I was, thankfully, able to breastfeed my son for seven glorious, milk-drunk months. I sometimes enjoyed those serene breastfeeding moments, and I sometimes wished for breastfeeding to be over as soon as humanly possible. However, when my kid surprisingly stopped wanting to be breastfed out of the blue and with no warning, I found myself inexplicably sad. I was so heartbroken that I could no longer share that quiet, bonding moment with my child. Thankfully, missing breastfeeding can be good for you and your kid, so feeling sad because my son no longer needed me for something as important as his nourishment, was rather short-lived.
Missing breastfeeding when it was over gave me and my son new opportunities to spend time with not only one another, but others. I must admit, I was pretty damn happy when I realized that ending breastfeeding meant that my son and I were now able to have a new beginning. One chapter of our story together had ended, but another was about to begin and, as he continues to grow, we continue to have new experiences that we couldn't have if, well, he was still a newborn and I was still breastfeeding. Now, we were free to incorporate my son's father, my partner, into "feeding time" and we could have picnics at the park without prying eyes and we could snuggle "just because," instead of because it was time to eat. I'm not saying breastfeeding kept us from doing all of those things (honestly, we usually did them anyway) but ending breastfeeding gave us even more opportunities to make those moments regular occurrences, and that was just awesome.
Which is why missing breastfeeding isn't only normal, it's also beneficial. So, with that in mind, here are eight ways missing breastfeeding can actual benefit you and your kid.
Your Kid Starts Learning Independence...
It's easily the most substantial reason for missing breastfeeding, but it's also the best part about breastfeeding ending. When your kid no longer needs you to sustain them with your own body, they're beginning to gain some independence. Since time is unforgiving and seems to fly by, it can seem far too early or too soon or just too emotionally difficult to comprehend, but your kid becoming an independent person is the entire point of parenthood. We all want to give our children the tools to take care of themselves and live happy, healthy, fulfilling lives away from us. When you stop breastfeeding, you're taking that first step and sure, it's sad, but it's also wonderful.
...And You Start Learning To Let Go
Which is why, when you miss the act of breastfeeding your son or daughter, you're learning how to let go of your kid in a healthy and helpful way. It's difficult, to be sure, but allowing your kid the room and freedom to become their own person is vital to them eventually becoming completely independent. When you become a parent, your life shifts and is suddenly completely intertwined with someone else's. Over the course of our children's lives, we go about pulling those lines apart, so we can separate ourselves from our kids. We're forever changed by having them, and we'll always have pieces of them with us, and them, pieces of us; but eventually they have to leave us, and ending breastfeeding is the first step towards being okay when that day inevitably comes.
You Both Learn Alternative Soothing Techniques
Any breastfeeding mom knows that breastfeeding helps soothe your child. In fact, breast milk acts as a tranquilizer (for both mom and baby) so the term "milk drunk" isn't that far off the mark. When breastfeeding ends, both mom and baby and/or toddler are forced to learn alternative soothing methods. For instance, going on a walk or letting your partner take a turn soothing the baby/toddler or reading a book. When your go-to soothing technique is officially off the table, it forces you to get creative. Very, very, creative.
Of course, this first step will (hopefully) end with your kid learning how to soothe themselves through difficult emotions and specific situations while you play pitch hitter, which, you know, is the dream.
You Both Can Rely On Your Partner (Or Others) More
Even though the end of breastfeeding might mean that your kid needs you a little bit less than they did yesterday, it can also mean that they're learning to need others just a little bit more. Now your partner can assist during feeding/eating times, can help calm an upset baby or toddler, and give you the break you probably need and definitely deserve. If you don't have a parenting partner, you're still given the ability to rely on others (be it a friend, family member, kind neighbor, nanny, etc) and give your kid the opportunity to bond with others and development their social skills. Honestly, it's a win-win.
Your Kid Gets To Try New Foods/Drinks...
Whether you stopped breastfeeding when your kid was a baby, or you breastfeed well into his or her toddler years, once you're finished there are new and exciting foods and drinks at your baby's/toddler's disposal. Eating at a restaurant can be much easier (well, depending on how your toddler or baby feels on any particular day) and your kid can try all different kinds of foods and expand their horizons and try to establish what they like or don't like. You're no longer a source of nutrition (which gives you freedom, too) and your kid is able to look elsewhere for delicious foods and drinks.
...And You Get To Watch Their Reactions
And honestly, what's better than watching your kid react to a particular food for the first time? It's hilarious and adorable and, um, did I mention hilarious?
You Both (Might) Get More Sleep
Every kid is different, which means every kid's sleep pattern is going to be different. Some newborns sleep for eight hours straight on their first night, others are up every 30 minutes. It honestly all depends, but if you've been breastfeeding and up for night feedings, when you're done breastfeeding those night feedings are either over, or now capable of being shared with your partner/nanny/helper. You might actually get some sleep, and maybe your kid will too.
You Find Other Ways To Bond
While you're busy missing the bonding moments that only breastfeeding can provide, you're also consciously looking for other ways to bond with your kid. Maybe it's reading a favorite book; maybe it's cuddling up during nap time; maybe it's going to a favorite park; maybe it's watching a favorite (kid-friendly) movie. Your options for bonding with your kid are endless, and now you'll be able to find something else that's just for you two.