"Before you had any time to prepare for it the journey could well be over and it is a really difficult thing to accept."
Breastfeeding is one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable. For many people it starts with a bit of a wobble. The first couple of weeks can be quite difficult. It is a brand new experience and getting in to the “flow” of it can take some time.
Many of us start by making small goals. Before we know it six weeks becomes six months and beyond. We suddenly find ourselves not being able to imagine a time where we don't breastfeed. It becomes so much of who we are and a huge part of our experience of motherhood.
When the time comes to say goodbye to breastfeeding it is an extremely emotional experience. It's the end of an era and I don't think any of us expect it to be so difficult. But what if the timing is completely out your hands? Perhaps you had an age or milestone in mind, but your baby may have other ideas.
Some babies put an end to breastfeeding all by themselves. The number of feeds can reduce gradually or quite suddenly. In a lot of cases mothers can find themselves with that “one feed” that sticks around. It might be morning or before bed for example. One random day the baby (or toddler) may not look for it or might even refuse it. Before you had any time to prepare for it the journey could well be over and it is a really difficult thing to accept.
Many people will suggest that you continue to offer the feeds and eventually your child will resume breastfeeding. It could be a “feeding strike” that is short lived and things could be back to normal very quickly. For some mothers it feels easier to listen to their baby's signals and let the baby lead the situation. It depends on the baby's age as the baby could be old enough to not “need” milk any more but if the baby is younger a little encouragement may be needed to restart the journey.
The dip in hormones is one of the most challenging parts of this experience. There is a huge hormonal shift and mothers can find themselves feeling very teary and emotional. For this reason it is really important to be really kind to yourself.
Written by Tracey, mummy blogger and staff writer at www.familyfriendlyhq.ie.
Check out her own blog at www.loveofliving.ie