Breastfeeding and it’s Weaning Pains
“The breast is the best” as we all know. This statement is true in so many ways. I don’t need to tell you the myriad of benefits your baby will get from breastfeeding. As a second time mom, I vowed that I would breastfeed my baby this time around. My first shot at motherhood happened at a young age, and my decision to not breastfeed wasn’t an easy one, it was simply because it was too painful for me at the time.
This time around, I went straight for it despite the many challenges. My baby girl latched on perfectly and my milk flow was more than substantial. It was an amazing experience….. until it started feeling like I was giving so much of myself. I was constantly feeding her; she would wake up 4 or 5 times at nights and would not go back to sleep without my breast in her mouth. I was literally her human pacifier.
At around the six months mark, I introduced solids into her diet and decided I was going to start the weaning process, so I also introduced formula. She responded well to both. But I still had a few breastfeeding sessions in the daytime and definitely at nights. What hit me was the excruciating pain I felt the moment I skipped a few sessions. I was prepared for the engorged breasts and the pain that comes with that; but I was not prepared to feel like I was in labor. Yes, you read right, labor! This pain went on for days. So of course, I did my research, only to find that some women, like myself, experience these symptoms as the estrogen levels return to their bodies.
While breastfeeding, the hormone prolactin increases which suppresses ovulation. The process of weaning allows your body to return to a state of normalcy, bringing back your regular cycle (some women return to ovulation and menstruation while breastfeeding). This reintroduction of hormones is what can sometimes cause these severe cramps.
Other side effects of weaning also includes feelings of depression and anxiety. While breastfeeding the hormone oxytocin also increases which helps with feelings of depression. I felt sad when I saw that my period had returned. I felt like I was losing something, like I was giving up on the ability to do something that not everyone can do (produce milk). But more than anything I felt bad about taking something something away from my baby. If you are feeling this way be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.
If you are thinking about weaning your baby soon, here are a few must haves to make the process more comforting for you and your baby. Be sure to get a pacifier, consider introducing this slowly. Your baby will also enjoy this when he/she is at the teething stage. Get yourself a hot water bottle, this help with your cramps. If your are also experiencing engorged breast consider pumping as well.
I recommend weaning your baby slowly. Although with my experience I felt severe cramps, at least I didn’t have to deal with my breast being engorged as well. Remember, only you can determine what’s best for you and your baby, so whatever you decide just know that it’s okay.
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