A couple of months ago, my wife kept asking me, “when should I stop breastfeeding my baby?”. I was a bit surprised when she asked me that, but I can understand what she is going through. Breastfeeding is good for the baby, but there are a lot of sacrifices involved. For family members and “bystanders”, it is common for them to feel that breastfeeding the baby as long as possible is the best choice.
However, we are not the mother, so we can’t really understand what the mother is going through. My wife had to give up a lot in order to continue breastfeeding our little daughter. She had to go through all of this:
- strictly control what she eats
- have irregular amounts of sleep
- can not leave the baby’s side most of the times
- have painful nipples
- suffer from milk pressuring her breasts in the morning
Originally, my wife loves spicy and fried foods. Whenever she eats this kind of food while she is breast-feeding, our baby becomes cranky and irritated during the day. My daughter also developed red rashes all over her face. What my wife eats pretty much passed to our daughter through the milk.
This might seem anecdotal, but with our daughter having her own individual body type and preferences, spicy, fried, and several other of my wife’s favorite food affects our daughter negatively. As an end result, when my wife was breast-feeding she has to pretty much give up on almost every food that she likes.
It is true that she is forced to eat healthy and that might not be a bad thing, but while she is breast feeding, there are many activities she can’t participate in, like hanging out with her friends. The reason for that is because it’s a hassle to breastfeed outdoors. Chinese people like my wife are very traditional so breastfeeding outdoors is pretty much difficult, so she doesn’t even bother.
Another thing is that she wakes up every morning with painful pressure in her breasts. The reason is because she produces excess milk before our daughter is awake. Sometimes she can wake our daughter up to relieve the pressure on my wife’s breasts, but most often our daughter just sleeps merrily.
After breastfeeding our little daughter for a year, our daughter began “biting” my wife. At this point, my wife was finally ready to give up no matter how willing she was to sacrificing herself. When it comes to our daughter’ health and development, it might not have been the best choice to make, but it was also a good choice. I never thought that my wife made the wrong choice stopping breastfeeding at this point.
Stop When You Can No Longer Handle It
My wife was always a little cranky when she was breastfeeding our daughter. You can clearly tell that she is not completely happy even though she is a naturally fun and outgoing person to begin with. Ever since she started breastfeeding, her personality warped a tiny little bit.
The reason for that is because my daughter also relies on my wife’s breast as a pacifier and a napping tool. As an end result, whenever our daughter wakes up in the middle of the night, there is pretty much nothing I can do to help. My wife will have to “pacify” our daughter to sleep with her breast.
Despite how hard my wife worked herself, in the end, she was producing less and less milk. Our daughter was also getting fussy more often, because she is not eating enough. When Lilyanna learned how to how to sit up, we fed her formula milk, and simple solids like rice cereal, and mashed fruits to compensate for my wife’s lack of breast milk.
Currently, my daughter is being bottle fed with formula. Just a couple of months ago, she was still being breastfed by my wife. I was a bit scared when my wife stopped breastfeeding our daughter, because breast milk gives a very powerful boost to a baby’s immune system. I thought my daughter would get sick more often. Fortunately, nothing like that happened.
My Wife’s Guilt
Stopping breastfeeding gave my wife a lot of relief and a burden off of her shoulders. However, occasionally she still asked me, “do you think I was wrong to stop breastfeeding?”. I told her, “It is not your fault. Besides, your body can no longer keep up with Lilyanna’s appetite anyway”. At that time, our daughter wasn’t always interested in breastfeeding. She was more interested in the mashed fire dragon fruit that my wife was making for her.
However, my wife still felt guilty, because she heard that some mothers continue breastfeeding their baby up to three years old. Personally, I don’t believe breastfeeding a baby for that long is necessarily the right thing to do. If mothers breastfeed their child that long, they probably do it for the following.
- She wants her child to develop better
- Or her child refuses to wean off breast milk properly
To be honest, I am really skeptical that mothers would breastfeed their child up to three years old if there isn’t a powerful reason to do so. The reason I say that is because children eventually develop teeth.
Since the little ones don’t really know how to control their “bite”, the breastfeeding mother will have to suffer from it. Not to mention, the little one will have to literally drink some of the mother’s blood. That’s is one of the reasons why my wife wanted to give up. It literally hurts to breastfeed at this point.
Some people might believe that bottling the breast milk will solve this problem. We tried that already. It simply didn’t work for us. Sometimes reality is more cruel than you think.
Our daughter refused to drink breast milk out of a bottle no matter what bottle we used. Ironically, she was willing to drink formula from a bottle. I don’t quite get why she has such preferences either, but that’s what Lilyanna preferred.
Besides, bottling the breast milk isn’t as easy as it sounds. We have an electric breast pump which has different controls you can use. It still took my wife a whole hour just to pump out four ounces. That was definitely not enough and not efficient. Another problem is that if we pump the milk without the baby actually sucking on her breasts, my wife produced even less milk. Our body is smart. It can actually tell if there is a real baby sucking out the milk.
Since we ran out of options, giving up on breast feeding was our only choice.
So When I Should Stop Breastfeeding My Baby?
You should stop breastfeeding when you literally feel like stopping. That might sound irresponsible, but you are actually doing a good thing for your baby.
It is true that if you stop breastfeeding, your baby won’t get the extra immune boost, but every child eventually has to wean off of breast milk. Not to mention, the breast milk antibodies you pass onto your babies are “IgG”. They are only a temporary immune protection. Your child does not really own it. This is why vaccines are still necessary, because your child’s personal immune system needs to fight the foreign substance without a mother’s help in order to truly become strong.
Don’t get me wrong though. It is still very helpful for a newborn to receive breast milk in the first year, so that she can develop properly before her immune system can fight on its own.
Later on, having your child developing her own strong immune system is one reason to stop breast feeding. There is another reason why stopping breastfeeding benefits your child. That is because you, as the mother will be happier.
Let’s face it. Breastfeeding is really a big hassle no matter how much you try to embellish it. You as a mother, get:
- less sleep
- less freedom
- and sometimes sore, cracks, or bleeding nipples.
You might okay with breastfeeding in the beginning. However, the longer you do it, the more easy it is for you to get upset over everything. Well, I am not sure if you felt that way, but my wife sure did when she was breastfeeding.
Now my wife has quite breastfeeding, is much more energetic and happy than she was before. If stopping breastfeeding will make you feel happier too, then feel free to do so.
Your child doesn’t only feed on your milk. She feeds off of your energy and vibe. If you are happy and excited, your child will most likely feel the same. Besides, sometimes it’s not all about you, maybe your child wants to stop breastfeeding herself.
There are many cases where the child wants to stop drinking breast milk. Unlike bottle nipples, you can’t force a child to drink if she really doesn’t want to. You can’t simply stick it in. In that case, introduce other foods to see if your child is ready for it. Consult your pediatrician first in case of food allergies.
Another situation is if you, the breastfeeding mother is sick and taking certain medications that doesn’t allow you to continue. If that is the case, consult a doctor and get some medical advice.
How Should I Stop Breastfeeding
Everybody’s family situation is a little different so you will have to adjust how you do it base on your circumstances. One thing is for sure though. When you want to wean your baby off of breast milk, the most important thing is to do it slowly
Like I mentioned earlier, try solid foods like mashed fruits, vegetables, or rice cereal. During the process of weaning our baby daughter off of breast milk, this was one of the first things we did.
We figured that once the breastfeeding stops, we would need to give Lilyanna as many nutrients as possible from fruits and vegetables so she can stay healthy. We were scared that she would get sick once breastfeeding stops, but that didn’t happen.
There was a problem though. It was the first time feeding her solids (mashed fruits counts as solids too, because it is not liquidy like milk). We are afraid that Lilyanna will choke if we fed her a solid fruit directly.
My wife and I got this munchkin fresh food feeder to play it safe. We chopped up fruits into small pieces (without using a blender, I will explain why) and put it into this feeder. After we put the fresh fruits into the feeder, we can close the clap easily with a click. With this feeder, we can directly let our baby “chew” on the fruits without choking, while drinking the fruits nutrients at the same time.
The reason we did not use the blender to break down the fruits is because this feeder also acts like a teether. When our daughter was teething, her gums were always irritated and she wants to chew on something to feel relief, and the munchkin fresh food feeder killed two birds with one stone. Since the fruits in there are still “hard” and not mushy, it is the perfect relief for sore gums.
This feeder is really good and easy to wash. The only problem is that it is tricky to open once you close it shut. The designers made this feeder lock tightly so that your baby can’t open it up on her own.
Other than fresh fruits, you should also try giving your child formula milk. My wife and I decided that formula milk has a lot of fortified nutrients that will help our daughter develop better. It also has nutrients that are not necessarily available in breast milk. It is not a total substitute, but it is not too bad.
Without a doubt, weaning your child will most likely be a slow process. If she refuses to take bottle milk, try other milk bottles to see if she likes the nipple better. Be patient, because some parents actually take many months to wean their little one.
It took us around one to two months before our daughter completely “converted” to formula milk and solid foods.
When you first start, it is best to take out breast milk feeding that you normally do in the middle of the day. Leave the morning and night feedings the same way, because those are the “routine” for your baby to wake up and sleep into.
I wish you good luck. I hope you and your baby can enjoy this process. If you have any questions, please leave it in the comment section below.