Mint Tea and Bandaids
During my pregnancy, I spent lots of time preparing to breastfeed. For example, I had weekly calls with a breastfeeding peer counselor. She was a mom, with her own breastfeeding experience, and she was trained by WIC and La Leche League to help other moms through their breastfeeding experiences. My conversations with her were tremendously helpful, educational, and sometimes surprising. I would get off the phone with her, stimulated by our conversation, and do a bunch of research I previously had not known I was even curious about.
Somehow, through this in depth process, I came across the information that peppermint tea decreases breastmilk supply. (!) I was shocked. I LOVE peppermint tea, and I swore it off immediately. I was so clear I wanted to breastfeed that I didn’t want anything to get in the way of this relationship with my child.
Now, as I am in the beginning stages of weaning, I am drinking tons of peppermint tea and enjoying it tremendously! (I just read today that sage tea is recommended for this as well.) My thinking is that when there is no more milk, there is no more milk. It is a very straightforward boundary. No room for negotiation. I am simply helping my body make less milk.
My experience is that recently my son was really sick with RSV – a horrible flu like virus with a lot of wheezing and chest congestion. He was not very interested in food or liquids but very interested in breastfeeding. He nursed so much that there were moments I ran dry. It is true, my body did always make more, but there was not always milk available immediately. My son had to deal. This particular comfort was gone, and I got to see what he did with that.
You know what? He was fine! He pretty much rolled flat onto his back and fell back asleep. Sure, this was after a bit of fussing… but he wasn’t ever inconsolable over it, and we always worked it out. Typically, it went something like this:
(He and I are nursing in the middle of the night.)
Him: flails off my breast whimpering, acting agitating, and crying a little.
Me: “what’s wrong?”
Him: “da” he points to my breast.
Me: “oh, is it empty?”
Me: “yeah, I’m empty. Let’s go to sleep.”
Him: more whimpering and crying and some rolling around, maybe trying again on the other breast.
Me: “I’m sorry I’m empty. Would you like some water?” I hand him a sippy cup.
Him: “noooooo!!!!” He sounds offended, and pushed it away.
Me: “it’s ok, sweetie. I’ll make more. Let’s rest now.”
Him: “yeah” then he cuddles me or not, holds my hand or not, maybe he asks for a lullaby… but eventually falls back asleep.
I intuitively know and trust that when my body is done producing milk, my son will be fine. It has been such a luxury and honor to nurse him for so long. I wouldn’t have it any other way! That said, there does come a time when wonderful interactions between human bodies end… for so many very good reasons. I have faith in this unfolding that Storm and I are on. Neither of us are in control, but both of us influence what happens next.
The bandaid recommendation comes from our Ayurvedic doctor. She thinks it would be helpful if my nipples simply were not available. It is true, on the days when I am all bundled up in regular clothes, and I am really not available for nursing, Storm knows it and does not really ask. If he does, he is easily deterred. No big deal.
Today, Storm nursed 7 times. 3 early morning nurses and 4 during the day. I was struck, this evening, how precious this connection is. I have preserved it for so long, sacrificed so much, and now I am loosening my grip to see what happens. How much of a nudge does my son need to wean from me? Is it the right time for him to become an independent kid? Where will we be at the end of March with this? I feel excited to see… while savoring every moment of our tender and heart opening process.