The little lady turns six months this Sunday. Six months also happens to be the point that I said I would breastfeed up to. All those many months, weeks and days ago when breastfeeding seemed so hard and so painful. Because it really is in the beginning. We suffered a long and agonising wait for my colostrum to come in over the first four days during which we had to top up with formula, only to then to have latching problems and a severely cracked nipple for around the first four to six weeks. The evenings were stressful and exhausting for at least the first three months as we faced a frustrated and distraught little lady who cried during her feed every evening at the same time. We weren’t sure if it was colic or if my let down was too fast or slow for her. We still don’t know, but thankfully it passed before it became a real issue.
Combine this with a tough few months of feeds every 1-2 hours including nights where there was no let up for mum because we had a baby discerning enough to refuse anything except the breast, and we don’t exactly sound like a walking advertisement for breastfeeding. There was many a dark night when I wanted to stop, when I was only too ready to give in. It was only through the support and gentle encouragement of my husband that I found the inner strength and perseverance to continue, and im so glad that I did.
Because what follows once breastfeeding is established and you both get the hang of it around that magic six-week mark – its true what they say, is something rather quite special. If I had to do it all over again I would, because it is completely and totally worth every cracked nipple and late night. Breastfeeding, in my experience is easy once you get the hang of it. Which is why even though in the back of my mind I’ve looked forward to January knowing that I’d finally be able to wear nice normal bras that match my knickers and I’ll finally have all of my body back, there is a new quiet hesitation and reluctance that has been growing making me question my decision to stop breastfeeding at six months.
You see, I am only too aware that these special moments between the little lady and I wont be forever and my heart wants to preserve them for as long as it can. My head questions why I would stop at six months when I could so easily go on, when I have been one of the lucky ones who is able to. Why I would take away something that my body naturally makes for my daughter and substitute it with something else. I can no longer remember the reason why I decided I wanted to stop at six months all those many months ago. Perhaps it was because I thought I would go back to work earlier than I am, or perhaps it was because I wasn’t so keen on the idea of breastfeeding in the beginning – not breastfeeding itself but the perceived effect it would have on my body. Either way, I can’t really find any real reason not to continue.
But I am still torn. Because on the one hand it seems quite timely to stop around the same time we properly start to wean the little lady. I also worry that the longer I continue to breastfeed for, the harder it will be for us both to detach from it. But then I weigh up all the obvious health, cost and convenience benefits and I feel torn again. I never imagined stopping breastfeeding would be such a difficult, emotional decision to make. Now that we’re here at the six month mark, it feels like it makes more sense to slowly cut down and wean the little lady off breastfeeding. It also feels like the right thing to do. For her and for I. I just never expected to feel so guilty..
Did you face a similar struggle when you were deciding to stop breastfeeding? Were things easier or more difficult than you anticipated? Did you feel guilty about some of your decisions and what advice would you share with others?