Sad about stopping breastfeeding? Here’s how to deal with it.

I knew it had to happen.

I had almost exclusively breastfed my baby boy until he was 9 months old despite all odds.

He had tongue-tie which made breastfeeding difficult.

I went back to a demanding job when he was only 2 months old.

We had to move around for 6 weeks while I travelled for work.

But now the odds are stacked against me:

My 2 year old daughter has regressed so much that she was pretending to be a baby. She has a bottle in her mouth all the time. She refuses to say words but instead cries because that’s what baby does. She doesn’t want to sleep alone anymore.

My husband is going crazy trying to be ‘mommy and daddy’ to her as baby was tied to my apron strings.

I knew I had to let breastfeeding go so that I can be mommy to my daughter again. My husband also needed more time with the baby and less time with the terrible-twos toddler.

I knew I had a good run and this was the best thing to do for everyone, including me. But why was I feeling this immense sense of loss?

It turns out I’m not alone.

Why am I so sad?

Studies show that stopping breastfeeding is a risk factor for increased anxiety and depression.

In essence, stopping breastfeeding can cause these hormonal changes:

  • Your oxytocin levels drop significantly when you wean. This ‘love hormone’ was flying high with every let-down and it was helping to lower your stress and anxiety. When we stop breastfeeding, it plummets, we go into a sort of ‘withdrawal’ and feel deeply sad (a bit like the first few days after delivery)
  • Your prolactin levels drop and estrogen levels increase. This imbalance can affect our mood too.

Source: 3 Ways Weaning Your Baby Can Affect Your Mental Health and What to Do about It (psychcentral.com)

How can I stop being sad when I stop breastfeeding?

Aside from weaning as slowly as you can to allow your body (and heart) to adjust, this is the mindset I’ve adopted to take matters into my own hands:

Accept it

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

I refer to the Serenity Prayer very often to help me through the ups and downs of motherhood and life. Growing children are a series of one difficult phase after another. With my daughter, breastfeeding was wrought with difficulty. With my second one, breastfeeding was so easy. I suppose it gave me validation that I can breastfeed.

But all good things must come to an end. No amount of crying over spilt milk will magically pour it back into the glass.

The best thing I can do is to accept that this phase of my mother-son bonding has ended and look forward to the next phase.

Explore other ways to bond

Who says breastfeeding is the only way to bond with your baby? Lots of moms don’t breastfeed but are just as close to their children.

Since stopping breastfeeding, I am bonding with my son by cuddling him while I bottle-feed him. I also give him lots of kisses (not that I wasn’t before) and he’s learning to kiss me back.

I make yummy pureed food for him and give him little treats. He knows I’m still his primary food provider 😀

Focus on the positives

I admit there’s actually lots of positives to stopping breastfeeding:

  • I have so much more time to spend with my daughter now that my husband can take over the baby’s care for hours at a time. I even make him take turns to do the night shift.
  •  I clawed back 2 hours of precious time at work that I had to use on pumping.
  • My wardrobe options were so limited but now I can wear any top or dress I want! Love it!
  • My husband gets mommy’s boobies back. He doesn’t dare test it yet but he’s pretty happy about it.

Think of all the ways that life is better now that you’re not breastfeeding. I am sure there is a long list. Focus on the positives instead of wallowing in sadness.

Find a new project

There is nothing like a new project to reclaim your zest. I took on making ‘adventurous’ pureed food for my baby as my next project. I also started baking with my daughter as part of bonding with her again. I’ve renewed my focus on this blog.

It doesn’t matter what your new project is. Just find one and work on it.

Read: 12 ways to rediscover your zest for life

To wrap up

I don’t deny that I still mourn for a phase-gone-by, especially since I don’t plan to have anymore children. But I am a firm believer that when one door closes, another opens. This is certainly the case with my adventures in bringing up my children.

Bring the next phase on!

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