So it looks like we’ve kinda stopped breastfeeding. I say ‘kinda’ because it’s only been a day or so since I last fed and so could probably squeeze one out if I had to. But barring any not-quite-enough-formula top ups or other emergency measures I think this is it.
This time around feels rather different to stopping feeding my first. With Bub I really felt not breastfeeding was not an option. Even when he was waking me every hour (yes, really) I persevered thinking that formula would be tougher. And when my supply dwindled and it took over two hours to feed him before bed I still kept going. I eventually stopped at nine months. This was in preparation for my return to work but took place rather quicker than intended after my already struggling supply dropped off a cliff. I was totally happy to have breastfed all that time and look back very fondly on our feeds, even those at 3am. But I also found that I was totally happy to have stopped when I did and that bottles were a straightforward alternative which quickly became routine.
With Baby I never really envisaged myself breastfeeding as long. I wanted to do at least four months and then see how things went. I took measures to tackle my supply and actually found the opposite problem – often too much milk! But all in all things went very smoothly. Second time around I found the first few days tough (and painful) as Baby fed for 48 hours solid till my milk came in. But otherwise no major issues. Baby is much more of a snacker, eating little and often. He does this on bottles too. But on the plus side he sleeps amazingly well at night so I can’t even complain about night feeding. In short I have no reason to stop breastfeeding other than that I want to. This time around I know that bottles are a fairly straightforward option. By formula feeding I can share the load a bit more with his Dad. I can also give a bit more time and attention to big brother Bub. So I think this choice works well for the whole family too.
I do wonder how I’ll feel about this decision in the future. It’s something I may well come to regret, particularly when Baby gets ill or starts teething. But then again maybe I won’t. It’s heartening that his weight gain has picked up hugely since I started to supplement. I hate to say it but it’s true. He only gained 1 pound 2oz in the last eight weeks he was exclusively breastfed and was dropping rapidly down the percentiles. But this last four weeks, on a gradually increasing mix of formula and breast milk he has gained 1 pound 4oz. Maybe supply was an issue after all?
I sincerely hope I don’t come to regret this decision. However I realised towards the end I was primarily continuing to breastfeed because I was worried about the risk of future guilt. Really not the best reason to do something. I totally enjoyed breastfeeding Baby and am glad to have done it. Those first few months where we snuggled up together in bed for his night feeds were really lovely. But it now feels like the right time to switch. So now, at five and a half months old, Baby has officially moved from breast to bottle.
Footnote: In searching out my links on this page I found a post I wrote about eighteen months ago about the pressure women can feel to breastfeed and some of the issues around this. Perhaps worth a re-post in full sometime.