Time to Stop Breastfeeding

Why you should never feel guilty about calling it quits

We believe that any and all conversations about breastfeeding should be guilt-free, and that includes conversations about wanting to stop. Time and time again we’ve said that when it comes to breastfeeding, rule number one is do what’s best for you—always. If what’s best for you means putting the kibosh on breastfeeding, that is no one’s business but your own. Plenty of moms reach a point where they feel it would be best to wean, so if you’re feeling that way too, here are five signs it might be time to stop.

Five signs it’s time to stop breastfeeding

1. Breastfeeding is negatively impacting your health or happiness

If every feeding is stressful, anxiety-producing, or just plain painful, you have to pause to consider your mental and physical health. Maybe you’ve developed mastitis more than once or you’re experiencing postpartum depression and the thought of continuing to breastfeed is making you miserable. Yes, we’re all for consulting a lactation consultant or trying various techniques, but at some point, feeling discouraged, disinterested, or full of dread about feeding your baby is not worth it—plain and simple.

2. You’re going back to work

While you might have found your rhythm during maternity leave, heading back to work can throw a wrench in your breastfeeding routine. It is possible to pump regularly throughout the workday and maintain a strong nursing relationship while at home, so try to make it over the hump of those first few weeks back in the office. Your body will adjust to the adjusted feeding schedule. However, for many moms, trying to find the time and space in a busy work environment to pump—on top of navigating the big transition back to work after weeks away—feels overwhelming or even impossible. We know from experience just how challenging it is to be a working and pumping mom even in the best of circumstances. This doesn’t mean you’re not capable, but a sense of balance and happiness (on the job and at home) is important. Try to make it through the first few weeks

Try to get over the hump of the first few weeks. Your body will adjust to morning and evening feedings, so it is possible to still nurse at home.

3. You truly can’t fit it into your schedule or lifestyle

Life is busy, and it gets even busier when you add a baby to the mix. You have a lot of responsibilities—and although feeding your baby is one of those responsibilities, you have options as to how it gets done. Sometimes, in today’s fast-moving world, our schedules or lifestyles simply don’t leave a lot of room for breastfeeding. If that’s the case for you, ditch the guilt and do what works best for you and your family. Remember: If you do decide to stop breastfeeding, make sure to cut down on daytime feedings and pumping sessions slowly and responsibly to avoid clogged ducts or mastitis.

4. Your baby has allergies or intolerances

When your baby shows signs of a food allergy or intolerance, you might have to avoid eating certain foods in order to prevent fussiness, GI issues, reflux, skin rashes and other symptoms in your child. These diet restrictions can be tough to maintain, especially when you have an unhappy, uncomfortable baby to care for. And it’s not always straightforward—many moms have to play a guessing game to figure out what’s affecting their babies and feel stress about possibly eating something that will have ill effects. While some babies respond well to a mom’s change in diet, others will continue to show symptoms. A transition from breast milk to a sensitive or hypoallergenic formula can provide relief for all involved. Trust us, there are plenty of other things to stress about—don’t make feeding your baby one of them!

5. You have a low supply

While we can confidently say that most make enough milk for their baby, some moms truly have a low supply and cannot produce enough. Still, there are plenty of reasons why you might see a drop in milk production: Illness, medications, your menstrual cycle, or less opportunity to pump or nurse. You can try different strategies for boosting your supply back up, but there is still a chance they might not work. If you find yourself feeling just fine about the drop—take that as another indication that you could be ready to move on from breastfeeding.

When it comes down to it, you have to do what’s best for you, your baby, and your family. No one else is in your shoes (or your nursing bra), so it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. What does matter? The mental and physical health, and the happiness of you and your child. Whether you’ve breastfed your baby for days, weeks, months or years, know that you’ve provided amazing health benefits—and lots of priceless snuggles. Be proud of what you’ve done!

For more information about breastfeeding and finding a routine that works with your lifestyle, contact Ashland Women’s Health. Our team of moms would love to help you find the perfect solution for you and your baby.