‘I was starting to struggle. I was afraid to drive, fighting to stay awake at the wheel. Something had to give.’: Sleep-deprived mom switches to night weans, ‘I was happy to breastfeed again’

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“It felt selfish but I was starting to hate breastfeeding and resent my child. Something had to change.

Night weaning gently saved my breastfeeding relationship and because of night weaning gently, I went on to reach my breastfeeding goals.

I was totally fine breastfeeding my baby multiple times a night. It was what she needed for nutrition, immune support, and comfort. It was hard but I knew I could manage while she was a baby.

Understanding how small her tummy was, how newborns don’t actually go in deep sleep so everything is a nap for them, how waking frequently protected against SIDs, and how feeding often through the night ensured a good milk supply, I was comforted in knowing my lack of sleep was for a good cause.

But…

I’m not one of those people who can fall asleep easily with a baby latched on the breast. Because of back issues, I can’t sleep well next to a toddler. The way my brain works, it’s not uncommon for my brain to get going and make it difficult for me to sleep if I don’t settle and fall back asleep shortly after waking.

After over a year of frequent waking with my baby, I was starting to struggle — mentally, emotionally, physically, and relationally. My health was suffering. I began to struggle more with anger, anxiety, and depression. My whole family was paying the price. I was afraid to drive after a scary episode of not remembering doing so and another one of fighting to stay awake at the wheel. We were facing missing out on activities and opportunities for my older children because it simply wasn’t safe for me to operate a vehicle.

Something had to give. I had to get more sleep.

But it felt selfish to me to end something she loved. I didn’t really want to quit breastfeeding, even though it was starting to feel like I REALLY WANTED TO NEVER BREASTFEED AGAIN.

My partner and I decided to night wean.

It went better than I expected, though it was no walk in the park. It took some effort, planning, and knowledge to make it happen, but we did it. We made sure it was a respectful and gentle process for all of us.

It worked.

She thrived. It turns out she was sleep deprived too and once she was getting more sleep, she seemed happier and much more easy-going.

The change in me was swift. I was happy to breastfeed again. I treasured the moments with my toddler cuddled on my lap to get my milk rather than the over-tired, touched-out resentment I had been experiencing. Waking up to her asking to nurse in the morning was sweet and special as she curled up next to me in bed to have her first mama milk of the day. I wasn’t afraid to drive. I was much calmer and patient with my children, able to be more of the partner and parent (and person) I really want to be. My anger, anxiety, and depression didn’t go away, but they did significantly improve.

We went on to breastfeed during the day for 2 and a half more years, reaching my goal of her breastfeeding as long as was mutually desired by both of us.”

Courtesy Jessica Martin-Weber

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Martin-Weber of The Leaky Boob. Follow The Leaky Boob on Instagram here. The article originally appeared here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories here.

Read more stories from Jessica and Jeremy here: 

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