Is This The End Of Our Breastfeeding Journey?

Let me start with a disclaimer. I really don’t give a crap how you feed your own child. If you breastfeed, formula feed or do a mixture of the two, then good on you. You’re the parent and how you choose to feed your child is your choice, your prerogative and your decision. There is no right way, only the way that you think is right for your baby, yourself and your family. Be proud and stand by your choices. No-one else has a right to question how you parent.

After getting that out of my system, let me talk about our breastfeeding journey which looks like it may have come to a natural end last night…

The missus has been exclusively breastfeeding Baby L since she was born. At 13.5 months old – based on my rough calculations – this means that she has had a whopping 2,190 boob feeds. The sprog has always been a pretty quick feeder, so I reckon that’s about 22,000 minutes of her life that the little one has been attached to the missus’ chest.

Let me put it another way. The missus has spent roughly 370 hours – or 15.5 days – of the last year and a bit providing our daughter with all of the nutrients, calories and comfort our little one has needed in order to develop into the awesome little (nearly) toddler that we currently have. It really is quite amazing when you think what the human body can do.

Mum breastfeeding baby in hospital for first time

It was always the missus’ intention to breastfeed. When you look at some of the benefits, such as ease, flexibility, speed, cost and the associated health benefits, it just made sense to try breastfeeding. If it didn’t work, then we’d take it from there. Luckily, Baby L latched fine, the missus had very little pain and we didn’t experience any complications along the way which can impact breastfeeding, such as tongue-tie, mastitis etc. All things considered, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

But, that doesn’t mean breastfeeding is easy. Having watched the missus battle through it for 13.5 months, it has shown me how warped the general view of baby-related things are. Breastfeeding is often made out to be this magical, bonding experience between mum and baby, but this isn’t our experience.

Much in the same way that you’re supposed to instantly fall in love with your baby when you see them – neither the missus or I felt like this either. Yes, some people do, but many don’t. It is the latter who end up feeling shit because their experiences are different to the unrealistic images portrayed in films, magazines etc.

Our truth is that the missus has hated breastfeeding since day one. Despite this, she has continued heroically. Selflessly putting Baby L before herself every single day. Not once has she enjoyed the process – it has been very much just a function or process that she has had to get through. There has been tears. There has been arguments. There has been many a low moment. But, the end is in sight.

At the time of writing, Baby L has not had a breastfeed in about 42 hours. That is the longest she has ever gone without a boob or bottle. She went to sleep last night without a feed, slept through the night (with the occasional waking up and self settling) then got up this morning and had Weetabix for breakfast. She doesn’t seem to give a crap that she’s not had any boob juice – or booce as I like to call it. For us, that is awesome.

At times, particularly during 4 month sleep regression, the missus was feeding Baby L every 1.5 hours. Every bloody 1.5 hours – night and day. I have no idea how she managed and have total admiration and pride for her determination.

Medela Dad Feeding Baby Bottle

I obviously tried to help out where I could. We went through a few months spell of me giving Baby L a bottle of expressed milk before bed, however this didn’t give the missus much respite. In order for me to have the milk, she needed to express using an electric breastpump, which was a process she didn’t enjoy.

It’s hardly surprising – sitting there in front of the TV with a boob out listening to the vvvv, vvvv, vvvv sound of the pump effectively milking you. Considering that Hay once had to express 50 oz to leave me with enough milk when she went on a hen do, I’m hardly surprised she hated it and decided to stop – even the Laughing Cow would have stopped laughing after that feat!

Medela Swing Breast Pump With Calma Teat Expressing

Things have been a bit better and less labour intensive for the missus since April. In preparation for her going back to work, a then 9-month old Baby L naturally dropped her day feeds because she wouldn’t take a bottle after not having one for a few months. Instead, I would just fill the sprog with food so that she didn’t require the mid-day feed. This meant that she was just feeding first thing in the morning, before bed and once during the night, which was manageable, albeit not ideal.

As time went on, the night feed merged with the morning feed, which put us down to two feeds per day. Then, about six weeks ago, we decided to try to wean Baby L off the morning feed. Instead of bringing her into our bed in the morning like we used to because we were lazy, we started taking her straight downstairs and giving her food to replace the morning feed. As far as we could tell, the sprog was fine with this and we’ve seen no change – apart from her starting to sleep through the night, although this could just be a coincidence!

At the end of this month, we’d planned to get rid of the before-bed feed. For a while now, it’s seemed like it was habit, rather than needed. The decision was made for us last night when Baby L bit down hard on Hay’s nipple! I think the shock of the missus’ yelp of pain startled the little one who chose to cry rather than feed. We therefore put her to bed for the first time ever without a breastfeed. We wondered how she’d get on, but she slept through the night and woke this morning at the same time as usual and happily ate her breakfast. Job’s a good ‘un.

mum breastfeeding baby on plane

So, the plan tonight is to do the same – put her down without a feed and use other techniques to comfort her (if she needs it) rather than wapping out a boob. If everything goes as hoped, the missus will, to her relief, have ended her breastfeeding journey with Baby L.

It therefore massively surprised me yesterday, when asked if she’d breastfeed again if we had a second kid, that she replied with “yes”. Despite the shitty time she’s had with breastfeeding, she’d do it all again in an instant for the benefit of the kid. No wonder she makes a great mum!

That’s our breastfeeding journey – please feel free to share your breast or bottle feeding journey below so I can have a nosey!

  • Donna Wishart

    It makes me sad that posts like this need a disclaimer at the beginning but hey ho… We berastfed for about the same amount of time with both babies. I wanted to get to a year and by 13 months I’d just had enough and wanted to sleep more and not be permanently attached to a baby. I’m immensely proud of myself though and would do it again tomorrow. High 5 to Hay! x

    • Yep agreed, but I felt I had to stick the disclaimer in or some people would jump to conclusions before even reading! Definitely, you should feel proud – thanks I’ve passed on the high 5 to Hay 🙂

  • Can relate to quite a bit of this. I breastfed first to about 13.5 months. Had a lot of latching problems first few weeks, but otherwise not to difficult. Used to express regularly too so dad could give her bottles. Yes, very hard work to feed and express. She dropped most day milk feeds quickly with weaning to solid foods. By the time she stopped she was just having morning and night and dropped them quite easily. By then second baby was due within a about 6 weeks and I wanted a few weeks break before starting again. So I did stop the feeds, but she accepted it instantly. Second one has also been exclusively breastfed. She is now 13 months. Had less trouble at start with her, but never had time to express, so I have had to do every single feed. She was slow to wean onto solid foods so kept a frequent milk schedule through day until about 10-11 months. She still asks for feeds throughout the night, which we are now trying to break. & she has always caused quite a lot of pain. & I’m not comfortable feeding in public. I have had to if necessary with second, first always had expressed milk, but that meant I had to do a lot of expressing along with feeds to have a good stock. So, while I do like it sometimes, I wouldn’t say I love breastfeeding either. & it has been pretty exhausting. I’m glad I did it, and it has made the girls happy, but often it is inconvenient to be the person who has to do it whenever asked, whatever you were doing, however tired you are, and whether it hurts or not. #MMWBH

    • Thanks for sharing and I (and the missus) can relate. Well done on what you’ve achieved with both kids. The main thing is that they are happy and healthy, regardless of how they’re fed. It’s also interesting to hear your different breastfeeding experiences with both kids

  • What an amazing woman. i had to express my milk for 4 weeks exclusively to give to P1 who was prem. She couldn’t latch. P2s breastfeeding journey ended abruptedly and before I wanted it to at 6months old when I was admitted to hospital for a day due to a migraine. P3 only had 9 weeks despite me wanting to do a whole year as she had an undiagnosed tongue tie and wasn’t gaining weight. It wasn’t until after choosing bottle and doing that for a few weeks that I noticed the tongue tie. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Thanks for sharing Jodie. Just goes to show that all babies can be different and you can’t always stick to a plan due to unexpected things! Ah, so in a way, stopping with P3 was a blessing in disguise because you found out about the tongue tie.

  • Rebecca U

    I have just finished breastfeeding my daughter at 16 months and sad to finish it really, with her I found it so easy. With my son (first child) though, I found it was awful! He was on a mixture of breastmilk and formula from 4 months so I think it massively depends on the child. So impressed that your wife was still feeding when back at work – amazing! #MMWBH

    • Totally, it seems like every child is different with breastfeeding, just like with everything else (sleep, solids, etc). Good you had a positive experience with your daughter after a not so good one the first time around. Yeah, Hay did really well when back at work – she was just so relieved that L dropped the daytime feed so that she didn’t have to express at work. I think that made it easier.

  • Kirsten Toyne

    Your wife has done really well and should be proud of herself. It is quite a journey we embark on with our babies. Kirsten

    • Thanks Kirsten, I’m sure she is 🙂 Definitely, quite a journey!

  • My daughter is 13.5 months now and she is still breastfeeding before bedtime and in the morning feed. I really think she is not really taking it much anymore. She is really using me as a pacifier I think. It is interesting to read your post because I think Sienna is going through the same phase and I also feel she will stop breastfeeding soon. The only problem I have is that she is not very keen to drink milk from the bottle so I need to make sure she has enough milk before I tried to stop breastfeeding her completely. I guess she will decide on her own when to definitely stop. Thanks for sharing,xx

    • Thanks for sharing and yes sounds similar. To be honest, we’ve never really been too worried about L drinking / consuming milk. Maybe we should be, but she’s fine and healthy so we haven’t. She never just drinks milk (cup or bottle), she just has what she does in the likes of Weetabix, omelette, mash potato etc.

  • I’ve breast fed both mine. With Tin Box Tot I stopped at nine months when I went back to work. I might have combination fed her earlier but she wouldn’t take a bottle. Tin Box Baby was a really slow starter and lost loads of weight. There was a few days of a feeding and pumping frenzy which totally turned me off breast pumps. Luckily the weight piled on. We kept giving TBB one bottle each day up until a couple of weeks ago (4.5 months) when she went to two. I’m going for a slow weaning off the boob. I do enjoy it, but I also want my boobs back and the flexibility to leave her for more than a few hours. It’s not what everyone wants to do, but it’s right for me. I hope night two went well for you! Long may the uninterrupted sleeps continue!! #mmwbh

    • Thanks for sharing Claire. Yeah, that’s what we found – as we’d stopped giving bottles, she wasn’t interested in them after. As a bloke, I can only imagine what a woman goes through breastfeeding with her body, but I can totally understand wanting to get it back after breastfeeding.

  • Jennifer Baugh

    Well done to your wife, she sounds like a wonderful mum.

    My daughter is almost 6 months old, and we’re very much still in the midst of breastfeeding angst! I must admit, I’ve had a real love-hate relationship with it all. I knew I really wanted to breastfeed (she’s my first baby), so was determined to do it. We’ve really battled through severe soreness (8 weeks of it – not fun at all), poor weight gain (it took 6 weeks for her to regain her birth weight) and not very successful expressing.

    I cried the first time she took a bottle of expressed milk at a few weeks old (I was desperate for sleep), and cried harder when she had her first formula feed at 6 weeks old, but I knew that we’d both be happier for it.

    We now successfully combination feed, with a bottle of formula mid-morning and another as a dream feed given by my husband so I can go to bed. It really has saved my sanity.

    I still go through phases of dreading breastfeeding when it’s tough, and often think I’ve had enough of whipping a boob out on demand, but when it’s going well, I can’t help but feel emotional at the thought of giving it up.

    Probably the biggest challenge of my life.

    • Thanks for sharing Jennifer. Breastfeeding certainly sounds like a massive challenge, which I don’t think people expect. From everything we’ve read or heard at NCT, it all sounded quite ‘easy’, so the purpose of this post is to show that you can successfully breastfeed even if there are challenges and if the mum doesn’t like it. End of the day, it’s about what’s best for the kid and the parent, whether that’s breast, bottle, combination etc. I hope things have continued to go ok and you don’t dread it as much now 🙂

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  • Super Busy Mum

    Huge HUGE well done to your wife! Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and it’s tough. I did with all five of mine, each one having ‘boob juice’ for all different lengths for a multitude of all different reasons. But it’s tough and again….kudos to her! Also, massive well done to the little lady who is growing up {far to fast for you to cope with I’m sure too!} but she is…and I think this is one of those many first hurdles she’ll leap over. Thanks so much for linking up! #MMWBH

    • Thanks Debs, I’ll pass on the congrats to the missus. Well done on doing it with all of your kids, that’s quite an achievement!

  • A massive well done to your wife. Breastfeeding is hard work, it really does have it’s ups and downs and that is a lot of hours spent on the boob!
    I can totally empathise with the bitten nipple, it’s really not nice (understatement) I am very interested to read how you went about dropping the morning and night feed (not more lazy morning for me it seems sob sob) as we are at the morning and before bed stage now. Stopping night feeds at 11 months worked well for us and helped with sleep but I just can’t seem to drop those last two feeds, though I think it may have something to do with my daughter’s food aversion (which is better some days than others) which is caused by her silent reflux. I will probably reevaluate when we get to two years – which is in a couple of months, but I think the before bed feed is habit rather than anything else and for us I think the morning feed will be the last to go as that’s the one she seems to ‘need’ most.

    • Thanks for sharing. Really sorry I forgot to reply to this, so I’m sure my advice / experience on how we dropped the last 2 feeds is no longer relevant. Hope the last few months have gone well with dropping the feeds etc 🙂