The end of our breastfeeding journey

I really wanted to write a little post about my decision to stop breastfeeding, now that it has been a few days since I completely finished. In the end I had very mixed feelings about it and I guess I wasn't expecting to find it to be the emotional battle that it was.
For those who have read my little updates about Jonah since his birth, you'll probably know that I supplemented feeding him myself with formula bottles, pretty much from the word go. Before we began weaning onto solid foods, I tended to breastfeed on demand day and night, whilst topping up Jonah's growing appetite with bottle feeds in between. 
In all honesty, I didn't expect to breastfeed for as long as I have and I have wondered each and every passing month if this would be my last month of feeding him myself. Needless to say, it was never a very seamlessly smooth journey for me, but it is certainly one that I have greatly valued!
 The emotional battle of knowing deep down that I wasn't able to support him on my own has always niggled away at the back of my mind, most especially when faced with continued campaigns from well meaning advocates of 'breast is best'. And yes, I do whole heartedly understand that it is.

From my experiences of breastfeeding two babies, I always felt like I was in a bit of a weird category. Whilst I considered myself lucky that I could breastfeed at all, my choice to bottlefeed at the same time never really felt like MY choice. It was the only solution I had to support my babies without compromising their weight gain and overall health.
I definitely had my struggles with the stigma around comparing mothers who breastfeed and those who bottle-feed their babies. I found myself growing frustrated with the assumption that I was a certain type of mother because I breastfed, as if it was the 'correct' response of me to be feeding my baby this way. Part of me wanted to shout that actually, it was all thanks bottle feeding Noah (alongside breastfeeding him) that we were kept from being admitted to hospital in his early weeks. I am so grateful that there was another option for us, here in the UK. And I thank God that like so many families in times gone by, we weren't faced with such bleak odds when my own body couldn't keep up with my babies demands.

My decision to stop breastfeeding last week was also out of my hands too. Whilst I would have liked to continue nearer to Jonah's first birthday if I could, it was becoming pretty impossible with his teething. Put quite simply, I felt if I ever wanted to breastfeed again in the future, I should probably stop now as Jonah was quite happy using me as his teether and it was just not working out.

For me, the end of breastfeeding your baby marks that full transition from pregnancy to being back to yourself again. I always have a sense of 'coming full circle' when I stop breastfeeding. It's definitely bitter sweet as having that closeness with your child is such a bonding experience and yet, here I am marking my very first step of many to come, in letting go of my baby. 
Jonah on the other hand almost doesn't seem to have noticed anything. To me his reaction has validated that I made the right decision- that it wasn't too early and that he doesn't need me in this way any more.

I'm not here to campaign or pressure either way when it comes to feeding your baby. I have relied on both options and am really grateful that I was able to do so. I only hope my experience might cast a little light over what can be a really daunting and difficult circumstance, especially for new mothers in a similar position to me. I've said it before and more than ever I really hold onto the fact that we, as mothers and fathers, should not get too caught up in what's best for us (whether that is breast feeding or bottle feeding), but place the overall needs of our babies first.

Love Bunty


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