First things first if you’re reading this for advice, I just want to say a massive well done on your breastfeeding journey, whether it’s been 3 days or 3 years you have done amazingly! I’ve been there, done it and can’t help but tell other mums just how amazing they are because it’s what helped me feel good about it too when others told me the same thing!
For what you hear about being the most natural job in the world, for me it certainly didn’t feel natural sometimes. The beginning weeks or months were tough and trying to establish breastfeeding sometimes felt like the most unnatural job in the world – stick with it because you’re not the only one I promise!
I found lots of information about breast feeding, but not so much about when it comes to stopping. How do you know when the time is right for you and your child to stop? Hopefully my personal experience will help a bit!
I breastfed my daughter Mya for 13months, and if I’m being honest, I just knew when it was time to give up – it felt right for us and that’s what’s important in my opinion, trusting yourself and your instincts.
If you are thinking of stopping breastfeeding, I would say the main advice I can give is to reduce your feeds slowly. Going cold turkey can be distressing for your child and for yourself, plus it can also increase your chances of becoming depressed when your breastfeeding journey ends. I slowly weaned Mya off feeds over a few months and replaced with formula before she was a year and then cows milk when she was over 1.
Over a few months I had managed to get her down to just ‘boobing’ in the evening before bed. That was when I decided to take the plunge and stop completely.
I was surprised at how well Mya took to it being stopped completely, we only had tears a couple of times and after a few weeks it was as if she has forgotten all about it. I remember showing her my boob and I thought she was going to try and latch on but she just bit my nipple which really made me laugh and feel incredibly sad at the same time.
The hardest part was how I felt myself, even though I was only feeding once daily, my breasts still became engorged and painful.
I luckily didn’t get mastitis but I did have a few blocked ducts. I remember writing on my Instagram stories about how the best way to clear the ducts were and someone suggested using a vibrator on them. So yes my dignity went out the window that day when I tried this method and to my shock it really did help (the things we do as parents aye).
I also used the classic cabbage leaves in my bra of a night, I’m not too sure if it was coincidence that they started to dry up or if it was actually the leaves working, but the next morning they felt less full.
Another tip I found useful was whenever I had a shower I would make sure the water was fairly hot and massage my breasts and if they were really full I would hand express. I found it was best not to express with a pump when I was giving up – it just made my body produce more milk and then you’re back to square one.
There is no right or wrong way to stop breastfeeding these are just some points and tips which really helped me when I’d made that decision. Hopefully they might help you in some way too. I took a photo of my final feed with Mya and I’m so happy I took it. I felt emotional when it was my last feed and when I look at the photo now all of the emotions come flooding back but I’m so grateful for it. When you do have the final feed ask your partner to take a photo for you to look back on, you won’t regret it.
Pregnancy and Motherhood Blogger, Ella is a new mum to Mya who is keeping it real and honest along the way. You can follow her trying to mum in this crazy world over on insta @crazynewmumma