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The End of Breastfeeding: Depression After Weaning

 
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I snap at my husband when he tries to use a certain coffee cup. I grit my teeth at my kids when I hear them fighting with each other. I look at my baby drinking whole milk out of a sippy cup and I burst into tears. It is 6:40 a.m. on a Monday and it has been two days since I quit breastfeeding.

It was days away from my son’s first birthday and I began to wean him. I took plenty of time and started by just dropping one feeding a day. About three or four days later, I dropped another one. The transition was very smooth. It was easier to stop breastfeeding my son than I thought it would be. I wasn't expecting that it would be worse for me than him.

It was sometime around when I started dropping feedings that I felt different. I was sad and I didn’t know why. I was irritable and seemed to have less patience than usual. I finally admitted to a close friend how I was feeling.

She told me that I was not alone and she had also experienced sadness shortly after her baby’s first birthday. After talking to her doctor, she found out that it was common for women to experience some depression after weaning due to a shift in hormone levels.

It feels like the worst PMS that I have ever experienced. Emotionally, I feel like I did right around the time when I became pregnant. As I researched this topic, I found that it was more common than I knew. Every entry, blog or question on this topic sounded just like what I was experiencing. It is helpful to know that I am not alone.

If you recently quit breastfeeding and seem to be experiencing feelings like this, TALK TO SOMEONE. Remember to take care of yourself as well as your children.

Add a Comment24 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to alysiak)

Many, many mothers, American and world wide, nurse until 3 and beyond. There is absolutely nothing ridiculous about it. It may not have been the right decision for you, but there is no need to put negative labels on others' decisions that have no impact on you.

July 9, 2009 - 9:11am

It's an emotional time when you decide to stop feeding. I am sure the hormones, tiredness and unwanted advice don't help either! My sadness on weaning was with my last child. I knew that would be the last time I would breast feed and it seemed so final. I love the fact that I was able to breastfeed my children and feel lucky for it!

July 8, 2009 - 6:26pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I can understand your sadness! My son weaned naturally when I was pregnant with my second child and even though it was a truly natural weaning and he was just over 2 I had a couple of teary moments.

All I would say is that if your son was not ready to wean he would not be happy about it and would be sure to let you know, so please feel peaceful if you can.

So much emphasis with breastfeeding is on the baby (rightly so in many instances) and so the fact that it is a very powerful and symbiotic relationship, affecting both the mother and the baby (equally I would say) is often overlooked.

I would also add that there is no 'right' time to wean. This is pure speculation, but a natural weaning may help the hormone levels adjust better/more slowly etc. Just a thought!

It's wonderful that you were able to nurture your son in such a special way and for so long too. He is a very lucky boy!

Katie

July 8, 2009 - 2:10pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Hi, Susan,

Thank you for posting this. It's very important for women to hear. I am writing a book about breastfeeding for Random House. I would like to talk to you about quoting this. Can you please contact me? My email is [email protected]

Diana West, IBCLC

July 8, 2009 - 10:01am
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