comments still aren’t accessible. Continuing the dialogue with Typepad’s tech support people…

Katy writes:

"As there’s been some talk of weaning recently, I thought I’d email and
ask a question about weaning abruptly.  We recently found out that our
18 month-old son has autism.  After scrambling to get him services
(speech therapy etc.), the next thing on our list is to try eliminating
gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy) from his diet which has had great
results in many kids on the spectrum (as a side question, I’d love to
hear from people who’ve had positive or negative results with this kind
of dietary change). 

Anyway, we decided that Christmas break would be
the best time to try it as he won’t be in his full-time daycare/therapy
program where they give him his lunch and snacks and we’ll be able to
fully monitor everything he eats.  However, I’m still nursing him and
my options are either to wean him or cut out gluten and casein myself,
something that rather daunts me as I’m a big dairy person and the
holidays seem like an extra hard time to be on a special diet. So I’m
thinking of weaning him; this also seems appealing as he’s become a
nursing maniac in the last month, constantly lifting up my shirt and
wanting to nurse, as well as waking lots in the night demanding to
nurse.  I’m feeling very frustrated with him as I feel like he’s
constantly pawing at my body and the night nursing involves lots of
sucking, snoozing and groping of my other breast – to the point that my
body feels so sensitive I could scream (and, of course, I’m not getting
good sleep).  So my questions then are:

  1.  Is this just an awful time to wean if he’s so interested?  What’s going on with this 18 month nursing mania?

2.  If I weaned him, how would I deal with the constant demands for
nursing?  He has limited language so I don’t know how well just telling
him that he can’t nurse anymore would work.  I hate the idea of just
saying no to him.

3.  How would I get my milk to dry up? (Moxie,
you mentioned something about mint tea in the previous message about
weaning – do you have other recommendations?)"

I’m sorry you got this diagnosis, but I’m glad you have a diagnosis. I’m hoping that other parents of kids with autism will jump in with help.

Answers in the order in which the questions were asked:

1. It depends on your definition of "awful." 18 months is just a tough time all-around, and if you’re still nursing, it tends to be one of those times the mother just can’t deal with it anymore. So, yes, it’s going to be really difficult to wean at this age because he’s so needy and wants it so much. But it might be worth it for you not to have him nursing anymore. So "awful" here is totally subjective, and you get to pick your own poison.

Personally, having nursed two kids through the 18-month I-can’t-stand-this-for-one-more-second, it-makes-me-feel-like-a-worn-out-old-sow, stop-stop-for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy-stop phase, I think it’s easier just to self-medicate through the nursing with chocolate and do the weaning in two or three months (why is 21 months so much easier than 18?). But if you have to do it now, you have to do it now.

2. You got me. That’s another reason I waited the 18-month phase out. Someone out there has done this, though, and will have something for you.

3. Bear in mind that drying up your milk is NOT going to prevent your hormones dropping when you wean, so be really aware of that and do some extra T-Tapp Hoe-Downs every day, make sure to keep up your Omega 3s and B-complex vitamins, and get as much sleep as you can. PPD on top of all of this would not be good, so do whatever you can to prevent it during the weaning process.

The things I know that help dry up milk are mint and sage, so you can brew mint tea and alternate that with "tea" you make by boiling fresh sage leaves. These aren’t going to hurt the kid if you’re still nursing while drying up your milk.

If you want your milk to dry up more quickly, you can take the old-fashioned Sudafed (the kind that can make you drowsy) for a few days, which will dry up every liquid in your body, so you’ll need extra handcream while you’re taking it. But if you’re still nursing while you’re taking it, it can make your child either super-drowsy or hyper, so use with caution.

All-in-all, I think weaning over Christmas is going to really suck. But going off dairy and wheat yourself is going to really suck, too (eggnog! Christmas cookies!).  If it were me, I’d probably delay the entire project until January, but  you just have to decide which is going to cause the least problems for you.

Now, I’d really like to hear from parents of kids with autism, specifically about navigating the condition, and especially about dietary changes that can help. Thank you guys so much.

Q&A: weaning, or not weaning?

Stephanie writes:

"I’ve been reading your advice since my baby was born
11 months ago. We are approaching the 1 year mark and I can’t quit
thinking about how to wean, when to wean, etc. I’m conflicted about
stopping and can’t even fathom how I would ever do it. On one hand,
I would like my breasts back (as would my husband). I would like to
(but don’t necessarily need to) do some work again and be able to leave
her with a sitter. And, I’d like to have 6 months or so
breastfeeding free before I start trying for another baby and I’d like to
start that this summer. OTOH, I don’t want to stop breastfeeding
before my daughter is ready. Although, she does eat a variety of solid
foods and enjoys them, she is also not showing any signs of stopping
breastfeeding. We also nurse for naps and I feel like stopping will
make my life so much harder during the day. Additionally, my mom just found
out she has breast cancer (non-invasive) and I’ve read how breastfeeding
is a protective factor against breast cancer and since I have several other
risk factors (started my period early, had my first baby over 30, family
history), I feel like I should breastfeed as long as possible. 

In my life before motherhood, I always thought extended
breastfeeding seemed weird, but I currently see no end in sight. It seems
like so many moms I know said their baby just wanted to stop between 11-13
months. I don’t see that happening with my daughter.

I would love to hear your experience of when your babies
were ready to wean and your readers as well.  I’d also like some
advice on how to reply to people who say, “You’re still breastfeeding???”
Thanks!"

I think we should just call Stephanie "Everywoman," because that’s about the most concise summary of the classic set of conflicts between wanting to wean and wanting to keep nursing that I’ve heard.

(Am I the only one who feels sad that 11 months is considered "extended" breastfeeding? It’s such a tiny slice of their lives, even if each feeding seems like an eternity sometimes.)

Anyway, it sounds like you want to do some kind of partial weaning plan. You could go down to one or two nursing sessions a day to keep the benefits, while still having your body back somewhat. Once you’re down to those few feedings, you can decide if you’re comfortable keeping with those for awhile longer, or if you want to wean completely. And weaning down from two feedings to nothing is lots easier than trying to get down from more feedings to none.

I think weaning is another one of those things that we think of as all-or-nothing, but unless you have to wean completely cold turkey for some medical or logistical reason, you can do it gradually enough that it doesn’t feel like such a hard choice. (Let me say once again that if you have the time, it’s an extremely good idea to wean gradually over the course of a few weeks. Weaning cold turkey can give you mastitis–which was worse for me than two unmedicated labors–and can also make your hormones drop so strongly that you could get thrown into PPD. Over a few weeks you can cut down a feeding every few days and dry up your milk using mint and sage tea enough to help prevent mastitis and PPD.)

So, back to the logistics. I’d figure out if there are a few sessions that you can drop in the next couple of weeks. The ideal candidates would be sessions that she doesn’t seem to care about so much, but that make you nuts. I think if it were me, I’d keep the nap nursing sessions because you know you can get her down easily that way. Since the purpose of weaning is to make things easier, having to create a whole new nap routine seems counter-productive.

I think you should spend the next few days doing some careful observation about what sessions she seems attached to, and what sessions are making you jump out of your skin (if you’re at that point). That’ll tell you where to start working on the weaning.

Any comments or suggestions? I feel like 11 months is one of those points at which moms are starting to get really sick of nursing (18 months is another huge one). How did you make the decision to stop or not, and how did you make weaning the easiest possible on everyone?

Q&A: nighttime parenting is making our eyes bleed

Lisa writes:

"Can you stand another question on sleep?

I guess the actual question is: how do I night wean?

The context is this: I work random shifts in an ER and this means that sometimes I am away for the evening or overnight and my husband has baby sleep duty. When he has to do bedtime, no sweat after we did a little sleep training that involved a little crying.  But the overnights are a different story.  My son (9 months old) has been co-sleeping from day 1, starting the night in a crib and moving into our bed once I come to bed.  I used to be able to nurse him at night and slide him back into his crib but now that he’s so mobile, the crib rails have all gone up, and he protests the return so often sleeps next to me, latching on all night when the fancy strikes him.  This is great for all of us except on the 3-4 nights a month that I’m gone for the night.  He totally freaks out, my husband then totally freaks out, they end up awake all night from 1 AM onward with bags under their eyes the next morning.  I blame myself because I know it’s not fair to my son to get me some nights and not others without any pattern at all.  So I feel like my only option is to get him to go without the milk bar which probably entails going without sleeping under my shirt.

We tried doing this by letting him yell in protest but living in a little condo makes my husband feel guilty about the noise’s impact on the neighbors so we end up jumping ship on that plan.  We also recognize that having him in our room is compounding things but I can’t move him into the only other candidate room since we had an intruder break in several weeks ago through that bedroom window, so I’m psychologically unable to put him there.

I just don’t know logistically how to night wean a baby who is still in our room without lots of hollering.  But I have to do something because every morning after I work a night shift, my family is falling into little tiny pieces which means I’m trying to fix them and not able to recover from having been up working all night and I am starting to get just a teensy bit resentful.  Plus hugely guilty that I did this by letting my son cozy up to the milk bar all night long for so long.  Help? Please?

I love Ask Moxie and someday when I make the big bucks I’ll buy lots of expensive stuff by clicking through from your site first."

Hey, thanks! Somebody bought an expensive power tool a few weeks ago after clicking through here first. I was kind of baffled but happy. (I get a little teeny tiny percentage of all the Amazon.com purchases made after clicking through the links here.)

First, let me say how sorry I am that someone broke into your home. That’s got to be a terrifying and creepy feeling. I completely understand that you can’t put your son alone in that room.

You know what I’m going to say next: Trying to do anything to change sleep patterns is going to be harder in the middle of a sleep regression phase. So right now (9 months) is probably not going to meet with much success. If you can wait a month you’ll probably do better.

And even more next: This isn’t your fault, and it’s NOT your responsibility to manage the relationship between your son and husband, or fix things the next morning when you come home from work. There is not a single thing you can do about what happens while you’re at work, and working out a nighttime routine that allows both your son and your husband to sleep is pretty much your husband’s responsibility. Babies learn that different people do different things, so your son will have a different set of nighttime expectations when he’s with his dad. It happens all the time that kids go to sleep differently with their mothers, fathers, grandparents, babysitters, etc., so it isn’t your responsibility to gatekeep the relationship between your two guys.

I think nightweaning is actually going to be counterproductive, since it’ll take that comfort away from your son on all nights, not just when you’re not there physically. Especially at this separation anxiety age, it’s probably going to end up making him more clingy and crabby all the time, instead of just when you’re gone.

Now, having said that, if you truly do want to nightwean for you, and not because you think it’ll somehow equalize things, your husband is going to have to take the lead on that. I can’t think of anyone I know who nightweaned within a month without basically giving the baby to the non-nursing partner during nightweaning. Most women I know moved to another room during nightweaning (raising my hand), or just played dead at night during that phase. Which leaves you in a tricky situation, since you’re going to have to do the thing you’ve identified as the problem (your husband having to comfort your son to sleep) in order to avoid having your husband have to comfort your son to sleep while you’re not there.

You can see why I’m not so excited about putting the nighttime responsibility all on your shoulders. It’s a big circle of confusion, nastiness, crying, and sleep deprivation for all three of you.

I really think I’d try to work with your husband on developing his own routine to get your son back to sleep. I don’t know if he does much of the initial putting to bed, but that’s a start. Many kids seem to be confused when the going to sleep is different from what happens when they wake up in the middle of the night. So having him develop a really solid bedtime routine that he does might make it easier to replicate that in the middle of the night to get them both back to sleep ASAP. It also sounds like he maybe feels like your son not sleeping is his fault, and, again, a non-sleeping kid is not the parents’ fault. So if your husband can stay kind of zen about it he may have better luck with the getting back to sleep.

Having said that, this is probably all going to get slightly better in a few weeks anyway, once this sleep regression is past. And the older your son gets, the easier the changes will be on him because he’ll just be used to them. And he’ll start sleeping longer anyway.

Anyone have conflicting opinions, suggestions, or comments?

Q&A: Itchy boobs, weaning, and what in the world do I do with nap time?

How could I come up with a better title for this post than the subject line of the email? Jennifer writes:

"I really never expected that I would push weaning. My peanut is 25
months old and I have always believed in Child Led Weaning until a
several weeks ago. Suddenly I wasn’t enjoying nursing her so much and I
was really wanting my body back. The worst of it was that I really
became physically uncomfortable with nursing. I would get antsy, and my
boobs would itch or they’d feel an uncomfortable tickle while she
nursed. At first I thought this was due to my own monthly  hormonal
changes, but the physical symptoms didn’t let up after a week or so. So
I decided I would start to set limits around nursing and try to move
this weaning process along a bit.

I started
with telling her my milk was sleeping when she woke up for her usual
2am nursing, ah my little all night nurser! (We haven’t nursed to sleep
at bedtime since she was 18 months old.) My logic was that it would be
more manageable to eliminate night nursing before her nap nursing
because she can fight sleep at nap time. I also started to tell her at
times that we could nurse only a little bit and then Mommy will tell
her when Mommy is "all done." So now (after 3 weeks of ‘moving things
along’) she only nurses at around 6am, again at naptime, and just a
little bit before bed. What I’m experiencing is that her 6am nursing
feels fine, I can deal. At nap time I can handle nursing her down, and
maybe one wake up which includes  nursing on boob #2. After both sides
are done I can’t do any more, therefore she doesn’t go back to sleep
which really sucks. The bedtime nursing has been really uncomfortable
the last 2 nights, so I limit it big time.

So
I have 2 questions:

1) Is this itchy, uncomfortable business what comes
with weaning, or is this what I get for ‘moving things along’?

2) And
what in the world do I do with nap time? She’s 2 so she’s at the age
that she can totally nix a nap but really needs it. It’s the only time
she still nurses down and I don’t know what else to do except maybe go
for a car ride at nap time for a few days, and then what? There’s gotta be a better way, right?"

Oh, the guilt. I think most of us feel some guilt about weaning, whether we do it at three days or four years. I can still remember being convinced that my older son had gotten a cold because I’d finally weaned him the week before and thinking that made me a horrible mother.

In a perfect world, we’d all be happy nursing until our children were ready to stop on their own. But that’s not the way it goes for most nursing pairs. Usually, the mother wants or needs to stop nursing before the baby is quite ready. When I was in the middle of it I felt horrible about putting my needs above my child’s needs, but in hindsight I feel pretty good about the way I started to teach my son that other people had rights, too, and that respecting someone else’s needs didn’t mean he was being abandoned. He could still get the comfort and love he wanted from me, even without nursing.

I think most of us are really circumspect about weaning and the weaning process. Understanding that it’s  an important part of growing up, not least because it teaches children that someone else has a right to her own body, helps to make the transition easier for the mother. And kids who are given alternate forms of comfort and affection come out of the weaning process secure and attached.

Of course, my musings aren’t helping with your itchy boob problem. Frankly, I’m stumped. I’m going to give three guesses, any of which could be true and all of which could be false. In no particular order, I’m going to guess that the itching is a) psychosomatic (because you’re feeling kind of itchy about still nursing but also itchy about weaning), b) caused by some kind of minor infection or fungus (like low-grade thrush), or c) caused by dry skin from showers that are too hot or a harsh soap. But as I said, I haven’t heard of this and really don’t know. If it’s still happening a week after you’re really done nursing, go see a doctor.

Now I know you think you’re joking about just driving her around to get her to sleep without nursing down, but people have done similar things with great success. I don’t nurse outside once a kid is no longer a little baby, so when I wanted to cut out all daytime nursing sessions with my older son, I did it when the weather was warm and left the house in the morning and didn’t go back home until suppertime. We’d play at the playground, and when it was time for his nap I’d put him in the stroller and just walk around until he fell asleep. It was tiring for me, but it cut out the daytime nursings in a week without his even noticing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’ll guess that I’m not the only one to have done this. Distraction is really the king of all parenting techniques for the two-year-old set.

Does anyone else want to share distraction methods they used to cut out nursing sessions with a kid this age? Or your own feelings of guilt about the weaning process? And if anyone else has experienced this itchy breast thing, please speak up (anonymously, if you’d like).

Q&A plus photo: Breasts leaking, and I need new glasses

We’re still sad.

But on to today’s post. First, a question from Melissa:

"I have an 18 month old son that I exclusively
breastfed for 16 1/2 months.  I quit gradually cutting out one feeding
at a time.  In July, we finally quit that last feeding.  It is now
September and I still have milk in both breasts.  How long does it take
for that to "dry" up?  I am not leaking and there is little stimulation
because they are still very sore.  Every time I take a shower, it is
like I am going back in time to when he was a newborn; it just
flows."

I get this question every couple of months, so I’m finally just posting it. It totally depends for each woman.
Some dry up within a week (probably the same women who had a harder time getting
supply up to begin with), while others still have some milk for months,
and I’ve heard of women having milk for a year or more after they wean!

If it’s bugging you enough to take action, you could drink tea
you brew out of sage leaves and mint, put cabbage leaves in your bra
for a few hours at a time, and drink a lot of red wine. If none of that
works or you want to get really serious, take Sudafed (the
old-fashioned kind that dries up all your mucous membranes, not the new
non-drowsy kind) for a week or however long you can take the total-body
dessication properties. That should seriously curtail your milk supply. (Conversely, if you’re trying to build supply, stay away from all those things.) Avoid Guinness beer, oatmeal, and almonds, which increase your supply.

If anyone wants to share data points on how long it took to dry up after weaning, feel free.

And now a picture. I walked into the deli across the street the other day and saw this granola bar (click on the photo to see it bigger):

Blueberrynoni

I, of course, misread "Blueberry Noni" as "Blueberry Yoni." I won’t post my first thought, but my second thought was "the yoni hat." And then I laughed so hard the checkout girl thought I was losing it.

I have you all to thank, so I thought I’d share.

Q&A: PPD after weaning toddler?

And back to something more serious leading into the weekend…

Jeanne writes:

"I really want to know if anyone has dealt with symptoms of postpartum depression after weaning. I’ve tried to do some research and have come up with very little. I definitely didn’t see it coming, and actually assumed things would really get back to "normal" after we weaned, so it’s all a bit confusing.

My daughter turned 2 in May, and she nursed for the last time right around the 4th of July. For the months leading up to and after her birthday, she was only nursing after waking up in the morning and after waking up from her nap in the afternoon. Toward the end, we very slowly went from those two sessions (which were already brief) to only nursing in the morning, to nothing. So we were both ready for this chapter to end, and if anything, she and I are even closer now than we were before we weaned.

But ever since then, I’ve felt so down. The kind of down that I can’t control, where I know I can’t just give myself a pep talk or go out and be active and it’ll be okay. Looking back, it’s gotten worse as time has gone by. This has all been accompanied by poor sleep, bad headaches at least once a day, bone-tired feeling, lack of appetite…and now it just feels like an accomplishment if I get showered and get us out for a little bit during the day. What I’m grateful for is that I still want to be a mom (definitely didn’t feel that way on my relatively few mild postpartum days) and am having so much fun with my little girl. It’s just everything else – (patient) husband, housework, friends, spirituality – that I’m just not into right now.

In consultation with my midwives, I went back on a regular birth control pill about a year ago, even though I was still nursing when I went back on. The thought at the time was that I’d had really bad breakthrough bleeding on the progesterone-only pill and with depo provera shots, and since my daughter was eating solids very regularly at 15 months, she wasn’t getting a majority of her nutrients from nursing. And I didn’t think at the time that we’d nurse much longer, but we went for almost a whole year beyond that!

I’m sure that with the decrease in hormones from lactation, plus the pill hormones, plus whatever else, is all contributing. I just had never heard anyone talk about such an ordeal and would love to know if others struggled and what they did to help themselves."

I’ve
definitely heard of women suffering from some PPD after weaning, and
whenever I get questions about weaning I make sure to warn the woman
that she may suffer a dip in hormones that could throw her into some
PPD. That combined with the hormonal stuff of being on the pill is undoubtedly what threw you into PPD.

Some of my readers may disagree with me, but it seems
to me that most of the other things in your life are pretty stable
right now, you’re not having any hidden emotional issues, and you’re
dealing well enough to be able to experiment with some ways to get out
of the PPD without having to go on meds. I don’t have anything against
meds for women who really need them to manage, but it does take
anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for them to kick in, and
depending on which one you’re taking you can have truly a nightmarish
time getting off them (Effexor is the worst one I know about). So if
you’re not in crisis mode, I’d see if you can kick your hormones back
into place without the meds first. I’d make sure you’re doing three things:

* In her The Big Book of Birth (my review here),
Erica Lyon cites a study that showed that a 15-minute massage every
day prevented PPD as well as meds did in newly postpartum women. I’d
say it’s worth a try. If your partner doesn’t know how you’re feeling,
definitely ‘fess up, and when he asks what he can do to help, ask him
for a 15-20 minute massage every day. He’ll probably be thrilled to do
it, because it’s something physical and concrete that he can do (many
men love that). It sounds like you’re feeling some distance from him right now, and a short period of nonsexual touch every day from him could help bring you closer together without any real pressure on either of you to "do something about it."

* Make sure you’re forcing yourself to do 15-20
minutes of exercise a day. If you’ve got a T-Tapp DVD, put it in and
actually press "play" and just do the Basic Workout Plus. T-Tapp is
definitely a mood enhancer. (If you want to start with T-Tapp, read Summer’s great summary of how to start and what video to start with here.) If you’re not a T-Tapper, climb stairs for
15 minutes, or dance around the living room for 15 minutes, or (if it’s
cool enough where you live) go for a brisk walk for 15 minutes.

* And make sure you’re taking Omega 3 supplements, either fish oil or flax seed oil, every day. At least 1200 mg a day if you can.

If
you’re hitting your hormonal mood problem with the trifecta of massage,
exercise, and Omega 3s, you should start to feel better in a week. If
you’re not feeling better after two weeks, ask your midwives for help,
because you might need to have your thyroid tested or look for other
physical explanations for your mood.

In the long run, you might consider non-hormonal birth control. It’s not for everyone, but the fertility awareness method/natural family planning method has a high reliability rate when all the rules are followed by a motivated couple. For the basics on FAM, read Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility. (Yeah, I know those of you who’ve gone through infertility are rolling your eyes, but for people without fertility problems, TCOYF is a revelation about how your cycle works and how you can use your cycle to prevent or achieve pregnancy.) Giving your body a break from the hormones might help it regulate itself and get you back into a better frame of mind.

Did anyone else suffer from PPD after weaning? How long did it last? Did you treat it or did it just pass?

Q&A: feeding solids but not purees

Onward and upward! writes:

"As a new mom, I am often questioning little details of raising my son.The vast amount of information and opinions available on the Internet
just seem to make it worse.

For example, he's having trouble
with constipation (despite breast milk and trying just about every
formula out there), so I started him on pureed veggies and fruits,
hoping it would create looser stools. It hasn't made a difference so
far. But then I go and read an article in the BBC news that says skip pureed foods altogether, and only give
them solid foods after about six months or so. The premise is that your
baby needs to learn how to chew first, and only after he is ready to do
so; and pureed foods can leave them constipated AND postpone their
ability to learn to chew. Huh. What do you think?"

Veeery interesting. And, yes, there's definitely too much information on the internet. If you click away now I won't be insulted.

First of all, before we get to the actual
topic, are you absolutely sure it's constipation? Many babies
(especially breastfed ones) don't poop every day, and some can go for
days without pooping, and this is absolutely normal. If they have gas
and strain to fart it can look like constipation, but the key is to
check the consistency. As long as the poop (I'm not going to call it
"stool," people) is soft and a normal color (not hard or black), it's
not constipation.

Now to the article: I don't think any of this is that
shocking. Even the most recent recommendation from the AAP
(American Association Academy [thanks for catching that perhaps not-so-surprising typo, Sarah] of Pediatrics, with whom I have a one-way
"eh"-hate relationship) is not to start food until six months. Before
that there's really no need for it (barring feeding problems like GERD)
and milk or formula has all the nutrition they need. There's a reason
babies that young can't chew, and it's because they're supposed to be
getting their nutrition in liquid form. There's also some thought now
that introducing carbohydrates (rice cereal, etc.) too early can mess
with babies' systems so they don't regulate insulin as well and are
more prone to developing diabetes later on.

So the recommendation not to start with solids until 6 months isn't making me take any particular notice.

Some of you are aware that my favorite study is about a baby-led approach to starting solids.

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.