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I Want to Stop Breastfeeding, Why Do I Feel So Guilty?
If you want to stop breast feeding, the first thing you have to do is forget about what everybody tells you. Lose the guilt. You're the only person who knows when to stop breastfeeding. Stopping breastfeeding is something that's a totally individual decision. And by definition, if you're deciding to stop breastfeeding, that means you have been breastfeeding. However long you have been breastfeeding - a week or a year - you can be happy with that. Whatever it was. This article gives practical tips on how to stop breastfeeding. If you need more guidance about how to stop breastfeeding, read The Gradual Wean: How to Stop Breastfeeding.
Should you Breastfeed Your 2nd Grader?
There's a lot on the Internet about breastfeeding. How to do it, how to do more of it, how if you don't do it for at least a year you probably don't love your baby all that much. The truth is that women have many different reasons for stopping breastfeeding and it's really no one's business but their own. It's great that we have this wonderful pro-breastfeeding message out there. This is a total turn around from fifty years ago when it was considered low class and taboo in many countries to breastfeed.
I found one article that quoted some anthropology study that put the minimum - MINIMUM - age for weaning a human baby at 2 ½ to 7 years. Whatever. If your baby has a cookie in one hand and pumps your breast for milk with the other, you may want to stop breastfeeding.
Breast feeding is a great choice. We also need to know it's okay to stop. If you need to stop breastfeeding due to health reasons, either your own or your baby's, you will likely not meet with much resistance. But if you decide to stop for *gasp* personal reasons, you may face some judgment.
So Many Good Reasons to Stop Breast Feeding
Women decide to end the breastfeeding relationship for several reasons:
Breastfeeding is time consuming. If you feed every 1.5 to 2 hours for 20 or 30 minutes a pop, that's a chunk of time. Not to mention a scheduling nightmare. It's practically a superhuman feat for nursing moms to get to the grocery store.
Peace of Mind
Many moms worry that their babies aren't getting enough nourishment from breast milk alone. While this is usually not the case, worry isn't good for you or the baby.
Freedom to Eat & Drink
Nursing women are limited in what they can eat and drink. Your baby may react when you eat garlic or broccoli. And forget about a margarita. At some point, we've just had enough.
Despite what all those friendly lactation consultants would have you believe, breast feeding can be quite painful. The worst of it is usually over after the first two weeks, but many women suffer sore nipples and other discomforts for months of breast feeding.
Whether you must travel for work or you just need to get away from your baby, it's pretty tough to breastfeed when you're not around.
Say you have some really stressful things going on, like changing jobs, moving, and having a sick toddler to content with. Maybe you're not getting the best sleep. This combines to decrease your milk supply, which then makes baby fussy, and stresses you out more. See where this downward spiral is headed? Sometimes it's better to quit while you're ahead. Stressing about breastfeeding is completely counter productive so my advice is if it becomes a stress inducing activity, let it go!
How Much Is Enough?
The American Academy of Pediatrics wants you to breastfed for at least a year. But remember that the thick, nutrient rich substance, colostrum, is present in the very first milk produced by a new mother. First milk contains highly concentrated antibodies and helps to prevent jaundice and also makes your new baby produce the first bowel movement. But remember, the good stuff is there at the very beginning. If you breastfeed for even one day - congrats to you. Pat yourself on the back and go from there - one day at a time. After a week or two, colostrum gives way to regular breast milk. Remember, there are no booby-breaks in Kindergarten.