I never thought I would feel this guilty about giving up breastfeeding. When I had Carter, I just knew that I wanted to breastfeed for as long as possible. Little did I know that just 3 months in and after finally getting the hang on of latching on properly, that it would all change again. And I would have to start introducing formula and that my breastfeeding journey would come to an abrupt end.
I absolutely love breastfeeding and it’s a really great way to bond with your baby. Never would I have thought, that I would struggle so much to give it up. Even now, a month since we started giving him formula, I’m still struggling to stop fully. I still breastfeed in the middle of the night, because let’s be honest. It is so much easier than having to faff around with bottles and I still have mom guilt moments.
So I wanted to share the different stages of giving up breastfeeding. I think there is probably a lot of other mums, who struggle as much as I did with this.
Knowing your milk isn’t enough
Carter went from being happy and content for a few hours after each feed, to screaming blue murder within the hour. He would feed non stop, then get frustrated when he wasn’t getting more milk out of me. He simply drained me and my body couldn’t keep with the increase in the milk that he needed. I was exhausted and pretty much just tied down to the sofa and feeding non-stop, it wasn’t fun for either one of us. It was like a never-ending circle. Deep down, I already had an inkling of knowing he needed formula to top it up, as he wasn’t getting enough from me. The health visitor confirmed this when she came to weigh him, he had dropped a whole percentile already.
When the mum guilt sets in
I never expected to have this sudden feeling of mum guilt hit me. I felt like I failed, despite eating all the right foods my milk wasn’t enough. My milk had not dried up but it just wasn’t enough to fill him for longer than an hour. My health visitor was lovely, she could see how guilty I felt about giving up breastfeeding. She reassured me that I have nothing to feel guilty about. I had done 3 months of exclusive breastfeeding which is a great achievement, she said I could still top him up with breastmilk. Which what we have been doing ever since. I still haven’t stopped completely though. I probably will by the time his first tooth comes through.
Finding the right formula & bottles
We had NUK bottles with latex teats for expressed milk and Carter always took them. But once we started introducing formula he refused bottles altogether. We tried to mix formula and breastmilk, but even that didn’t work. Different bottles or teats didn’t do the trick either. He finally fully took the bottle after two weeks and changing to Aptamil in NUK bottles with latex teats.
What changed and how did we do it?
I would start him on the breast and then slowly push the bottle in and take the breast away. He would drink an ounce or two and then start crying, as he realised it wasn’t the breast anymore. We repeated this for a week and a half, yes it wasn’t easy but it worked. And eventually, he would drink the bottle and also take the bottle straight away.
1 Months On – How Are we getting on?
At the moment, I’m only breastfeeding Carter at night time when he wakes after his bedtime bottle. And I’m likely to drop this last feed by the end of the year or when his first tooth comes. I just can’t bring myself to fully stop just yet. Don’t feel pressured into having to drop breastfeeding completely, do it on your own time. My health visitor said it’s okay to keep offering the breast for comfort, for as long as you like.
Carter loves his bottle now, he gets excited whenever he sees his milk. He still takes to the breast as well, there isn’t any nipple confusion. I don’t feel as guilty anymore, as I know he’s getting everything he needs now. But it did take me some to get to this point.
Tips on gradually stopping breastfeeding
The most important thing is to not stop breastfeeding all together at once. Otherwise, you might end with painfully, engorged breasts and could develop mastitis. I would recommend to gradually cut out on feed at a time. Whenever my breast felt achy, I put cold cabbage leaves on them. It really helped.
I thought I would include a link to the NHS Guidelines as well, there are some additional great tips on how to give up breastfeeding. You can find the link here.
These are the NUK bottles that we use, the teats come 2 sizes. 0-6 months and 6-12 months, the latex teats need replacing more regularly than the standard silicone ones.