My little daughter was in her eleventh month, when I realized a few things;
- Her teeth were hurting my nipples while sucking
- She would not sleep without sucking at my breasts
- My milk was not enough to sustain her the whole night
The first realization led me to decide that I needed to start the weaning off process. Though the doctor had advised breastfeeding anywhere between 1 and 2 years, I knew I wouldn’t continue beyond 1 year.
I talked to the doc about the second and third points at which he so (un)-kindly reminded me that he had advised me to stop night time feedings as soon as the baby turned seven months old. I couldn’t recall having heard that. But it’s quite possible that I might have conveniently ignored it or accidentally stored it in some deep unreachable recesses of my mind. Well, started the long, tedious and uncomfortable Operation Weaning Off.
In the night, I started giving her dairy. The doctors recommend not to give dairy before 1 year, but to give formula instead. In my defence, my daughter was already eleven months. What was a month here and there? Secondly, to introduce formula only to change to dairy again in a month’s time appeared to be a difficult job.
First few days, she drank a little milk and went off to sleep without sucking at my breasts.
Yippee! I shouted. But she would still wake up in the middle of the night. Obviously, the little amount of milk that she drank was not enough to sustain her the whole night. So I tried offering her more milk. But no. She wouldn’t have more. Now what? Then an old formula came to my rescue. That night, in her milk, I added a spoonful of Cerelac. Cerelac with cereals, lentils and fruits keeps the baby’s tummy full. And really, my efforts paid off. She stopped waking up in the middle of nights for feeds. Once my daughter got over her habit of waking up in the night, I slowly reduced the dosage of Cerelac and stopped giving her at all after 20 days.
Though the entire Operation Weaning Off took a month to end, it was worth it. Once she turned one year, I started breastfeeding her at irregular times so that she didn’t expect it at fixed timings. After a month, I realized that she didn’t care for it and would simply stare at my nipples as if they were alien objects. Though it was a sad time for me as a mother as I felt an important bond had been broken, I realized that as a human being I was whole again. In more than a year, I was sleeping the entire night.