‘Breaking the bond with your baby you’ve built up over the last few months of breastfeeding can be incredibly upsetting – particularly if you’re not prepared for it,’ says Sally Wendkos Olds, co author of The Complete Book of Breastfeeding (£7.99, Workman Publishing & Bantam Books).
‘If your baby is setting the pace for weaning earlier than you expected, you may be feeling sad, surprised and rejected,’ she explains. ‘Even if you initiated the weaning process and you’ve had no physical problems, it’s still common to experience a feeling of loss.’
Tips to help you cope
- Accept why you need to give up. If you’re going back to work gives you a convenient deadline but don’t confuse negative feelings about returning to work with sadness about giving up breastfeeding. If your baby is severely disrupting your sleep with her night-time feeds or breastfeeding is simply too painful and making you miserable, this will probably be the best move for both your happiness and wellbeing. Whatever your reason, be clear that you need to go ahead and get to the next stage of being a mum.
- Don’t compare yourself to others – just because other mums you know are still breastfeeding, you shouldn’t feel guilty. You’re doing the best you can and nothing about parenthood ever works out exactly as planned.
- Try to feel excited about your baby reaching the next stage of her development. This is the first of many stages you’ll be going through together – from starting solids to seeing her off on her first day of school.
- Just because you’re not breastfeeding, it doesn’t mean your bonding days are over. Cuddling, tickling, nose rubbing, kissing and snuggling up with your child’s favourite book are all great ways to bond. Have at least half an hour of quality one-on-one bonding a day.
- Focus on your new found freedom. Plan a few days or evenings out with friends as soon as you give up. You could even organise a weekend away with a few female friends who are feeling the same way.
- Find a new look. You’re getting your body back so treat yourself to a new outfit. Just think of all the dresses and tops – without buttons – you can wear again! Enjoy the fact you don’t have to panic if you leave the house without breast pads… the days of embarrassing wet spots are over!
Now tell us what worked for you…
How did you feel when you gave up breastfeeding? Share your advice with other mums.