We made it to (just shy of) 15 months of breastfeeding before I decided to wean Hudson to try and make night times a little less stressful for all involved. I had very mixed feelings about trying to stop feeding Hudson as he was still asking for boob the second I got home from work, more of a routine thing than anything else, but could go all day during the weekend without asking for any milk so I thought he was getting ready to stop on his own. That would have been the ideal scenario, letting him self wean in his own time, and I had the “two year” milestone in my head as a goal so I had also been torturing myself over stopping earlier than that. Sometimes being on very pro-breastfeeding sites and groups can sway your decisions a little bit as all I could see was these mums who are breastfeeding their children to age 2, 3 and 4 so I felt pretty guilty for a while when thinking about trying to stop before Hudson was maybe ready. But, the breastfeeding relationship has to be working on both sides and Hudson’s reliance on me on a night/ resistance to Sam settling him during the night was really taking its toll on us unfortunately.
No one tells you how hard stopping might be! Just before I stopped feeding him all together Hudson has gone for two whole days without having any apart from at bedtime so it did feel like he was becoming less reliant on it so we decided that I should go to my Mum’s for one night for Sam to do bedtime then I made sure I was out for the next two nights at bedtime to try and help Hudson accept Sam doing bedtime. I was dreading it being really upsetting for Hudson but, miraculously, he only cried for a few minutes each time then settled to sleep fine – *phew*. There were a couple of “wobbles” on two evenings after I was “meant to have stopped feeding him” as Hudson did ask for some straight after work as soon as I sat down, standard behaviour! I did let him have a little bit as he was very upset but Sam proceeded to do bedtime like before then after the two little evening feeds that was it. Done. Finished our breastfeeding journey. Just like that.
I’ll admit that I found stopping much harder than Hudson did and I wasn’t expecting that at all. A surge of hormones after stopping feeding probably didn’t help but I was so worried I would have lost my connection with him as it was our thing, something no one else could do for him. I was worried that I wouldn’t then get any affection from him as he wasn’t cuddly apart from when he was having boob. Everyone told me I was being silly and, obviously, overthinking it all. Just another bit of mum guilt to add to all the other worries and irrational thoughts in my mum brain! Luckily nothing has changed between us at all. I feel far less stressed of an evening as he is waking up far less during the night and even sleeps all the way through occasionally – but the key thing is that Sam can now take him to bed and deal with wake ups too whereas before it was all on me. So hopefully all of the stress we were both feeling about it (Sam was feeling a little helpless as he felt he couldn’t take away the thing that was bothering me – having to deal with all the bed and night times by myself. This was another thing that stoked the mum guilt fire as all I felt I was reading was other mums saying they don’t mind doing all of the bed and night times, prompting me to think “Why can’t I do it without feeling stressed and upset!?”) will start to ease.
Ultimately, me writing this blog post in August, two whole months after stopping feeding, is testament to the slight denial I have been in about stopping breastfeeding!
I feel so pleased that we got to 15 months and that my milk alone for 6 months grew Hudson into a hugely chunky, chubby baby. At 27 weeks old he weighed in at a whopping 26.14lbs, or 1.5 stones! All by the power of the boob.
I’m still really interested in becoming a breastfeeding peer supporter so that I can help other mums as they start their journey with their babies. I feel I have learned lots about breastfeeding through my own reading and am pleased that I was able to offer some advice to one of my friends when she was struggling a little with feeding after the birth of her little girl 5-6 weeks ago. And I still have a few ounces of milk left in the freezer that I am hoping to get made into a piece of breastmilk jewellery sometime soon (yes, it’s a “thing” – rings, necklaces or earrings where the charm is filled with your milk. My sister had a lovely breastmilk ring made by a local company) and have even added a request for a nod to breastfeeding to be included in my upcoming tattoo (I’m booked in for two full days with the fantastic Vesso in August and September and can’t wait!) as per the image below.