I‘d like to start with a disclaimer to my Dad, any other men who might be readers of my blog and anyone else who isn’t in the mood for boob chat, this one isn’t for you. No need to read, just click away now…
One other side note before we continue: I wrote this post many, many months ago now but I was unable to share it due to my pregnancy being unannounced. Since then I have updated it slightly so that it makes more sense to my current life. As with everything I write, this is just my experience and opinions so bare that in mind when reading.
Right, if there is anyone still reading here we go.
You might have read my emotional post about the end of our breastfeeding journey (if not, you can click here) and you might have been relieved to think that it was the end of my time banging on about breastfeeding. I thought it would be too. But no, it turns out that I still have more to say. There isn’t really much information out there about stopping breastfeeding. The general focus is on helping women to breastfeed and to give them the support to carry on. And rightly so, but I thought I would write an update on myself, Darcie and my boobs three weeks on from stopping just in case there are any women out there wondering what to expect when they do come to stop. Once you reach a year of breastfeeding, most people don’t want to hear about it or talk to you about it anymore and so advice on how and when to stop is limited.
For anyone who isn’t a regular reader here, Darcie was 16 months old when we stopped.
So what effect has it had on Darcie?
To put it plain and simply, it has had absolutely no effect on her. She was so ready to stop, and as much as I knew that she was ready, it has been a huge weight off my mind to see that she really was. She coincidentally caught a cold the day after her last feed (too soon to be a consequence of stopping, can’t get me that easily mum guilt!) and was struggling to sleep as a result of a blocked nose and chesty cough. After 4 hours of trying to get her to go to sleep, I actually did cave in and offer her the boob but she wouldn’t take it. This just confirmed to me that she had been ready and that she understood what I’d been saying the day before when I told her I wouldn’t be breastfeeding her anymore.
I’ve had a few people message me since writing my last post asking how I knew she was ready to stop, and all I can really say is that you will just know. She was only feeding once before bed when we stopped and was already drinking coconut milk as well if I wasn’t available to feed her. She never asked for breast milk or showed any signs of distress when it wasn’t offered. Each child is different but you know yours best and will be able to judge when they are ready. I really would say that Darcie self weaned because although it was me that made the conscious decision to stop offering her my breast milk, she was so disinterested by that time anyway. I’m sure we could have gone on feeding once a day, before bed, for many more months, maybe even years, but I was ready to have my body back. I was also trying to get pregnant again by this point and could only assume that breastfeeding was the reason it hadn’t happened yet as my periods had never returned while I was still feeding.
What about me?
I’m going to split this into categories because otherwise I could ramble all day.
I felt very emotional to be stopping breastfeeding, as you would have been able to tell in my letter to her. I felt worried that she wouldn’t need me anymore, and that I wouldn’t have that one thing that only I could do for her. After seeing how ready she was to stop and how little life has changed since, those feelings quickly disappeared. I did find that my hormones were all over the place for a few days after stopping. I’ve never been one to get particularly hormonal but the weekend after stopping feeding I lost count of the number of petty fights I picked with Dan (sorry Dan!) or the number of times I cried for no reason. It didn’t last for long though and after about a week I felt completely normal again.
I got my period back within two days of stopping breastfeeding. I wasn’t expecting it to happen that quickly and I felt like I was 13 again after not having had one for over two years. As much as it’s nice to know that everything is working and that my body is ready to get pregnant again, I’m not overly thrilled to be stocking up on Tampons again. (Turns out that was my last period for a while again anyway as I am now pregnant!)
Three weeks on and I don’t think my milk has completely gone yet, I still see the odd bit, but my supply is certainly decreasing. I think because I was down to only one feed a day anyway, it has taken my body a little longer to realise that it is no longer needed. About a week after stopping, my boobs were very painful. It almost felt like the day my milk first came in and they were swollen and painful, which I suppose was because there was milk still building up but not being used. Since then they have become much smaller, I’d say smaller than pre-Darcie. But, newsflash, they have not sagged.
I’ll repeat that, breastfeeding has not given me saggy boobs! If anything I prefer my post pregnancy and breastfeeding boobs! (Edit: I’m writing this now with pregnant boobs and sorely missing those lovely little post breastfeeding boobs that I had for about a month!)
My theory is that because I stopped so gradually they never decreased or increased in size rapidly, which is when sagging usually occurs in any type of weight loss. I could be wrong, and I’m sure there would be people to say otherwise, but that’s the theory I’m sticking with. They do always say that it is actually pregnancy that causes sagging, not breastfeeding and from talking to other mums that does seem to be correct. So if anyone is feeling put off from breastfeeding because it might give you saggy boobs, you might want to rethink that, it could actually help!
In summary I would say that stopping breastfeeding was nowhere near to the huge occasion that I had built it up to be in my head. I’m please to have come through the whole journey and that I have documented it for other women to read and for myself to look back on with this second baby. I have every intention of breastfeeding this baby for as long as they need, until they self wean the same way that Darcie did. I do think there should be more information out there about stopping breastfeeding as it is something that every breastfeeding mother will eventually experience and it’s nice to be able to read and learn from other’s experiences.
How did you find stopping breastfeeding?