When all your friends have stopped breastfeeding…

It started happening around six months, the weaning from the breast. It started with comments like: “I don’t know how you can keep doing that” and “Haven’t you had enough?” There were phrases that practically echoed formula ads and that skewed NHS guidelines.

I suppose it started earlier. In the past year only 47.2 per cent of women were found still breastfeeding when their babies were six to eight weeks old. And yes there may be a cultural aversion to breastfeeding, depending on where they live, but I’m sure many of those women would have liked to have continued. In one way or another, they were unsupported, maybe before they had their babies, maybe after and maybe both.

But I didn’t notice people stopping around then. That was when it started with the pumping, the domperidone, the SNS, the breast compressions. That was when I was up and down, feeling like a failure because my breasts were not producing enough milk for my baby to progress beyond static weight gain.

Trapped in my own breastfeeding maze, I did not see bottle feeding mothers. They were invisible to me. All I saw were breastfeeding mothers. I saw them tenderly and easily feed their babies. It stung.

When Talitha was five months old, we finally got to a place where I wasn’t supplementing or pumping in order to feed her. I was ready to join this sisterhood of breastfeeding mothers (of course, I had always been part of it anyway), except most of the mums I knew were stopping. I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

So, I found a new reason to go to my local breastfeeding group. I wanted to be around mothers who’d decided to keep going simply because it made sense. When Talitha was eight months old, I trained as breastfeeding peer supporter. This too made sense, to remain in this breastfeeding community while giving back to it. I still thought, I might breastfeed for a year, for no reason other than I was still taking Domperidone and couldn’t believe that if I stopped taking it, my supply would be sufficient to continue.

A month later, I stopped taking it, weaning off it slowly. We continued. Her weight was stable. I saw the future stretch out before me without arbitrary limits. There was freedom in our breastfeeding relationship, for the first time. We could continue as long as we liked. No GP’s power to prescribe would decide for us.

And so, a year came and went. I joined La Leche League and met mothers breastfeeding children far older than mine. It was beautiful. It was normal. And now two years have come and gone. The breastfeeding maze is all faded memory. And the numbers I breastfed alongside fall and fall, which is fine. Every mother makes the decision that’s right for her and her family.

But if it weren’t for these breastfeeding groups I go to, I reckon I’d feel like the last woman standing. I kind of think, though, I didn’t get out of that breastfeeding maze just to stop any old how.

When all your friends have stopped breastfeeding

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  • Yes! This is so true. I fought to have a breastfeeding relationship with my daughter, despite IGT, so there is no way I’m stopping before she is ready. But it did start to feel uncomfortable around my NCT group when I was the only one left feeding.
    My best supporters have been my best friend, my mum and my husband. I’m so blessed to have a husband who listens to the research I do and has become a real advocate. He’s even written blogs for the scavenger hunt this year and last.
    Laura Moore recently posted..Keep Britain Breastfeeding 2013: The Importance of Breastfeeding Support

  • I was absolutely the last one standing with my middle son who finished feeding at 3 yrs 10 months. By that point nearly everyone I knew was encouraging me to stop. I hope that I have the strength to end my daughters breastfeeding relationship when the time is right for both of us.
    Purplemum recently posted..The Nit Wars

  • I can remember the first time I discovered your blog, Talitha was only a few weeks old and you were having problems, I can’t believe it was two years ago and I am so pleased everything worked out and you are still going. I can remember the exact thing happening when Iyla (umm I mean Cherry ;)) reached 6 months, then by a year I was the only person I knew in real life who was still going. Luckily thanks to the blogging world I realised I wasn’t the only person in the world still doing it and carried on with a new found confidence. I have never seen anyone breastfeeding a toddler in public so I can see why a lot of people think it doesn’t happen, I was one of them! x
    Mum2BabyInsomniac recently posted..My Breastfeeding Top Tips

  • no one else in the groups I attended breastfed, except for the midwife and health visitor I had no support so I trained to be a peer supporter in my town

  • My husband and the local bf support group – couldn’t have managed to get through the early days without them

  • This is a really interesting post, thank you for sharing your experiences. My goal post for breastfeeding shifted beyond those of my peers also and it at times was disheartening until i found support.
    my biggest supporter is my OH who saw me through the early nights with baby no 1 when we struggled with latch issues, and ended up referred back to the hospital for a feeding plan which involved a very difficult schedule of expressing and topping up. he also understands how important breastfeeding is for both mine and our childrens health.
    But I also have a community of women friends who have breastfed/are breastfeeding and its their support that gets me through the ups and downs.

  • My husband has been amazing, plus there are a lot of local groups I can pop along to for support and advice

  • My husband was amazing support beyond anything i could have hoped. I also found a lot of support from various blogs and facebook groups. I have now reached 2 yrs and have know signs of stopping!

  • I have just finished my breastfeeding peer support training and it was lovely to feed my 21 month old son and it was ‘normal’ to be doing this within my support group ๐Ÿ™‚

  • having friends who continue to breastfeed and think child-led weaning is normal really helps. Most of my friends stopped as soon as they felt they could and so many friends and family feel the right to comment on the strangeness that I haven’t. Having a supportive husband and a MiL who nursed her youngest for 5 years does help too. Its sad its not more “normal”.

  • I feel really happy that so many of my friends Breastfed past 6 months and some are still going at 12 months. They are all so supportive.

  • You look absolutely gorgeous, what a beautiful photo of you two. So intimate. I’m so glad everything worked out for you in the end. I still remember how hard it was for you when you were struggling with your milk production and look at you now: 2 years and still going strong! Be proud of yourself for not giving up!
    Carolin recently posted..Saturday is caption day – 29 June 2013

  • I also found my local BF group invaluable, partly because it did mean I remained friends with other people that support BF. I’ve recently joined an extended BF group that helps you realise there are others out there too ๐Ÿ™‚

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