What Happens When You Stop Breastfeeding?
Experts recommend that babies should be breastfed exclusively until they are at least six months old. This is because your breast milk has a lot of benefits to your baby that extends beyond basic nutrition. Apart from providing all the nutrients that your baby needs, breastfeeding will provide your baby with disease-fighting substances that will help to protect her from illnesses.
Just like everything else, a time comes when you have to stop breastfeeding your baby either by choice or necessity. So, what happens when you stop breastfeeding? Regardless of when you decide to stop breastfeeding, you will encounter some experiences, both physical and emotional as a result.
Many mothers are usually not aware that most of the effects they may experience when they stop breastfeeding are always normal. This is because unlike breastfeeding, far less attention is paid to weaning. According to DR. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, there has been inadequate research on weaning as research only focuses on the emotional fallout of undesired weaning.
So, here are some of the possible physical and emotional changes that you will feel when you stop breastfeeding your baby.
What Happens When You Stop Breastfeeding?
Feeling Of Fullness
It is very normal for a mother who has just weaned her baby to continue finding breast milk whenever they hand express their breasts. This is because it will take a period of time for your breast milk to dry up completely. However, the period of time it will take for the breasts to stop producing milk varies in every woman.
Therefore, in the first few weeks of weaning, you will be uncomfortable as you will experience a feeling of fullness. This is because since your breasts produce milk on a supply and demand basis, it will take some time before your breasts can reduce and eventually stop milk production.
When you put an end to breastfeeding your baby, you may feel upset and tearful as a result of depression. This is because as your breasts reduce the amount of milk being produced, your hormonal levels also begin to fluctuate.
Prolactin, which is the hormone that is responsible for lactation, is also responsible for making nursing mothers feel calm and happy. You may, therefore, feel upset and sad when you are weaning your baby as a result of the decrease in the level of this hormone.
These feelings usually last for a few weeks when you start weaning your baby. However, if these feelings persist beyond a few weeks, then you will need to talk to your doctor or midwife. You can help to minimise your mood changes by weaning your baby gradually. This is to give your body the chance to adjust to the changes in the levels of your hormones.
Return Of Your Menstrual Cycle
When you are breastfeeding, your periods will be away for sometimes. This is because your baby’s frequent nursing will inhibit your body from releasing hormones that usually makes the body to prepare for pregnancy. Ovulation will, therefore, be inhibited hence you won’t have your periods. This contraceptive effect of breastfeeding is called Lactational Amenorrhea.
When you stop breastfeeding, your menstrual cycle will resume. This will be as a result of the changes in your hormonal levels. However, once your menstrual cycle resumes, you cannot make it stop by continuing with breastfeeding.
Your Breasts May Return To Their Usual Size
When you get pregnant, your breasts increase in size so that they can prepare for breastfeeding. Once you stop breastfeeding your baby, the cells that were making milk start to shrink gradually. This process will occur for several months until your breasts return to their pre-pregnancy size. However, sometimes your breasts may look quite as perky as they used to be before you got pregnant.
Tips On How You Can Phase Out Breastfeeding
Although experts recommend that breastfeeding your baby should only stop when your baby shows signs of being ready to let go, you are the one who can decide what you think is best for you and your baby. Here is how you can go about it.
- Stage One
- Stage two
- Stage three
Introduce solid foods to your baby before you start to wean your baby. This will help you cut down on breastfeeding as your baby will no longer rely solely on breast milk for nourishment.
You can alternate between breastfeeding and formula feeding or giving solid foods. This will encourage your baby to experiment with different flavours and textures while still getting nourished with your precious breast milk.
You can then switch things around once you notice that your baby is eating well. You will be able to know this just by looking at the colour of her poo. You can then switch to offering her solid foods before you let her have your breasts. After that, you can then make it a routine.
Although it is entirely your choice to stop breastfeeding whenever you feel like it is the best thing for you and the baby, it is normal to have questions about it. Is it the right time? What happens when you stop breastfeeding? That is why you need to get the facts about the whole process if you want the weaning process to be a more positive one for both you and your child.
Whether you decide to follow your baby’s lead in the weaning process or whether you decide to decide by yourself, there are physical and emotional changes that you will experience. However, these physical and emotional experiences will subside once your body get used to the changes.