I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I breastfed my daughter for 15 months. Fifteen months! This from the woman who, though determined to try, only wanted to breastfeed for 12 weeks. I have to admit I’m a little proud of myself. That said, I did find I had started to feel uncomfortable about the fact that I was still breastfeeding post 12 months. I felt like people were judging me, that people were looking at my daughter like she was a character from Little Britain.
Now, I’m sure it was all in my head, but it’s amazing how we constantly feel judgement. We feel judged when we don’t breastfeed, and then judged when we do!
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Breastfeeding didn’t come easily for me. In fact, even now I wonder how I did it. For the first 12 weeks I would pump after every feed in order to have enough milk in bottle form for when my little girl would fall asleep at the breast from exertion, the bottle requiring much less effort from her little form. Twelve weeks! At a feed every three hours. With a feed that took a minimum of 30 minutes, stripping off clothes, and then being strapped to a pump for another 30. Seriously, I’m insane. Let’s not forget the blocked ducts in there, or the waking up with boobs so swollen they felt like they would burst, and sheets soaked in leaked breastmilk. Oh, yes, breastfeeding is wonderful!
Then something happened. Missy learned how to get a full feed. The pumping was restricted to mornings (for my own comfort of having a back-up in the freezer more than anything else) and I had my time back. Missy also started sleeping through at six weeks so things were looking up.
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Fast forward to 10 months, and we were down to two feeds a day, which gave mumma the freedom to go out during the day (after all that bottle stuff in the beginning, missy decided at around the six month mark that she was no longer OK with the imitation boob) and even have the occasional cheeky champagne!
At 12 months we were down to one, the morning feed. Each morning missy and I would have a long cuddle, her sleepy warm form curled into me as she got her morning fix before demanding Weet-Bix. It was all sorts of wonderful. I’m not from the “breast-is-best” school, people can do what they like, but there is something about that bond that feels extra special. So, it was much sadness that I decided to stop.
Why stop, you ask? Well, it wasn’t about my feeling judged, but all of a sudden the idea of my almost-toddler suckling on me felt a little weird. Add to the mix getting ready for work and childcare, and the logistical nightmare that is adding a breastfeed if missy decided to sleep long, and the reasons were stacking up. Plus, I was convinced that she wasn’t bothered. Some days she would barely have anything. Surely that meant it was time?
Well, it’s now day four. Today was the first day my daughter hasn’t sat on the bed with tears streaming down her face, pinching my chest and begging for boob. I felt awful. But today we went straight to Weet-Bix, wolfing it down and playing happily, no longer needing that long morning cuddle with mumma. My little girl is growing up.
I’d be lying if I said the whole thing is not making me feel quite emotional. It was my decision to finish, and I am committed to it. But what a lovely journey it was. Sure, it was painful, it was difficult, it was sometimes incredibly inconvenient but it was also a kind of wonderful I had never before experienced, and I already miss terribly. Breastfeeding surprised me. It came in and removed all my pre-baby cynicism, stripping it away and just presenting me with moments of pure happiness, as my sweet little girl curled her body into me, before looking up at me in milk-drunk happiness and coming back for cuddles.
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Well done you! My son lost interest in his one feed a day when I stopped. I used to wish he had maintained his morning feed and then I realised it was the snuggles that count so now we have a cup of tea/milk in bed in the morning.
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What a good idea! I might do that myself. I miss the cuddles already!
It’s such an emotional decision to stop breastfeeding because it’s such a lovely bonding time with you child. But good for you for sticking to your decision and you’ll eventually find other ways to bond, we love cuddles every evening after tea and tidy up time, I put Paw Patrol or whatever they want to watch and we all sit together until bathtime. It’s also emotional to know they are growing up but we will also be their numbers 1s #brilliantblogposts x
Breast feeding is a personal choice and women should be able to make their own choices without fear of judgement. I breast fed my two for their first year and after a rocky start with my sons feeding I cherished those moments (my favourite feeds were the night feeds). My daughter was a natural born feeder and it was pure joy feeding her from the start.
Making that decision to stop breast feeding is a biggy. There is special closeness that is formed whilst feeding; the tickling hands, the sleepy eyes and the baby warmth. With my daughter I felt sadder because I knew it wasn’t something I’d be doing again (two children are enough!).
I’m sure it’s the Mums that miss it the most when we stop breast feeding. Even now sixteen years later it makes me smile when I think back to those feeds.
Oh darling totally relate from when I stopped with my boys, it is such an emotional as well as a physically different time. Be kind to yourself x