Saturday, 27 March 2010

Some thoughts on the end of breast-feeding

I think we really have stopped, although I suppose the real test will come with the first non-feeding illness. But, for the moment presuming we've stopped, I have a few thoughts on the matter.

Given that breastfeeding, especially when combined with co-sleeping, seems to affect the deepness of a person's sleep I am currently also wondering about its effect on meditation. The reason is this. I meditate, and have tried to do so semi-regularly for years. When I had my first baby this went out of the window for a bit and it certainly did when I had my second baby. However, when they went past the baby stage and especially when my son started actually sleeping during the night, I started meditating again. It did seem hard and a struggle and I presumed this was because of lack of practice or focus, however, now that he's stopped feeding I suddenly find it much easier to get back to that deep level of trance that I used to achieve. I also definitely feel much more deeply asleep at night, despite still co-sleeping with both children (and of course my husband!). Has anyone else experienced this?

I am also wondering about the effect on the relationship with my son. The breastfeeding relationship gives you a very intense closeness with a child. I can't comment on how it is different to a relationship with a bottle-fed child as I've never bottle-fed, but I certainly remember feeling a shift in the relationship between me and my daughter when she finished feeding and now I'm noticing a similar shift with my son. I presume it is a temporary thing - a re-establishing of the relationship in a different way, but it was different with my daughter as I was heavily pregnant and about to gain a second child, so all that issue was also wrapped up in the end of the breastfeeding relationship. Also, with her the relationship was only almost 2 years old, rather than 5 years old.

I'm not really sure of the point I'm trying to make but I'd love to hear from other full-term breastfeeders about the thoughts and issues they had when the journey finally ended.

4 comments:

Big mamma frog said...

RE: sleep and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding always used to knock me out like the effect of 6 pints of lager lol, in fact I had to be careful not to fall asleep all the time while feeding! I think it's just the chemicals that are released as you feed. Wish I could sleep like that again though!

As for ending the breastfeeding, well longest I fed for was 8 months and that felt awful emotionally at first when I stopped. I stopped for the wrong reasons and regretted it. But to be honest I couldn't have coped with longer term breastfeeding with any of mine - too exhausted and drained to function. Having 3 children in 5 years isn't conducive to peaceful breastfeeding lol!

carol b said...

We breastfed until my daughter was 22 months, then she decided she didn't want to any more. I had very mixed feelings - kind of bereft in a way, so sorry to end breastfeeding sooner than I'd expected, but also so pleased that it was my daughters decision.
As far as the relationship changing, I can't say I noticed any real difference specific to that, just a feeling of her gaining independence.
I can't imagine what ending after 5 years would feel like, but I suspect the bond you have will be so strong it will only change certainly not weaken.
best wishes!

Bee said...

I breast feed my 2 children until they were about 2 and ahalf and I felt very emotional when I stopped feeding them, I was convinced it would effect them for the rest of their lives, but of course it doesn't they adapt much quicker than us and now they are 5 and 7 and have very fond memories of being breast fed and are 2 very happy children.

Cave Mother said...

I'm very late commenting, so I don't know if you'll read this, but it's really interesting to read your thoughts on the end of breastfeeding. To me, it still seems an age away since my daughter is such an avid feeder. But it is also undiscovered country. I have never parented without nursing.

I'll be interested to read your thoughts on this as they develop. It must be hard to let go of something that has bound you and your son together for so long (just as I found it hard to accept that pregnancy had ended when my daughter was born). I know it's not really the end of anything, but I can understand why you might be slightly apprehensive about how your relationship will change.