On HB’s 15th month ‘birthday’, the decision was unconsciously made to stop breast-feeding HB. It was something I’d thought about for a while, but there had never been a good enough reason to stop. If anything, certain people’s comments that I ‘should stop breast-feeding’ at around 10 months onwards only fuelled my determination to let HB have his wicked way with my boobs.
Quite honestly, stopping breast-feeding came about because we all needed some proper sleep and as part of our master plan for this, Tom would solely deal with nights. Normally, it was me who wearily dragged myself out of bed to shh our little insomniac. If ever Tom went to comfort HB, all hell would break loose and mid-level grumbly cries would escalate to banshee-style screams. To save our ears, I took one for the team.
Apparently once babies get to about 6-8 months they can do fine without a midnight feed. I was also certain that my poor chewed up boobs weren’t providing much sustenance for HB – he never seemed that satisfied, happily taking a bottle mid boob, to fill his ever-expanding belly, before returning to the boob for comfort. And when I went to comfort him in the night, he’d fall back to sleep faster with a sneaky swap of bottle for boob, rather than through boob alone. On average, it took 75 minutes for me to be able to escape HB’s cot after boobing and 25 through the bottle.
Once we’d embarked on the no-boob rule, we had to keep it up. Which meant Tom was solely responsible for dealing with night-time wake-ups. That’s not to say I wasn’t awake in empathy, after all it’s quite hard to sleep when your child is screaming blue murder because his daddy’s hairy chest isn’t quite the same as mummy’s fun bags. Several times a night, Tom went to comfort HB, often having to take him out his room and up to the kitchen just to get the screams to quieten down. Eventually they would. On the worst nights, it would take an hour and a half to get him back to sleep. On good nights, less than 15 minutes. We kept this up for 4 nights. The first time I got HB up in the morning, I was met with the angriest little bear ever. Pure outrage that mum hadn’t comforted him at night and poker-hot anger that mum wasn’t paying much attention to the forceful grabby hands hungrily feeling down my top for a nipple to grab. This went on for a good few mornings until I learnt how to make a bottle of milk in super speedy time.
Saying goodbye to breast-feeding
I’m very much not a crier (unless it comes to animal videos on Facebook) but I was expecting to shed a few tears over stopping breast-feeding. Despite having blistered, bleeding boobs at the beginning and having to see a whole team of lactation specialists, I was amazed by how the human body could provide sustenance for a baby. And that HB needed me. So he needed my boobs, but still… I was afraid to let go of those special moments only HB and I could share. Ok, so it was a little weird that he could practically say ‘boob’ (he’d say ‘ba’ and point, or worse still, stick his little mitts down my top), especially when we were out in public. When HB was sick, a boob would comfort him, when he banged his head (or rolled off the bed. Or the table – Tom’s fault), a boob would immediately stop his crying. When he was totally knackered and overtired and grouchy (especially useful for overseas trips), that trusty boob would get him to sleep in seconds, if not minutes. Was I ready to give this up? Turns out I was. And I didn’t shed a tear. I was fine. I was excited. I could wear actual real bras again!! And my boobs were my own! (And maybe Tom’s when he’d been good).
Keep your opinions to yourself
To all those people who told me it was time to stop breast-feeding (this started from 10 months on…), WHY?! What big rule states that it’s the law? And who are you to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing with my child? The main factor which really pissed me off was no one gave me any reasons, aside from ‘he’s old enough’. Old enough for what? Pus-filled cow’s milk? No thanks? What exact scientific argument did you give me for giving it up? Oh, that’s right, none. So button it, people. I was never in a rush to stop breast-feeding and I’m proud that I’ve fed him for so long.
What I learnt
Like everything to do with HB, it’s all new. There don’t seem to be any rules so we’re totally winging it as we go. However, there are a few things I’d do again if we’re lucky enough to have a second child.
- It takes approximately 3 days of not letting babies get a hold of your boob to break the first part of the attachment.
- Have a boob milk alternative at the ready. HB is SO HANGRY for milk when he wakes up that I’ve honed getting a bottle ready for him within minutes of getting into the kitchen.
- Screw people who say there’s a ‘right time’ to stop. Your body, your child, your decision.
- Health visitors will advise you give babies cow’s milk. If this isn’t your cuppa tea, research the milk alternatives – cow’s milk seems to be advised for its high fat content but I’ve met babies who have thrived just as well off coconut milk, goats milk, almond milk and more. However, do speak with a professional to ensure that your little one is getting the right nutrients if you’re worried.
- It’ll take approximately 2 weeks for boobs not to be a source of occasional frustration.
- Your child will still need you (often over your other half), despite the fact your boobs don’t do anything anymore for them.
- Buying new post-boob bras is a whole new (and forgotten) experience. Get measured because post-breast-feeding boobs can be different.
- Not wearing a breast-feeding bra at night is weird. So weird, that I’m still wearing mine. Some attachments take longer to break, it seems.
- As soon as your boobs are your own, you realise they’re not actually. Your other half will make a claim on them now their rival is out the way.
So a few weeks on from stopping breast-feeding, how do I feel? A little sad, especially when HB was feeling a bit ill and I couldn’t offer him boob (not that he wanted it), but ultimately it’s fine. The emotional trauma I was expecting didn’t appear and both of us seem just as happy as before.