The End of Breastfeeding

19:06 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

For the last four and a half years I've been either pregnant or breastfeding, for five months of that time I was both but, two weeks ago, Little Miss had her final feed. It had been apparent over the month or so prior to this that she was no longer interested in feeding. She was down to one or two feeds per day and it was feeling like she was humouring me and nursing because I wanted her to, not because she wanted to or was enjoying it. It wasn't a milk strike, she was done. This revelation was hard to take for me, I was expecting to continue nursing for as long as my daughter wanted to, I just didn't expect for that to mean we stopped after fifteen months.

Little Miss at nine months
One from the archives. She's about nine months here.

I've been very lucky with breastfeeding. The first two weeks with Bud were fairly hellish, my milk didn't arrive until day six and I received very little support from the healthcare professionals I expected would want to help me to breastfeed but, as soon as my milk arrived we both took to feeding and did so without any issue until I fell pregnant with Little Miss when he was twenty months old.. I persisted for a further five months but, looking back, I can see that breastfeeding while pregnant, for me, wasn't a good decision. I was horribly ill, losing weight and breastfeeding on top of that drained me. Bud loved nursing and the decision to wean him was really hard but he was twenty-five months when we gave up and everything about my pregnancy improved immediately so, it was a good decision in the end. I've escaped all the horror stories of breastfeeding - mastitis, blocked ducts, leaking. I've been lucky.

When Little Miss arrived she fed brilliantly from the first feed. My milk arrived after four days this time, despite the traumatic aftermath of her birth. She was always a quick, efficient feeder, completely the opposite of her big brother who would nurse for hours if he could. From the instant she was mobile, as soon she had her fill of milk she was keen to get away from me and on to the next adventure, milk was something she needed to fuel that, she didn't need the snuggling cuddles after a feed. From around eight weeks she stopped feeding to sleep, it took me twenty months to get to that stage with Bud! She's always preferred to have her bedtime feed then cuddle up to Daddy for the last snuggle before bed. She slept from midnight until 8am from five weeks old too. Weaning on to solid food has been an incredibly exciting adventure for Little Miss and one that she has attacked with gusto, she LOVES food. No flavour is too much and I'm yet to see her refuse anything. Baby-led weaning was essential as her fierce independence means spoon feeding is something of a battle. She'd much rather do it herself and she'd much rather drink from a cup and eat 'proper' food than nurse.

So, my baby girl is sixteen months old today and is no longer a breastfed baby. I had put no time limit on nursing her. She will be my final baby and I really thought I would still be feeding her a year from now. I miss it. I tried so many different things to maintain her interest but she simply wasn't bothered. It's interesting that, when I stopped feeding Bud, he would constantly wriggle down into the nursing position and pull at my clothing for a few weeks afterwards. LM hasn't done that once. I'm sad that our journey has ended so soon but my fiesty little girl knows her own mind, I think she's going to be a handful when she gets older!

Despite the sadness at an ending, I'm really proud of what we've done together. Nearly three and a half years of breastfeeding in total, two happy, healthy children. I think I need to get used to having my body to myself again! It feels like our baby days are over, which doesn't mean there will be any new additions to our family, but I love the way LM is developing at the moment, she's learning so fast and is forming a strong, funny personality. I also need to work on getting Little Miss to drink cow's milk as she's refusing at the moment and she seems too little to not be drinking milk at all. If any of you have any tips for that I'd definitely be interested in hearing them.

Little Miss on Christmas Day
On Christmas Day