Take Baby Steps When it comes to Weaning

I still remember the last time my youngest son nursed; it was a late afternoon feeding, just as I returned from work. He was holding his stuffed cow (ironic, right?) and stroking my hair. I had known for a while that our time with breastfeeding was coming to an end, but part of me wanted to hold on for a bit longer. But that night, before bed, when I asked him if he wanted milk, he giggled and jumped into his bed and said those words I had been expecting: “No mook, mama.”  Honestly, my heart broke a little, and it reminded me of this poem.   

When a mother begins the breastfeeding journey, she will research every position, breastpump, and breastfeeding friendly establishment. Weaning is usually the last thing on her mind, but the time will inevitably come.

Many mothers do not realize the physical and emotional effects that come with weaning. Engorgement, risk of clogged ducts, hormonal fluctuations, and emotional changes are all normal, but there are ways to ease into this transition.

Wean gradually

There is no rush or specific time frame to adhere to. I typically suggest dropping one feeding a week until your baby is completely weaned. This method is a gentler process for both mother and child, reducing the risks of both physical and emotional problems.

Acknowledge your emotions.

Many mothers experience sadness or loss when initiating the weaning process, so know this is normal! Even though this is the end of a specific period of your child’s life, there are new milestones and discoveries to look forward to.

Talk with someone if you feel emotional stress or sadness

You may not know it, but your body is going through hormonal changes (specifically a reduction of prolactin and oxytocin). Gradual weaning can help prevent sudden dramatic fluctuations.

Find other methods of bonding.

Cuddles and kisses increase oxytocin levels, which cause feelings of calm and happiness. Plan fun activities, take walks, spend time together to transition from this stage to the next. Even though the nursing relationship is ending, your bond will last forever.

I always tell mothers that weaning is a decision between mother and child. When the time comes, remember to appreciate the wonderful journey you have been on and look forward what lies ahead.

Updated December 19, 2017


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