A true fact about everybody’s breastfeeding journey is that it always comes to an end. Some ends come sooner than others, some end for one reason while others end for another, some are painful, some are emotional, and some are even celebrated. Each and every situation is different and unique.
- Personal choice
- Health problems
- Low milk supply
- Baby’s preference
When to Stop?
A lot of moms have a milestone they aim for when they initially start breastfeeding. Working moms may have a goal of 3 months due to the amount of pumping ahead; moms who simply don’t enjoy breastfeeding may try for 6 months. Many moms finish nursing around their baby’s first birthday because that is when babies are approved to drink cow’s milk. And plenty of women continue past 12 months. Or 24 months and beyond!
I stopped nursing my first regularly on his first birthday, and I stopped all together (before bed and first thing in the morning) the day he turned 15 months. Sadly, the only reason I can come up with for why I was so adamant that I stopped on those days was because I thought I had to. He liked it just fine and we didn’t have any issues, and honestly, I was very sad to be done nursing him!
My second breastfeeding journey was a different story; she especially loved nursing and was a little more attached than maybe was good for either of us. She was 16.5 months when I was about to leave town – leave her - overnight. And she wasn’t too into bottles, so I found it silly to pump at this point since I had pumped a total of 3 times for her previously. I didn’t want to leave my husband helpless, so I decided it was time to wean her. I hated that I was forced to do this...that I had a deadline. But it all happened so naturally which left me pleasantly surprised and feeling at peace about it!
How to Stop
Now here’s the tricky part! Ideally, a mom should gradually start decreasing the amount of feedings happening in a 24-hour period. Also helpful here is to decrease the duration of each feeding. Doing this gradually (dropping one feeding or one minute/feeding every few days) helps with the inevitable engorgement problem. Quitting cold turkey is a very bad idea! Baby will be sad and confused, but more pressing is the pain you will experience in doing so! Slow and steady is the way to go here!
If your baby is not quite a year old, it is recommended to still feed them formula once breastfeeding has stopped. Using a good bottle can make all the difference in this transition. A great choice is Natursutten. By now, you may be familiar with their pacifiers. Well, the soft nipples on these glass bottles are very similar and come in two different flow sizes. This makes these bottles perfect for both young infants needing a slow flow or older babies able to consume more milk at a time!
Natursutten 2-Pack Bottle Nipple Set
How Long Will Drying Up Take?
The longer you breastfeed, the longer it takes for you to dry up. So it could take a couple of days or it could be a few weeks! Or even months depending on the person! I got a severely painful clogged duct 14 days after I last nursed my baby, and it took lightly expressing once or twice a day to get it out. It was extremely weird to me how long my body had gone without breastfeeding, yet there was still some milk production going on. Two close family members of mine who have been done nursing for a couple of years told me to NEVER stop because my boobs would disappear afterwards. Well, here I am--with no fitting bra and quite the loss of volume and I’m wishing I would have listened to them…or at least enjoyed their size while I had them! It’s been less than a month since I’ve been done and I’m finally feeling like I’m back to my pre-pregnancy size.
Before I wrap this up, I feel it is very important to acknowledge that breastfeeding isn’t for everybody and that is most definitely okay! It is a HUGE commitment. It can be tricky and awkward and well, really difficult to have your body used even more than it already has been by getting a baby here in the first place. Zero judgment coming from my end when I hear someone chooses not to breastfeed for one reason or another! I did, however, make the mistake once of being overly sympathetic to a friend who “lost her milk”, I’m pretty sure I made her think she should have been devastated about the fact, but she simply didn’t care too much – it was just a fact of life. I learned a lot from her and that discussion.