It’s well documented how hard it can be to establish breastfeeding. There are breastfeeding groups, midwives and health visitors. And although the system isn’t perfect, if you need help you can usually find it.
But what about when the journey ends?
Who do you talk to about that? And how do you know if it’s time?
With the Bear our breastfeeding journey came to a natural end. She gradually took less and less milk during the day until the only time she wanted it was right before bed. I’d expected cutting that last night feed to be hard. But she surprised me – a little bit of bribery and corruption and a lot of talk about being a big girl – and she handled it like a pro.
I didn’t feel like I was letting her down.
I felt like she was ready.
With the Lion on the other hand, anything to do with feeding is always going to be more complex in my head.
His calorie intake from food is gradually rising. But he’s also becoming more and more attached to mummy milk. It’s almost as if he senses that time is running out and he needs to clutch onto it.
It’s meant that this week despite eating relatively well for the Other Half over the last couple of weeks, he is still refusing virtually everything from me. He just sits on my lap, cuddles up and wants his milk.
My heart wants to give in – badly. After all, he will almost certainly be my last baby. I’m not ready to give up his babyhood yet. And even without that emotional pull I hate the thought of seeing him upset with a passion.
But my head knows he needs to eat. It also knows he’d rather not.
And that means that this time I have to put my heart aside and think with my head. Even though neither he nor I are ready, it seems like our breastfeeding journey is going to need to end.
For now I’ve compromised. He’s having milk upstairs first thing in the morning, at nap-time and of course overnight. I’m hoping that this is making it less confusing for him than allowing him milk downstairs some of the time but not others.
We’re three days in, and he’s certainly still asking for it multiple times a day, but so far although he’s got upset we’ve managed to distract him.
He still isn’t eating for me, but well it’s early days and I know from experience that with him, these things always take time.
I just wish there was a guide book, a manual, a well trodden path to follow. I wish there was a way of knowing that I was doing the right time.
But I guess, as with so much of parenting that will never really be the case.
I’d love to know any tips you have though, both for lessening breastfeeding as non-traumatically as possible and for how you knew it was time to give up.
I’m feeling more than a little out of my depth this time… maybe because my head and my heart are still very much at odds.
So any help at all will be very gratefully received xx