Breastfeeding: Weaning

Thank you to Melissa who allowed me to share some of her fantastic breastfeeding articles with my readers, since this is the last day of my breastfeeding series I felt it would be best to discuss the topic of weaning. All information below was taken from Melissa’s About.com Page. Most of this article is derived from Melissa’s page, with some ad lib from myself.

Weaning can be a challenging time, not only for baby but for Mom as well. There is no real age or correct time to wean your baby off the breast, it’s all a matter of what your comfort level is and if baby is ready.

Misconceptions about when to wean:

Mothers are often told to wean their babies when it is, in fact, not necessary. Society, friends and family may be pressuring you to wean. Here are some reasons most will tell you to wean when it’s not necessary:

  • The mother feels overwhelmed by her obligations to the baby.
  • The baby is teething.
  • The mother has mastitis–Weaning could make this worse.
  • The mother is going back to work.
  • The mother is ill, needs a particular medication or will have surgery. In most cases breastfeeding can continue.
  • The baby is ill or will have surgery. The mothers milk will help the baby to bounce back sooner.
  • Pregnancy.

Mothers and baby should only wean when they are both ready. The only two people who can make the heart felt decision to wean is YOU and YOUR BABY, friends, family, the father and any other person in your life is NOT the one to decide when you should wean. Weaning can happen at 3 months, 12 months or even 3 years – it’s completely up to YOU and BABY.

How do I wean? “The ideal way to wean is gradually. Dropping feedings, by skipping the entire feeding, one-at-a-time is best, giving each dropped feed 3 to 4 days to settle in (being very conservative, a mother could wait an entire week). Gradual weaning will allow for the mother’s milk supply to decrease slowly and she should not be uncomfortable or have severe engorgement. Obviously during this time, as breastfeedings are eliminated, the baby will need supplementation. If the baby is younger than 9 months old, he will most probably take bottles. If he is older, 9 months to 1 year of age, he may be able to take a cup. With planned weaning, many women choose to stockpile their breast milk in the freezer well-ahead of time to make the transition easier for the baby.” – Direct quote from Breastfeeding – Weaning From Breastfeeding.

Make weaning comfortable:

Mom should hand express some milk, use ice packs and watch salt intake to allow for weaning to be a bit more comfortable. Your breasts will be trying to get used to the fact that they are no longer producing milk for a baby to feed, so it will take time before your breasts stop producing altogether.

There used to be a drug called, Parlodel, given to weaning mothers to help dry up their milk. This drug is no longer given to weaning Mothers because in 1994 the FDA reported serious adverse reactions to the drug.

If you are ready to read more about weaning or any breastfeeding topic please visit Melissa’s website, she has a world of information right at your fingertips.

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