Once you are a mother, something shifts inside you, making you a whole different person. The hidden mom instinct comes to the fore with a vengeance. Now it is all about nurturing and protecting your little one. Your needs become secondary. And, one of the most important parts of nurturing is breastfeeding your baby. But as time goes by, you as a mother need to take a step back and think about yourself too.
Breastfeeding is amazing but if you think it is time to stop, maybe you should stop! If you are in the process of weaning your baby from breast milk or contemplating it, you need support and information. And that’s what we have here for you!
[ Read: Advantages Of Breastfeeding ]
What Is The Best Time To Stop Breastfeeding?
There are many reasons why and when you may decide to stop breastfeeding. The reason is uniquely yours. You don’t need to explain your choice to anyone. But if you want to know the perfect time to stop breastfeeding you need to listen to the experts.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding your baby for the first six months of her life is the best gift you can give her. After six months, breastfeeding should go in tandem with solid food till your baby is one-year-old.
But that does not mean that a baby’s first birthday is the cutoff limit for breastfeeding. You can breastfeed for as long as you and your baby are comfortable. And if you want to wean your little one before she is a year old, there is no harm in that either.
[ Read: Common Breastfeeding Problems ]
Reasons To Stop Breastfeeding:
The easiest way to stop breast feeding your baby is to wait till she is ready. But that is not always a possibility. Sometimes, you need to stop breastfeeding before your baby is ready.
There are numerous reasons for weaning early. Some of them are:
1. Going Back To Work:
Many women need to go back to work after their baby is born. You may go back a few weeks after birth or a year later, but leaving your baby and going to work can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, many women are compelled to stop breastfeeding once they go back to work.
2. Difficulty With Pumping:
Yes, one can go back to work and still pump to provide their baby with breast milk. But that is easier said than done. Pumping is a tough job. So, a lot of women stop breastfeeding because pumping just doesn’t work for them.
[ Read: Plugged Ducts While Breastfeeding ]
Some women are so stressed about breastfeeding and all that it entails that a beautiful act of feeding a baby becomes a chore. That is why some women decide to stop breastfeeding to save their sanity.
Many a time, a mother has to stop breastfeeding because she is pregnant again!
[ Read: Pregnancy While Breastfeeding ]
5. Medical Reasons:
Unfortunate as it may be, some women have health issues that need medical intervention. Sometimes, these interventions may be the reasons for early weaning.
6. Personal Freedom:
A woman is more than just a mother. But when you are breastfeeding, you have to give up many things you may otherwise enjoy, like smoking and drinking. So, some women stop breastfeeding because they want their freedom back.
How To Stop Breastfeeding?
So, now you know when and why women stop breastfeeding. The next question is how!
If you need to stop breastfeeding, for whatever reason, we have the solution for you.
Here are some easy ways on how to stop nursing, safely.
1. Stop Breastfeeding Quickly:
If you need to go cold turkey with breastfeeding and stop quickly, you can follow the following tips:
- Do not stimulate milk production. Express a little amount of milk, just the amount you need to stop pain and breast engorgement.
- Do not pump. The best way to express milk without encouraging further milk production is through hand expression.
- Use cold compresses to reduce blood supply to the breasts and ease discomfort.
- Avoid warm compresses as they can stimulate milk production.
- You can use green cabbage leaves to reduce your milk supply. All you need to do is layer your bra with some cold cabbage leaves. But do remember to change them once they become warm or every 2 hours.
- Weaning can get painful, so arm yourself with some painkillers.
- Buy a good, firm, supportive bra to give your breasts some relief.
- Remember, binding your breasts tightly will NOT reduce milk production but will only cause more pain.
- While feeding your baby formula (or cows milk, if she is over a year old) try holding her in a position that keeps her away from your breast.
- Do continue to make feeding times special – make eye contact with your baby, sing a song, or just talk to her.
- Do not cut down on your fluid intake. Reducing the amount of water you drink will not impact or reduce your milk supply but can cause dehydration.
- Avoid salt or cut down on it to reduce your milk production. It is the the best way to stop breastfeeding.
- Breast engorgement is a big problem when you try to stop breastfeeding quickly. You can take 200 mg of vitamin B6 to get some relief from this painful condition.
- Another best way to stop nursing is sage tea. Sage tea is the source of natural estrogen, which can decrease your milk supply. Just take a teaspoon of rubbed sage and mix it with one cup of hot water. Steep the connotation for about 15 minutes. Now add some milk or honey to mask its bitter taste. Gulp down a cup of this amazing drink every six hours to dry up your milk.
- Another best way to stop breastfeeding quickly is alcohol tincture. Drink about 3-4 ml of it every six hours and let it do its magic.
- If you are not already on the pill, now will be a great time to start! Ask your doctor if it is okay for you to start taking the combined contraceptive pill, containing estrogen.
- You can also try Pseudoephedrine, a decongestant medicine found in Sudafed, which can help decrease milk supply. But make sure to talk to your doctor before you use this medicine to stop breastfeeding.
2. Stop Breastfeeding Gradually:
If you are looking to stop breastfeeding but are not in a tearing hurry, you can follow the following tips to stop breastfeeding:
- If you are looking to stop breastfeeding before your baby is a year old, get a formula that works for her. Try a little amount of it to see how she tolerates it.
- Start by combining breast milk and formula to allow your baby’s digestive system to get used to the change.
- When you start the weaning process, allow your baby to drink breast milk before you offer her a small portion of solid food (or formula)
- Once your baby is ready for the next stage, switch things around. Now offer formula or solid food before you offer breast milk.
- Once your little one’s dependency on breast milk is gone, offer her water is a sippy cup instead of breast milk.
- If you are a pumping mom, reduce the frequency of your pumping session. Gradually, stop pumping altogether in a months time.
[ Read: How To Relieve Engorged Breasts ]
Weaning – Some Important Points To Remember:
Here are some more important points to keep in mind when you decide to stop breastfeeding:
1. Do Not Refuse A Feed:
When you are weaning, it may be tempting to refuse to breastfeed when your baby demands it. But do not fall into this trap! Remember, babies and toddlers love to do what you DON’T want them to do! So all your refusal will do is make your baby more adamant. If your baby wants to nurse, go ahead and breastfeed her. But do keep trying to distract her with games, foods, and a lot of pampering.
2. Ensure Proper Nutrition:
One major worry with early weaning is nutrition. With breast milk, you can rest assured that your baby is getting all the nutrients she needs. But when you stop breastfeeding, you have to work doubly hard to ensure that your little one is eating healthy. If your baby is not yet one and you are planning to wean her off breast milk, give her some iron fortified formula. Do not give your child cow’s milk before her first birthday.
[ Read: Supplementing Breastfeeding With Formula ]
3. Bottle Or Cup:
When you start weaning your baby, you will have to substitute breast milk with formula or cow’s milk. Now, whether you start with a bottle or go directly to a cup is your choice. If your baby is already used to a bottle, the choice will be easy. But remember that sooner or later you will have to transition to a cup, so why not now? If your baby is ready for the cup, go for it.
Patience is the key when it comes to weaning. Even if you are looking to stop breastfeeding quickly, it may take a few days for it to work. But do not rush the process. It will only make things worse and end up upsetting you and your little one. If your baby is refusing to stop breastfeeding you can:
- Try to comfort her in different ways so that she learns to trust other things apart from breastfeeding. For many babies, breastfeeding is more about comfort and less about hunger. So, try a soothing lullaby, a nice book, or a soft toy to comfort her.
- If you are weaning your toddler, you can postpone her feeds to allow her to get used to the process. You can also try and reason with her.
5. Be Ready:
Before you stop breastfeeding, be ready with all the supplies you’ll need, including formula, bottles, cleaning supplies, etc.
6. Talk To The Doctor:
Talk tour baby’s doctor before you stop breastfeeding. Though weaning is a personal choice, it is wise to consult an expert to make sure your baby does not suffer.
[ Read: Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding ]
7. Avoid Friction:
The last thing you need when you are trying to quit breastfeeding is an oversupply of breast milk! So, try and avoid any movement and friction against the nipples to prevent stimulation, milk letdown, and milk production.
8. Quit Co-sleeping:
Where your baby sleeps is again a personal choice. While some mothers prefer their babies in a separate cot or room, some moms prefer co-sleeping. If your baby shares the family bed, now will the perfect time to transition her to her room. If you find the thought cruel, move your baby to a cot in the same room.
9. Take Time Off Work:
If you are planning to stop breastfeeding quickly, take a few days off from work. You are not superman! Weaning can cause severe engorgement, leaving your breasts hard as rocks and painful. You’ll need to rest while you go through this difficult period.
10. Watch Your Emotional Health:
When you stop breastfeeding, hormones in your body go through an upheaval, leaving you emotionally battered. So, do take care of your emotional health.
11. Take Help:
Ask for your partner’s help with the weaning process. If you have a toddler that you are trying to wean, consider leaving her with your husband during breastfeeding schedules. Not only will this help distract her and make the transition easier, but will also help father and child bond better. You can also try asking your partner (or other caregivers) to start feeding the baby or toddler so that she does not associate food with just you.
[ Read: Best Time To Wean a Baby ]
12. Be Ready For Tantrums:
Your baby won’t be a happy camper during the whole weaning process. Be ready for it.
13. Stick To Old Routines:
Babies thrive on routine. You are already taking away a major part of her routine. So do try to stick to the other routines to ensure your baby is happy (as happy as she can be in this situation, that is!).
14. Sleep When You Can:
Sleep can be a major victim when you stop breastfeeding. It is natural for your baby to be restless during the night (and day) when she is going in the middle of a big change in her life like weaning.
15. Acne May Make A Comeback:
Thanks to all the hormonal change in the body, many women experience acne outbreaks when they stop breastfeeding.
Things To Consider Before You Stop Breastfeeding:
Now you know how to stop breastfeeding. But wait! Before you start the weaning process, do consider the following points to understand better if now is the right time.
If you or your partner has some allergies, the chances are high that your baby too may develop it. It is a fact that breastfeeding reduces the chances of developing eczema, cow’s milk allergy, and wheezing. So, do consider allergies before you start the weaning process.
2. Health Issues:
If you child is going through a bad patch, health wise, it may be a good idea to delay the weaning process. Even if she is just teething, you should reconsider your decision and wait till your baby is feeling better.
[ Read: When To Start Bottle Feeding ]
Babies and toddlers don’t handle change well. So, if your family is going through some major changes, postpone weaning.
Breastfeeding is a beautiful and emotional experience for most women. And when it is time to quit, you can feel low and nostalgic.
Another emotion that may engulf you is guilt! ‘Did I stop too early?’ ‘Will this harm my baby?’ ‘Am I a bad mother?’ ‘Will I lose my special bond with my baby?’ questions like these may keep you awake at night.
But the answer to all the questions above is a big fat NO! As a mother, you have the prerogative to get your body back. It is for to decide when the time is right to stop breastfeeding. Remember, it is your body, you choice!
The bond you share with your baby will only grow from now on. It will move to a new level. In fact, breastfeeding is not the only way to bond! Ask all those formula feeding moms out there!
Yes, it is easiest to wait till your baby is ready before you start to wean. But no that is not the only way forward. You matter too!
Do not feel guilty. Your baby will not love you any less because you decided to stop breastfeeding. In fact, in a matter of few years, the whole breastfeeding experience will just be a faint memory. And you’ll find yourself asking ‘why was I so worried’?
So, when did you stop breastfeeding? How was your experience? Share with us.
- Is It Safe To Take Apple Cider Vinegar While Breastfeeding?
- Is It Safe To Consume Prednisone While Breastfeeding?
- Is Tums Safe While Breastfeeding?
- Is Fexofenadine (Allegra) Safe While Breastfeeding?
Latest posts by Chhandita Chakravarty (see all)
- Teaching About Body Parts To Kids - March 31, 2016
- Child Passenger Safety – Rules And Tips - February 29, 2016
- How Milk Thistle Can Help You During Breastfeeding - February 29, 2016