If you’re a breastfeeding mom, chances are you’ve thought about how long you plan on breastfeeding for. It could be a couple of months, a year, or longer! Whatever your timeline is, the big question that comes with that timeline is how to wean off breastfeeding.
But what doesn’t get asked about is what happens after you stop breastfeeding.
I had planned to breastfeed for a minimum of 6 months, with hopes of going all the way to a year. Unfortunately, Rhys had other plans. Breastfeeding was a constant uphill battle for us and it took 4 months to finally find our rhythm, so when he self weaned at 5 months, to say I was disappointed was an understatement.
After a couple of days of not breastfeeding, I started to notice uncharacteristic traits showing up in myself but couldn’t figure out why. This lead me to googling (usually not a great idea but we’re all guilty of this) and realizing there is a whole other process AFTER weaning, as well.
And here I was thinking the only difficult part would be letting your milk dry up.
If you are thinking about weaning off of breastfeeding, here are the symptoms that I encountered when I stopped breastfeeding.
It was as if I was in my first trimester all over again. It’s common for your skin to breakout during the first trimester of your pregnancy due to all the hormones changing. The same process also happens once you stop breastfeeding. Your body starts to level out your hormones again to the pre-pregnancy state and your skin will most likely not enjoy this time. I started getting big, hard, under the skin, breakouts all along my jaw and chin (where you primarily breakout due to hormones).
There isn’t much you can do to stop the breakouts but you can help keep them to a minimum. Find a skin care regime that works for you and use it consistently (this is my current routine), ensure you’re eating a healthy diet to avoid any extra breakouts, change your pillow cases regularly to prevent the oils from spreading to other areas on your face, and lots and lots of water to help clear your skin faster. It feels like an eternity, but it should only last for 1-2 weeks once you stop breastfeeding.
Aunt Flow Joins The Party Again
Ugh. If you’re like me, you probably forgot that aunt flow is something that happens. But since your hormones are changing and leveling out again, she will arrive again, and it will be a disaster. You don’t hear about this from too many people but I will tell it to you straight. Think postpartum bleeding. That’s all I’m going to say. May the pads be ever in your favour.
You Turn Into A Moody Monster
If you thought the mood swings were bad during pregnancy, then you’ll love these. I actually didn’t have too bad of mood swings when I was pregnant but after weaning off breastfeeding I was finding myself crying uncontrollably one moment, and ready to flip tables in rage the next. Don’t worry, it levels out pretty quickly. Best not to fight it. Just ride the wave of emotion and give everyone around you a heads up.
Your Weight Fluctuates
This one will be different for everyone but generally you either gain weight since you’re used to taking in more calories while you were breastfeeding, or you lose it since your body is no longer hanging onto the extra weight to produce milk. I fell on the latter of the two. I had a hard time losing the extra weight while I was nursing because my body was retaining everything for milk production. Once I stopped breastfeeding, within days, I felt like my face was slimmer and less swollen and I had an all around leaner appearance.
Your Chest Goes Into Hiding
I have a very small chest. Like, I can go without a bra and you probably wouldn’t notice, small. While I was breastfeeding, my chest grew from an A cup to a full C cup. It was amazing. However, it didn’t take long after I stopped breastfeeding for them to shrink back to their pre-pregnancy size. Thankfully they aren’t as deflated looking as I had anticipated. I like to think the Palmer’s Stretch Mark Cream I used on them while I was nursing helped keep them look nice.
One thing to note, this didn’t happen to me so I can’t speak too much on it, there is a good chance you’ll experience some breast discomfort and engorgement if you stop breastfeeding too quickly. This can lead to blocked ducts and Mastitis if you aren’t careful. KellyMom’s website has a ton of great information on how to handle and avoid these situations. Due to the fact that I was already close to an under producer, when Rhys stopped breastfeeding as quickly as he did, my body didn’t really go through this phase. I highly suggest looking into it just to make sure you’re prepared.
As much as I loved breastfeeding, now that I am no longer doing it, I feel a sense of liberation. It took me a couple of weeks to reach a place of acceptance since I wasn’t ready to stop. Even if it is your choice to stop breastfeeding you will probably feel some sadness towards it ending. It is the end of an era and a sign that your tiny little baby is growing up. I guarantee, once things level out you’ll feel better about it all.
Remember that even though they may not rely on you physically for food and survival, you will always be a place of comfort for them. Emotionally, they will always need you.
Feel all the emotions, bask in the time with your little one’s, and get ready for all the new adventures and experiences you have to come!
You’ve done a great job, Mama. I am proud of you.
Talk soon xoxo