When breastfeeding ends...
I can’t actually believe it...but I think we’re done.
After over four years, we had our last breastfeed nearly two weeks ago.
We tried a few months ago to wean and we were both MISERABLE. I don’t know if it was the hormone dip, I was rushing us, who knows but it was HARD work and we weren’t happy. So we went back to it after a week. I’m sure people thought I was mad...most wouldn’t have ‘given in’, that mentality of keep going, you’re almost there, keep pushing...But I always believe you keep going if it feels right and it didn’t feel right. So we pretty much picked up where we left off, but the nights were better, a HUGE bonus.
My body has been signalling to me for a while that it needed to stop. Every month like clockwork around ovulation, my boobs start hurting. And they’re super sore until I get my period. My awesome acupuncturist Sam, a fertility expert, said my body can’t do both. It’s confused now, it’s struggling to keep up with being fertile and feeding. He never ever suggested I stop, even though I think my energetic body has been telling him for a while I should. But I needed to be ready. Completely ready. Emotionally and physically to see it through.
The breastfeeding relationship between a mother and their child is so personal and intimate, only that beautiful dyad know what’s right. Whether you breastfeed for a few days or a few years, it’s about the two of you and doing what’s right for you both.
Breastfeeding is a huge commitment. It takes a lot of you in all areas (I had three rounds of mastitis with Moo and only properly left her for the first time to attend a birth when she was nine months old) but it gives back too. My number one parenting tool for pretty much any given situation...tired, emotional, hurt, restless, waking up, going to sleep...it made my life easier for sure. Always there, on tap, ready.
But it is a relationship. It’s about both of you. I think we lasted so long because Moo has always been pretty chilled about it. She hasn’t been super intense or fed tonnes all night every night like her brother did. It made it chilled for me too.
So what have I learnt feeding a four year old? A four year old?? Madness. Never in a million years did I think I would feed her this long. I started out, just like I did with Spud, we’ll stop when it feels right. And with her it’s now. I think the main thing I’ve learnt is the only opinion that matters is mine. Everyone will have something to say when you breastfeed an older child, some amazed and supportive, some more questionning and some completely misunderstand and that’s ok. They’re not doing it. I am, and just like all mothering decisions, at the end of the day it’s up to me. Sadly breastfeeding trauma is a very real thing. Mothers who weren’t supported properly and stopped too soon can really suffer. It’s so important to get support in place ahead of time, get the helplines and local drop ins on the fridge, ready. Breastfeeding isn’t easy. It takes work, lots of time, dedication and a lot of cake :) It’s a bit like learning a new dance, it takes the two of you working together to get it right and a lot of practice to perfect it.
I know it’s going to take my body a while to get back to normal. To be mine again. It’s been emotional and I feel a bit wobbly right now. But I’ll sit with it and wait for things to return to normal. What even is that? I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for nearly eight years! Our bodies really are incredible.
Thank you Body. You did good.
If you want to keep going, keep going. If you want to stop, stop. Just make sure it’s from your heart and your body and your baby because that’s all that matters.
Doula love as always