Weaning Baby Cold-Turkey

After 14 months I have decided to finally wean BulldozerBaby (no longer a baby).  Once baby can walk up to me and ask for “malk pwease, nap nap” then I guess he’s no longer a baby.  He’s teething again and the latest midnight episode left me bloody and angry.  RockstarDad was fed up and told me he would take over bedtime/naptime/nighttime.

Although this is not BulldozerBaby, it looks a lot like him!

Image by Gail (thepinkpeppercorn)

After three days I had the best gift ever – BulldozerBaby consistently sleeping through the night!!!  Guess RockstarDad was right: BulldozerBaby was waking up just to snuggle mommy!  Weaning cold-turkey was painful, but totally worth it.  I wish I had a pump with me to ease the process, but it ended up being tolerable with the right support network. (We were still living with my parents since we had to evacuate our home for two weeks.)  Here are some tips from my experience:

Tips for weaning baby cold-turkey

1. Eliminate feedings until you are down to a reasonable number per day.  Hand express as necessary so you don’t feel like you might explode. I stopped nursing cold-turkey after 4-5 feedings a day. It took me seven days before I was no longer engorged. (Not to discourage you or anything, but just letting you know…)

2. Use coconut oil.  Lots of coconut oil.  If you are bloody and chapped from nibbling baby, the coconut oil will feel nice and keep infection at bay.  Coconut oil has all sorts of wonderful benefits but the most relevant ones here are that coconut oil is antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory.  Check out HybridRastaMama‘s awesome summary of how to use coconut oil for “nipples and ladybits.

3. Stuff cold cabbage leaves around the “girls.” Big cold peices of green cabbage work best.  Leave the leaves on the breast until they wilt, then apply new leaves as often as needed.  KEEP the leaves on for at least three days!  It seemed like my milk was nearly gone at the end of day one and I took the leaves off overnight but I ended up engorged again and in HUGE pain. I actually used the cabbage for almost TWO WEEKS!  (And, yes, I smelled – apparently like German sausage, according to RockstarDad, due to the cabbage and sage combo.)

4. Rub on the girls and drink sage tea.  I know it seems … weird, but massaging the engorged tissue is a huge help.  Rub the lumps out multiple times a day so you don’t get mastitis. You can also massage your feet with sage and peppermint oil since the oils will absorb quickly into your system that way.  Make sure you dilute sage oil, though, because it is potent stuff.  I used jojoba as a carrier oil with only 3-4 drops of sage per Tbsp of jojoba.

** Sage warning:  Not recommended for nursing moms or for internal use during pregnancy.  Salvia officinalis L. (Dalmatian sage) and Salvia lavandulaefolia Vahl (Spanish sage) are the most common species.  According to Hale, sage is relatively nontoxic and nonirritating.  Due to drying properties and pediatric hypersensitivity to anticholinergics, sage should be used with some caution in breastfeeding mothers.  Observe baby for dry mouth, stomatitis, cheilitis.  Do not use sage if you have epilepsy – sage contains thujone, which can trigger seizures.

5. Hot showers and cold compresses. Heat isn’t really recommended for weaning, but a hot shower just feels SO good!  Especially on those aching shoulders.  Finish off the shower with a cold blast for improved immunity and then ice your breasts for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, at least four times each day, or as needed for comfort.   are specially designed to fit in your bra.  They rock.  I also found lounging in a pool was an awesome idea, too – if you are so lucky/inclined.

6. Take Advil for the pain.  Since you are no longer breastfeeding, you can take any kind of painkiller you want (as long as doc says it’s ok).  Woo hoo!  You can now also have caffeine, sushi and chocolate cake at midnight.  Unfortunately, though, you also have to limit your caloric intake - drat!

7. Other Herbs and Essential Oils that might help: Fresh crushed Jasmine leaves, Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Spearmint, Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), Chickweed, Black Walnut, Yarrow, Lemon Balm, Oregano, Periwinkle Herb (Vinca minor), Sorrel (Rumex acetosa).

8. Let others take over naptime/bedtime routines for a couple of days.  It helps to not be the one snuggling/feeding baby because of the biological/emotional reaction when baby snuggles and eats – for both parties.  RockstarDad, Opa (my mom) and Papa (my dad) took over midnight wakings and mealtimes immediately after the “intervention.”  How lucky and blessed could one woman be!  (Keeping in mind, of course, that the only reason we were staying with Papa and Opa in the first place is because we had to evacuate our own home due to natural disaster striking; but, who am I to complain when God has taken such good care of my family!)

Do not bind your breasts. This could lead to a plugged duct or even mastitis.

Additional Resources:

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4 Responses to Weaning Baby Cold-Turkey

  1. Great tips – I’ll have to bookmark this for when I start! (Follower via the Tues. Linky).

  2. Very informative! I hope to start weaning in the near future. :)

  3. I used the cabbage leaves with my first weaning experience and recommend them completely! And having extra help for a couple of days is a great help too. I’m weeks away from round two of weaning, and actually looking forward to it because of the new relationship that comes from not being the main comforter to my little one. This might not be for everyone, but when you get to the point where you can’t enjoy it, then don’t continue and hurt your relationship with your little one…

  4. These are great ideas! Thanks for sharing