Funny old thing, sustaining new life via your boobs. We’re all told that breastmilk is the best source of milky goodness for the first six months of a baby’s life, but I’m not going to get into the whole breast vs bottle debate here. Instead, I’m going to witter on for 800 words about me giving up breastfeeding.
I worked out that over the past four years, I’ve spent 30 months breastfeeding. That’s a hell of a lot of Lansinoh (this post isn’t sponsored but that stuff is the elixir of all nipple balms) and medicinal flapjackery consumption (lactation cookies, anyone?). The second time around it was much easier to get into the (Medela) swing of, given that my nipples were already tough as old boots and I had literally no shame about whacking a boob out in public. No dodgy blocked ducts or mastitis to contend with, either.
I remember taking both children to our regular French group when the baby really was just a baby, and effectively I just sat on a chair with my bra undone while the big child wrecked the joint and broke about fifty crayons. Good times. Good times indeed. It’s definitely not the most practical choice when you have another small jungle animal child to herd into conformity, but I always knew I would breastfeed the baby for just as long as I fed the big one.
And, now that we’ve reached that point, we’ve both come to a natural end. I’m not blessed with big boobies anyway, but they feel literally empty. There’s nothing going on but the rent. We gradually dwindled to one feed a day, at bedtime – and I would have carried this on happily enough for another few months because it’s lovely. She would hold my hand, drink for a while, then unlatch and we’d have a little cuddle. The drinking part of our routine became shorter and shorter, until she was literally taking maybe one or two little sucks before preferring to chomp on her fingers instead. Fine with me. Completely fine.
Oh COME ON! This is me, of course it wasn’t fine. I knew I hadn’t failed her, and I knew that my supply was only matching her demand (i.e. pretty damn low), but it still gave me all the sad feels. Not because of the nutrition aspect – weaning her was easy and she eats like a horse – moreso the knowledge that my body has ended a really important phase. Is a mum ever ready for that?
So, here are my keen observations for any soon-to-be retiring breastfeeder.
- People will tell you to go out and splurge on some new sexy underwear, to celebrate having your boobs back. Erm, the boobs that have been destroyed by a human Dyson for 15 months? The boobs that are basically so small, they don’t even need to be contained with any sort of support mechanism? Yep. It’ll take a lot of lace to tart up this crap.
- Permanent nip on. Like, visible nips under six layers of clothes. Particularly apparent in gymwear, sadly. I don’t even care who sees now, frankly. Revert to previous point about having no shame.
- Crying. Pretty much relentless crying with all the combined emotions of freedom and emptiness and redundancy.
- More crying. Can’t quite state this enough, there has been much much of the crying.
- You might now be back on bedtime story duty, if you have older children. I dodged this for months, choosing instead to slob about in an IKEA Poang chair with the baby hanging off me while my husband enjoyed that quality literary time with the big child. Lord, we have some dross on our bookshelves. Even Tabby McTat gets a bit much (how do you pronounce Soames, btw?).
- Oh yeah, periods. Can I put my Mooncup in the dishwasher, do you reckon?
- Weight might go up, weight might go down. I’ve never been a lucky “breastfeeding makes All This Weight melt away, seriously” type. No, sweating it out in the gym for hours and hours is my fairly tried and tested method for making All This Weight recede. So, all the best with the weight loss / gain lottery – may the odds ever be in your favour.
- Don’t plot a “last feed” and plan to do lovely romantic things like stare into your baby’s eyes and smell their hair, etc etc. It’s emotional suicide. Actually, the less of a big deal you make of it, the easier it is to transition away from. With the big child, I stopped feeding her around the time of my 21+9th birthday. I was largely on the piss for a week and planned to take a couple of nights off from feeding duties, after which my husband very gently told me that she was actually fine going to sleep without me. So I didn’t know that our last feed was our last feed, and this was definitely for the best.
- Your baby is still, and always will be, your baby.
- However you “milked” your baby – breast, bottle, formula, whatevs – you did a bloody marvellous job. You’re amazing.
-SJW June 2017