Slowly weaning: How to stop breastfeeding
It’s important to remember that breastfeeding is a highly personal decision. It’s widely accepted that breast milk is the best milk for your baby. Friends and family are often more than happy to share, and sometimes preach, their opinion on breastfeeding. Some mothers find breastfeeding difficult, whether it is due to schedule, insufficient milk production or latching issues. The most important thing you can do as a mother is to try your best – only you can decide when it is time to stop breastfeeding. Whether you breastfed for a week or two years doesn’t matter, so long as you did what you feel is best for your family.
The best approach to stopping breastfeeding is to take a gradual approach. If you try to stop breastfeeding suddenly it will result in breast engorgement, which is uncomfortable and could potentially cause unnecessary stress for your baby. Generally, your breasts will continue to produce milk so long as they sense there is the demand for milk. It is good to reduce your feedings one at a time – this is a wonderful method because you can set the pace to be as slow or as fast as you want. You are the best judge of your baby’s needs, so follow them appropriately. It is a good idea to supplement with formula, if necessary, to ensure that your baby is consuming enough while you decrease the breast milk supply. It’s a good idea if you get your baby used to taking milk from the bottle as early as possible, even if it’s just one feeding a week. You can use expressed breast milk in this feeding, and it is a good excuse for someone else to take over and give you a break. The earlier you introduce bottle-feeding, the less stress it will be when you come to weaning your child.
When possible sudden weaning should be avoided as it does put unnecessary stress on your baby. Breastfeeding is not only an act of providing nutrition to your baby, it is a way in which for you to bond. If you suddenly remove breastfeeding it can cause stress on your baby, who is unable to understand the various, and often complicated, reasons for seizing breastfeeding. As such, where possible, you should take a more gradual approach to weaning as suggested above. However, sometimes it is crucial for a mother to stop breastfeeding relatively suddenly; for example she may be experiencing severe discomfort while breastfeeding, or milk production might be so low there seems to be little point. Whatever the reason, don’t feel bad about it. Weaning is a natural process, and as long as you are taking your family’s best interests into consideration, and your baby should adjust fine enough. Ensure that you make an effort to have lots of additional close time, so that your baby feels enough security and affection.
If you want your milk supply to decrease as fast as possible, it is important that you extract additional milk to prevent discomfort. While many people suggest that you continue express milk, this might not be the best solution for you. If you are going to express to relieve tension, try to express only a small amount of milk; much less than a feeding. It is best to extract the smallest amount possible in order to reduce the tension, anymore and you may be encouraging milk production. Taking a hot shower is a wonderful idea for relieving breast discomfort as it causes some of the excess milk to leak out. Using a cold compress, or cold cabbage leaves, stuffed inside your bra is a wonderful way to help alleviate some of the discomfort experienced. Remember to be realistic about how long weaning will take. It is not an overnight process and there is absolutely no rush.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at our weaning page which is filled with helpful information.