What is weaning from breastfeeding?
Weaning, or stopping breastfeeding, consists in gradually or not replacing breastfeeding with other food.
Weaning means switching from breast to bottle, and dietary diversification means switching to a more diversified diet, introducing fruits, vegetables and proteins, for example.
When should the baby stop suckling?
Weaning can be natural, i.e. from the baby itself, or planned, i.e. desired by the mother.
When weaning from the breast, the baby may, for example, stiffen and throw his head back, or turn his head when approached . However, this attitude may be temporary - a "feeding strike" - or permanent.
As early as 6 months, babies gradually begin to diversify into foods other than milk. This corresponds to a gradual weaning that generally lasts until the baby is 2 or 4 years old.
Nevertheless, stopping breastfeeding can be a choice for the mother.
The judgment surrounding breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding is a personal choice. Whether you breastfeed for the first few days postpartum, for the first 18 months of your child's life, or not at all, the choice is yours. Feel free to breastfeed or stop breastfeeding whenever you want.
How do I stop breastfeeding?
Whatever the reasons for stopping, it's best to opt for a gentle weaning. We therefore advise you to stop breastfeeding gradually, over several weeks, at your own pace and that of your baby. However, this can be shorter or longer, depending on your needs and wishes. To start with, you can replace one feed a day with a bottle of your own milk, or with infant milk. Ideally, we advise you to eliminate the feeds where your lactation is at its weakest. Then gradually eliminate more and more feeds.
What are the advantages of long weaning for mom?
Gradual weaning has the advantage of avoiding engorgement, blocked ducts or mastitis for mothers. For children, weaning is easier because the detachment is done gently and avoids disturbing your child's digestion and immune system. What's more, phasing out breastfeeding is often emotionally easier for both mother and child.
It's also worth noting that the fewer the feeds, the less milk production is stimulated. This also applies to breast pumps, which should be avoided as they also stimulate lactation. It all depends on why you want to stop breastfeeding. If you simply don't have the time to breastfeed during the day, but want to continue breastfeeding your child with breast milk, you can pump and store it. If you really want to stop breastfeeding with breast milk, it's best not to use a breast pump. What's more, if your breasts are swollen and painful, you can empty them under the shower by squeezing them to avoid engorgement.
Finally, we advise against giving your baby cow's milk, as well as vegetable milk, which is not adapted to his needs and could lead to deficiencies. Instead, use infant milk specially designed to meet your baby's needs. Quantities should of course be adapted to your child's age l.
What are the alternatives to complete weaning?
Several weaning options are available. You may want to stop breastfeeding altogether. On the other hand, you may not wish to stop breast-feeding, and may therefore express your milk if necessary. Note that breast-feeding when you return to work is a right enshrined in the French Labor Code, which states that "for one year from the day of birth, an employee breast-feeding her child is entitled to one hour a day during working hours for this purpose". What's more, some day-care centers accept bottles of breast milk, so find out more if that's what you'd like to set up. But you may also want to mix breastfeeding. This involves giving bottles of infant milk, while continuing some breastfeeding, usually in the morning and/or evening.
How can I make it easier to stop breastfeeding?
Once again, the more positive the weaning, the easier it will be for both mother and baby. So, if your child is reluctant to bottle-feed, don't force him or her, and try again later. During this period, you can reduce the length of feedings.
To make weaning easier, you can also start by giving bottles of breast milk so that your schild gets used to the bottle, then switch to infant milk. Your child may not like this new-tasting milk. But don't give up - your baby and his intestines will eventually s'get used to the change. If you want to try out different infant formulas, contact a paediatrician.
What's more, mom can s'move away from the baby and into another room at first, while her partner feeds. This will prevent the baby from smelling lhis mother's breast. You can also change the context by changing the place where you give the baby his bottle.
Then, when weaning, reassure your baby and be attentive both while you're feeding him and afterwards. You can also position him in the same position as when you were breast-feeding him in the first instance.
Finally, it's best to start weaning at a time that won't disturb lyour child. In other words, no nursery school or kindergarten start date, no travel, no move or any other event that might upset the child.
What precautions should I take if I stop breastfeeding?
When you stop breastfeeding, you may still be producing milk. You may experience a milk surge simply because your baby is crying from hunger. This will soon return to normal, but as a precaution you can wear our nursing bra.
Finally, if you're not entirely sure you want to stop lbreastfeeding, don't worry! It's often possible to restart lactation even after weaning.