Like most moms, I felt guilty because I quit breastfeeding under the one-year mark. I breastfed my first son for nine months and my second son for seven months, mostly exclusively pumping. By the time I hit the six-month mark, I wanted to pull my hair out.
Let’s look at the facts before we jump to any emotional conclusions. If you’re a new mom, you are probably very, very familiar with the official breastfeeding recommendations. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months without any additional foods or fluids. The AAP adds, “Babies should continue to breastfeed for a year and for as long as is mutually desired by the mother and baby.”
The World Health Organization agrees with the minimum six-month mark while upping the ante: “Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or beyond.”
I don’t know about you, but the thought of keeping my breasts full of milk for two years or more after having two children made me want to punch myself in the face. But I also wanted to be the perfect mom. I didn’t want to fail my kids by giving them less than all of the other beloved babies on the block.
It doesn’t help that many women receive the blatant message that it is selfish to quit breastfeeding early. One mom poses the question that every other mother is thinking, “I have a 6-month-old daughter, and have been entirely breastfeeding since she was born (as recommended). Although I love the bonding time it gives us, I also want my body back to myself. Is it selfish to think this way?”
I do not find this to be selfish at all. At all. The only reason that I am able to speak with confidence is because I am now a “seasoned” breastfeeding vet who has already finished breastfeeding two kids forever. Quitting breastfeeding before one year was hard for me because of the guilt, but I have zero regrets in doing it.
Yes, I gave my kids evil formula. Yes, I probably could have tried harder and breastfed for longer. But you know what? This ultimately won’t matter at college graduation.