Breastfeeding: when to stop?

I find myself in a quandary and I’m not sure why. I never really thought that I would breastfeed my baby, not because I didn’t want to but because I thought I was going to struggle – it seems you only hear about the difficulties with feeding and less so about mums who successfully nurse.

Anyhow, we’re more than six months in and have an established combination routine with two breastfeeds and two bottles of formula per day (more about getting baby to finally take a bottle here). Don’t get me wrong, breastfeeding hasn’t always been a breeze; I have been lucky enough to avoid mastitis but have experienced the joys of cracked nipples, engorgement and blocked ducts and also battled with a fast let-down with a baby that didn’t have the best of latches to begin with.

Originally I said I’d breastfeed for two weeks, and then one month, then three and then six, and here we are. I’m off on a hen do at the end of March, just under two months from now (I won’t say where in case the bride to be reads this and we ruin the surprise) and for the past few weeks have said this is when I need to have weaned her off me.

But as the date is nearing I know that I don’t want to stop yet and I’m wondering why at this stage I’m putting a deadline on it. Perhaps it’s because others around me who, without realising, are making me question myself. The reality is that breast milk is still the best thing for her; she is healthy and has consistent weight gain so why stop? And I really enjoy that time with my daughter – I think this is the thing some people struggle to understand.

In fact I’ve come to realise that some people seem to just really struggle with the concept at all. While there have been great steps recently to normalise breastfeeding, with more facilities opening such as feeding rooms in our local shopping mall for example, for some reason there seems to be a stigma for continuing breastfeeding when you pass the new-born stage. l get asked all the time ‘are you still breastfeeding?’ and ‘when are you going to wean her on to the bottle completely?’.

So while I have been contemplating this I stumbled across an article on the Huffington Post about 50 famous mums who have publicly tried to change perceptions of breastfeeding. Even though it shouldn’t matter to me what others do, reading about these women, particularly ‘celebrities’ in the public eye who have continued to breastfeed until it feels natural for them to stop has in a way normalised it for me.

Of course there are many women who can’t wait to stop or have to because they’re returning to work etc. and equally should feel under no pressure to continue if it’s not feasible or just don’t want to anymore. They’re our breasts after all and it’s quite frankly no-one else’s business.

I’m pretty sure that there will come a point over the next six months when it feels natural to stop and that could be in time for the hen do, but if not I’ll be packing my pump!

Addition: I have been umming and ahhing about whether to post this but have just read a post by Ruth Crilly on her blog The Uphill titled Breastfeeding I Can’t Quit You (Yet) and you’ll agree that the similarities are bountiful – no plagiarism I promise! – it’s good to know I’m not alone in my quandary and it has made me want to share this post for anyone else out there feeling the same!

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