baby

From 3 days to 3 years, eight mums share when they stopped breastfeeding.

For many mothers, success or difficulty with breastfeeding is an emotive subject.

Take Amy Schumer, who last week told listeners of the Informed Pregnancy podcast about her struggles with breastfeeding and why she switched to formula. That is, for her own mental health.

“Some people absolutely love it (breastfeeding), and I’m so happy for them, but it was bumming me out,” the comedian revealed.

“Once it occurred to me that I could stop, I was like, ‘I’m going to stop.’ You matter. It’s going to better for your baby that you’re OK,” she said.

Like Amy, many women feel the pressure to breastfeed and often experience guilt when it doesn’t come easily, or last ‘long enough’.

On the other hand, many mothers feel emotionally devastated when their breastfeeding journey ends.

We spoke to eight women about their unique breastfeeding experiences, and what it felt like when they stopped.

At Mamamia we believe fed is best. For the purposes of this story, the below accounts are from women who chose to breastfeed their babies.

Watch: What breastfeeding is like around the world. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

Stacey fed for 3 weeks, and 3 days.

I breastfed my first for three weeks and my second for three days!

I had problems with getting a supply due to my babies not latching properly. It was not a good experience for me, I found it all stressful, confronting and uncomfortable.

When I didn’t have a baby trying to feed, I was attached to a pump trying to increase demand which just made me feel horrible, like a cow.

The day we swapped to formula we were a much more settled and content household. Both babies were happier and I felt a little more like myself each day and less like a failure.

Heather fed for 20 months.

I stopped regularly breastfeeding my daughter at 20 months old.

One evening a month ago I asked her if she wanted some boob before bed and she ignored me and kept playing so I took my chance and stopped then.

I felt ready to stop as she’s been a toothy feeder(!) and I haven’t felt overly emotional about it but with the hormone change, I’ve been crying about a lot of other things.

ADVERTISEMENT

I loved the special bond we had and looking down at her relaxed little face while she was feeding. I was however keen to start wearing normal bras and to share the bedtime routine with my husband. I am soon going away for a weekend with a girlfriend and can’t wait!

Cath fed for 6 and 5 months.

I breastfed my first child until he was six months. I always wanted to mix feed so my husband gave a bottle of formula in the evening so I could rest.

I started to wean very slowly and gradually. I dropped the middle of the day feeds when he was three months as I found out I had some tumours in my head and neck and required surgery.

Three years on and I had a baby girl. I breastfed most feeds and she had a bottle of formula at night. She thrived. I loved breastfeeding her and planned to keep it up for as long as she was interested but when she was five months old I got news that my tumours had returned and I had to wean quickly. It was hard.

When I returned home, it took me a long time to feel connected when giving her the bottle. Time helped heal me and she’s now nine months and a happy, well-fed bub.

Jayne fed for 6 months, and 6 weeks.

I had my second baby in September 2019. After a traumatic birth and a few days in NICU, he was put straight onto formula by the nurses. Once he was strong enough I tried to breastfeed but my milk was slow to come in and I continued to top him up with formula after each feed. After breastfeeding my first baby until six months, I felt terribly guilty and felt I needed to try harder to exclusively breastfeed.

After lots of trouble with latching (and lots of pain!) I began pumping and alternating between breastmilk and formula bottles which I continued for six weeks until I eventually made the decision that I needed to call it quits.

I felt a lot of guilt at the time, but I had the realisation that my baby was happy and very settled (much more so than my first baby) and the impact the stress was having on my mental health wasn’t good for me or him.

Once I made the decision it was like a weight had lifted and I was pleasantly surprised by how supportive everyone was, not just my friends and family but the medical professionals.

Phoebe fed for 3 years.

My daughter had a lip tie and tongue tie that wasn’t diagnosed so I had no choice but to breastfeed as she couldn’t take a bottle.

I breastfed until just before her 3rd birthday. I held on that long because mentally I couldn’t cope with ending our breastfeeding journey badly after our challenging start.

I was only feeding at night and in the morning by the last year. My daughter is very clever and loves photo books that my mum makes of our trips and events, so I decided to make her a photo book about how she had to learn to go to sleep on her own.

She completely understood what was happening from the first night and she cried about having to give up ‘milky’. I also bawled my eyes out with her. Then each night she got better and by the last night she said goodbye to milky and went to sleep with a bottle without any fuss.

ADVERTISEMENT

I was so proud of her but also heartbroken at the same time.

Sarah fed three kids for 12 months.

I breastfed all of my three kids until they were 12 months.

I’m about to wean my youngest who is nearly one. I’ve gone through mastitis three times, had bad latches, tongue-tie and reflux but we powered through and came out the other side.

I loved breastfeeding and I am feeling so emotional that it’s about to come to an end, forever!

Kasey fed for 2 years.

I breastfed my daughter for a little over two years. It is one of the hardest but most rewarding things I have ever done. I had incredible difficulties in the first few weeks. Every feed was excruciating, I had mastitis a few times, used a nipple shield and saw numerous lactation consultants. It was absolutely exhausting but I was totally determined to breastfeed.

I didn’t stick to a schedule – I fed my baby whenever she wanted a feed whether it was for food, for comfort or bonding. It felt easy and it was so convenient.

When she was approaching two, I started feeling uncomfortable feeding in public as she was getting bigger and was talking. A few significant people in my life hinted that it was weird to feed a baby beyond 18 months or so and my mother in law said something along the lines of, ‘once a baby can ask for milk, it’s time to stop.’

What’s the deal with shame around breastfeeding? Mamamia’s baby podcast, Year One, breaks it down. Post continues below.

These comments upset me greatly because I wasn’t ready to stop, nor was my baby. I then started to avoid feeding around anyone – my husband included. I felt like it was ‘dirty’ to breastfeed my daughter considering her age, but I knew she wasn’t ready to stop.

I was only feeding her once a day by the time she reached two years old, and a few months later she refused her preferred breast saying, ‘yuk’ and our breastfeeding journey was over!

I am so pleased I continued until my baby was 100% ready to wean, not when society was hinting at me to stop.

Nicole Sarah fed twins until they were 2 years old.

I breastfed my twins until they turned two.

I had a lot of pressure from my husband to wean. He felt that they were too attached to me because I was still feeding, which turned out not to be the case.

They were only having a feed before bed, so it was super easy to transition them to a bottle of cow’s milk and they took to it easily.

I, on the other hand, cried and cried. I was also in the very early stages of being pregnant with their brother, so I used that as an excuse too!

Feature Image: Instagram/@amyschumer

00:00 / ???