You started breastfeeding, congratulations on your decision to provide your baby with the best nutrients possible! But maybe things aren’t going exactly how you may have envisioned, and now you are considering quitting breastfeeding.
Don’t quit breastfeeding for the wrong reasons.
Ask yourself a few questions first.
- What is my breastfeeding goal?
- Why do I want to breastfeed?
- Why am I thinking about quitting breastfeeding?
- Is there something I can do to feel more confident in continuing breastfeeding?
Your answers to these questions will help us navigate through this rough patch, and hopefully help you continue breastfeeding- if that is your goal.
What to do When You Feel Like Quitting Breastfeeding
When you first decided you wanted to breastfeed, did you have an idea of how long you intended on doing it for?
Some people have their mind set on the one year mark because that is when babies can start drinking cows milk. Some people play it by ear and others know they intend to breastfeed much longer.
Think about what your goal is, right now. Okay, you have that in your mind? Write it down. Having a visual representation of your goal will encourage you to get to it.
I chose to breastfeed because…
In the midst of stress or just new mom fatigue it can be very easy to lose focus on why you wanted to breastfeed to begin with.
Did you do it because of all the health benefits? Have you wanted to ensure the best mother-baby bond possible? Did you receive encouragement from a relative or friend?
Whatever your reason for why you chose to breastfeed to begin with write that down too. Through the tears and at times overwhelming fatigue it will be beneficial to have something positive to focus on to help get you through.
Why do I feel like quitting breastfeeding?
This is an important question to ask yourself.
Are you feeling so overwhelmed by the constant need of your body from your baby? Are you tired of being in pain from the sore nipples? Do you feel like your supply is not adequate to meet your baby’s needs?
What is the reason you feel like giving up breastfeeding?
Have you determined that reason?
Now, if your goal is to continue breastfeeding I want you to write that reason down on a separate piece of paper.
Okay, now take that paper, rip it up and throw it out.
Now that you have identified the barrier potentially keeping you from reaching your goal- get rid of it. You are going to overcome this difficult time.
What can I do to feel more confident in breastfeeding?
Depending on what your barrier is here are solutions and motivations to help you through them.
The first three weeks of breastfeeding are BY FAR the most difficult.
If you are new to this and you are experiencing this difficulty and feel like quitting breastfeeding, don’t.
The sore nipples will get better. If you aren’t already using a nipple cream, start now.
I use this lanolin cream and it was honestly a God send. It helped my shirts feel less painful rubbing against me. You can even put it on before you go in the shower to keep the water from hurting too much. You don’t have to wipe it off before nursing. And it is safe for your baby.
The lack of sleep will eventually get better too.
Your baby is only this little for a short time. She will not always cry for you every 2 hours to eat. You are your baby’s lifeline. She needs you and you can be strong for her.
If you feel overwhelmed, have your spouse do the diaper changes and you can just do the feeding.
If your baby is going through a nursing strike, this too will pass.
Problem: Refusing to Breastfeed
Babies have different reasons for why they may become difficult to breastfeed and will at times refuse the breast.
This is what has been called a “nursing strike”.
A common cause is when your baby becomes more alert as they age and more interested in their surroundings than your breast.
An easy solution is to breastfeed in a quiet and dim environment with little distractions. This will allow your baby to reconnect with you and your breastfeeding time will become about you and baby again.
Problem: Nipple Confusion
The real name for this should be nipple preference. It occurs if the baby gets bottle fed as well.
It is easier for the baby to drink from a bottle so they may start to prefer it and refuse to nurse.
If this is the case, decrease the amount of bottles you give your baby. The same thing can happen with pacifier use. Try to minimize how often your baby gets a pacifier.
Problem: You are concerned about low supply.
There are some rare circumstances where women have a true low milk supply. But understand that this is the exception.
The odds of a woman actually having a low supply are very, very low. Our bodies were literally made to nourish our babies.
You should be breastfeeding on demand in the beginning months. Don’t try to put baby on a schedule at this time.
How to know if your breastfed baby is getting enough milk:
Monitor the amount of wet diapers. Your baby should be having 6-10 per day.
If you are truly still concerned, get a baby scale and weigh baby before a feed and then immediately after a feed. This will tell you how many ounces they are drinking.
A baby’s needs are few. To be fed, changed, and kept warm. Your baby will tell you if they are hungry.
They do not have the mindset of “No more milk from mom? Eh, oh well.” If you were not giving them enough milk to satiate their hunger, they would let you know.
Low Supply is Not Common
Again, the likelihood that you actually have a low supply if you are exclusively breastfeeding on demand is very low. If your baby is meeting their weights, acting appropriately and weighing appropriately- you are doing just fine! Trust your body.
You have to go back to work and are feeling the stress of being away from your baby.
I want you to read my article about returning to work while breastfeeding. I think this will give you some help to overcome this barrier.
We all wish we can stay at home with our babies, but that is not an option for a lot of us. Thousands of women, including myself, have gone back to work full time while still breastfeeding by pumping and freezing milk. You can do it!
I want you to know that exclusively breastfeeding your baby is the best decision you can make.
It is also one of the most difficult things you will do. If it were easy, there would be no market for formula.
Just because it is difficult at times doesn’t mean there won’t be a time when it is your favorite thing to do.
Breastfeeding promotes a special bond with you and your baby. It provides your baby with comfort and nourishment.
Breastfeeding is the ultimate gift we can give our children. Don’t give up.
Remember your goal.
Breastfeeding literally consumes our lives for a short time, but the way I see it- our babies are our lives.
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