Breastfeeding is a special bond between you and your baby. But as your baby grows, there comes a time when weaning becomes inevitable.
Experts advise breastfeeding infants exclusively for the first six months, introducing solids along with breastfeeds for the next six months and solids with occasional breastfeeds till a child’s second birthday.
But not all mums feed their babies into the second year. Some stop feeding earlier naturally while others wish to wean due to medical or personal reasons. There are mums who feed their kids well into their toddler years as well! It’s up to you, your baby and her/his doctor to decide the right time to stop breastfeeding. Here’s how you go about planning your baby’s weaning process.
Natural weaning process:
This process is age dependant and gradual. When starting solids, you could start introducing one semi-solid meal at a time (and the rest breastfeeds) for a few days or weeks. This signals your body to discontinue breast milk production at that particular time. Soon, your body will have reduced milk production. As your baby grows, you could introduce a new semi-solid meal at a time and reduce the number of feeds. Over a period of few months, you can switch over to an all-solid meal diet and stop breastfeeding completely.
Forced stopping of breastfeeding
There might be several reasons for a mother to stop breastfeeding suddenly. The mom might have an illness. Or she might be rejoining work after maternity or the baby might be suckling just for comfort. When nursing is stopped suddenly, the breast might become heavily engorged, uncomfortable and painful. Sometimes, even lumps are formed. If you decide to stop breastfeeding abruptly,
- For the first few days, use a breast pump to express the breast milk.
- Slowly reduce the duration of expressing to mimic the gradual reduction of milk.
- After you finish expressing, place an ice pack on the breast to reduce swelling.
- Consume food rich in vitamin B6 such as fish, beef, turkey, nuts, seeds, eggs and beans. You can also discuss taking a B6 supplement with your doctor.
- Discuss the possibility of taking some hormonal medications with your doctor to hasten the process.
You’re lucky if your baby naturally eases into the weaning process; however, some babies tend to demand breastmilk for comfort, making the weaning process difficult. At such times, distracting the child, allowing another caregiver to handle the child or explaining calmly might help. For more tips on weaning, reach out to experienced mums on BabyChakra!
Be very sure that you are ready to stop breastfeeding as it can be a challenge to relactate if you change your mind. Don’t forget to take your doctor’s advice before you stop breastfeeding. Have a smooth weaning journey!