Disclaimer: What follows are simply my personal observations and experiences. It’s not my intention to make assertions about breastfeeding vs bottle feeding and other medical debates about breastfeeding in general- so please read as such. Thank you!
As we enter a new year, I think back to my motherhood journey. It seems like just yesterday, I weaned my son from my breasts completely at 9 months. Here’s the story, and what I learned from my perspective back in 2020:
It’s sad even though I knew I was ready to stop. I can feel the supercharged love hormones I’ve enjoyed since pregnancy dropping and being replaced by sad emotions. I can feel my body struggling to adjust to this change. My breasts are engorged and my moods are shifting. I feel doubtful about my decision at least ten times a day but I know this is the right thing for me at this time.
Every time I hold him, every time he reaches his arms out to me, I miss our breastfeeding bond. I want to just forget about this whole weaning process and give him my breasts like I have for the past 9 months since the moment he was born. This is how we bonded and this was our thing. Despite a few obstacles along the way, I loved every moment of my third time breastfeeding journey.
It’s over now and he’s probably my last baby. And I can’t help but to feel a deep sense of loss.
Why I Stopped Breastfeeding At 9 Months
So you are now probably asking, so why did I wean when everything was going well?
I believe honest dialogue around breastfeeding experiences are necessary and useful for other moms. Some moms wean right away, others go to six months, one year, 16 months, or even 2 years. According to the Academy of American Paediatrics, there’s no magic number. There are many reasons I chose to wean, but most notable reason is that it is time for me to balance motherhood with work, his needs with mine. If you are ready to wean, considering weaning your baby, or supporting someone who is, then read on.
Here are more reasons why I chose to wean at 9 months.
1) Lowered breastmilk supply
First, my milk supply began to dwindle, probably because I’m not on this strict breastfeeding diet of soups and extra calories. I used to eat to breastfeed for the first 6 months. After that, eating foods and drinking for both of us and constantly watching what I eat became exhausting. With three kids, this blog and my writing work, I can barely manage to cook once a day.
As Baby D tried to start eating solid food at around 6 months and breastfeed less, my milk supply decreased. I know this is normal for many moms when you stop feeding as much milk. I was down to about 3-4 small feedings a day.
2) He began feeding for comfort
Since he is my third baby, I now know that there comes a time in older babies when the baby gets so attached to the breasts that they begin using it for comfort like a human pacifier. We came to that point and I knew where this was going. He was no longer feeding for milk but more for comfort and there were nights when I would just sit there in the dark until he releases my breasts after using me like a pacifier.
Honestly I can endure the pain as long as I know this is good for him. But the benefits of his late night comfort doesn’t outweigh the cons of my continuous exclusive breastfeeding. I work at home so it’s difficult to exclusively breastfeed throughout the day. I can also use the help of others feeding him so I can concentrate on work and continue to build my career.
3) He started to refuse the bottle
As he got older, he began to really know my breasts and that’s all he would want as soon as he sees me. He was fine with the bottle when he was younger, but he started refusing the bottle altogether and only wanting to be fed by me. His attachment to my breasts grew stronger and I knew it would be a huge challenge to wean him when he is even older and more aware. I didn’t want this to turn into a weaning nightmare like my experience with my first daughter.
When doctors and organizations recommend breastfeeding up to one year or more, I don’t think they’re accounting for the psychological aspect of breastfeeding for the mother and child. At one year it becomes extremely hard to wean for reasons other than nutritional (emotional, psychological), which is why many mothers continue breastfeeding up to 2-3 years. I understand and empathize with these mothers and children. It’s so difficult to break a bond that has been established for so long, the baby’s entire life!
4) My body began giving me signs
Breastfeeding takes a toll on our bodies. I’ve heard male doctors say breastfeeding is natural and shouldn’t mess with our bodies, hair and skin but it does. I know this because of firsthand experiences and stories of my friends. This is a fact. Breastfeeding takes a toll on our bodies, especially in those later months.
Just think about all the nutrients and antibodies we’re giving to our children. Even daily prenatal vitamins and extra calories can’t undo all its effects.
So I went through all the normal phases of a postpartum mother. I lost a lot of my hair, volume on my face and moisture in my body and skin. It’s just not the same. Yet I continued to breastfeed because I enjoyed the bond with my son and I didn’t want it to come to an end.
Then my body started giving me signs that I need to stop nursing and start eating well for myself. I started getting a bloody nose for no reason (this happened with my first daughter around this time too). Yes it can be dry weather but I know my body.
This is the first sign that my body is done with breastfeeding.
I ignored the bloody nose because I wanted to breastfeed a little longer. Then one day I woke up with the most painful neck strain. I’ve had this before too and thought I just slept wrong. So instead of running to the doctor, I took some Advil and continued to “wait it out” (why do we mothers always do this?). I even took a family road trip with this horrible neck strain, which turned out to be a muscle spasm.
The pain got worse and worse and eventually I woke up one night screaming in pain. The pain was so severe I couldn’t move my body and sat on the floor crying. I had been taking maximum dose of pain meds to control the pain and none of them were working. At that moment on the bathroom floor, I knew it was time to start weaning from breastfeeding.
Weaning at nine months
It’s time to nourish my son in other ways and take back my health and body. I still feel a deep sense of loss and my heart aches knowing I can no longer breastfeed my child. I still have breast milk and I can choose to breastfeed him again, even at this moment. But I have to stay strong and make this decision for both of us, because this is a process we have to go through, if not now then later.
He took his first bottle from me yesterday. I held him a little differently than I would when I’m breastfeeding. And he took the bottle from me without a fight. I was incredibly proud and incredibly emotional. I thought to myself, why not just feed him one last time? But I knew if I keep thinking this way, I’ll never be able to stop.
Weaning is a gradual process for us.
I took about a whole month to get to this point, slowly dropping one feeding at a time. By the way, I find the bedtime feeding to be one of the most difficult to drop. I began by asking other caretakers like my husband, mother-in-law and nanny to feed him. Giving others the opportunity to feed your baby is a good way to prepare for returning to work as well.
When he refused the bottle, I experimented with other ones and had most success with the comotomo bottle.
Eventually he took the bottle and he seemed ready. Sadly but gratefully, he is ready.
Today I’m figuring out new ways to hold and feed him. I’m also realizing that he still does the same things while feeding, like playing with his ear and stroking my arm. I love it and we’re still bonding in the same way, the only difference being how I nourish him. I’m also learning that it’s so much easier to put my face close to his while I’m bottle feeding him. I love how I can kiss his hair and put my cheek really close to his, something I couldn’t do when I was breastfeeding.
I’ll cherish our breastfeeding days and miss it for a lifetime, but this is only the beginning of our mother-son bonding.
Nothing has changed between us. I’ll just find new ways to nourish his body and soul with a new me. I’ll use this time to get my body back, get healthy and work hard towards my dream so he knows what a strong, working woman looks like.
I want to make him proud one day. I want him to watch me balance motherhood and work with strength and grace.
I’m still grieving the end of my breastfeeding journey. This isn’t easy. But as a third time mom, I know this too, will pass and we’ll be just fine.
There are so many days ahead of us. Once I get through this, we’ll be just fine. It will get especially easier as he eats more and more solid foods. Before I know it, he will be drinking out of a sippy cup.
What does your breastfeeding journey look like? At what month did you wean and for what reason? Some stop breastfeeding when they want to begin baby led weaning. Whether you wean at 1 month, 12 months, or 15 months, you should make whichever decision is best for you! You can read more about my breastfeeding journey and tips here and here. And you can find more on breastfeeding from the World Health Organization, here.
27 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Breastfeeding At 9 Months”
Angela, this is such a beautiful post and you are an amazing woman and mother. I can hang on almost every word of this. Thank you for sharing your heart!
Thank you for your kind words Nicole. It means a lot.
Beautiful post! I’m still stressing about how to wean when my daughter is so attached to me. But great job mama ?
Thank you Sunjoo. We stress about weaning when we’re BF’ing, then we miss BF”ing when we wean. Motherhood is full of dilemma!
Thanks for this post! I am thinking about weaning my almost 8 month old but I feel super guilty since I know breastmilk is the best thing we can give our babies. I don’t breastfeed but I exclusively pump since my baby couldn’t latch and my pumping schedule is so hard. It’s definitely taking a toll on my body. Can I ask what formula you use to feed your baby?
Sorry for the late reply! I gave my son Enfamil. Did you end up weaning?
Thanks for sharing your story! Weaning is a process we all have to go through and every new situation means new feelings. You will get through this. I weaned my son at 7 months, we did combi-feeding, because my milk supply was really low. When we introduced solids it dropped more and I decided to swap to formula completely. At this time I also began to work again, so there were a lot of transitions, but we managed them. I’m feeding Hipp (from this shop), which is really sensitive on his tummy.
All the best,
Thank you for sharing your story and i’m so glad you found your new rythm!
This post is just what I needed to read! Thank you for sharing. For me, all signs have been pointing to going in this direction, but I’ve been so worried about doing the absolute best thing for my baby, and conscious that one year seems to be the golden rule. At eight months three weeks, it’s time for the journey to end and I’m no longer feeling negative or unsure about that. We know our bodies and we know our own babies!
YEs totally agree emma. I’m in the same boat with my 4th baby now and i feel the same way. Our bodies know best and i think it’s best for us moms to honor our bodies too. 8 months is more than enough and you gave your baby so much amazing antibodies and nutrients.
Thank you so much for this! It was exactly how I have been feeling and I shared it with my husband. Once he understood the guilt and insecurity I was feeling he was completely on board with weaning (he would never have told me no but I knew he wanted what was best for our little one). With this article and his support we are going to start weaning this weekend.
Its so great to hear that Ashley. I know its hard for others to understand because medical books and doctors make breastfeeding sound so natural as if it doesn’t affect mothers but it truly does in so many ways. Some can go on for years, others can do a few months. I’m happy you found my story useful and its great to have such a supportive husband who understands you!
Thank you for this post. I needed this so much right now. I am on the fence about stopping BF my nine month old. Your words are exactly what I’m feeling right now. My body is telling me to stop, I know it will be fine, but boy does it hurt my heart. After reading this I feeling so much better about my decision to stop at nine months.
Thank you for this beautiful post. It so resonated with me as I am a full time working mother and my milk supply is slowly decreasing over time. My son will be 9 months in a couple weeks and I know in my heart it’s time for us to end our breastfeeding relationship too. As I type this my heart breaks and I feel so much shame. We hear so much about sticking it out and breastfeed as long as possible but we also need to care for ourselves too! Your post afffirmed what I already know in my heart. 🙂
I was just researching real life experience with weaning. I’m at 9 months and ready to be done but I feel so so so guilty about it. My supply is dropping too and the stress of trying to keep up has been weighing on me. Thanks for your honesty about this.
i hope you found a solution that works for you and your baby. There’s really no right or wrong with this, as long as you’re honoring your body! our bodies know best. I’m back in this place with my 4th baby and i’m slowly weaning again.
Thank you for this poSt. I’m exploring weaning my 8 month old over the next month for a variety Of reasons. I needed this. <3
I’m glad you can relate Amber. Thank you for your kind comment.
It s recommended that you breastfeed your baby exclusively (give them breast milk only) for the first 6 months of their life.
yes but not all women are able to do that for various reasons. I’ve breastfed for more than a year, less than a year, around 6 months- all my kids are well fed and loved. 🙂
Oh sweet mama, I’ve just arrived at the same point… after 9 months, some nights walking 10 times to feed, my body is telling me it’s time, I’ve had bone issues with my jaw and neck issues as you say, i know so much of me has gone into my milk, with sooooo much love.
Tonight was the first night with a bottle, she held my finger aND LITTLE TEARS CAME TO ME, OF JOY NOT sadness. WE mums can be so hard on ourselves, no one can really understand this breastfeeding journey we go through, it is beautiful and wonderful and brutal at times. we MUST KNOW THAT WE are magnificent at every. single. STEP. OF. motheRHOOD.
Thank you for sharing your story charlotte. It made me tear up because i can feel your love for your child! I totally know what you mean with that first experience with a bottle, it’s bitter sweet as you know a hard but beautiful chapter is ending and a new one is beginning. And yes we are magnificent and worthy at every step of motherhood, no matter what we decide. As long as we’re honoring our bodies, we’re doing the best we can for our babies too!
Hey! I’ve just come across your blog as I was googling how many feeds my daughter should be having per day (she’s 9 months next week) and your bf journey really spoke to me. i’m getting to the point now where i’m just so ready to stop but the guilt is unreal. i’m also back at work now and having to express milk is so exhausting and the neck and back pain is unbearable! (i have fibromyalgia so it’s not just my bf position that’s causing this). But i’m just so tired! I also don’t want to give my daughter formula, I have nothing against it but for some reason I feel guilty about even thinking of giving her it after how far we’ve come with breastfeeding 🙁
Thank you for shariNg your experience, Ive basically weaned my baby girl at 9 months and while im GRATEFUL to have my body back again (to a CERTAIN extent) i am sitting here suddenly feeling quite sad and alone. I wonder if its the right thing for her… but actually after reading thIs i know it is better for both of us. I also like thaT bottle feeding has made me so much more present, soMetimes when i breaStfed i scrolled trough sociAl media. But with the bottle Im really there fully. Anyway, Thanks for tHis article! really helped me a lot.