Before I begin, just to warn you, I may cry all over my keyboard as I type out this post. After 16 months, Alex is no longer being breastfed. When I was pregnant I decided that I would try my best to breastfeed my second baby for a year and I was so proud and happy when we reached that milestone. I was sort of left in breastfeeding limbo after that though, I don’t know what I was expecting to happen after Alex’s first birthday but I kind of thought that he would just be over the whole breastfeeding thing the second he finished opening his presents and shovelling birthday cake into his face. Well, that didn’t happen. Turning one made no difference to Alex’s desire to breastfeed so we carried on, until last month that is. For my final entry *sob* in my breastfeeding diary, I am going to talk about how it feels when breastfeeding comes to an end, how it feels when something that has become such a big part of your life is suddenly over. Just like no one really prepares you for the emotional rollercoaster of trying to establish breastfeeding with your newborn, there is not much talk about how when it’s over you go for another trip around the rollercoaster track, not to mention the boobs you are left with (or not) at the end of it all!
Breastfeeding diary – when you stop breastfeeding
Last month I got the flu, it was horrific and I can honestly say I have never ever felt so ill. Over the past couple of months Alex had dropped down to a maximum of three feeds per day. Mostly he was having milk when he woke up, when I put him down for his nap and when it was time for him to go to bed. Some days he would skip the morning feed and opt for his bowl of Weetabix the second he woke up instead. Sometimes I would give him a bottle of cows milk on the school run as during the chaos of getting Leo ready for school I’d run out of time to sit and feed him myself. The feed at bedtime was a constant though and I think we both enjoyed our sleepy cuddles to finish off the day.
Anyway, when I was ill I could barely lift my head off the pillow and the thought of having a wriggling, grabby toddler stuck to my chest did nothing but make me feel even worse. On the two days where I was basically bed bound, the decision was sort of taken out of my hands to feed Alex or not, even if I had wanted to there was no way I could have lifted him. He didn’t cry for me to feed him at all during those two days, he was happy having milk from a bottle and wasn’t fussed by the sudden boob ban at all. Over the previous weeks I had been thinking the time to stop breastfeeding was pretty much upon us, I just wasn’t sure how to go about it without upsetting Alex as he’d grown quite fond of the boob and definitely used it as a comfort a lot of the time. When breastfeeding was suddenly taken off the table and Alex didn’t seem at all bothered by it, I knew that this was my opportunity to wean him off breastfeeding with as little upset as possible.
When I was feeling better again and well enough to breastfeed him, all my intentions of stopping went out the window and as bedtime rolled around, we cuddled up in the nursing chair and, as if on autopilot, I tried to feed him. Alex probably ‘fed’ for about a minute and then came away all grumpy and fussy. I guess the milk was all gone. After two days of no breastfeeding and a couple weeks of sporadic feeding before that, my milk supply must have dwindled and, even though I’d changed my mind, our breastfeeding journey was over. I text Oli downstairs to bring up a bottle of milk and cuddled Alex close and fed him that instead, no big deal. Except it felt like a massive deal. We fought so hard in those newborn days to establish breastfeeding, it got easier and then it just became a part of our daily routine. Through the PND fog, breastfeeding always made me feel calm and through the chaos of our days, breastfeeds were a chance for Alex and I to connect in the quiet together. Feeding helped us form such a strong bond and as I sat feeding him his bottle I let a few tears escape down my cheek.
No one tells you what it feels like when a positive breastfeeding journey comes to an end. You hear a lot about mums feeling guilty that they stopped, or ashamed and angry that it didn’t work out for one reason or another but not much is said about just stopping because your baby has decided they don’t want it anymore. In a way, although I’m feeling all the emotions right now (hormones?), I am relieved that we aren’t feeding anymore. There was a part of me that worried that Alex wouldn’t want to self wean until he was about 3 or 4 (or 5!) and whilst I would never judge another mum for feeding for that long, it’s not something I wanted to do. I am looking forward to having some more energy, breastfeeding steals your calories and can make you feel SO tired, especially if you don’t eat enough. I am sure Oli will be happy if I can keep my eyes open later than 9pm, maybe we will actually be able to make it through a whole film in the evenings now?
Yes, I’m sad that it’s over, it means my baby is growing up and is becoming less of a baby and more of a toddler every day. I feel so proud though, of Alex and of myself. We went through a lot in those first couple weeks and when I was sat crying on the bed at 3am because my newborn would just not open his mouth wide enough, I would never have imagined we would breastfeed for 15 months. But we did! Go boobs!
Speaking of boobs, something else no one really tells you is that breastfeeding basically kills your cleavage. All cards on the table here, I now have no boobs. There are 11 year old boys out there with more of a chest than me and I know it might seem shallow but I am kind of gutted about it. If I could go back in time and not breastfeed but keep my perky C cups, would I? Absolutely no way. Breastfeeding Leo and Alex is something I am so glad I was able to do, it helped me build strong bonds with both my babies and if I can ever convince Oli we should have another baby, I would do it all over again without a second thought about what size bra I’ll be wearing when it’s all over.
When I stopped feeding Alex I had no leaky boobs, there was no pain or clogged up ducts and I think that just goes to show that Alex wasn’t really taking much milk from me anymore anyway. I am glad we weaned gradually, slowly dropping feeds over time until we were able to get to the point where I could stop and not have any uncomfortable side effects. Alex has only asked for milk twice since we stopped, he started whacking my chest one day after his nap when he was grumpy and groggy and just wanted the snuggles. Then there was that night he woke up teething at 2am and he kept trying to pull my top down, it was nothing a big cuddle and a bottle couldn’t fix though. It is such a relief that he is not crying and pulling at my clothes three times a day like I feared he would be.
To all of you who have read my breastfeeding diary right from the start, thanks for joining us on our journey. I hope you have found my honest account of breastfeeding useful and reassuring in some way. If you have any pregnant friends who are considering breastfeeding then I would love for you to share my breastfeeding diary with them.
All that is left to say is..
goodbye breastfeeding, thanks for all the cuddly memories
goodbye boobs, thanks for all your hard work and remember you did look awesome once and..
hello to the next stage of this crazy parenting ride!
Did you breastfeed? How did you feel when it was over? All emotional like me or were you ok about it? I’d love for you to share you experience in the comments section.
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