The decision to start weaning is a very personal one. There are no ‘rights’ or ‘wrongs’.
The important thing is to take into account your own individual circumstances and do what is best for you and your family.
Many mothers face breastfeeding challenges. Sometimes, these challenges make you feel like throwing in the towel; you might even begin to hate breastfeeding.
Feelings like these are common among mothers who are experiencing struggles with breastfeeding. Even mothers who go onto breastfeed for months, or years, don’t love breastfeeding all the time.
So, even though there might be times when you feel like stopping breastfeeding, it’s good to know that you don’t have to give up, unless you want to.
7 Times You May Feel Like Giving Up Breastfeeding
Here are 7 times you may feel like giving up breastfeeding – and how to get through them.
#1: When You Feel Like You’ll Never Have A Decent Night’s Sleep… Ever… Again
You wouldn’t be the first mother to think about giving up breastfeeding, or thinking about giving your baby a bottle of formula in the hope she will sleep longer at night. But would these things really help?
Perhaps not. Research shows mothers who formula feed or mixed feed actually get less sleep overall, compared with mothers who exclusively breastfeed, and that it generally takes longer to get back to sleep.
So, when you wake to feed your baby for the umpteenth time at night, remember you’re not alone, and alternative ways of feeding might not actually help you get more precious sleep.
#2: When You Experience Or Hear Stories About Painful Nipples
Even if you’re not experiencing any nipple pain, just hearing about all the various causes of nipple pain might be enough to make you want to quit breastfeeding. From cracked nipples, nipple vasospasm, and nipple thrush, to white spot, or bacterial nipple infection… the list goes on.
In the early weeks of breastfeeding, many mothers experience some nipple pain that ceases after the initial attachment; many mothers go on to breastfeed for months or even years.
Signs of nipple damage, severe pain, pain that doesn’t go away after the initial attachment in the early weeks, or any nipple pain that starts after a pain-free period of feeding, might mean something is not as it should be. You should seek advice (e.g. from a lactation consultant) without delay, and then you can be on the road to comfortable breastfeeding.
#3: If You’ve Endured A Bout Of Mastitis
Mastitis can make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck. It can make any mother want to stop breastfeeding.
Thankfully though, continuing to breastfeed helps cure the mastitis.
A back-up of milk can make the problem worse and increase the risk of developing a breast abscess; keeping your breast drained prevents this.
#4: If Your Supply Is Reduced
You might have finally reached the point where you feel you’ve got this breastfeeding thing sorted. And then your supply seems to have dropped, and you think this is a sign that breastfeeding might just not be for you.
If you feel your supply is reduced, the first thing to do is to seek help (e.g. call the breastfeeding helpline, see a lactation consultant or your child health nurse). The good news is that in most cases when a mother feels like her supply has dropped, it’s really just a perception, rather than a real reduction. It’s important to know the difference between reliable and unreliable signs to be able to tell whether your baby is getting enough and whether your supply is OK.
If your supply really has dropped, there are plenty of things that can be done to boost it again, especially if you deal with it promptly.
#5: When You Feel Like You Cannot Cope With Another Expressing Session
When you start expressing, you are probably thankful and relieved that such technology exists. But whether you’re expressing full time, or expressing to boost or help establish your supply, at some point you’re bound to think about giving up, particularly once expressing reaches the point where you’re feeling like you’re on a hamster wheel.
For many mothers to reach their breastfeeding goals, support is paramount. For you to be able to express for as long as you’d like, support is also very important. If you need a boost, call the breastfeeding helpline to chat with a breastfeeding counsellor, or attend a local support group.
#6: When You Want To Have A Drink… Or Two… Or Three
For some mothers, the temptation to have a glass or two, or more, of alcohol might cause them to consider stopping breastfeeding.
The good news is, there are ways to be able to drink alcohol and continue to breastfeed for as long as you wish.
The key is to plan ahead. You can find out more in our article on alcohol and breastfeeding.
#7: When You Want To Go Out… Well… Anywhere
It might seem at first that breastfeeding ties you down, and for this reason you might consider stopping breastfeeding. In fact, once you get beyond these initial thoughts, and you decide to bite the bullet and go out, you’ll realise how portable breastfeeding and breastfed babies actually are. Breastmilk is always there ‘on tap’ and at the right temperature – which means no bottles, sterilisers, formula or heating up milk etc.
If you’re breastfeeding, or expressing, or doing a combination of both and you’ve had thoughts about quitting, you’re not alone. It’s common for mothers not to love breastfeeding all the time.
Some mothers choose to go by the motto, “Never give up on a bad day”. Remember, bad days are always temporary.