Weaning Wars: The Physical and Mental Struggle of Discontinuing Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: This post is based upon my personal experience with breastfeeding two babies. While I did struggle in ways that will be discussed below, I am not attempting to dismiss the experience of women who could not breastfeed or chose not to for whatever reason. Motherhood is hard no matter how it works out and I truly and wholeheartedly believe that fed it best. Baby is the happiest with a happy mama. Thanks for reading!

jenna-norman-292396-unsplash.jpgI did it. I felt a little wrong as I dumped that glorious milk powder into the tepid water and shook it like a Polaroid picture. I made my daughter a bottle of formula. As I sat feeding her that “freedom powder” I was not prepared for the rush of emotions with which my mind was overtaken.

This is amazing.

This was my first thought. Anyone, anyone can now feed her. I am no longer the sole source for her nutrition. We went through a serious bottle battle with this little nugget. No silicone imposter would satisfy her hunger, only the real deal. Which someone told me I should take as a compliment? I took it as YOU WILL NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN. Once a breastmilk bottle was a tolerable alternative (Praise Jesus!) I started dreaming about being done all together: back to clothing with a variety of necklines and finally destroying my pump, Office Space style. And then, as it always does, the mom guilt set in.

Mom guilt is the worst.

I have had no issues (well, No isn’t true…mastitis, as I have been quoted is the motherhood equivalent to stepping barefoot on a Lego, repeatedly.) But no tongue ties, tearful weight checks, or many of the other trials that color the breastfeeding experiences of many of my dear friends. Why can’t I have the earth mama beautiful bonding experience that all of the crunchy moms describe? Just once I’d like to be nursing my little cherub and be transported to a field of wild lavender with a flower crown, is that too much to ask? Apparently. But I digress.

It comes down to the internal battle a) you are a bad mom if you choose your needs over the needs of your baby b) feed your baby something and stop listening to the judgmental bia that lives in your head. I think I will end up beginning the active weaning process in the not too distant future as I do have a number of times in the coming months where I will be away from my daughter for more extended periods of time. Like more than five hours. (Exclusive pumping moms, you are the true rock stars.) I really am not a lover of the pump, unlike my two year old son who is so sad he cannot make milk from his bellybutton. That being said, there are some things about breastfeeding that I will miss.

  1. Convenience: Being a 24 hour diner has its downsides, but there is something so convenient about having everything you need contained on your person at all times. It is much easier to redirect (i.e. swat at) a toddler while nursing with one arm than bottle feeding with two.
  2. Cost: FREE goes a long way. I love free, who doesn’t love free?
  3. Closeness: I do feel particularly bonded with my babies when I get to retreat to a calm dark space and nurse quietly.

I am not someone who magically bounces back (a term I personally hate, being a person rather than a four square ball) after birth with the aid of only breastfeeding. In actuality it makes me ravenous, and has the somewhat opposite effect. I also, had some serious symptoms that mimicked feelings immediately postpartum upon weaning my son. I am not looking forward to the emotional pendulum of that process again. However, I am looking forward to the freedom of having my body be purely my own again.

I love when people are confident in parenting decisions. Kind of in the way that I love when people can ride a unicycle, its unique and I know I will never be able to do it. It’s a gift to not have a forced timeline in anything, but especially in breastfeeding. I am not sure what my path will be, but I hope those of you who also have a love/hate relationship with milk making can relate to the struggle.

3 thoughts on “Weaning Wars: The Physical and Mental Struggle of Discontinuing Breastfeeding

  1. I totally feel you. I’m in the midst of this struggle and while I know that I know what is best for my baby (fed), I still feel guilty and a bit shamed by others for considering taking hold of the freedom that is formula. I NEED my body back. I NEED to work on some self care. I love both of my boys dearly, but I need a minute to figure out this new mother of two. I feel like I’ve been in a fog for a few years (miscarriage, tough pregnancy, traumatic birth and postpartum issues). I’m ready to work on me so I can be a better mom.

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    • I’m so sorry for all that you’ve been through! As cliche as it is, I totally believe you can’t pour from an empty cup! Kids want a happy mom more than anything else! You’re doing an amazing job! And the fog of motherhood is so real! Thanks for reading and relating!

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