6 things that will happen when you stop breastfeeding
By Livia Gamble
So it’s time to stop breastfeeding. Whether the decision has been baby-led or you’ve just had enough, it’s a good idea to have a rough idea of some of the changes that may (or may not) happen once you stop.
Although weaning can be an emotional time for both mum and bub, these changes in your body are just another example of how incredible you are!
So without further ado, from the surprising to the not-so-surprising, here’s what can happen when you stop breastfeeding.
1. Moody with a chance of rain
You guessed it, like most experiences that involve our hormones, it’s normal to feel a little moody. Here’s why. When you stop breastfeeding, your prolactin – the hormone that tells the body to make breast milk – and oxytocin start to decrease. Both of these hormones are known for the positive effect they can have on your feelings. So once your baby stops suckling, your body produces less of these clever hormones which can cause you to feel sad, irritable or grumpy (putting it politely). It may also trigger anxiety in some women.
It’s important to remember, though, like all other major hormonal shifts, the responses will vary. Not all women will experience mood changes when weaning but if you are concerned or have more sad days than happy ones, talk to your GP or other health professional.
2. Your boobs will undergo some remodelling
Yep, once you’ve finished breastfeeding, your milk-secreting cells will get to work, doing their best to get your boobs back to how they were pre-breastfeeding.
They do this by “eating” the milk-producing cells and remaining milk. Nasreen Akhtar, a scientist who researched this topic told Science Daily: “We discovered that these cells were now able to eat or otherwise remove vast quantities of redundant milk-producing cells.” How cool is that!
3. Saggy boobs
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but once that remodelling has finished, your breasts may not feel like they once did.
To this we say, mourn your loss, remember the good times and what you achieved together, and if the budget allows – treat yourself to a new bra.
4. Slow and steady
It can take longer than you might expect for your breasts to really get the message that you’ve stopped breastfeeding. Like most things, this boob-adjustment period can vary from woman to woman, depending on how often you were feeding when you finished.
5. You might leak during sex
Leaking is another normal part of the weaning process. Your baby latching causes a release of oxytocin that signals your milk to let-down.
However, there are other oxytocin triggers that your body can be sensitive to while weaning (and breastfeeding) – like having an orgasm. Healthline has some tips on how you can manage this.
6. Cuddles for everyone!
Weaning can be an emotional process for everyone involved. Just because you’re ready – doesn’t necessarily mean your baby will be. Or vice versa!