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Tales from a weaning breast: numb nam-nams

My 2.5yo nurses in the morning and evening.  On the weekends, sometimes he will nurse mid-day. We're not ready to give up breastfeeding.  My two previous children nursed until right about this age.

Last week, I had to take an overnight trip without the boy, despite my success over the past 2 years in bringing babe along with me for work travel.  I left for my work trip this time, with no child to nurse and no pump to extract milk.  It was somewhat intentional.  The trip was less than 48 hours.

By night, a good day after I had nursed, my breasts were tender, started to feel engorged.  By the time I went to bed, they were bumpy, full of big bubbles of milk.  By 3am, I tossed and turned, unable to find a comfortable spot or position.  Every thing made my breasts hurt; they were becoming more and more rock-like with every hour. 

I even got out of bed to consult trusty urbanMamas to see how mamas had handled weaning before: there was Sarah almost 6 years ago, breast unwilling to let down into pump phlange, and there were weaning tactics and tactics, and there were discussions on the right time to wean.  Not too much to help with my discomfort during my days of decreased nursing.

When I woke up in the morning, I took a walk/jog in the cold air.  I thought it would distract me and numb my already numb nam-nams.  In the shower, I tried to gingerly massage and hand expres some milk, to not too much avail.  I seized in discomfort.  I counted the moments until...  finally I was home to child and insisted he nurse.  He was distracted, not too much interested, and the relief was not satiating. 

In a couple of days, we were back to normal, nursing in the morning and at night.  I am not looking forward to my next overnight, which is around the corner in three weeks.  Should I bring a small hand pump with me next time?  Should I more agressively hand express?  What is the best method for hand expression?  I am SO not looking forward to the engorgement again!


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I never personally found hand-expressing to be comfortable (but that's just me). If I were in your situation, I would either start cutting back on nursing now (shorter sessions, or losing one of them altogether) to cut back your supply before your next trip, or take a pump with you. Another kinda weird idea I had would be to take some antihistamines while you're away which might dry you out enough that you wouldn't get engorged.

Yes!!!!!bring a pump!!!!!

I had a hand-operated pump that was great for just this kind of thing. Small and very portable, cost me about $50. Totally worth it!

if you decide to bring a pump, you can probably get a cheap used hand medela on craigslist or at a consignment store -- disinfect by boiling if you're concerned about that.

I hand express with lots of soap in a long hot shower. And sit with a hot wash cloth on my breast and maybe express onto that. I recommend doing this before your breasts are rock hard, though. Ouch.

There are also foods and herbs that reduce milk supply such as cabbage (I've heard) and mint (I've experienced and didn't know it was the cause). There is even a tea called 'no more milk' available at places like Whole Foods Market.

I have recently had similar discomfort (aching, hard nam nams) when I work long days and am away from my almost-2 year old for 12 hours. It doesn't seem like she nurses that much anymore, mostly for nap and bedtime, and I haven't needed to pump at work for over a year. But in the past few weeks when I'm at work, there is a lot of milk build-up in there! I was thinking about starting to wean her, maybe she caught my vibe and decided to nurse more while she could still get it!

Here is a good link that describes how to hand express, with video links to two techniques. The New Born Baby - Hand Expression . Hand expression is a great tool to have. It does take some practice.

Many moms find that cabbage leaves can relieve engorgement. Use the green cabbage, break the veins a little by lightly crumpling leaves, then place them in your bra.

It is best to pump when your child would be nursing, to maintain your milk supply. Mint and cabbage leaves may help relieve engorgement if trying to wean, but may impair milk supply.

Here is the link - www.thenewbornbaby.com/hand-expression/

Yes, I would advise you to bring a hand pump next time. As for the best hand expression, you may place your hand on your breast, press your thumb and fingers back on the breast tissue and roll the tit forward to squeeze the milk. It would be much better if you can include breast massaging for added stimulation.

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