Breastfeeding is tough whether you’re able to get it down or not. There’s a LOT of learning to be done before you start nursing then even more once you actually have a newborn there to figure out the right latch, pumping, and everything else that connects to the fact that you’re breastfeeding. But I actually learned a few things after I stopped nursing my firstborn that I really didn’t expect. Things that weren’t covered in my nursing manuals or discussed by consultants.
I’m Glad It’s Over
The idea of being glad it’s over may make you laugh, or it may make you cry. For me, it’s a little of both. I was very set on breastfeeding before my daughter was born and then became a totally attached nursing parent once she was here. I had everyone in my life tell me to stop nursing all the time (awful) and even doctors told me to stop once I reached the 1-year milestone. I wanted to let my daughter decide when to wean and somehow made it to 4.5 years after initially just wanting to make it to 6 months. Yea.
When she was 3.5/4 years my breasts changed and didn’t want to be nursed anymore (I thought we would stop at 2). It was like a repulsion, which is really sad because I had worked so hard to breastfeed before, and it was great bonding for the two of us. But when we finally worked out our weaning situation it was so nice to be able to start a bedtime routine that allowed me to actually do things while she slept. It was nice to know I could spend one night away from her and it would be OK.
It Affects Your Sex Life
You’ve probably heard some people say that you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding. While it isn’t necessarily true that breastfeeding acts like contraception just because your menstrual cycle stays away for a bit, it can prevent pregnancy simply because moms who breastfeed may not want sex. Not all breastfeeding moms of course, and it probably depends on the situation you have with your spouse, but breastfeeding lowers your libido a wee bit. Because there’s less estrogen, there’s also less blood flow to the pelvis, which can sometimes cause pain during intercourse.
Here’s a bit of TMI for you: I spent 4.5 years in pain and after years of inconclusive scans, ultrasounds, and surgery I was finally referred to a pelvic physical therapist and am now on the right track. I had no clue that my breastfeeding was affecting my emotions and body chemistry in this way. There are other factors to this sort of pain that occurs after giving birth, but apparently, my lengthy breastfeeding didn’t help.
One of my fears with finally weaning was that my daughter wouldn’t look to me for comfort anymore and that I wouldn’t know how to soothe her if she did. At first, I thought my hugs would be inadequate when she was sad or needed comfort, but they aren’t. I have my body back (well, back to the point that it’s mine to go get in shape now that I’m able to do that again), but S still comes to me when she’s crying or has something to say. My hugs heal, just like breastfeeding used to after big shots when she was a baby. It’s such a relief!
Does any of this mean you shouldn’t breastfeed? Definitely not! Would I change a thing? No, I’m so glad I got to breastfeed my daughter. Like anything, it takes a lot of work and learning and re-learning as people change, but it’s worth it if that’s what you and your child want. Don’t let anyone discourage you. This is just important info to know if you’re breastfeeding (or plan to). If you’re experiencing some of these feelings I want you to know that you’re not alone, there are so many other moms out there who go through similar.
Please share your own post-weaning surprises in the comments below or email them to me and I’ll post them as anonymous responses.