On stopping breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is hard.

… For everybody! At least eventually.

It is an obstacle course that everyone must walk out of at some point, and for many, the exit is a difficult one.

Methods of exit:
– Cracked nipples
– Latching problems
– Mastitis
– Pain
– Leaking
– Exhaustion
– Concerns regarding feeding in public
– Low supply
– The arrival of teeth… HELLO!!!
– Work and other commitments
– Babies disinterest in the breast a.k.a. public baby vs. boob wrestling

Should you be one of the lucky ones to make it through all of the above, well done. Now, take the sanitary pads out of your bra and prepare for battle: the final hurdle is the emotional process of letting go of breastfeeding, once it is no longer needed.

I was lucky enough to breastfeed for 13 months. Finley had been losing interest for a while, but on an average Monday night he made his choice clear. The cheeky monkey, he actually pushed himself off my lap, walked over to my bra (which was not nursing-friendly and therefore had been flung across the room), brought it over and pushed it against my chest. “Put it back on mum!” he seemed to say, with a wise smile. He practically then navigated us into the kitchen, and out came the cow’s milk. It’s hard to believe that just three short months ago he was nursing every two hours around the clock.

Those early days were so hard and yet, watching him now, standing proudly with cow’s milk dribbling down his chin, giddy with newfound independence, part of me is mourning the loss of that needy little baby boy, whom only I could soothe. *sigh*.

IMG_5026

Finley at 6 months, me with actual boobs (oh, how i miss them!!)

A final word on the old “breast is best” malarkey. I have met dozens of wonderful mothers this year, and I have yet to meet a single one who is NOT doing her best. Feeding method irrelevant. I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, but if I were to be honest with myself I think there were times in which I should have used formula. I was PETRIFIED about losing supply, suffering from guilt, and as a result was enslaved to nursing a coliky/refluxy mini tyrant around the clock. In hindsight, the “best” thing for Finley would have undoubtedly been to accept help from others, offer an occasional bottle feed, and for me to sleep and restore the much needed energy and sanity to look after Finley in the very best way. Those of you out there who had the freedom of mind to be flexible in your feeding solutions, I salute you.

We may not all be on the same course, but us mothers are facing the same obstacles. How about we stop judging each other and do what we like with our tits. #mothersunite. ♥

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