There are a lot of moms who advocate for breastfeeding, and even more who want to breastfeed their babies. But because of the postpartum changes, late nights, and just down right frustrating and painful struggles that come with breastfeeding, it can be one of the hardest things to go through. As a breastfeeding mom, I encourage you not to give up. As a mom who also knows fed is best and moms need to do what's truly best for themselves, however, I would say it's safe to admit there are signs you should stop breastfeeding.
It's helpful to remember that although studies show breastfeeding early in a baby's life has immediate benefits related to immunity and health, there are recent studies that show there's really no change or major benefit in the long run between breastfed and formula fed babies once they grow up, according to Baby Gaga. Additionally, every mother and baby is unique. What works for one family may not work for another, and even if you had a totally perfect idea of how breastfeeding may play out, I've got news for you: nothing in motherhood tends to go as expected.
So if you find yourself struggling, resentful, or just simply in a place where you don't think breastfeeding is something you want to do, you may want to check out some of the signs below.
1. You Stress About Keeping Up Your Supply
According to Babble, 92 percent of moms are stressed about breastfeeding in some aspect. Although there are truly wonderful tactics to get your supply up, along with the ability to supplement if you struggle to get supply where it needs to be, stress can takeover sometimes. If your milk supply isn't coming in or you're not producing enough breast milk no matter what you try, it's OK to consider whether it's really worth the stress it's causing. Just because supply isn't there or you decide to pursue a path that's better for you is not a reason to feel shame.
2. You Feel Resentment
In an interview with Cafe Mom, OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Lincoln said if a begins to feel resentful about nursing, it's a clear sign that she is ready to stop breastfeeding. Lincoln added that if you're not happy with your breastfeeding decision and continuing breastfeeding because you feel like you have to, it's doing little good for you or your baby at that point.
3. You Have A Medical Treatment Or Conditions That Takes Precedence
The aforementioned Cafe Mom article also shared that if your doctor suggests a medication, treatment, or surgery that is vital to your health but not compatible with breastfeeding, it's important you consider your safety. If you're not putting your health first, it can make it difficult to focus on your baby. So make sure you're taking steps medically, if needed, to keep yourself healthy – even if it means forgoing breastfeeding.
4. You Find Breastfeeding Painful
No one told me that breastfeeding can hurt — a lot. After I saw a lactation consultant and got used to breastfeeding, that changed. For some moms, however, the pain may not subside for whatever reason. If you're constantly in pain from cracked nipples, plugged ducts, or mastitis but nothing seems to help, you shouldn't feel the need to continue putting yourself through that pain according to the aforementioned Baby Gaga article.
5. You Or Baby Feel It's Time To Wean
Eventually your baby or your body will tell you it's time to wean. Whether that's because your baby is more interested in food, you're just over it, you're starting to dry up, your baby begins to feed less, or any other reason that comes when you make the decision to wean, it's important to take note if you feel it's time to stop breastfeeding.
6. You Just Don't Want To
In the end, it's your body, your decision, and your child. If breastfeeding is simply not something that you're interested in, you shouldn't be pushing yourself to breastfeed or stressing yourself out just to keep up with societal pressures. It is truly your choice, and if you feel it's best to go another route, that is 100 percent OK.