It’s taken me a little while to get round to writing this, but I am officially no longer breastfeeding. I stopped feeding Jacob in early December, when he was almost 16 months. If you’d have told me I’d make it to 16 months when I was 6 days in and couldn’t quite get the latch right I wouldn’t have believed you. It wasn’t all smooth sailing as you know if you’ve been reading for a while, but it was all worth it in the end.
I had been thinking of stopping for a while. We’d gradually cut down to two feeds a day, then one, and finally the opportunity to stop arose. I was going away for the weekend with some friends and I decided to just stop and see how it went. We did our last feed on a Thursday evening before bed as usual, and we haven’t done it since.
How does Jacob feel about it?
Surprisingly, Jacob hasn’t really batted an eyelid. I expected there would be some resistance, but he hasn’t really asked for it thankfully. He loves his bottle before bed (I know we should be using a cup now… how did you make that transition? I need tips!) and it’s actually nice now that he doesn’t badger me to feed him. He’d got into a bad habit of screaming at me and pulling my top once I got home from work and wouldn’t stop until I fed him. It all felt quite stressful, so it’s nice that’s stopped. I had visions of being harassed for months by a grumpy toddler, but actually he’s adapted really well and it’s been much easier than I expected. I hope that’s reassuring for anyone who’s worried about how their toddler will react to stopping.
How do I feel about it?
I feel fine. I expected to feel a bit sad, but actually I was ready to stop. I still get just as many cuddles, and it means I don’t have to do bedtime every day. Sometimes I get to cook dinner instead… it’s weird that seems novel! I think picking a day to stop was a good idea and going away for a night definitely helped break the cycle.
I don’t regret stopping when we did. It was the right decision for us. I aimed to get to 6 months initially, then a year. Anything over that was a bonus. I wasn’t necessarily against breastfeeding for longer. I have no problem with extended breastfeeding at all. In the end, it just wasn’t right for us and I’d started to get a little fed up. It’s quite nice to feel back to normal again.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was the engorgement. It was painful. As we were only doing one feed a day, I really didn’t think there would be much milk left. It took at least a week to go down and I had to express a couple of times when it got too much.
The end of the road
Overall, I loved breastfeeding. Sure, there were times when I hated it with a passion. But it was mostly a positive experience and one I highly recommend if you want to do it. That’s the key. If you don’t want to, then don’t. I’m not in the breast is best camp. I do think it’s amazing, and I think there’s a definite problem with education about breastfeeding in the UK and that’s why we have such low rates of continuation (initiation isn’t bad, probably because women feel pressured in hospital to try it, but then aren’t supported when they get home). Part of that, in my opinion, is that women don’t have other breastfeeders in real life to ask questions of and hear what it’s really like. I hope sharing some of my experiences has helped with that a little.
You can read more about my breastfeeding experience:
I also wrote some tips for those thinking about breastfeeding: