Not baby blues but weaning woes…

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Following my blog about when (and how) to stop breastfeeding, once you feel you and your baby are ready, I wanted to write about the challenge that some women face when they do decide to stop, as some find themselves feeling down or even depressed when they stop breastfeeding.

I first heard about this phenomenon, after reading Jo Goddard’s blog ‘A cup of Jo’. In it she describes the weaning-related depression she felt after abruptly stopping breastfeeding ‘I couldn’t bear thinking about the future. Every day felt long and exhausting, and I couldn’t imagine making it through all the days ahead of me.’

I really felt for Jo, and although I hadn’t experienced this myself, as it took us a long time to wind down and eventually stop, I did feel that it was important to spread the word to other mums, as this is a real and potentially very frightening side effect to stopping breastfeeding. To read Jo’s blog, click on the link at the bottom of the page.

So, here it is…when some women (and by no means all) decided to stop breast feeding (and very often when they decided to stop quickly, due to work commitments or other factors) they can feel similar feelings of depression to that of post-natal depression. I have tried to find out more information about this on the NHS website, but can’t find any mention of it. Google searches only really show blogs of peoples’ personal experiences. I’m not sure if the lack of medical information out there is due to a lack of knowledge, or not wanting to discourage women from taking up breastfeeding in the first place.

I think the reason behind these depressive feelings are, in part, due to a sadness that you are no longer enjoying an activity that you do with your baby that can bond you together, but a bigger factor is attributed (by the blog writers) to the drop of hormones in the body, so women effectively have a hormone crash if they stop feeding too quickly and this results in feelings of melancholy and hopelessness.

This is a little know about or researched phenomenon, and many women aren’t warned that if breastfeeding isn’t wound down slowly, as opposed to being stopped suddenly, then they can feel crashing waves of depression (which they should visit their doctor about).

What about you? Have you experienced anything like this? I would love to hear your story…

Rosie Wright runs weaning workshops for first time parents in Brighton.

[email protected]

Twitter: @rosieweaning

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2 comments for “Not baby blues but weaning woes…

  1. Mummy to 2 beautiful girls :)
    03/10/2012 at 11:20 am

    I can totally empathise with this article. I had a wonderful experience breastfeeding my first daughter, there were no problems at all, she was a dream to feed, latched on from the word go and for 6 months she was solely breastfeed, then at 6 months it was as if she decided that it was not for her and she was simply no longer interested, more interested in food. But I was fine with that as I was thinking ahead to the future and another baby somewhere down the line and recreating those wonderful cosy times of it just being me and the baby, quietly sitting and that contentment that comes with sitting there knowing you are providing your child with food and sustenance. But how wrong I was. Our second daughter was incredibly awkward to feed. Would cry and cry, latch on so the milk would come then cry so the milk would spray everywhere, my poor breasts didn’t know what to do and the milk supply started to dwindle even though I was expressing as well as feeding. After 4.5 months of struggling on and wrestling with my conscience about what was best to do for the baby and wanting to do the same as I had for her first daughter, I eventually had to concede that this was stressing me out, stressing the baby, stressing my older daughter who would cry because the baby was crying so much sometimes and even though I would express and then bottle feed the baby, my beautiful cosy bubble of breastfeeding contentment was burst very early on and it was an incredibly sad day for me when I sat down with my daughter and knew that this would be the last time I would be feeding her myself. It just wasn’t working, she wasn’t putting on as much weight as she should, she was so inconsistent in feeding from me and it upsets me now to think back and acknowledge that I felt such a failure for not being able to provide for my beautiful little girl. She’s 14 months old now and still very fussy over milk, so I realise that it wasn’t me that she didn’t like, it is milk in general. But it was a very very sad day for me when I had to stop breastfeeding, not just for the reasons above but also because I know we won’t have anymore children and so my days of breastfeeding are well and truly over.

    • 17/10/2012 at 7:56 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is such a personal journey for you and your baby and can feel very disappointing when things do go according to plan. R x

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