My dilemma: When should I stop breastfeeding?
My darling Oscar is nearing his six month age milestone. I can't quite believe we're here already - he's becoming such a little person with his own personality.
And now I feel we've come to a crossroads. I started feeding him solids last week, and being the hungry little sausage he is, he took to eating the baby rice like a baby bird eating worms – with great enthusiasm and no small amount of vociferous greed.
I had duly breastfed him before his first meal, and continue to do so, but a funny thing has happened. He seems to be losing interest in my breast. In fact, he's so interested in what I eat now he would steal the steak off my plate and start gumming it if I'd let him.
Don't get me wrong – he is still a very willing and happy participant in his morning and night time feeds, but when I breastfeed him during the day he is so distracted I need to take him into a darkened room to hold his attention for long enough to get his fill. It was either do that or – how do I put this delicately - end up with nipples resembling the rubber bands the postman drops on the front path!
Anyhow, I made the decision when Oscar was two months old to feed him his evening milk with formula, rather than breast milk. My reasoning behind this was because he was always so hungry all the time, and the moment we started this regime, he seemed more satisfied and slept for longer.
I know for a fact that by the time 6 o'clock rolled around my breastmilk was as thin and watery as dishwater. Who knows whether or not the formula was to blame for the longer sleeps, but the upshot of all this is that he is quite accustomed to the bottle.
So, here we are. I think I want to stop breastfeeding. There, I said it. I'd always told myself I'd try and do at least six months (always assuming I'd end up doing it for longer), and here I am, at 5 and a half months and I am counting each day as it passes.
I love breastfeeding – I love the cuddle, the special time we have together, the way he gazes at me, one of his little arms sometimes stuck straight up in the air, sometimes his hand playing with my face. I love how it seems to satisfy him as he draws to a close on the feed, drunkenly falling off the breast and then nuzzling into me.
What I don't love is always being the one to get up in the night at least twice (who am I kidding – I essentially sleepwalk into his room as soon as I hear him stir and scoop him up and take him to our bed for some sleepy night feeding). I also don't love having boobs like udders and I don't love how little self-control I have when it comes to snacks and sweets because I am still so hungry all the time. I fear that lack of self-control has nothing to do with breastfeeding but I'm looking for reasons here, OK?
I also don't love feeling guilty about wanting to stop. I worry he won't love me any more as his special person, the only one who can give him sustenance. I know that sounds silly, but it just seems so final.
Friends who have done the same – at two months, six, 12, (and even longer than that but that's not really my thing) – say that you do feel awful for about a week and then it's fine. So, I'm going to do it – I'm going to wait until he hits 6 months old in two weeks time and stop. Not suddenly of course, because it's not like turning off a tap! I'm going to start dropping breastfeeds one by one every three or four days and replace them with a bottle.
Wish me luck...
When did you stop breastfeeding? How did it make you feel?