Weaning and Depression

Updated on March 26, 2009
B.A. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
14 answers

My 14-month-old daughter has been in the process of self-weaning for probably about a month now. She had been nursing in the morning and before bedtime for about a month before starting to wean. She doesn't want to breastfeed anymore. If I try, she may suckle for a couple seconds, but she most definitely isn't into it anymore. I was ok with weaning, although I was a little sad about it. Now, all the sudden, I feel like I am becoming depressed or something, and wonder if it has to do with the lack of breastfeeding and closeness to my daughter. It has been a couple full days without any nursing. On top of it, my daughter seems like she doesn't want me to hold her or hug her anymore either. She is becoming very independant, which is developmentally appropriate I guess, but I'm feeling really sad about my lack of snuggle time. I really enjoyed nursing my daughter and having that time with her. I guess my main question is if it is normal to become depressed after weaning.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for your responses. The depression symptoms were short-lived, and I am assuming they must have been from the horomonal changes. I am feeling much better now!!

More Answers



answers from Sharon on

You probably don't want to hear it but your hormones are adjusting to the weaning as well. I get postpartum depression pretty much every time I have a baby and I don't fully come out of it till after I wean. i know this is the opposite way round from you but I have suffered from a lot of hormone related depression and its pattern with my hormones has become very predictable. Luckily I've received training on how to manage it and currently I am not medicated

I would focus on finding a new routine for you and your daughter. Its spring so go outside more or do special things together. Maker peanut butter playdough and have fun squishing, banging it etc. You need something to take the place of nursing and help you bond in away that will allow your daughter the freedom to be independent and you the closeness you need.

For my less snuggly kids, tickling is sometimes the only way I get a hug!!! We tend to do a lot of silly hugs so its brief and fun for them but I get even just a little snuggle!

Also, now that your daughter is more independent squeeze in some me time for yourself. Let her play while you read your favourite magazine. Its just a little thing but my husband got me some magazine subscriptions that I love to look at and that short time to just leaf through it while the kids are doing other things is my sanity.



answers from Harrisburg on

You don't have to give up that snuggle time just b/c you're done with breastfeeding. Snuggle with her in bed when you put her to sleep...or with her towel on after a bath...and definitely when you read to her...just replace that breasfeeding time with something else developmentally appropriate for her.

I think there are many bittersweet moments watching your children grow up. My youngest is 9 and I took her to Port Discovery over the weekend and watched as she and her best friend played and wondered..."when did you get so big?" Enjoy every moment you have...

What someone else said is so true...it's okay to shed some tears...just don't do it in front of her...



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi B.,
Kudos to you for breastfeeding your daughter and all that implies. It's so nice when our babies are little and cuddly and huggable and lovable. Yes, it's sad when they begin to separate even if that separation starts with weaning, but that is part of the process. The first time you leave them with a babysitter, the first day of school, the first field trip, first sleepover, first prom, etc... It's all exciting for them, bittersweet for us. However, if you build a good foundation now, you will always have a place in your children's lives. Hugging and kissing can be a part of everyday life, maybe just not as often as when we had free access to that little, swaddled bundle. I established a "5-minute" talk as part of the bedtime ritual with my children. Usually, it was chit-chat, but as they got older it became the time of day when various details of their day were revealed. My oldest is almost 18 now and I can still pop into his room at the end of the day, sit down and chat. It's a habit and he actually, not consciously, expects it. Many things have been discussed and revealed in those little "5-minute" talks which can last anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour, all depending on them. Letting children know you have time for them and are there to listen, not judge, keeps them close. There are so many opportunities to get to know our children and build closeness if we stop and make time. There will be times when they struggle with growing up, establishing their own identity and may not seem so huggy-close to us especially when we are the rulemakers. But, if you plant the seeds now, they will never grow too far. My kids know I'm "huggy-feely". I have given them no choice but to accept it. No, I don't force myself on them to the point of embarrassment or insult, but I exercise discretion and recognize my "windows of opportunity" to squeeze in a hug or a kiss. My 8 year old daughter is very huggy-feely with me right now, and I treasure every cuddle. They can't be babies forever, but they will always be our lovable children. Whenever I do feel sad, I always remember those who never have and never will have the opportunities I have and have had with my children. Our children are blessings at every age. I still hug and kiss my mom every time I see her which is almost everyday and I always end phone conversations to my husband, family and friends with "love you". Give the love you want to receive. Love, K.



answers from Philadelphia on

Your little girl is growing up and ready to explore things on her own . It doesn't mean she loves u any less she is just ready to do things on her own. Now you can have herplay games with you and have her do things independently.


answers from Allentown on

Hi B.,

Contact your local la leache league representative at


Good luck. D.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi B., I had to give up nursing at 5 months and was so so so so so so sad. I loved nursing, it was such a beautiful, amazing experience. And when I had to stop it felt I had lost a major loved one. It really felt to me like someone had died. It IS a loss... and someone said to me that being a Mom (or a parent) is both about seeing the hugest miracle unfold before our eyes and also about millions of "letting go's"... and it is. I would get sad when he would go up in a diaper size... and once I cried because I saw him sorting laundry when he was 12 months old and knew he wouldn't be doing that in a year. I cried when he was 4 days old because I thought that he was so grown up already!! But I am over that now :-) and it's so much fun!!! It the miracles that keep us going and able to deal with all the letting goes. The hardest one for me besides nursing was that he didn't want to sit on my lap anymore when we were reading books. ouch! But it's all good now and he sometimes still crawls on my lap and snuggles big time. And it took until he was 2 or so, but he give LOTS of hugs and is very affectionate now. I guess my advice would be to honor the sad feelings inside you, and let yourself feel sad, but work it out inside and let your daughter express what she needs to, and let her "let go" of nursing if she needs to. Don't worry, you are #1 and will be for a VERY long time!!! It's just time to turn this page. It's hard, but just stay with your feelings and soon it will get easier. I promise. Kindly, M.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi B., Sure what you are going though is normal. I went though this with all three of my girls...I think we all do at some point in time or another as our children grow from babyhood into toddler-ness...and again when they start school...and again as they become teens...and yet again as they become young adults. You're at the first of many steps she will take. The thing is we Moms have to rejoice in these steps not mourn our 'loss'. We all want our children to grow and be strong independant people. It's hard letting them grow and go, but that is the job of parents when you really think about it. Each step is full of tons of fear and many we are just not ready for even though our kids are. And it's okay to be sad, and even cry a bit... just don't cry in front of her! I'm going through some of this myself as I realize that my oldest daughter will be graduating high school next year and leaving home. Every moment I can steal alone with her just talking, sneaking out to taco bell late at night...hanging out together is so precious! I wish I could turn back time and have her little all over again sometimes...and then others I realize what a wonderful, bright, beautiful talented young woman she is becomming and wouldn't change or re-do an instant of the last 17 years. Best wishes.



answers from Erie on

At age 50, I broke my ankle skiing, and had to have a pin and screws put into the lower part of my fibula, then live in a cast, with my leg elevated for 5-6 weeks. I was an active person, even worked at the ski slope, and suddenly I was alone all day, had to learn to use crutches, and do "nothing".

My first morning "on the couch", my 11 yr old brought me her kuala bear she'd gotten 2 months earlier for her birthday. He sat on the top of the couch to keep my company. I thanked her profusely, but rolled my eyes in my mind, thinking, "I don't need a stuffed animal to hug." I thought it was horribly sweet and horrible cute, however, and I enjoyed the fact that she'd brought him to me for the day. He sat there on the couch where I perched for my entire convalescent time. I don't remember how long it took before depression set in. I was SO frustrated because we had a young puppy who realized I couldn't catch him when he misbehaved, I couldn't go outside and enjoy winter, my ankle hurt, I don't watch TV, I was just STUCK there all alone. I finally grabbed the kuala bear and hugged it when I needed to cry, and you know what ? IT felt SO good to have a hug -- and I was so glad no one was around to notice that I was getting comfort from a stuffed animal !

4 years later, while looking for "stuff" for Halloween costumes at a good-will store, we noticed some brand new stuffed animals there, selling for 3.00. I ended up falling in love with a buying a yellow lab puppy. My husband thought I was nuts. My kids think I'm awesome cuz I have a great huggy toy.

But sometimes it's just nice to have a hug.

When my kids got weaned, I actually enjoyed the freedom, so I didn't experience much depression. I think I was too busy to think about it, and if I felt snubbed, I also had stuff to do so I didn't dwell on it. But it is kind of a bummer. That's a closeness you guys have shared that no one else could do. It was YOURS (plural), and now it isn't there. So you've lost something very special. And then that gets compounded because she doesn't just want to stop nursing, she wants to be out and about -- out of your arms and about more. This is, unfortunately and excitingly, the pattern for her life. She'll grow and explore her new found abilities and independence, then she'll hang close to mom some, then she'll explore more . . and so it goes, and then they graduate and move on . . . (scary tho't at this age)

It is normal to feel sad that a time period is passing - esp when you weren't as ready as she to have it go. So my advice? Grab one of her stuffed animals and have a good hug ! Then as Spring brings warmer weather, get outside with your child and explore with her. See the old things through her eyes, which make them exciting. If you live near a zoo, get a family membership, so you can go all summer for free (after the initial fee), and see the animals, and enjoy her sense of wonder. When we lived in a neighborhood, I used to take my girls for walks, and we'd take the same route every day -- so we would watch for what house had what flowers, and each day we'd notice something new. It was fun for them, and for me, too.

Because your baby is growing, and is more mobile, there are things YOU can do, too, that you couldn't do before. Try to experience those, and do some new things together that will build your relationship in different ways. In the end, those new things will bring you great joy which will help you overcome the weaning blues -- but for now -- hug a stuffed animal. It sounds STUPID, but it really does help !


And congratulations, Mom. You're child is independent, because she can be. Because you have given her the security and love that allows her to grow and move on. That's a gift, and while it's not always fun to watch her move on, it is a badge of honor you wear. Be proud of yourself.



answers from Allentown on

Hey, B.!
First of all, I think it's totally normal & appropriate for you to go through a mourning phase. Any mom who loves to nurse her child and feel the closeness and bonding that goes along with it probably would.

I do just want to let you know, in case you didn't already, that it's very normal for some kids to lose interest in it some where around 1 year old but then come back to it. Around a year, they're hitting a lot of developmental & especially physical milestones and sometimes feel like they can't take the time to nurse. They'd rather go explore & try out their new skills.

You can try to nurse her in a dark, quiet room a couple of times a day--especially when she's drowsy. There's nothing wrong with reminding her that it's available if she'd like it & to encourage her every now & then. You can also pump some if you'd like to keep your supply up for a bit longer.

Most kids won't self-wean until after 18 mos of age, but that's not always the case. It depends on the kid.

Either way, try to be thankful for the 14 mos that you had together in your nursing relationship. That's like a year longer than most moms make it today! It's something to be very proud of & something that has given you and your daughter countless health bennefits from.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Yep, I went through a full blown depression after I weaned my son (he was 2). What I know now and wish I had known then, is that the hormonal changes that happen when a lactating body goes back to"normal"...actually MOST women, I heard, get some moodiness...ranging from blues to full blown clinical depression.

I am not sure that I had the same thing when I weaned my dd in January (about the same age as your little one) but I also concieved this one the day I weaned her...I swear, I'm not going to be able to have a cocktail until 2011! lol) I have had some blues, but that could also be pregnancy related.

If this lasts for more than two weeks and affects your social, familial, or work function you will need to make an appointment with someone. Depression is no joke and one can't "snap out of it" as some claim. Maybe call your local LLLeague and speak with somone about this...they are a wonderful source of support, and have really gone through the entire gamut of b-fing experiences.

I hope you feel better ((hug)).
p.s tell your hubby you need extra snuggles.



answers from Philadelphia on


I also felt down after my kids weaned. You gave your daughter a wonderful gift by breastfeeding, and how lucky that she weaned herself. So much better on her terms than on yours. I weaned my daughter at 16 months, as I had an emergency (I would do it differently if I had to do it all over again.), and my son weaned on his own 3 weeks before his 2nd birthday, when I was planning to wean him. I was down both times, but I had no guilt feelings the 2nd time, when it was on my child's terms, not mine! I don't know what your plans are re whether or not to have more kids, but what got me through with my sadness after my oldest weaned was that I knew I wanted another child and that I had another nursing relationship to look forward to.

It is so wonderful when our kids move on at a developmentally appropriate rate, even if it is sad for us. I hated when my daughter started kindergarten; she had been in preschool, but kindergarten felt different to me. (She is now 13...a lot of new challenges all the time!)

Try to find some new things to do with your daughter that might take your mind off what you're missing!

Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

When our bodies are finished with breastfeeding levels of oxytocin drop so it is normal to feel a bit sad and depressed and even to have restless sleep for a while. And it is sad to let go of that lovely cuddly baby time and get used to having an independent toddler in the house. Be gentle with yourself, you're doing just fine.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi B.,

I nursed both my kids until 15 months. It can be common to feel depressed. Your hormones change a lot during pregnancy, after birth, and while you are breast feeding. Your body is now changing again because it is not being used in the same way and your hormones are changing again. It is also not uncommon to start spotting on and off during this time.
One one hand, I felt happy for them because it is a great start on being independent, but I was sad for me because a part of me did not want them to grow up! I like feeling needed by my babies! So, it could be a mixture of both. She doesn't realize that she is "pushing" you away, she is just excited for her new found independance. Find things that she likes to do and that she could do on your lap (sneak in the snuggle time). Read books, watch a short movie together, play with a toy that she will sit still for. It is hard but she will probably come back to you when the novelty of this new phase wears off. Good luck!


answers from Williamsport on

Totally normal!!! And your daughter probably isn't pulling away as much as you think, and if so, it's temporary like every little phase. Good job nursing for so long, and she is poster perfect at weaning.

For your own depression, this is hormonal. You either have a mild case that will pass soon, or a mild case that will last a long time, or a severe case that will pass soon, or a severe case that will last a long time. Continue to be aware of it! After a couple of weeks, if you are still extremely sad, talk to your doctor and get references for help. Any "reasons" for depression right now (your daughter pulling away) aren't really the reasons. I had a severe case after my first, and got extremely upset over real "things"-like crazy dark depression, but it wasn't really the "things" I realized afterwords. Luckily it went away after a few weeks and I woke up like my old self all of a sudden one day. But everyone is different-take care of yourself and reach out!

Meanwhile, you don't need to nurse your daughter to hug and snuggle her! If she's being stand-offish about long snuggles, just attack her with quick cuddles and kisses. Let her be, she still needs you. Round up all the joy you can and shower her with it. Make fun activities to do together and tell her you love her all the time! Do positive mantras for yourself about how happy and blessed you both are. This will help you feel better. Sometimes acting happy leads to the real thing. Take Care!

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