We all begin our breastfeeding journey striving to learn and establish a milk supply and routine to provide for our newborns. This can come with a lot of challenges and also rewards but is an emotional rollercoaster to most. Some mothers set a plan of when they will stop breastfeeding and their last session will happen to better prepare themselves for this moment. While others do not get the opportunity to be prepared because the baby has other plans in mind. Either way, the last time we get the opportunity to breastfeed our babies can be a deeply emotional experience. At Feed Well want to help guide you through this process and help you better understand what to expect. You are not alone if the thought of weaning your baby makes you feel sad, weepy, nostalgic, or upset. Even if you are the one initiating the process. I personally can say I struggled emotionally knowing it was my last time ever to breastfeed my only child. My first goal was to get to 6 months, then I would reevaluate if it was working for the both of us. Before I knew it we were at a year and going strong. I admit I had numerous challenges but I always told myself this feeling of accomplishment was worth it. He was 18 months old and I knew he was ready even though I may not have been.
Deciding when the right time to wean can be difficult for some and also depend on your baby's developmental readiness. Weaning can happen at any time during breastfeeding. The duration of the weaning process varies from child to child. Some will wean quickly while others will take
months to completely wean. But the decision ultimately must be yours and on your terms, no judgment for others or opinions.
Gentle weaning tips or suggestions:
- Weaning should be done gradually to prevent clogged ducts or mastitis and prevent extreme hormonal shifts. Examples of this could be Eliminating a feed/pump every few days (3-6 days for reference), lessening the time or amount of feedings/ pumps every few days or dropping the least favorite or desired feed/pump (typically the morning or night time sessions will be the last to go.)
- Don’t offer but Don’t refuse: Just as it sounds you do not offer the breast when dropping a session but you do not refuse if the baby indicates a strong need for it.
- Distraction or change your daily routine: distraction is key when trying to cut out feeds. If the baby is over 6 months and started solids, you can offer snacks in place of a feed. Offering water, toys, extra play times, these are all based on their age but you want to change their thoughts from breastfeeding. Avoid sitting in your breastfeeding location or chair, change the bedtime routine, enlist the help from your partner or another adult to offer meals.
- Covering your breasts, some mothers state that covering their breasts and not letting the baby or child see them, helped them be able to cut a feed during the day by not offering a constant reminder of the breasts. However, you still want to provide tons of comfort and snuggle times through this process. Babies and children need comfort and a sense of security in ways aside from eating. You can still choose to baby wear and offer extra cuddle times keeping them close.
- Be flexible, I always remind parents that things can come up, for instance teething, illness, or an extremely fussy day. Yes, these can delay the weaning process but you can add the feeding session back in for a couple days and eliminate it at a later time.
- Only pump for relief, You may start to feel engorgement again in the first few days after you begin eliminating a nursing/pumping session, we recommend you only pump for relief or you may choose to hand express.
- Introducing a bottle or cup, this will be dependent on your individual circumstances and the age of your baby or child. A baby tends to drink larger amounts from a bottle so they may need less feeding sessions throughout the day. If your child is older, you may need to try several different styles of cups before finding one they prefer.
- There are a few homeopathic options to decrease your milk supply. For example; peppermint tea, mints, or other products containing peppermint oil. Sage tea or sage added to cooking/ meals. Jasmine flower poultice applied to your breasts, or cabbage leaves. We do recommend you talk with your primary health care provider before trying anything homeopathic.
Please remember that the weaning process can be different for everyone. Your emotional state is always important. We want you to feel supported through this journey, please schedule a visit with us and we can discuss this process with you.