Read these 7 Weaning Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Breastfeeding tips and hundreds of other topics.
Although not the most highly recommended method of weaning, many mothers still choose to wean 'cold turkey' or all at once. This can be caused by a sickness that the mother is concerned about or if the mother is tired of getting bitten by a toothy toddler. Going 'cold turkey' can be difficult for both mother and child. The child will naturally cry and reach for the mother to nurse. Do not refuse to cuddle or comfort your child, but do refuse them the breast if you are sure you are weaning. Do not confuse the child by inconsistency if you are planning on quitting in one fair shot. You can offer a bottle if you wish, but be prepared for a good cry from both your child and possibly yourself. You should also be prepared for engorgement. If you quit all at once you will likely get engorged. Your breasts will swell painfully and you will be tempted to express the milk. Expressing the milk will only make you produce more. The process of drying up your milk will take a week or two of discomfort. Using warm compresses could make your breasts leak, so try cold instead. Be ready to grin and bear it. Also be ready for your shirts to fit very tightly until you have dried up. The pain should be from the swelling, possibly with itching, but you should not have shooting pains or a fever. If you get a fever, extreme headaches or shooting pain, contact your doctor to make sure you have not developed mastitis.
Babies have their own ways of communicating. When your little nurser grabs the banana from your hand and begins to slurp on it, it might be time for their first bit of solid food. This should never be before six months of age. If concerned about nutritional gaps that solid food will leave, start with rice cereal. The dry form will allow you to add breastmilk to it, making it more nutritional for baby.
No matter if you choose to go 'cold turkey' or wean gradually, your breasts are likely to become slightly to very engorged for up to two weeks. During this time, your regular bras, even nursing bras may be stretched or not be supportive enough. Thus, for weaning, an athletic bra may be perfect to give you the support you need during this uncomfortable time. Unsupported breasts will cause you more pain. Just make sure you use nursing pads with the athletic bra as you are also likely to leak.
Some recommend you gradually wean a child, cutting one nursing session down per week, few couple of days. This way tends to be less traumatic for both mother and child and leads to a slow acceptance of the new stage of mother/child relationship. The child will still be likely to cry when they want to nurse, as nursing is also a comforting tool, yet the weaning mother must stick to her goal of cutting down the feeding. The child should be offered something in place of the breast such as a bottle (which can be breastmilk if you see fit if you wish to keep your supply to donate) or another drink. The child is used to having nourishment at this time. What you want to cut is the nursing, not the nourishment. Over a month or two you will have eventually weaned your child. The child will rarely ever initiate this process, so be sure you are ready to begin the weaning process as inconsistency will not help either party.
Weaning is a very personal decision and one that should not be made lightly. Breast feeding is really important. It is where children receive most of their nurturing. When considering whether it is time to wean, you need to think about what you will do to replace nursing in your child's life. Has your child lost the urge to suck? It is widely accepted that it important for this urge to be fulfilled. You need to consider how you feel and how your baby feels about nursing.
One way to slowly wean your baby is to begin switching to bottles. Pump whenever you can if you choose to wean slowly. The mission here is to wean the child from the breast, but you can still choose to give them breast milk. This might be your choice, for example, if you are getting bitten a lot, but don't really want to take away the breast milk. When the baby is hungry, have the bottle ready. When you go to put the baby to the breast, sneak in the bottle instead. The baby might reject it a few times, but when he or she is hungry enough, she will take it. Be consistent with this until the child is used to the bottle and reaches for the breast less and less.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|