There is no denying the incredible bond that comes with breastfeeding. Whether you breastfed for a couple of weeks or for a couple of years, it can be hard to come to terms with the end of your breastfeeding journey, especially if you know this is your last baby.
Knowing that this can feel like a huge moment, here is some simple advice for mums who have either completed their breastfeeding journey or are counting down the days until it’s time to move on.
It’s perfectly normal to feel sad
Breastfeeding comes with so many amazing moments – the adorable gurgle your baby makes, the milk-drunk smile after a big feed, those big blue eyes staring up at you, the grabbing for your hair while bubba sucks, even the cute sounds they make during let-down. These moments are priceless and knowing that they will come to an end is hard.
Don’t be embarrassed to feel sad or want to mourn this loss. After all, your baby is growing up and this can be hard to come to terms with.
My kids are well past the breastfeeding stage now and I still remember the sensation of feeding, the notion of peacefulness and the pure love that came with this time. And I know I always will.
It’s just as normal to feel relieved
After all, you can finally have your body back! You can enjoy a drink when you want. You can buy proper bras again without worrying about easy access. And you can salute your new-found freedom from constantly being on demand.
It means you can take more time to yourself and away from bub and you can officially relinquish your title as a ‘milk machine.’ You’ve been promoted.
It can take time for the milk to dry up
It can take weeks, even months, for your milk to completely dry up. And while you might not be leaking, you may be able to squeeze milk out of your breasts for a few months after that last feed.
Your breasts may never be the same
Your breasts may never return to the way they were pre-pregnancy and pre-breastfeeding. Mine sure didn’t. But, hey, they are a constant reminder of those beautiful months spent breastfeeding my two kids.
Just like stretch marks, all mums should be proud of their new shape. It’s a sign of pure mummy awesomeness. Own it.
Despite what everyone around you says, there is no right or wrong amount of time to breastfeed. You may choose not to breastfeed at all and that’s perfectly alright. You may choose to extend the journey until your little one is in preschool and, again, that’s fine.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you and your child. Almost all mums I’ve spoken to admit that ending breastfeeding is a mixture of sadness and relief.
But just remember, there are plenty more amazing moments in motherhood to come and, even though one part of the journey may be over, the memories will remain with you forever. As one breastfeeding mother to another, this is my promise to you.
Need some more feeding advice? Our Parent School lactation experts can help. Click to find out more or book a one-on-one session.
This post was originally published on 2 February 2016.