Hello From the Other Side… of Breastfeeding


weaning baby from breastfeeding

Pregnancy mood swings get all the attention, but few things are as hormonally fraught for a new mom as breastfeeding. The highs are exhilaratingly high—the incredible closeness, that sleepy, snuffling sound—and the lows are crushingly low—the screaming newborn who won’t latch, the horrors of mastitis or plugged ducts, pumping on a long airplane flight.

There are days when the only thing that gets you through is the knowledge that you won’t have to breastfeed forever. Then there are days when you want to freeze time and stay in that warm cocoon of love for eternity. Most days are somewhere in between.

But whether you nurse your child for two months or two years, there will come a point when—for any number of reasons, within or beyond your control—that chapter comes to a close. And the unfortunate reality is that even if you’ve had a hell of a time nursing and can’t wait to be done with it, you have one more emotional hurdle in front of you in the form of weaning.

A woman’s body is incredibly smart, but it can also be incredibly cruel. The hormones that help you fall instantly in love with a being who, quite frankly, brings very little to the table (what with the not sleeping, the crying and the constant pooping), are going to do their best to make sure you feel like an absolute monster when you decide to stop producing milk. After all, your hormones don’t know how old your child is, how many other wonderful nutritional options are available, or what it’s like to try to work full-time and pump in a converted supply closet.

Even if you’ve weaned before, each time is hard. You will second-guess the timing, you will feel guilty, and you will almost certainly ugly-cry. Your partner won’t get it and might look at you like you’re crazy, and you’ll wonder if he’s right. He is right, you’re nuts, but your hormones are just doing what they’re supposed to do in order to ensure the survival of the species.

I recently weaned for the third time – and the last, unless there is a very unexpected surprise in my future. And yes, I second-guessed the timing, I felt guilty, I ugly-cried. But when the milk was gone and the fog of hormones cleared, the memory of the awful part mostly disappeared. I am fine. My daughter—like her brother and sister before her—is fine. You and your child will be fine, too.

So stay strong, stick to your plan and when it hurts your heart, remember this: there are a million ways every day to show your child your love; breastfeeding was just one of them.



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