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Planning to Stop Breastfeeding? These Tips Will Make It Easier

Planning to Stop Breastfeeding? These Tips Will Make It Easier

Breastfeeding is a personal choice. Therefore, if you’ve been considering that it’s time to stop breastfeeding, then here are some important questions, tips, and suggestions that can help you.

When should you stop breastfeeding?

Experts recommend that infants be breastfed for at least six months. There are plenty of reasons for this.

  • It establishes a bond between the mother and child
  • Breast milk contains the essential nutrients a baby needs in his or her growing stages

Ideally, you should stop breastfeeding by the age of one. This is the time a child’s nutrition demands increase and intensify, and breast milk may not be enough to fulfill these anymore. However, this decision is completely dependent on how comfortable the baby and the mother are.

After the age of one, babies use breast milk for comfort as they are used to their mothers, and to support their immune system.

Sometimes, mothers also experience pain, itchiness, tightness, and sagging breasts due to breast engorgement, mastitis, thrush, or blocked milk ducts. This is a primary reason why many opt to stop breastfeeding.

Therefore, it is a decision that the mother and her partner need to take, keeping in mind the baby’s well-being.

Possible reasons to stop breastfeeding

Less milk supply

For your breasts to make more milk, you need to breastfeed more. This can be difficult, especially if the baby isn’t able to latch well to the breast. Because of this, your milk supply suffers.

Baby’s nutrition demands change

As babies start growing older, their nutritional needs evolve. A growth spurt is the main reason for this. This also means that the baby starts becoming unsatisfied with breast milk and consumes less.

Baby loses interest in breast milk

If you introduce formula milk while breastfeeding, chances are the baby will eventually start losing interest in your milk. Formula milk satiates an infant’s stomach for a longer period of time.

Health issues

This can be either the mother’s or the baby’s. Sometimes the mother has other health problems that do not allow her to actively breastfeed her child.

Getting back to original routine

Most mothers get back to work after 9-12 months and need to shift their babies to formula milk along with solids.

Stress

It is possible for the mother-baby connection to be weak if breastfeeding hasn’t been established as a routine. This can eventually result in less milk supply and the baby being more dependent on formula milk.

Ways to stop breastfeeding – slowly and suddenly

Slowly

  1. Reduce feeding sessions, one at a time. The first step towards eliminating breastfeeding is setting up a plan to do it. While it may feel like you can stop breastfeeding in a matter of three to four days, it will take time before your baby becomes completely used to solids and formula milk.
    You can begin with weaning during the baby’s least favorite meal time. This can be afternoon, early morning, or late night feeds. Gradually shift the baby to solids or formula milk during this time. Or feed the baby solids a little before feed time so that he or she is too full to ask for breast milk.
  2. Wean at night. Once the baby turns six months to one year old, their night feedings lessen. This is the best time to wean.
  3. Replace with bottle feeding. The more the baby starts getting used to bottle feeding, the better it will be. This will also enable the baby to become used to not having his or her mother around during meal time.
  4. Introduce solids. After four to six months, it is fine to start giving the baby solids. Though not much in quantity, this will still satisfy the baby.
  5. Pacifier. All babies resist weaning period, and this can mean loud cries and slow sobs. Once the baby initiates a cry to call you for breastfeeding, give them a pacifier. This should be followed by formula milk or pureed food.

Suddenly/ immediately

Disclaimer: Weaning immediately is not the best option and should be considered thoroughly. This has repercussions for both the mother and the child.

If you wish to stop breastfeeding right away, it may result in breast engorgement or blocked milk ducts. Because of this, you might feel tightness and pain in your nipples or experience dry or sore nipples. You can take pain relievers to ease the breast aches. Other than this, you can also opt for using ice packs around your breasts. This will help eliminate swelling caused due to overload of milk supply. Please remember to use a cloth as direct contact with ice can damage nerves.

Another step to include can be to express a little milk to ease off the pressure from your breasts. Do not completely drain the milk as that will only signal your body to make more milk.

One major drawback of sudden weaning can be the baby becomes irritable and uncontrollable. This is because babies are used to comfort while breastfeeding time, and this abrupt halt might cause them to throw tantrums.

What will happen after you stop breastfeeding?

Hormonal imbalance

Prolactin and oxytocin are two hormones which are produced during breastfeeding. These are also responsible for the increased milk supply. Once you stop breastfeeding, these hormones start declining as well. This hormonal imbalance may lead to erratic mood swings, symptoms of depression, and gloomy temper.

Periods resume

If your periods didn’t resume after your baby was born, post-weaning period, your periods will make a comeback as well.

Tender breasts

After continuous feeding for six months to one year, your breasts may feel more sensitive than usual. This can be due to the milk deposits in your breasts. It can also be a result of breast engorgement. Therefore, phase out breastfeeding in a gradual manner.

Weight gain

Breastfeeding is ideally the best way to lose all that baby weight. But, when you’re nursing, you’re also consuming food for the tiny human you’re feeding. Once you stop breastfeeding, this additional calorie intake can backfire and make you gain weight.

What to do if your baby still asks for milk?

  • Figure out what foods attract your baby. Try opting for these when the baby is extremely agitated and asking for breast milk.
  • Making a schedule of how to include solids and formula milk will also allow the baby to get used to other foods over breast milk.
  • Give your baby different formula milk and solid food options. This will also interest the baby to attempt new meals.

Before you get on the weaning off wagon, consult your doctor whether it is the correct time to do so.

Key Takeaway

Mothers may decide to stop breastfeeding due to health issues, having less milk supply, going back to their routines before pregnancy, and recognizing their child’s changing nutritional needs. It is recommended to stop breastfeeding gradually. It also helps to introduce formula milk and solid foods to your baby. Mothers may experience hormonal imbalance and tender breasts after stopping breastfeeding.

Learn more about Breastfeeding here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Nine tips for weaning an infant onto solids/https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318513/

Accessed on August 4, 2020

How to Stop Breastfeeding (and Keep Baby Happy)/https://www.thebump.com/a/how-to-stop-breastfeeding/

Accessed on August 4, 2020

When and How to Stop Breastfeeding a Baby/https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/when-and-how-to-stop-breastfeeding-a-baby/

Accessed on August 4, 2020

When Breastfeeding Ends Suddenly
https://www.laleche.org.uk/breastfeeding-ends-suddenly/

Accessed on June 22, 2021

Weaning: stopping breastfeeding
https://raisingchildren.net.au/babies/breastfeeding-bottle-feeding-solids/weaning/weaning

Accessed on June 22, 2021

Weaning: How To
https://www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/weaning-how-to/

Accessed on June 22, 2021

 

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jun 22
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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