Feeling guilty if I stop breastfeeding...

Amanda - posted on 07/29/2011 ( 20 moms have responded )

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I am curious about what other mother's have to say. My daughter is 15 months old and I am ready to stop breastfeeding her. My supply has dropped significantly and it takes me two days to pump one bottle. I want to stop breastfeeding but I feel guilty because I know the health benefits in it for her. What do I do?



I should add that sometimes breastfeeding her is the only way I can get her to fall asleep some nights. She only nurses for about 5 minutes then falls asleep.

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Lori - posted on 07/29/2011

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It sounds like you have mixed feelings about weaning. I'd say that's pretty normal. With my first I had set a goal of 1 year. As her first birthday approached I tried to start dropping feeds and replace them with solid food. She didn't mind the first one we dropped, but after that it bcame apparent that she was not ready to give up breastfeeding just yet. I decided to back off and try again later. She was about 20 months before she stopped nursing to sleep. She would nurse before bedtime as usual, but wouldn't fall asleep while nursing. I took that as a cue that she may be willing to give up nursing right before bed without a fight. And sure enough she didn't protest when I started giving her milk in a cup (I had quite the supply built up in the freezer so it was pumped bm) and then read her a story. At 23 months I weaned her completely without much protest at all. I find it funny sometimes that I almost doubled my goal of 12 months and yet sometimes I feel guilty that I didn't let her self wean.

What you do is of course completely up to you. If you really are ready to be done and wean, then go right ahead, just do it gently. But if you're really not sure or you think she's not ready then by all means continue. Even if there's not a lot of milk there anymore she is still getting good nutrition and immune boosters and other benefits. Don't listen to those around you who may say she's to old to be nursed still or that your milk is no good for her after... (insert whatever age people randomly come up with).

Follow your own heart and your baby's cues and you won't go wrong.

Merry - posted on 08/03/2011

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That's awesome Amanda! You're lucky to have a good boss, many aren't so helpful. And even if you decide to quit pumping you can still nurse her when you are home, the less milk you produce the more concentrated it becomes so all the immunities and vitamins etc are still there no matter how little you make every day.
Good luck!

Linda - posted on 08/02/2011

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Do what feels right for you. Call me lazy if you want but when my son NEEDED to nurse to fall asleep, I wasn't ready or willing to fight it. It was just easier to give him the love he needed in that way. By 15 months it's not so much about the nutrition or volume of your milk production-- it becomes concentrated for her benefit. By the end of our nursing relationship, it was sometimes a week or more between nursings, it was purely about the comfort for him (and the immunities for me). There are many moms who continue to nurse well after that 2 years suggestion, so please don't succumb to outside pressures.

That being said, if nursing really makes your skin crawl and generates resentment and irritability, then it just may be time to replace those nursings with other forms of comfort. Listen to your heart. I could never stand to listen to a baby scream because somebody said I should let him. Every nursing relationship is different and that's ok. Good luck on your unique and personal nursing decisions, Amanda!

Aleks - posted on 08/01/2011

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I will say this, I struggled to continue breastfeeding both my children between the 12mths to 17mths stage. I don't know why.. but I felt "worn out", for lack of a better phrase. With my 1st I weaned (though I had been weaning him from about 10-11mth with cutting out feeds one at a time) at 15mhts. Looking back, I wish I would have continued (now, in retrospect knowing what I know now, though at the time I felt fine with that decision and he was fine with the weaning process). With my 2nd, I persisted ( hadn't had much choice as she had quite bad food intollerance issues with dairy, soy and later we have found yeast as well, which restricted her diet). So with that I had to press on as there was no proper/worthwhile substitute. Not to mention that I had learned so much since my 1st child on the benefits of breastfeeding and also the NORMALITY of it for human babies/children (which I even did not have one inckling of it when I was weaning my 1st). So it also did not make sense, logical and emotional, to wean my 2nd. She is now almost 30mths and still going strong, but not as frequently as when she was 12-18mths.
Anyway, my point was that sometimes we can hit these mental (and emotional) tiredness road blocks on our breastfeeding journey and to let you know that this may be something you could be going through.

As for the decision, well it is really up to you ( and your child I guess), but have a think about what some of the ladies above have said, as they have put it down really well.
Good luck :-)

Kimrose - posted on 08/01/2011

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I echo the "if you're feeling guilty, you might not be ready". I chose child-led w/my first and will do so w/my second as well...I had to feel good about ending something that was such a special bond AND so simply good for them. There aren't many things that are so straightforward in parenting. Breastmilk is GREAT for them...not questions or possible bad outcomes - good nutrition and good added immunity - and something only you can give them - and *of course* the emotional benefits...only you can decide for your little ones, but in my experience, if you feel guilty or question a decision a lot, you already know your answer.

@ Monica Pintos - our stories are similar ;) My oldest nursed until 4 1/2 and I got pregnant just a few months later/post weaning - and I wondered the same thing! I wasn't excited about possible tandem-nursing a newborn and 5 year old - though it's endearing how "fond" he is of nursing memories though he's so grown up in other ways ;) He didn't actually go back to nursing (phew), but did ask to "try it" and helped the baby nurse, etc. - so lots of "interest" and fondness, but no actual nursing regularly again. I think it ultimately seemed weird to him too - that he was such a big boy and would be doing what the baby did to eat - but he definitely wanted to try it - I did let him - personally I felt making it a non-issue was the best way to go..while holding my breath and hoping it wasn't a *big deal*...luckily it wasn't, but it was interesting! ;0 ;) Good luck to you! :)

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Shantee' - posted on 10/15/2012

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I am having the same issue this is the last child I'm having and I feel obligated to breastfeed her longer but I have to have surgery soon and wont be able to breastfeed her for 6 weeks so will only be able to pump and dump. I would be able to finish feeding her after but she may not be interested at that time. Trying to wean her is a chore I don't think she is really getting that much milk I just think she uses me to go to sleep or if she hurts herself. She's on whole milk but still wants the breast milk. She turned one 09/30/12

Ann Marie - posted on 08/03/2011

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Yep, I quit pumping for both of my girls at 12 months, but let them continue to nurse at home until around 18 months. It worked well for us!

Amanda - posted on 08/02/2011

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Thank you ladies for all of your comments!! After reading everything and thinking it over I have decided to continue breastfeeding her for as long as I can, even if I am not producing as much as I used to. Part of my problem is that I just took a new position at work and lost my office which was SO convenient for pumping. I asked my new boss if I could have a private place to pump and was given the spare kitchen/break room to use. He even put a lock on the door for me.

I've gotten a couple of "You're STILL breasfeeding" comments but I just let them roll off my back. I love my time with my daugher when she is nursing and putting everything together, I am not ready to stop.

Thank you ladies for all of your input!!

Kristi - posted on 08/01/2011

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All I can say after listening to everyone's advice in my baby's first year is please feel free to raise your kids in a way that makes you and baby comfortable and happy. I find when it comes to breastfeeding, people have varying views and everyone thinks that they are right, you do what you think is good for your family, do not look back, and do not accept criticism. This is your decision and no-one else's. Be confident that no matter what you do, everything will be fine. Don't doubt yourself, and if you need tips on weaning, call the professionals at Tresillian, they know everything.

Ellie - posted on 07/31/2011

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Wean when you are ready. Don't worry so much, there are more important things to be concerned with. The health benefits are still there, but sometimes our reluctance has to do with our relationship with our baby. Take your time, you will know when its right.

Veronica - posted on 07/31/2011

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I stopped breastfeeding my first two kids at approx. 11 months because I went back to work, it was shiftwork and they did not provide reasonable means to pump while at work. We needed the income after my mat leave ended so I didn't really have a choice. I know breast milk is important to a baby but I figure once they are consuming all solid food and cows milk they will be okay without breast milk. I know that it's good for them- but not necessary

Merry - posted on 07/31/2011

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If you feel guilty then you aren't ready to wean. That's why I'm letting my son continue until he quits on his own because I refused Lu weigh guilt over making him wean before he's ready.
I would love it urge decided to wean soon, but I think he isn't close to being ready so I continue. It's his right to nurse I think so I won't take it away from him.

Tania - posted on 07/31/2011

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It's totally normal to feel guilty. Here are a few things that might be helpful:

At 15 months, your supply may appear to have "dropped", but your baby is eating regular foods now and breastmilk is complementing her other healthy meals. You are producing the milk she needs.

The WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years and then as long as mother and child desire to continue. It's difficult to wean a child who wants to breastfeed - I for one have never done it, but have heard from mothers who have.

Breastmilk is absolutely beneficial at this stage. The nutrition and comfort she is getting can't be matched by anything else. If she desires to breastfeed, why should she be told she can't?

Lastly, guilt is often seen as a bad thing in our society. You always hear "don't make me feel guilty", etc. Guilt is not a bad thing. It's an emotion and helps us learn and grow. Why are you feeling guilty? Examine your feelings and maybe you will better understand. Maybe write a list of pros and cons and write down why you feel guilty, why you should continue and why you want to stop. Putting things on paper can help us see everything more clearly.

Monika - posted on 07/30/2011

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You're lucky you atleast breastfed her for 15 months, my baby is 2 months old and I am not being able to breast feed her now... :(

Jennifer - posted on 07/30/2011

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I started working when my son was just barely turned one. I decided I would pump as long as I could so he could get all the health benefits. Once I started pumping even just sometimes to have milk when grandma babysat, (I used a manual pump) my wrist started hurting worse & worse, only to ultimately figure out it was a "repetitive-type" injury from pumping so at 16 months old or so I started sending different kinds of milk to childcare to try out (goats milk, rice milk, soy milk). He didn't like them too much at first, but now he's almost 18 months old, adjusted to liking soy milk, but only like 2 four ounce bottles/day & nurses once MAYBE twice/day. Little by little, after starting introducing/trying different milk for during the day, he has started to sort of wean himself or at least get used to the idea. Another reason aside from my wrist pain is I NEED the sleep. I would love to continue, but working full time, it's just really challenging. But he is now adjusting! You can try introducing diff.kinds of milk during the day & restrict nursing to morning &/or evening only. I would try 1 kind of milk for a full week, to see if he would warm up to it. Goats milk I sent to childcare everyday for a week & they kept trying it & he would never take it. He finally did take to rice & soy. I felt guilty, too. I felt like working full time, this was one way to "be" with him & when I stopped pumping, I felt kind of sad & guilty. However a not-so-tired mommy in the longrun, I figure is better for him, too. Good luck! I know its hard.

Rebecca - posted on 07/30/2011

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After 12 months when I returned to work with 2 of my 3 children. I did not pump breast milk anymore. But continued feeding morning and/or night with solids and water during the day. Maybe this is an option for you as well to give you a break but continue the benefits for your daughter. Toddlers still get a lot of vitimins/antibodies etc from just having one feed a day. Both self weaned at around 3 years. Also toddlers are very efficient at feeding (not like little babies) and don't take long to empty a breast. Hope this is of some help to you.

Monica - posted on 07/30/2011

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My goal was to stop at 18 mths. That came and went so fast and my son kept feeding. From age 1 to four months before his 4th birthday he fed morning and night. Four months before his 4th bday I cut out the morning feed and told him once he turned 4 no more. I reminded him often. On his 4th bday he reminded me. I thought as he was only feeding once a day and because i had had no problems dropping the morning feed that I would be able to just stop. Three days later I had to tell my son to help mummy out until my milk ran out. Took about a month going longer and longer between feeds until my milk dried out. My son is now 5 and every now and then if he sees me dressing he tells me to drink water so he can have some milk. I am now 11weeks pregnant. It will be interesting to see hoe he reacts when he sees the baby feeding.

Sally - posted on 07/30/2011

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If you're feeling guilty, then subconsiously you might not be really ready.
Do you REALLY want to wean her or do you THINK you should? As our littles get bigger, people start looking at us funny for nursing them even though it's perfectly healthy and normal to do so. That can make you think you should wean before you or she are ready. If 5 minutes makes her go to sleep wihtout a fuss, why have a fuss.
At 15 months, if she's eating enough solids, she doesn't need bottles anymore so why take the time to pump? Use your pumping time to do something that helps you relax so you can enjoy that 5 minutes at bed time more.

Kim - posted on 07/30/2011

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DONT feel guilty I know easy to say not so easy to do,
my daughter stopped feeding at 13mth her decision not mine she got a cold and decided she couldnt be bothered I was so upset, at this age it wont harm them at all, my daughter didnt like cows milk so she just drank water I got her a sippy cup and we would cuddle before bed just like before but instead of BF she had a drink of water and I would (still do at 3yr) sing to her. I was worried about getting cows milk into her but the nurse said as long as she got calcium other ways (yogart/cheese ect) she was fine. So maybe just give her milk/water in a cup and a big cuddle at bedtime see how she goes good luck and again DONT feel guilty you gave her the best start by getting her to 15mth on breast milk feel great about that! Good luck :0)

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Do you pump because you have to work? I know a lot of moms who work stop pumping at one year. They let their child have solids and water or milk (cow's milk, goats milk, rice milk, etc) while they are away. If you're ready to wean then don't feel bad. You've done a great job! You may find some feedings like the night time one you may keep for quite a while. Follow your gut!

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