Three Into Four: How NOT To Quit Breastfeeding

14/08/2014 16:56 | Updated 22 May 2015

Three Into Four: How NOT to quit breastfeeding

I'm having a bad boob week.

For the second time in my life, I've stopped breastfeeding - too abruptly, apparently. Among other things I'm feeling (emotional, achy, leaky), I'm severely lopsided: on the left, I'm a Playboy-magazine aspirant D-cup; on the right, a prepubescent A.

Clothing is not my friend this week. I can't even look at a bra.

With Diana, I was never that into breastfeeding and did it purely out of laziness and because I felt I should, so when she hit eight-and-a-half months old and I hit my fourth illness in as many weeks, I quit cold turkey.

Diana was very happy with the bottle and mainly used the breast for comfort, so she hardly noticed. And because I was in bed with a fever, I couldn't tell if my chills were mastitis or flu (this is a good thing, I promise). I spent one week utterly miserable and then it was over.

With Liv, things have been different. She fed easily from the very beginning, and breastfeeding was positive rather than stressful (unlike with Diana, where she had some difficulty getting back up to her birth weight and where my breastfeeding position became a source of mirth for any professional who witnessed it - "You're holding her like a football, not a baby!")

In fact, I really loved my breastfeeding sessions with Liv, even as she grew and moved onto real food, especially our cosy, snugly moments in my bed before I'd put her down for the night. Those moments between us were perfect - maybe because they were often the only one-on-one time we had together.

I'd even - very uncharacteristically for me since I like to be able to throw toxins like alcohol and insane amounts of caffeine and sugar into my body as often and frequently as I'd like but obviously can't while breastfeeding - entertained the possibility of feeding Liv long beyond one year. I'd even settled on an age I could feed her until without feeling creepy about it (two).

A couple of months ago, Liv finally took a bottle of formula, and I started to breastfeed less in the day (two to four times), so for the past couple of months we've had the rather lovely balance of me getting my breastfeeding bonding sesh with Liv but also being able to leave her on occasion.

But the past few weeks have been difficult: terrible sleep, waking up every hour to suckle but not feeling comforted (maybe my supply was too low?) and getting up at 4am to start the day.

She also started biting. A lot. How she managed to make it so excruciating when armed with only two bottom teeth, I don't know, but let's just say our snugly sessions would usually involve me screeching in pain, vowing never to breastfeed again and then trying Liv on the other side.

And repeat.

After the second day in a row last week of being up all night and seemingly having no milk to satiate my daughter (she wouldn't take the bottle if the breast was available), I'd had enough: breastfeeding was over for me.

So I didn't do what you're supposed to do, and gradually give up feeds to lower your supply, which is why my body is actively protesting my decision. I also could have timed it better - four of Liv's top teeth have started to come in, all at the same time.

I expected Liv to be up all night raging when she realised she no longer had a human chew toy. Petrified, I filled up bottles of milk, poised for action. And then the miracle occurred: Liv has slept through the night - without needing a sip of milk - for the last five days. And she hasn't tried to rip my shirt off yet, so I think she's OK with the current situation.

Physically, I could be doing better (I'm popping sage pills to try and curb my milk supply). But I'm also feeling something I haven't felt in a while: Energised. It's amazing what a bit of sleep can do.

As for getting my Liv-time in, my solution is to keep the cuddle sessions going, only now, there will just be fewer topless moments (well, I might leave her topless!) These have been just as lovely, although maybe the fact that my body is no longer something my child needs hasn't hit me emotionally yet.

Now here's what I really want to know: How on earth can I justify eating a slice of cake every day when I'm no longer breastfeeding?

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