When will I stop breastfeeding? Before I had my first baby I knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I didn’t really consider how long I would breastfeed for. I knew that it is recommended for babies to be fed only breast/formula milk until they are 6months old, so I had an aim in mind of breastfeeding for at least 6months. I had this aim mainly because I knew it was important to try and be relaxed about breastfeeding and I was aware that it might not be as easy as I hoped, but I was a keen breastfeeding supporter and really wanted to do it.
A few days after I had, had my first baby, a friends mum came to visit me and she told me how her youngest child (now a teenager) breastfed for a really long time. The really long time she was referring to was, a year. At that time, only days into breastfeeding, I agreed that a year was a very long time. However, as I got further into breastfeeding and definitely now; having stopped breastfeeding my eldest 2years ago (when she turned 1!) and currently breastfeeding my 6month old, I don’t agree that one year is a really long time! In fact I think one year is the perfect amount of time!
Children can’t have cow’s milk as a drink until they are one year old, so stopping breastfeeding before then means you have to give them formula milk. Don’t get me wrong, this had been my intention if I had stopped at 6 months and if I ever struggled to bf then I would have no issue with formula feeding, but why would I stop bf before my baby is old enough to have cow’s milk? formula is a breastmilk substitute!
Someone also said to me when I was still bf my eldest at 10months, that I would “have difficulty getting my baby to stop breastfeeding as she gets older”. This couldn’t have been further from the truth; as she got older, started eating solid food and drinking water SHE cut down naturally how many milk feeds she wanted. Stopping bf was never an issue for me as by 1year she was only having one feed a day and then dropped that easily when having cow’s milk.
Now, there are times when part of me looks forward to stopping breastfeeding; For example, I am only wearing nursing bras (with no underwire) as that is what’s recommended, so sometimes I long to wear a sexy bra that puts my boobs back where they used to be! It would also be nice not having to plan my outfit based on accessibility for feeding.
But, breastfeeding is also one of the best things I have ever done and I think one of the best gifts I could have given my girls. It is sad that breastfeeding mums don’t get more support (You can read further information on my experience and thoughts on this HERE). It is also sad that mothers who choose to continue breastfeeding their children past a certain age are considered strange and heavily judged.
As an experienced, second time around, bf mum I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of my breastfeeding choices, but I am finding every ‘mum friend’ that I tell the ‘story’ about my eldest never having had a bottle, reacts slightly shocked, if not completely surprised or confused.
This is not a formula vs. breastmilk debate; that debate is pointless and irrelevant to me as it can be started and ended with one sentence – What you feed YOUR baby is YOUR choice.
But, the issue of how long women choose to breastfeed is entirely different and I think it is such a shame that society today thinks after a few months every baby should be on the bottle!