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Sunday 30 April 2017

When and How to Stop Breastfeeding #weaning

Me and Brianna, © 2017
I originally wrote this article a couple months back, however, when my blog was hacked it was one of the posts that got deleted. So I've decided to re-write the article, since I'm currently battling weaning Brianna.

What does it mean to you when someone says that they've weaned a child? Your baby is considered weaned when she stops nursing, and gets all its nutrients from other sources other than the breast. Even if babies are weaned from the bottle, the term normally refers to when the baby stops breastfeeding.

I've been trying to wean my daughter now for quite some time, and have debated if I should continue for a bit longer. It doesn't necessarily mean the end of the intimate bond that we currently have, it just means that it's time to nurture in different ways.

If you've nursed your little one for comfort, you'll have to find other ways to make her feel better. You could try playing or singing a song together, or maybe read a book. If your child throws a tantrum, try to stay calm and be firm. If you need to, ask your partner to take over and help assist.

When should you start weaning?

You're the best judge of that question, when it comes time to wean. You don't have to necessarily set a deadline until you and your child is ready. The American and Canadian Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers nurse for at least one year. They encourage women to breastfeed longer, if both you and your baby want to. Regardless of what family and friends say, there's no right or wrong way to wean. You should choose a time that feels right to you, or let your child wean naturally.

Weaning is easiest when your child starts to lose interest in nursing, which could happen anytime after she starts eating solids. Some babies are more interested in solid food than breast milk by their one year birthday, once they've tried a variety of foods and can drink from a cup.

A toddler may naturally wean themselves once they grow more active and aren't inclined to sit still long enough to breastfeed. If you're child is more fussy and impatient while nursing, she may be giving you signs that she's ready.

You may decide to try and wean your little one because you're heading back to work. Or maybe it just feels like the right time. If you're ready, but your child isn't showing signs that she wants to stop nursing. you can try and wean her off gradually. When it's your idea, it can take a lot of time and patience... it also depends on your child's age and how she adjusts to change.

Try to avoid the 'cold turkey' method to weaning. You wouldn't want to go away for a weekend, as a means of trying to wean your baby. It's not a good way to end the breastfeeding relationship, as it could traumatize your baby. It could also cause plugged ducts or a breast infection, when you stop suddenly.

So you may ask yourself, how do you wean?

You will want to start off slowly, and expect your baby to get frustrated at times in the beginning. Ease the transition by using these methods...

Shorten the nursing time. Start of by limiting the length of time your child is on the breast. If she normally nurses for ten minutes, try limiting it to just five.

Depending on the age, you may follow nursing with a snack, such as half a banana, applesauce, or a cup of milk.

Bedtime feedings may be trickier and harder to shorten, which is usually the last thing to conquer. (I'm at this stage).

Skip a feeding. Try and see what happens when you skip nursing, and offer the bottle or a cup of milk instead. Cutting back the feedings one at a time over a few weeks, gives your child time to adjust. Your milk supply will also slowly diminish, without leaving your breasts engorged or cause mastitis.

Postpone and distract. Try postponing the feedings if you're only nursing a few times a day. This works well if you have a child that's a bit older, in which you can reason with. If she asks to nurse, try to reassure her and then somehow distract with a different activity. If she wants to nurse in the early evening, explain that she has to wait until bedtime.

How do I know that my child is getting enough nutrients?

Even exclusively breastfed babies require extra nutrients that breast milk can't provide... like vitamin D. If you wean your baby before her first birthday, she will need to to drink breast milk or milk that is fortified with iron. Once your child is considered a toddler, you're able to give her a bigger variety of foods, to cover all the nutrients needed to grow.

What to do if weaning is a struggle.

If you've tried pretty much everything, maybe the time isn't right to wean your child.
If you've recently gone back to work, your child might still be trying to adjust to the new routine.
If you're baby is sick, she'd probably want to nurse more often. Breastfeeding a sick child helps comfort them, but it also helps to make sure they get the required nutrients needed to fight off the illness.
Maybe your household is going through a major life change. Some events like a move or divorce can also make weaning more difficult. Going through a new development stage can even make it hard to wean.

Try again next month... eventually it'll happen!

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