So my baby decided to stop breastfeeding. Hang on a minute, aren’t I supposed to be the one to wean her off breastfeeding? But no, overnight, just like that, after all that hard work, my baby girl decides it’s over. At 9 1/2 months old. This is not what I expected at all. We’re currently in day 8 of refusal to breastfeed. I have heard some people refer to it as a ‘strike’ which is common at this age. I can keep offering a breastfeed, she may one day decide she hadn’t finished after all. But the upset of her crying and struggling to get away from me and my breasts is too much. Tonight she yet again refused and got all upset. I thought I would offer her an ‘alternative’ drink. And what does she do? She cuddles in to me and gulps the whole thing down. How insulting. She’s just rubbing salt in the wound really. For some reason I was expecting this monumental last breastfeed at about 12 months and my baby girl complaining because she would still want to continue. But no. She has decided it’s now and I reckon we’ve had our last ever breastfeed. I’ve tried expressing some milk to keep it coming but it’s starting to go.
I didn’t breastfeed my first, well, only for the first couple of weeks. Then he went on to formula milk. Despite all the support, my breasts still became too damaged and I had to call it a day. I dreaded him coming to me and dreaded him feeding. I remember crying my heart out over it. I specifically remember lying in the bath and realising my milk had gone and I cried so hard my heart broke. It was pretty much the same second time round, we had those moments of ‘oh god please let this end’. Why is something so natural so damn hard? And so damn painful? I just don’t get it. But for some reason, this time, I managed it and was able to breastfeed right up to now, which is 9 1/2 months. A little bit shorter than I planned for, but I’m proud non the less. We did it, and it feels amazing.
I partly blamed the fact I’d had an emergency c section first time, for our breastfeeding failure. Despite having skin to skin when my boy was born, I ended up having a general anaesthetic afterwards and missed the first hour of his life. I was adiment this time would be different. We had a planned c section with my little girl and as soon as she came out I had skin to skin and I kept her there for ages. She was was feeding from me within half an hour and my hubby virtually had to beg me for a hold. I missed out big time last time and I did not want to let my baby girl go. I had spent hours researching how to improve the success of breastfeeding after a c section as I wanted to be more prepared this time. I read the more skin to skin time you have the better. So this is what I made sure we did.
That first breast feed is so amazing. Your so caught up in that moment of wonder, your new baby in your arms, adrenaline pumping, you don’t even notice if it’s hurting. You just want to cradle and feed your new baby. I remember it wasn’t until after the first breastfeeding all nighter, I realised the pain. Surely this level of demand can’t continue, I remember thinking to myself. But several nights later it was still the same. Basically every 1-2 hours 24 hours a day. My poor boobs. It’s a shock. I remember going through it the first time and second time round it was no easier. I don’t know what was different this time as I somehow kept going, but something made me succeed this time.
I remember feeling like I needed constant reassurance, mainly from the midwives and health visitors. I cried my heart out one day when the Health Visitor had called but I hadn’t heard the door, so I missed her. Devastated was an understatement. I couldn’t cope without constant support. I was so paranoid the latch or position was wrong it was almost obsessive. I did not want to fail this time. I needed all the help I could get. In week 5 I had realised I had been in a lot of pain for a long time. I had noticed the pain was not just at the time of feeding but continued after feeds. Also the pain was not just in my boobs, it was in my whole back. I also had a strange rash round one of my nipples. I knew something wasn’t right. I’m sure my latch is wrong, I thought. That week I decided to go to the breastfeeding support group and it was the best thing I could have done.
I was so nervous that first time I walked into the breast feeding support group. My baby girl was only a few weeks old and I was still unsure about what I was doing. Despite the fact she was my second. I had got a lift from my mum as I still wasn’t driving after my c section. I sat there nervously for a while and eventually mustered up the courage to ask one of the support workers to check my latch. The lady watched my baby girl feed and listened to me describe the symptoms I had been experiencing. Straight away she suggested I might have thrush. I had never heard of that before, well not as a result of breastfeeding. One of the health visitors checked and confirmed they thought it was thrush. I was recommended a treatment and brought it and started it that same day. I never looked back. After a few days the pain was gone. Why had I put up with it for so long? I should never have doubted myself. My baby girl was latching on perfectly, but I had been convinced that’s what it was. How wrong I was. I wish I’d listened to my instincts that something wasn’t right.
The wonders of breastfeeding are endless. The first weeks are the hardest, but they go quick. It doesn’t feel like it at the time, it feels like an endless battle. As well as the pain and relentless demand, I felt significant guilt. For my boy who every time he saw me I had his new sister attached to me like a limpet. I literally could not do anything with my boy and I could see the sadness and resentment in him. He changed and seemed distant. I felt awful. Sometimes I just wanted to get away from my baby girl and just escape for a short while with my boy. What had I done to him? I wondered so many times whether to give up and start using formula. Breastfeedings a commitment not just for your body, but an all consuming time commitment too. I’m glad I persevered. My boy loves his sister so much. I see that every day. So I don’t think he’s effected by those first few weeks. It has passed now and we have all pulled through.
There’s nothing like breastfeeding your baby and gazing into each other’s eyes. If I’d known she was going to decide to stop breastfeeding, I would have cherished that last feed a little more. I would have let her feed for a bit longer. I would have held her a little longer. I remember stroking her hair and looking into her eyes and she was looking in to mine. We felt complete as one. I will never forget the closeness I felt. I miss it and crave it but know it is over and another chapter in our lives has begun.