Breastfeeding is such a lovely experience that the mother and her child get to share. Honestly, there's nothing else quite like it. But at some point, this daily routine will come to an end, as it should. Whether that is because the mother is just unable to breastfeed anymore, or because the child doesn't want to drink her milk anymore - it's okay. Moms should enjoy the memories of breastfeeding moments that they have, and with that, they should let a new chapter in their child's life begin.
However, having that said, quitting breastfeeding definitely isn't all that easy, and it surely isn't something that should be done in a day or two. There are plenty of things moms need to know and prepare themselves (and their child) for. Knowing that it can be an emotional and physical roller coaster for a bit is important, but that doesn't mean a mom should be afraid of it. Everyone deals with it in a slightly different way, but in the end, every mom and her child manage to get through it together.
Here are 20 steps that every mom should take into account when she decides she wants to stop breastfeeding.
20 Know When To Stop
When it comes to breastfeeding, don't take anything you read out there too seriously! If you're not comfortable with breastfeeding to begin with, know that you absolutely don't have to do it - many moms don't and there are plenty of other formula food options for newborns out there. And if you want to breastfeed until you start running out of milk or your kid doesn't crave it any more than you do you! Make sure you know when you want to stop, do some research and at the end of the day don't let anyone (except your doctor) influence your decision.
19 Know What Appropriate Food To Give The Child
Alright so if you decided to stop breastfeeding definitely consult your babies doctor about food if they are still under a year old. If the baby is still very young, you might have to stick to formula for a few months. If the baby is around 4-6 months it is recommended to start giving them some solid food, and if the baby is over a year you can definitely stick to only solids. However, every kid is different and consulting your doctor about what food to feed it as well as whether any supplements like Vitamin D are needed is always a good idea.
18 Reduce Breastfeeding Sessions Slowly
A general tip that everyone will give when it comes to quitting breastfeeding is to, if possible, not do it abruptly. Take it slow and reduce the breastfeeding sessions one at a time. Perhaps even start with just reducing the breastfeeding time, and then slowly start kicking one session out. This way not only does your body adapt more easily to not breastfeeding anymore, but it also makes an easier transition for your child.
If you were to completely quit tomorrow your body would go through quite a bit of pain, and chances are your child wouldn't take it too well either.
17 Make Sure To Still Hold And Comfort The Child Frequently
A thing that all moms need to realize is that breastfeeding is and always will be about so much more than just the process of feeding your baby milk. It's about closeness, about the mother-child connection, and about precious time spent together. And well, if you've decided to quit breastfeeding and you go through with it, make sure to keep the cuddles and closeness. This means regularly holding your child and working on maintaining that unique connection you have. Just because you don't breastfeed them anymore doesn't by any means mean you can't spend an hour holding them close to you.
16 Watch The Child's Needs
Okay, as we've already mentioned, nobody can force you to breastfeed or quit it if you don't want to, but the one thing you should definitely take into consideration is your child. If they want to still take your milk, make sure you take breastfeeding away from them very slowly and -if they are old enough - talk to them and explain why. If your child wants to quit on their own, please do not push them to have your milk any longer. Chances are if that's what they feel like, they are definitely at a right age to stop.
15 Change Your Routine And Distract The Child
Kids are used to routines from a very early age on, and once you change that routine it can make them very uncomfortable. This is exactly why they might give you a hard time when you decide to stop breastfeeding them which is why besides taking it slowly you should also come up with a distraction plan. This means you substitute a breastfeeding session with something else. And that is up to you, it can be as simple as a solid food feeding session or a playtime session with specific toys.
Every kid is different, some might take it well and others might need more time to adapt.
14 Seek Guidance If You Think Your Child Is Malnourished
Sometimes moms tend to worry about how their child's health is going to be affected by not breastfeeding them anymore. Generally, the child should be totally fine, if they are provided with a good and healthy substitute food, but if you do see any signs that are of concern to you, don't overthink it and just go ahead and consult your baby's doctor, so that they can tell you whether what you're experiencing is normal or not. But do remember that, just like you, your child is also going through a change which may affect them in physical way as well.
13 Make Sure To Have A Replacement
Okay, this one is fairly obvious, but you will need a replacement. And most of the time it will have to be in a baby bottle so that your child still has that comfort of sucking on a nip while transitioning. Depending on your child's age, this would either be formula, or some other type of drink. If the baby is still young and it needs to be formula, please make sure you get a good kind, don't spare money on your child's nutrition. And if the kid is older, regular milk, tea or any beverage they like will work well.
12 Be Determined
So you might be super lucky and your kid might take it very easy when you decide to stop breastfeeding. If so, good for you, but if not try not to stress too much - just stay determined. You might experience a lot of ups and downs, not only in your child's behavior, but you might end up missing breastfeeding as well. When that happens remember why you decided to quit and that might help. Quitting breastfeeding might be super hard on both, you and your child, so be prepared and figure out how to handle it.
11 Change The Bedtime Routine
Breastfeeding was most likely an important part of the child's everyday bedtime routine, and now that that is gone you definitely need to do something else. So either go for a little pre-bed cuddling session, read them a book they like or play some relaxing music. Whatever it is you decide to do, definitely still make sure that you end up spending a bit of time together before bed. Trust us before you know it they will be a grumpy teen who gets annoyed every time you open the door to their room.
So enjoy this closeness while you can.
10 The Process Of Stopping Takes Everyone Different Amounts Of Time
This is another thing that is super important and should be kept in mind. Do not give yourself (or your child) any strict time limits. Don't expect it to take a few days or think it will take a few months. Have no time-related expectations and just go with what feels right in every moment. Putting yourself under time pressure is never good, and honestly, with this you shouldn't have to. Just go into it knowing that every mom and child duo is unique and every single one takes a different amount of time to adjust to this transition.
9 The Pill Can Help Reduce Milk
One thing moms often struggle with after quitting breastfeeding is that they still have a lot of milk. One thing that is known to help with that is going (back) on birth control.
Now obviously this is a decision you should make taking into account your needs (and potential previous experiences with the pill), as well as what you and your partner have planned in terms of getting pregnant in the near future.
Of course, this should also be a talk that you have with your doctor, just to make sure that this is the right choice for you.
8 It's Okay To Sometimes Take A Pain Reliever
Let us not deceive you, quitting breastfeeding will probably be physically painful for you, as your chest will hurt and be quite hard from the milk your body is still producing. If that pain gets to a stage where you just can't handle it, taking a pain reliever is totally fine. Obviously, as with taking pain relievers for any other kinds of pain, you must make sure to not go crazy with them.
Stick to the instructions and make sure you only take them when you actually need some relief, becoming dependant on them is definitely not something you want.
7 Pump Milk If You're In Pain
As mentioned, your body will most likely still produce milk for a while after you stop breastfeeding, so feel free to use a pump to get some of it out - otherwise, your chest will feel hard and you are going to have pain. The best part of all of this is that whatever you end up pumping out you can donate to a human milk bank near you.
A milk bank uses that milk for premature or malnourished babies and by donating you help others babies by providing them with a healthy meal - something you'd otherwise throw away.
6 Pads Can Soak Up Milk And Cold Compress Can Relieve Pain
There are two things you might want to consider getting and using on your chest during this transition time to make things as comfortable as possible for you. The first is a chest pad, which you can either buy or make yourself which will absorb any leaked milk. The other is a cold compress that you can put in your bra and so relieve some of the pain you're feeling. Both of these products should be staples that you use pretty much every day if you are experiencing milk leakage and chest pain while trying to quit breastfeeding your child.
5 Avoid Too Much Pumping And Nip Stimulation
As we mentioned, pumping the milk when your chest is hard and hurts should relieve some of the pain. But having that said, you should try to do that as little as possible, because the more you pump and stimulate your nips, the more you signal the body that it still needs to produce milk. That's obviously what you're trying to stop, so keep the pumping to a minimum and only really do it when you absolutely need to. Always first go for other pain relief methods such as massaging your chest or using a cold compress on it.
4 Massage The Chest
A chest massage should definitely be a part of everyone's routine every now and then, just for sake of knowing exactly how your body feels and noticing any unusual lumps in time to react. But when you're trying to quit breastfeeding, you should absolutely massage your chest as much as you can. One of the main reasons massaging is so important is because it can actually help reduce the risk of any plugged ducts, which is definitely not something you want. Besides this, massaging your chest can help relieve some of the pain and it, in general, tends to feel good.
3 Be Prepared To See Body Changes
One thing you should be aware of is that once you quit breastfeeding it will most likely affect your body in some way. Now everyone is different and you will probably notice physical changes, especially when it comes to your chest. But other than that, a big affect breastfeeding can have is on your period. A lot of women don't have regular periods while breastfeeding, but once they stop it definitely comes back. Don't be surprised if your period now looks and feels different than it did before. Your body went through a lot of changes and it is of no surprise things are a bot different now.
2 As Well As It Affecting Your Mood
Besides affecting your body, quitting breastfeeding can also affect your mood, and for plenty of reasons. First of all, this was a special time shared by you and your baby, and now that is over, so it's completely normal for you to feel sad or upset. Eventually, you'll come to terms with it. Another thing is that your period will most likely change or come back, and that also means your hormones might be all over the place for bit, until the body readjusts. Make sure you're mentally prepared for this and try to not take things too seriously. You will be fine.
1 Don't Force Anything
We already mentioned it a few times but please, please, please do not force anything. Don't force yourself to quit, don't force your child to keep going, don't do anything that doesn't feel right for you. Rather than forcing yourself seek out help and guidance, from people you trust and know have had some experience with what you're going through, or from your doctor who can always give you the best insight into what is good for you and your child's health. Forcing things is never a good idea, so if you're trying to quit breastfeeding but it just isn't working, stop trying, give it a few more months and then try it again.