Breastfeeding is one of the most incredible miracles that prove how magical the woman body is! The body of a mother creates milk with the exact “ingredients” that her baby needs, in fact, it keeps on changing depending on what your little one needs to grow up stronger and healthier. Plus, it is one of the greatest ways to create a bond between a mother and her newborn.
However, there must come a time when the mother needs to stop breastfeeding, which is not an easy thing to do, for both her and the baby. But worry not, there are many guidelines on how to stop breastfeeding quickly. But, have you thought about the body changes after stopping breastfeeding?
Your body has been behaving in a special way for months now, and with this sudden change, you can’t expect it to go back to normal overnight. You have to be ready for how your body will be changing, and by the way, the things that will happen to your body after weaning a toddler off breastfeeding are even cooler, so are you ready for them?
#1 – Engorged, deflated, and everything in between
Obviously, there will be many changes in your breasts after breastfeeding. According to Kathleen Huggins, an international board-certified lactation consultant and a registered nurse, every woman’s body are different; some will find the process of weaning off extremely easy, no engorgement and no pain. As they describe it: ‘It is too good to be true!’
After two weeks of weaning, you should expect your breasts to engorge, and if any stimulation happened, the engorgement will continue. Huggins advises to take some ibuprofen, wear a comfortable sports bra, and allow your breasts to be free!
Also, you may notice a few solid lumps on the breasts after stopping the breastfeeding, which is completely normal due to the milk absorption. Once the milk “dries up”, they will all go away!
#2 – Leftovers
Have you ever questioned where the milk goes after you stop breastfeeding? Everyone refers to it as “dried up”, but it is more complex than that.
First, when you choose not to breastfeed or pump, your body will notify your brain that there is no need for milk, and that’s how your body understands that it is time to stop producing the milk. The second step begins when your body starts absorbing the milk into it, allow us to explain:
According to experts, milk absorption is an interesting process because the cells that are responsible for helping the milk production switch their gears and start breaking the leftover milk down. Once their job is done, they absorb themselves.
In other words, your breasts have magical powers!
#3 – The letdown
The milk absorption process will not be done overnight because it is not a seamless process, it could take several months to get completely rid of the unused milk.
Unfortunately, this could mean that you will be experiencing some painful and annoying symptoms throughout the entire time, including shooting pain, leakage, a lingering sense of fullness, and tingling sensations.
The letdown is a reflex, as experts describe it, the nerves in your breasts will be stimulated and the oxytocin will be released. This hormone will cause the muscles near the milk-producing cells to contract, pushing the milk through the ducts!
This process can start when you hear your baby crying or when you are being intimate with your partner, which is a part of the weaning breastfeeding pain. But don’t worry, this shall pass when your body finally understands the hint that you don’t breastfeed anymore.
#4 – The call for hormones
The effects of stopping breastfeeding don’t only occur on your breasts, but your entire body! After weaning, there will be a drastic change in your hormones. During breastfeeding, the levels of oxytocin and prolactin increase, but when you stop, the levels of progesterone, estrogen, and follicle-stimulating hormone increase.
During the weaning process, your body will be already going through many changes, which are not bad at all. It only means that your body is preparing you to live normally and individually again, so prepare yourself to welcome libido into your life again!
#5 – Sadness
Since the hormones go on a crazy rollercoaster, mothers who decided to stop breastfeeding earlier than planned may feel extremely guilty and sad… But there’s nothing to worry about, you would only be experiencing a postpartum mood episode.
Also, mothers who decide to stop breastfeeding can also go through a great deal of sadness, and it is all a hormonal mess. You don’t have to handle it by yourself, you can reach out to your doctor for help!
#6 – Laugh freely
After being pregnant and breastfeeding for a fair amount of time, you basically know that you can’t laugh freely without peeing your pants. But brace yourself, this is going to change as soon as you wean breastfeeding!
Your levels of progesterone and estrogen levels will start going back to pre-pregnancy levels, as well as urinary incontinence and ligament laxity, and the reason is very interesting:
When you are pregnant, your body starts producing a hormone called relaxin, it is responsible for making your ligaments stretchy in order to give birth comfortably. However, your pelvic floor is also made of ligaments, and it is responsible for maintaining your bladder control. Long story short, your pelvic floor will also be affected by the hormone, causing you to lose control of your bladder.
But soon enough, you will be free to laugh loudly, sneeze freely, and cough strongly without the fear of dirtying your underwear.
#7 – Hello, acne!
If you think that acne breakout is only a high school issue, then you are wrong. One of the most annoying body changes after breastfeeding is the ugly acne, and that’s because of the decrease of the oxytocin level. When you add stress and sadness to the mix, your skin will not be too happy with the sudden increase of cortisol levels.
Also, the dramatic change of hormones can also cause an increase in oil production, resulting in more breakouts. But all of it will go away within two weeks or a month after weaning.
#8 – You become stronger
Do you know that you share your own calcium with your baby when you are breastfeeding?
Basically, the calcium within your bones will be relocated to your milk supply, so when you breastfeed, you will lose an average of 5% to 10% of your bone mass… I know! Mothers are truly a wonder!
Anyway, all the calcium will be back to your bones when you wean breastfeeding, in fact, you may get more back!
Quick fact: there is some evidence that the more children a woman has, the greater her bone density becomes. So if you are longing for another child, then good news!
#9 – Period!
One of the biggest puzzles, when you stop breastfeeding your baby, is your period, I mean, where does it go?
One of the major body changes is the sudden disappearance of your period, but the first period after stopping breastfeeding will probably be heavier than ever. While that may not be very enjoyable, but at least you know you are pregnant, so that deserves a little celebration!
It may take a few months after you stop breastfeeding till it comes back again, and well, you still can get pregnant while weaning. So if you are not interested, then make sure to use your own best method of birth control.
The heaviness of the first period after breastfeeding is caused by the increase of estrogen levels. Yes, it is not something to look forward to, but at least you know it is totally normal!