End of a (Breastfeeding) Era (see also: The Mum Guilt Chronicles)

My son, now 10 months old, was exclusively breast fed for the first five and a half months of his life, and has been partially breast fed since then. In recent weeks, however, my milk supply has dropped a lot, we’ve gone down to one feed a day and generally seem to be moving in the direction of stopping breastfeeding altogether. This in itself makes me feel emotional, but the recent confirmation that my son is allergic to cow’s milk has added a whole new layer of complexity and emotion to the situation.

We already suspected the allergy – when we moved him onto formula at seven months he constantly developed a red rash around his mouth, so he has been on dairy free formula ever since – but now it’s been confirmed by the hospital’s allergy clinic and I’ve started reading more into it I’m worried that I should have cut dairy from my own diet months ago (why did no professionals ever advise me of this?) , and that the fact he has been breastfeeding all this time may in fact be contributing to his constant rounds of illness. My rational brain tells me this won’t be the case, but mum guilt is beating me repeatedly about the head anyway (when doesn’t it?!).

Fortunately a call today with the lovely Camden Baby Feeding team backed up my rational brain’s argument to some extent – the fact he never showed any obvious signs of milk allergy in the early months of being exclusively breast fed would indicate that negligible amounts were reaching him that way. Nonetheless, they recommend that now it’s been officially diagnosed, if I do want to continue breastfeeding I should really consider either cutting all dairy from my diet or stopping breastfeeding.

Even though stopping has been on my mind for some time already, I feel suddenly devastated at the thought of it, and am already mourning the loss of that closeness we still share (albeit only now for a few minutes each day and probably not with any real nutritional benefits to him). In my heart I know the time has come to stop – and my head tells me I’m lucky to have even made it this far – but that doesn’t make it easier to accept. My baby is turning into a little boy, essentially the first proper sign of him not needing me anymore (at least not in the same way) and as natural as I’m sure it is, that makes me feel sad.

On the flip side, the thought of no more pumping and freezing of breast milk does instil a certain sense of relief…Every cloud…

stopping-breast-feeding

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