This is a question that has seriously been on my mind for the past 4 months. With breastfeeding, there are always so many questions! And when one finally seems to be answered, another one pops up… That is how it’s been for me since my baby was born, 14 months ago.
As much as I found it challenging (to say the least) to breastfeed my baby pain-free during his first 6 months, I am now struggling with weaning him off. Although the Word Health Organization is advising to nurse for as long as 2 years (omg…), to my own appreciation, 6 months was already a hurray-for-us milestone, 12 months was beyond expectations, and now, I think it is time to close the breastfeeding chapter of my first-time-mom book. But how?
EACH SITUATION IS UNIQUE
First, I would like to say…
The connection each of us, mama, creates with our baby is unique, sacred, and our motherly nurturing power goes beyond breastfeeding. Whether we were able to breastfeed or not and no matter if it was for a week or a year, it is a decision that belongs to us and our baby only. It can be influenced or empowered but never dictated.
For me, it felt right to power through breastfeeding all this time! and it feels right, at the moment, to consider weaning my baby off. Exposing my experience here is to share tips I am finding useful and that other moms could use too, regardless on the age of your baby.
WEANING 101: 8 PROFESSIONAL TIPS
It doesn’t happen overnight, so the get-started advice I got from my Bangkok number 1 lactation specialist, Dr Isabel Bano (more details below), was to get mentally prepared. Here are precious professional advice Isabel has gathered for us:
#1 Reduce slowly the milk supply
That will prevent complications such as mastitis. To keep in mind, milk production is different whether your baby is feeding once or twice or day or s/he is still exclusively breastfed so we need to adapt accordingly. Pumping, and/or spacing the feeds up gradually and reduce the duration of each feed can be useful.
#2 Take your time
Again, weaning doesn’t happen overnight, so it is important – once you have made your enlighten decision that stopping is what you want to do – not to feel pressured with time. Take your time. And also, breastfeed your baby when s/he asks, and don’t offer when s/he doesn’t.
#3 Replace the comfort factor
Find other ways to help your child settle down. As we know, nursing goes beyond feeding, so being aware of the comfort factor and work on that will be useful.
#4 Change daily routines
Especially for the situations in which your child usually asks for comfort feeds. For example, if you usually sit on the couch after dinner to feed before sleep to calm your baby down, find something new s/he could equally enjoy. (Personally, I carry him around the house singing softly, that announces bed time is near, which also help with the sleeping challenges we have!).
#5 Ask for help from other family members
Night feeds or comfort feeds could be the more challenging ones. Your baby needs to learn how to sleep through other methods. Consider to move your baby to another room if not done yet (allowing other family members to help by taking over sleep-time routines).
Nursing sessions can be anticipated so you can offer substitutions (water or bottle of milk) and distractions.
#7 Shorten and postpone
Minimize the duration of the feed, and slowly push back the next one by not saying “no” but “later”.
#8 You will need…
LOVE, PATIENCE & PERSEVERANCE!
About Isabel Bano
Doctor in Nursing, Midwife and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant)
Passionate and enthusiastic health professional with more than 15 years of international expertise in programs targeting mothers health and newborn care, Isabel has an extensive experience in hospitals and clinical settings in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, UK and Singapore.
As a mom herself, she had the amazing opportunity to breastfeed her three children. They are the reason why she has always been motivated to help expectant and new parents in the wonderful, but not always easy, world of motherhood.
Read more about Isabel on The Best Beginning website.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT, EMOTIONALLY?
There were days in the earlier months when I couldn’t wait for my last day of breastfeeding to come! and now I feel a bit scared and sad at the thought of it.
Yes, I feel it is time for my little boy to discover other ways to connect with mama at so many other levels beyond nursing. I also feel it is time for me to see my body as my own again and accept that after it was no longer the home where my baby lived, it won’t be my one and only tool to comfort him anymore. And that is scary. Change is scary sometimes and so is parenting because every milestone brings so much joy but so many doubts too.
So I am up to following Isabel’s advice and take my time. Take my time to feel we are both ready, and create new “comfort bubbles” in which my boy and I will share precious moments, where he will be reminded that I am here for him, to comfort him when he needs me, in whichever way possible.
There are so many ways to respond to our baby’s needs, but I am convinced the best way is the way of our motherly instincts.
So if you feel it is the right time to stop breastfeeding, then you can make it possible and the best experience possible with the #8 tip above 🙂