People talk a lot about breastfeeding. How important or unimportant it is, how hard or easy they find it. There’s a lot of breastfeeding chat out there in the universe, but curiously – barely any about what happens after you stop breastfeeding.

Read on to discover some of the things that might happen when you stop breastfeeding and how to deal with them…

SWOLLEN PAINFUL BREASTS

If you stop breastfeeding cold turkey (which we strongly advise against), your body won’t be able to catch up with your plans and it will keep producing milk – leading to swollen, painful breasts and even (the dreaded) mastitis. The best way to stop breastfeeding is to do it gradually – dropping one feed at a time. We recommend leaving the morning and evening feed (or pump) as the last ones you drop. Every 2-3 days, slowly drop one feed from the schedule (either replacing it with formula or if the little one is old enough and getting their nutrition from 90% whole foods – nothing). If you are still feeling too ‘full’ you can pump for up to one minute, to ease it off. This way your body still gets the message that the supply isn’t needed, but you don’t feel like you’ll explode. Slowly but surely, your body will start to produce less and less milk. Expect a little swelling and pain as this happens, but if it’s a lot – slow down a little and take your time.

Note: Mastitis needs medical attention. If you have hot breasts, terrible pain, chills and fatigue, consult with a doctor ASAP.

ACNE

Hello, pizza face. Blame your hormones. When you stop breastfeeding your hormone levels change. Your progesterone levels start to rise again, which can cause an excess oil situation (that can lead to clogged pores and spots) and there is also a drop in prolactin and oxytocin levels. Plus, if you haven’t had it already, your body will be preparing to restart your period. Sounds like a hormone nightmare doesn’t it? It kind of is… But just remember – this too shall pass.

Whilst your body is adjusting and getting everything back to its usual pre-birth, pre-nursing state, there are some things you can do to help the acne. Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Take a genius natural supplement called BioResponse DIM 150. 

DIM stands for Diindolylmethane and is naturally found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. It helps to balance estrogen metabolism and hormonal balance. We recommend this brand.

    2.  Get back to nature

  • Use natural, chemical and nasty-free products to wash, tone and moisturise your face. We love Green Chic for the best natural beauty products in the UAE, Net-a-Porter also has a great ‘Clean Beauty’ range.
  • Try to go makeup free as much as possible. And if you have to: Keep it light, and as chemical-free as possible. Your pores need to ‘breath’.
  • Get some sun on your face for 15-30 minutes without any SPF, if possible.
  • Consider taking whole food, natural vitamin D supplement for a while if you think you may be lacking in vitamin D (which can also lead to hormone disruption).
  • Increasing your probiotics through supplements is a good idea whenever you get acne – including acne related to hormone issues. Humans are built up of more bacteria cells than human cells, and it’s crucial we keep our friendly gut bacteria at a healthy level. We recommend Cytoplan and their awesome buy-2-get-1-free deal(s).

3. Watch your diet

  • Try to stick to plant-based food and avoid consuming things that are linked to acne or hormone disruption. Including dairy, gluten, soy, sugar, processed meats, deep-fried foods, caffeine and alcohol.
  • Try to eat local and organic produce to limit the number of environmental toxins and hormones (injected into animals) you are being exposed to. Rule of thumb – 1. if you’re eating the skin, try to have organic. 2. the bigger the animal you are eating, the more important it is to eat organic (toxins, hormones, pesticides, contaminants and other nasties are more concentrated in the fat of large animals).
  • Start each day with a cleansing cup of warm filtered water and freshly squeezed lemon juice. And try to stick to just drinking water and herbal teas – avoiding fizzy drinks, sugary drinks like juices, coffee and dairy drinks.

GREASY HAIR

As with acne, greasy hair can appear thanks to your changing hormones. Follow the diet and supplement advise above and don’t fret – it will pass.

Use natural products to cleanse and condition your hair (yes: condition, even though it’s greasy – sometimes we get greasy skin or hair because they are crying out for moisture.) And the ‘Mum Bun’ spritzed with your favourite dry shampoo will help your disguise things whilst your hormones catch up.

Plus, although it may seem counterintuitive – try not to wash your hair too much. Every time you wash your hair you strip your scalps of its natural oils, which your scalp may then try to overcompensate for by releasing oil.

HAIR LOSS

Stopping breastfeeding doesn’t actually cause your hair to fall out, it just signals to your body (through the rebalancing of hormones) to release all of that lovely pregnancy hair you hoarded.

This is because, during pregnancy, there can be a higher shift of hair in the growth phase, which leads to a fuller mane. After the birth of your baby and/or when you stop breastfeeding, and as the hormones in your body change – this little blessing begins to fade and things shift: You start to lose all of that hair.

Most women will see their hair return to its normal, pre-pregnancy and pre-nursing state around 6-12 months postpartum. To help support and speed up the process, consider the supplement and dietary advice detailed above for helping to balance your hormones.

If you are concerned, see your doctor as excessive hair loss can be a sign of hypothyroidism or iron-deficiency anaemia – which are common and relatively easy to rectify.

SADNESS AND DEPRESSION

Again. Hormones are most likely the culprit here and you are more likely to feel sadness and depression after breastfeeding if you are sensitive to hormone changes and suffer from PMS and/or PMDD.

It can also be a bittersweet moment for many women. The feelings of guilt, of not being needed anymore, of nostalgia for those beautiful newborn months – all of these things can make even the most resilient of women shed a little tear.

Whatever your reasons for stopping breastfeeding, just remember: A fed baby is best and a happy mother = a happy baby.

Plus, if you are concerned, please see your doctor. There are many mental health conditions that affect women postpartum, which can become extremely serious if left untreated.

WEIGHT GAIN AND BLOATING

This is down to… You guessed it. Changing hormones. You may not be able to recall these days but just like the weight gain and bloat most women experience around their period, the same thing can occur as our hormones readjust after we finish nursing.

Another contributing factor is that you will sadly no longer be burning calories by producing milk and nursing. On average, women burn between 200-500 calories a day just by breastfeeding – so you may want to consider how you could make up for these missed burned calories. Either through cutting down high-calorie food or through exercise – maybe taking a nice stroll with the baby strapped on or signing up for a postnatal yoga or pilates class.

Increase your probiotic intake through naturally probiotic and prebiotic (the stuff that feeds the bacteria) rich foods and additional supplementation where necessary.

Increase your water intake – make sure you are getting enough good-quality water every day and try starting each morning with a huge glass of cold iced water – the temperature shock is linked to an increase in metabolism and your body will love you for replenishing it with H20 after a (probably broken) sleep. Speaking of metabolism, try to eat between 20-30g of protein within 30 minutes of waking and see how miraculous that can be for your waistline. We recommend an organic green smoothie (with limited fruit, which = sugar) and a scoop of plant-based protein, or cook some eggs. Pre-made boiled eggs in the fridge may not be the most exotic breakfast you’ve ever eaten – but it is a great time saver and will deliver all of the nutrition you need to kickstart your metabolism for the day.