I loved breastfeeding. I nursed my kids for 17 and 22 months, respectively. Sometimes people ask me why I stopped when I did, and my answer is always the same: I was done. Look, it was great, but it's exhausting, and when it was over I was ready for it to be over. I try to encourage other nursing parents who know they're done, but who might feel guilty, to know that there are reasons to be excited about weaning.
First of all, whether you nursed for five years or five days, give yourself a pat on the back. That's an accomplishment and you should be proud of yourself! Secondly, it's normal to feel mixed emotions about this next step, due in no small part to all the extra hormones coursing through your body as a result of breastfeeding. But another reasons for all the feels is that, whether you loved or hated the experience of breastfeeding, nursing was something special you shared with your child that no one else did.
Here's a little secret, though: there are so many other special things you will share with your child in the months and years to come. Breastfeeding is the end of one thing, but opens you up to so much more. So for that, and the following reasons, you should be totally pumped for weaning.
"Getting Your Body Back"
People say this a lot in regard to postpartum women, and sometimes they mean it in a really yucky way. Like, "Now you can concentrate on being skinny because that's how society thinks you should look!"
When I say "get your body back," I mean a couple things. For one, breastfeeding can cause a lot of hormonal issues that can negatively (or even just annoyingly) affect your mood. Weaning might help that. Another thing I mean is that you aren't needed every couple of hours. I don't think someone who hasn't breastfed knows how physically and mentally exhausting that is. Because unless you have a lactating friend who is comfortable nursing your child (and who you're comfortable with), then the only person who can do that task is you.
Because now that you're not tied to a nursing or pumping schedule, you can actually take a night or, dare I suggest, a weekend away without having to worry about the logistics of lactating. Less of your time is going to be spent providing food for your child, and even if you spend just as much time preparing and washing bottles, you're not the only one who can do it, which is nice to know.
No More Finding Places To Nurse Or Pump
I'm someone who has no problem nursing anywhere, but sometimes locations lack a comfortable place to do so. And don't get me started on the profound lack of electrical outlets for a breast pump out in the wild. And this is to say nothing of the flack breastfeeding parents catch from people with Big Important Opinions. We can all do without people talking at us, right?
I cherish those memories and I love knowing I was able to nourish them physically and emotionally in that specific way. But there's also something nice about know they're cuddling with you not because they need physical nourishment in any way, but because you are a source of comfort to them even without food coming out of you.
No More Milky Sex
Absolutely zero judgment toward those who have a thing for lactation sex, but based on informal surveys and stories from friends we're generally pretty stoked not to have to deal with that issue in the bedroom.
Like, it's fine. It doesn't ruin sex* or anything, but it's just a bit awkward, right?
*unless it does, which it can, because hormones. Of course in that case there's even more reason to celebrate weaning!
No More Breastfeeding Complications
Clogged duct. Mastitis. Supply issues. Pumping. Cracked nipples. Engorgement. I could go on, but you get the idea. Breastfeeding can be beautiful and wonderful, but it can also be a painful and horrifying hellscape that you couldn't be happier to be leaving behind.
Yay! You don't have to wear the same couple stained, ugly nursing bras every day! A word to the wise, however: hold off on buying really nice new bras for about six months. Because your boobs will probably fluctuate for a while before hitting their final evolution.
New Wardrobe Options
Praise be! You no longer have to plan your outfits around breastfeeding. Seriously, your girl rocks a really fetching, tailored dress, and that just was not possible when I was nursing. I needed quick and easy access to the boobies... always. I needed loose tops. Over the several years I breastfed my two children, every single top I owned either was flowy or became flowy after I kept pulling it down or up.
You don't have to worry about drinking a little too much wine or eating foods that don't agree with your baby. The only body you're sustaining with your body these days is your own and that is a really nice change of pace after all that pregnancy and nursing.
Yeah, it's a little melancholy but you are in for so many fun times ahead.
New Ways To Cuddle
Chances are, if you're breastfeeding, a lot of your cuddle time is spent with your nipple in your baby's mouth. But after you've weaned, you find new ways to connect they become really special. I loved bonding through breastfeeding with my children. I cherish those memories and I love knowing I was able to nourish them physically and emotionally in that specific way. But there's also something nice about know they're cuddling with you not because they need physical nourishment in any way, but because you are a source of comfort to them even without food coming out of you.
Your Baby Is Growing Up
"I thought you said these were reasons to be pumped! I don't want to think that my baby is growing up!"
Trust me. Seriously. Yeah, it's a little melancholy but you are in for so many fun times ahead. But for as much as you've seen since becoming a parent you ain't seen nothing yet.