Breastfeeding – Why I stopped

I haven’t blogged for a while, a month in fact. It has actually been a really hard month. For a couple of weeks I was beginning to believe I had post-natal depression. I was feeling hopeless, upset, irrational and overall very sad. There were some stressful factors that could have contributed – our landlady is selling our house from underneath us and we have to move, we had big decisions to make quickly and I am awful with change. Also, I think I was severely sleep deprived – which is never a good thing for me. Being pregnant and having a baby is completely and utterly life changing. I cannot recognise the person I am from inside my own head, if that makes any sense at all. I’m sure the changes aren’t as apparent to others but for me they are deep rooted – this (for some absurd and irrational reason) made me wonder if my husband would still like me? It wasn’t a nice few weeks.

During this time Joni started feeding every 2 hours and spending time chewing on my nipples (probably to soothe teething pain). She utterly refused to take a bottle of expressed milk, and even when she was getting better at bottle feeding it was largely pointless as expressing was painful and almost completely fruitless.

I was absolutely hating every single feed and often crying through each one as I felt lonely, helpless and very sad. So – I decided to stop. I tried giving Joni some formula and she basically got the hang of formula from a bottle over a few days, then over the next few days I weaned her completely onto formula. I also cried through every one of these feeds. Seeing Joni drinking from a bottle, needing to be burped for the first time in her life and not being comforted in the same way as she was by breastfeeding was really, really hard. I felt like a terrible mother. I felt as though I was really letting Joni down – it wasn’t like she was deciding to stop breastfeeding, it was my choice. I was choosing to stop providing her with an organic food source – tailored specifically for her – to one manufactured with chemicals in a laboratory, no where near as good for her as my milk. I was convinced I was basically ruining her life.

How completely ridiculous. I stopped feeling guilty one day – I was sitting on the sofa feeding her from a bottle and a Unicef appeal came on the TV, there were children that very minute in Africa who had no access to clean water for milk, no access to food and were dying. I was the most selfish person in the whole world for feeling so precious about stopping breastfeeding. There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula feeding, babies thrive – of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be allowed.

Strangely, my breasts haven’t felt over full, they haven’t been engorged, they haven’t leaked and I haven’t noticed any of the reported effects of stopping breastfeeding. It makes me wonder (coupled with the fact that Joni was feeding every 2 hours or so) how good my milk supply was. I’m well aware that this claim causes uproar amongst Breastfeeding advocates. But, I can only speak from my experience – that after 5 long months, where I persevered through cracked, bleeding and blistered nipples, night feeds every single night and being on call 24/7 for all of Joni’s needs, it just was not working for us anymore.

No one wants a sleep deprived, crazy, depressed and hormonal Mummy (or wife for that matter). So I stopped, I stopped for me and I’m not ashamed of that.

If you are wondering, I feel a whole lot better now – i’m feeling as rational, happy, calm and peaceful as I ever have.

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2 Responses to Breastfeeding – Why I stopped

  1. Joanna says:

    Well done on doing what’s best for both of you. Joni needs a happy and healthy mum more than she needs breast milk. xx

  2. Well done you, 5 months is a really long time to keep it up! I’m going back & forth now at 3 months whether to stop breastfeeding completely and have had the same thoughts as you about depriving her! Nice to know others have gone thru the same and come out the other side! 🙂 xx

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