What is weaning from breastfeeding?
Weaning, or stopping breastfeeding, consists of gradually or not replacing breastfeeding with another food.
Weaning is when you switch from breast to bottle, and diversification is when you switch to a more diversified diet by introducing fruits, vegetables and proteins for example.
When should the baby stop sucking?
Weaning can be natural, i.e. coming from the baby himself, or planned, i.e. wanted by the mother.
If weaning comes from the baby, he may stiffen and throw his head back, or turn his head when approached by the breast. Nevertheless, this attitude can be temporary, it is called "a feeding strike", or permanent.
Already around 6 months, a food diversification takes place gradually for the baby who discovers other foods than milk. This corresponds to a gradual weaning that generally lasts until 2 or 4 years.
Nevertheless, the mother may want to stop breastfeeding.
Judgment about 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, this is your choice. Feel free to breastfeed or stop breastfeeding whenever you want.
How do I stop breastfeeding?
Whatever the reasons for stopping, it is best to wean gently. 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 desires. To begin with, you can replace one feeding a day with a bottle of your own milk to start with, or with infant milk. Ideally, we advise you to eliminate the feeds where your lactation is the least important. And then gradually eliminate more and more feedings afterwards.
What are the advantages of a long weaning for the mother?
Gradual weaning has the advantage of avoiding engorgement, blocked ducts or mastitis for mothers. For children, it will be better lived because the detachment will be done gently and will avoid disturbing the digestion of your child, as well as his immune system. In addition, gradually stopping breastfeeding is often easier emotionally for both mother and child.
In addition, it should be noted that the less frequent the feedings, the less milk production is stimulated. This also applies to breast pumping, which should be avoided because it also stimulates lactation. It all depends on why you want to stop breastfeeding. If you just don't have time to breastfeed during the day, but you want to continue to breastfeed your child with breast milk, you can pump and store it. If you really want to stop breastfeeding with breast milk, it is best not to use a breast pump. Also, if your breasts are swollen and sore, you can empty them in the shower by squeezing them to avoid engorgement.
Finally, it is not recommended to give cow's milk to your baby, nor vegetable milk which is not adapted to his needs and which could cause deficiencies. For these, prefer infant milk specially designed for the needs of the baby. The quantities should of course be adapted according to the age of your child.
What are the alternatives to complete weaning?
Several weaning options are possible. You may want to stop breastfeeding completely. On the other hand, you may not want to stop breastfeeding and therefore express your milk if necessary. Please note that breastfeeding during the return to work is a right that is written in the labor code which indicates that "during one year from the day of birth, the employee breastfeeding her child has one hour per day for this purpose during working hours". In addition, some daycare centers accept breast milk bottles, so find out if this is what you want to do. But you may also want to do mixed breastfeeding. This consists of 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 will be, the easier it will be for both baby and mother. So, if your child is reluctant to take a bottle, don't force him and try again later. During this period, you can reduce the duration of feedings.
To make weaning easier, you can also start by giving bottles of breast milk so that your child gets used to the bottle, then switch to infant milk. Your child may not like the new-tasting milk. But don't give up, your baby and his intestines will eventually get used to the change. If you want to try several infant formulas, contact a pediatrician.
In addition, mom can move away from the baby and into another room at first while her partner feeds. This will help the baby avoid the smell of the mother's breast. You can also change the context by changing the location when you give the bottle.
Then, when weaning, reassure your baby and be attentive while you give him the bottle, but also afterwards. You can also position your baby in the same position as during breastfeeding at first.
Finally, it is advisable to start weaning in a period that is not disturbing for the child. That is to say, no entry into daycare or kindergarten, a trip, a move or any other event that could disturb him.
What precautions should be taken when stopping breastfeeding?
When you stop breastfeeding, you may still produce milk. This means that you may experience a surge of milk production simply because your baby is crying from hunger. This will return to normal quickly but as a precaution you can wear our nursing bra.
Finally, if you are not entirely sure you want to stop breastfeeding, don't worry! It is often possible to restart lactation even after weaning.