Why stop breastfeeding (Weaning) may be accompanied with pain & depression
As you don’t have enough knowledge about the weaning process.
Natural breastfeeding stopping should not be accompanied with pain or depression.
What should I do to properly stop breastfeeding with minimal complications
- Consider the time of weaning which is the primary factor.
- It shouldn’t be before one year of baby’s age.
To wean definition
It is the teaching of breastfed baby to change the habit to feed otherwise than from the breast.
Thus, it is the end of feeding on your breast to start a new way of feeding by gradual replacement.
Your baby has rights. One of his rights is to be breastfed baby. And for what time, see what experts say:
- Continue breastfeeding up to 2 years of child’s age.
- Maintain breastfeeding up to minimum one year of baby’s age
- Exclusive breastfeeding: giving no other food or drink – no water, formula, juice, solid foods – except breast milk for your breastfed baby during the first six months of baby’s age.
So, before stopping breastfeeding, give your baby the chance of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding + minimum other six months of breast milk when solid food is introduced.
Understanding the natural -mutual- weaning process
The typical process is gradual & slow happening as follow:
1- Decreased amount of breast milk naturally
It happened when solid food is introduced at the 6th month of your baby’s age.
Food is considered a replacement for breast milk for your baby. So, his need to extract milk from your breast is diminished. Thus your supply of milk also decreased.
2- Your Lactation hormones dropped down
Prolactin & oxytocin hormones are the lactation hormones.
When breastfeeding ends, a drop in your blood levels of these 2 hormones. That is combined with change in your mood (postpartum depression)
And this is why breastfeeding moms have least opportunities of postpartum depression (due to elevated Prolactin levels.)
Why did Pain or Depression happen?
- Due to Sudden weaning ” Cold Turkey ” which accompanied with :
- Sudden drop in Lactation Hormones leading to mood changes & depression – frustration
- Blocked duct of breast milk & breast engorgement. Where breast milk accumulated without extraction.
- The advanced stage of blocked duct is developing a Mastitis or breast abscess(infection.)
- Cold Turkey weaning should be limited to rare cases when immediate breastfeeding stopping is needed (Example: Infantile Galactosemia.) In that case, follow this tips:
- Extract milk: to remove pain and distension.
- Apply cold compresses (gel pads) to your breasts. By doing that, you decrease the blood supply needed to stimulate milk production.
- Avoid warm compresses, hot bath, and clothes friction.
- You may need to use analgesics (paracetamol or ibuprofen.)
- Don’t apply much extraction (pump or hand) to avoid stimulation of milk production.
- Avoid binding your breasts tightly would worsen the case. It may result in more pain
- Limiting your fluid intake wouldn’t help. This will not reduce the milk supply.
- Generally, salt intake may lead to increase swelling & inflammation.
How to stop breastfeeding? The weaning techniques
Put in your mind these two objectives:
- Change the setting of your body.
- Teach your breastfed baby new habits of feeding.
Keep calm, stay away from nervousness zone. It simple, natural process
1-The gradual weaning (The drop way)
It is best way to reset your body level of hormones. It would minimize weaning complications like engorged breasts and mastitis.
- HOW TO: Start to drop 1 breastfeeding session every 5-7 days.
After, you can think about losing another one.
Take into your consideration that:
- Babies respond differently, so it’s a matter of going by sense.
- For the baby under 12 months, drop the feed which your child is least interested in first. Keep the nap time & the first at morning ones the last to be cut as these are the most preferable to your infant.
- Be patient. As much milk, you produce, as long as it takes to dry up your breasts. It may take more than one month to accomplish that task.
2- Replace the dropped feeding
You (by weaning your baby ) break a survival habit of 1 year or more. Be smart and introduce the suitable replacement for the dropped session.
If your baby is between 6-8 months, give him a plenty of other drinks ( you may use baby formula in bottle or cup.)
If your baby is younger than 1 year, use cow’s milk or snacks of his favorite food.
Increase the gaps between the times you feed your baby.
Don’t offer or Don’t Refuse
Wait to be asked from your little baby. It is another approach is to adopt. Within reason, you comply, but actually, you don’t sit or lie down as you might once have done, and offer.
Use cold pads
Between feeds, if the breasts are feeling a bit full and sore. That would decrease the breast blood supply, which inhibits more swelling or inflammation.
Reduce express time
In the case of breast pumping, gradually reduce the expressing sessions. You may also reduce the power of suction if you are using an electrical breast pump.
Use baby pacifier
To satisfy your baby’s sucking need. Don’t dip the pacifier in sugar or honey before baby use.
One breast only
To be introduced at each feed
Change the routine
Modify the position or the place. Go outside or modify the timing. All that factors may contribute to making your baby less interested in breastfeeding session.
Keep the physical closeness
Remember Your breast is not only for feeding. It is the source of comfort & calmness for your breastfed baby. Cuddling and playing plus skin to skin contact with your baby may be a suitable replacement.
Apply breast massage
Breast massage is a simple and affordable way to relief distension & to stimulate the blood circulation which contains natural anti-inflammatory.
The coming points are not reasons (but common) for stopping breastfeeding
1-Lack of knowledge.
Improving the information support can help to prepare mothers for the extended breastfeeding journey.
2- Back to work, study. Besides the lack of maternity leave.
In 2009, the US women (20-44 years ):
- 1-50 % of all mothers: with children younger than 12 months were employed.
- 2/3 of those employed moms worked full-time (35 or more hours per week.)
Employed women have been less likely to initiate breastfeeding. Or they tend to breastfeed for a shorter length of time.
3-Sore Nipple or engorged breasts or breast infection
4-Combining breast milk and formula
Especially, before the first six months of age. That could diminish your baby’s need to the breast, where he gets his feeding needs from an easier way (the baby bottle.)
Note Your breasts are bigger, thicker, and heavier to your baby than any baby bottle.
5-Adding solid food
It is an add not a replacement for breastmilk.
Cow’s milk is downright hazardous for your baby under 1 year.
It is hard to be digested at this period. It may cause him anemia due to intestinal blood loss.
Many babies get their first teeth between 6 and 9 months of age. That does not mean that you have to wean.
6-Not enough Milk (quantity) or quality issues
“My breast milk is thin and watery” or “is not rich enough”. Some of what nursing mom would say about their breast milk. Mature human milk is naturally bluish and looks thin when compared to other milk types. Watch for your baby’s feeding cues and be sure to feed your baby as soon as he asks to be fed.
7-Community pressure ( Embarrassment )
Perhaps from your family, friends or neighbors. This is when you need the moral support of other mothers.
Many people see breastfeeding as an alternative rather the routine way to feed infants.
9- Sick baby or sick mother
Only, in very rare cases, sickness is a real cause of weaning. But in 90% of cases, you can continue to breastfeed. Listen only to your physician, pediatrician or Lactation consultant.