A few weeks ago I had to stop breastfeeding suddenly. Although I had been gently cutting down for some time, I had wanted to stop and I had fed my daughter for longer than I’d ever hoped to…ending our feeding journey was way more emotional than I could of predicted.
In an effort to write what I needed to read at the time, I thought I’d share my experience of stopping feeding in case it helps anyone else to feel less alone and hopefully to provide some comfort, however small.
I’d read that people could feel a bit down on stopping feeding but I had not been prepared for just how tough I would find it, especially during the first few days. Although I knew it was time to stop, because feeding ended so abruptly, initially I cried every time I thought about it and had trouble sleeping.
I worried about the impact stopping would have on my relationship with my daughter and how I would be able to soothe her if she was poorly or couldn’t sleep. I felt like I’d lost part of my purpose and I was unclear on what being a mum looked like for me if I couldn’t feed anymore. I felt really anxious and unsure and although I know I was being hard on myself, I felt guilty that my daughter had to wean before she wanted to.
From talking to friends and reading online blogs, I know this feeling is common when stopping breastfeeding. This fear of change and fear of the unknown is to be expected, even when you are glad to have stopped.
Now a few weeks on, I have been amazed and relieved at how we have settled into a new routine. I am still just as close to my little girl and I am feeling so much more positive. All of our sleep has improved somewhat and I feel able to be grateful for our journey rather than sad about it ending.
If you are stopping breastfeeding (either by choice or involuntarily), genuinely be kind to yourself and be patient. This can be a really bittersweet time no matter the circumstances. Tell others how you are feeling, especially if you are struggling.
If you know anyone who has recently stopped breastfeeding or is planning to, don’t assume this is always perceived as a wholly positive event by the parent as they are likely to be experiencing a range of emotions. Asking, listening and responding to how they tell you they are feeling will mean a lot.
I really hope this post is helpful and lots of love to anyone struggling with stopping breastfeeding ❤️
As always, thanks for reading.
NHS advice on stopping breastfeeding
La leche league GB – When breastfeeding ends suddenly