Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended until your baby starts eating solid foods at around six months. However, experts agree that it’s best if you keep breastfeeding while giving your baby solids until at least 12 months. That being said, the decision about when to stop breastfeeding is a personal one, based on the unique needs of each mother and baby. You might decide to stop breastfeeding before your baby reaches twelve months, or your little one might start weaning even before you’re ready. And that is perfectly fine.
Sometimes, because of difficulties, breastfeeding your baby comes to an end much earlier than you thought it would or than you had hoped for. And with that can come feelings of guilt, sadness and disappointment.
Weaning is a time of change and emotional adjustment. It can be a relief for some women, but for others, it can feel like a tremendous loss. Thing is, even if you’re at peace with weaning and know the time is right for you both, there are changes happening in your body that might have an impact on how you feel.
While it may be a natural part of your little one’s development that signals growth and independence, it can certainly be a time of sadness for you. Especially if you’ve worked so hard to make it happen in the early days! So, it can be reassuring to know that hormonal changes could be partially to blame.
When you breastfeed, levels of both oestrogen and progesterone stay very low, and in turn, you don’t experience the same ups and downs of hormones that happen naturally when you get your period. But when you wean, you start to have fluctuations of oestrogen and progesterone again, and for women who are vulnerable to those fluctuations, well, it can cause a rollercoaster of emotions.
As breastfeeding ends, both prolactin and oxytocin levels become lower which could affect your mood and overall sense of wellbeing.
Here’s the thing, weaning your baby from the breast is as significant for mom as it is for baby. It’s completely normal to have big – and often, mixed – feelings about the end of your breastfeeding journey. Remember, just like learning how to breastfeed in the early days, weaning is a process.
So, be sure to take your time settling into this new stage with your little one if you can. Ideally you should start the weaning process a month or two before your deadline. Studies show that women who wean their babies faster may experience more of these adverse emotions, while those who wean gradually, may experience them less intensely.
Looking back on your breastfeeding journey and acknowledging what you have achieved and what you have given your child, is truly something to be proud of. Remember, your role of “mothering your baby” is simply changing, not ending.
So, be gentle and patient with yourself, and if you have ongoing low mood after the initial weeks of weaning, it may be helpful to talk to your GP.
Good job, mama!
Source: momlovesbest.com, verywellfamily.com, belly.belly.com.au, laleche.org.uk, raisingchildren.net.au, whattoexpect.com, lancastergeneralhealth.org, shape.com
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.