Friday, June 15, 2012

Weaning and migraines

me and miss s - 14 weeks
Miss s and I are weaning.
I thought I'd write this down whilst I'm actually going through it. I find if I don't write things down at the time, I so easily forget them. Plus, for some reason, I found it hard to find information on how to wean or stories of how women and their children weaned so I thought I'd share my story thus far.

As with everything in parenting, it hasn't gone as I planned...or hoped.  We have had to go cold turkey unfortunately as I have needed to get back on some medication. My words will probably be a bit all over the place as I am ill with a migraine as I write this.

The background
I have had migraines all my life. A couple of years before I fell pregnant, I started some new medication which changed my life with helping my migraines. I had to stop it whilst pregnant and breastfeeding. Luckily I didn't get a huge amount of headaches whilst I was carrying Sienna however I did get a migraine about four days after her birth and slowly they have started to increase. Since Sienna was about nine months I have been thinking seriously about trying to wean her as my migraines started to become more frequent and more painful.

This has been really hard to do. As with any medical condition, migraines have interfered in my life. I am not at a place of peace with this condition. I hate them. They are painful. I am sick for weeks, sometimes months at a time. I try to not think about it too much and just accept that it is what it is but I do resent having migraines. I know family, friends, teachers, colleagues et al haven't understood and thought I was either a bit of a sook or just trying to get out of an event. I haven't been able to commit to situations/ jobs/ events because of concerns I may get sick and let people down.  The only benefit of migraines is that I have no fear of pain. I had no real fear of birth as I knew there would be a point where it would end, at least after 48 hours or so probably whereas with migraines the extreme pain can last for days if not two weeks with no respite despite the best efforts of my lovely pain management specialist.  I have been blessed with breastfeeding. Despite an unplanned cesarian birth, miss s latched on straight away and fed the first night for over two hours. I have never had mastitis and Sienna has always fed well.  For the first 12 months, miss s was all business when feeding, no eye contact, strong feeding and then when finished, rarely sleepy cuddles.  However once she got past 12 months she started feeding a lot more for comfort and we have had some lovely times with a bit of eye contact and relaxed full body cuddles.

To be honest, I'm really shitty about how migraines have forced me to stop breastfeeding.  Ideally I would have kept going until miss s was ready to stop. Prior to having Sienna though, I thought I would stop about 12 months but as miss s has been so attached to it I realised we would probably go a bit longer.

The process
Miss s has slept through the night on and off since around 6.5 months (with some rather large periods of wanting to feed several times during the night). We have been cutting down the night feeds from when miss s was about 12 months however with being unwell with a migraine, it has been easier for me to feed her quickly and get back into bed. We would have several weeks of only one feed per 24 hours and then she would want to feed a lot more. Miss s never took a bottle so she was always fed from the "source".

Last week we went off on a little Winter holiday. Miss s was getting up a bit at night and has been feeding a lot at night. It was getting to the point where she could no longer sit on my lap without asking for a feed. She would only have a few sips but would just want my boobs out on display all the time. Mr k took on the night duties and the morning shift to give me a bit of a proper holiday. He was able to get her back to sleep with out feeding. Mr k is a patient man and doesn't like to hear miss s cry. He would get up to her, give her a bit of a cuddle and put her back in her cot and then stroke her head until she was asleep or relaxed enough to not protest when he left the room. A couple of nights it was only once and a couple of night he had to get up four times.  He would also get her breakfast in the morning. If miss s asked for "mama" or "boobie" he would say "mama sleeping, you can have some later".

Since we have gotten home, miss s has slept through the night but has demanded a lot of feeding during the day. I've been unwell with a migraine and have been worried about the painkillers going through my milk (have checked several times with doctors etc that it is ok to take but still find it stressful).

Three days ago I had a bit of a moment. I saw the pack of tablets on my bedside table. They've been sitting there for the past four months, waiting for me to wean with miss s so I can take control of my health and get back on them.  I realised I could no longer go on and my dream of miss s gently weaning herself or being gently weaned over a couple of months wasn't going to happen. We had tried reducing feeds, distraction, back rubs, suggestions from this article . I realised that I needed to be grateful for the time I have had breastfeeding my girl and to recognise that in order to have a happy healthy life and be a happy healthy good mama to Sienna, I needed to get back on that medication. I picked up the packet and took the tablet.

There is absolutely no way I can feed miss s with this stuff in my system.  The first day, I told miss s that there was "no more milk, all gone, all finished" and "want a cuddle?". She had a bit of a yell for literally 5 seconds and then was easily distracted by a book.  Later on, she asked again and I was able to easily distract her with a snack and a bit of water.  One of my mama friends suggested that I have a couple of snacks on hand that might be a bit novel for her such a yogurt covered ricecake or one of the commercial baby biscuits. Miss s doesn't usually have these as I like to cook most things she eats from scratch but it was a good tip.  By the third time she asked for a feed she actually replied herself and said "boobie, no boobie" and did a bit of a wah wah face and then went and got a book for me. I must admit I was kind of surprised how easy it was all going and was prepared for day 2 to be a bit harder.  That night I was lucky in that she slept through and as soon as she woke up, I had her breakfast ready to go and my boobs safely confined behind a bra and a couple of layers of clothing.   Day 2 was basically the same. She woke up last night for a about 45 mins and needed quite a bit of help re-settling (patting on the bottom and cuddling) but she didn't nuzzle for my breast or ask for it). Today she has asked for a breastfeed but again she has replied "no boobie" and has easily been distracted by reading a story. I'm feeling rather unwell today so my mum has come to pick her up and take her for the day.

It is early days but it has been much smoother than I anticipated. I am thinking that having breastfeeds in the morning confused her in that she could have breastfeeds sometimes and at other times not. Being consistent seems to have relaxed her and she hasn't asked anywhere as much for it as she has in the previous two weeks.  I also think it took both mr k and I to wean miss s.  I can see his patience and love has really comforted our little girl.  Although I wrote at the beginning of this post that we had to go cold turkey, I've realised through writing that we have been effectively weaning for some time (even though it didn't feel like it at the time) and that her easy acceptance of no longer feeding indicates that it has been a gentle process.  We're up to day 3 but we've been doing this for about 5 months. She is happy, I'm happy (and will be even happier once I get rid of this stupid headache).
Thanks for reading.


  1. Loved this post! You poor thing I get the occasion migrane and got terrible headaches while on the pill so I can only imagine what you've been going through. Beautiful photo of the two of you as well, I can't believe Sienna is talking, time seems to be flying!

  2. Headaches and migraines are so horrible. I really feel for you.
    Thanks for sharing this honest post. It's so lovely to read that you and Mr K have been doing this together. S sounds like she's doing so well - good on her and well done you guys too!
    Big hugs,
    Ronnie xo

  3. What a gorgeous photo!

    Migraines are bloodyy awful.. you are one tough lady. Sounds like it the right time to wean.. Mama's needs are important too and you have given her a great run.

    I was also surprised at how easy weaning turned out to be- definitely harder on me than it was on Bay!
    I was amazed (and slightly saddened) by how quickly she forgot about booby.. even just a few weeks after completely weaning we were in the bath together and she was looking at my nipples like she'd never seen them before.

    Hope you feeling as good as new soon

    Desert Darling xoxoxo

    1. Thanks Em - Sienna definitely still loves the boobies. She talks about them all the time and gives them a kiss but I too was surprised by how quickly she was able to wean once we got serious about it all tho'!