Weaning is a big taboo. After all you have gone through to make breastfeeding works, why on Earth you wanna talk about weaning?!
I remember when I was ready to wean my first child, I couldn’t find any information on HOW to do it. Among lactation professionals, weaning is not a very popular subject either. But the truth is that weaning is also part of the breastfeeding journey. You won’t expect to walk your child through the isle with your breast under his arm! Weaning is also a very personal process. For this reason, I can’t make a general statement on HOW to do it, because it really depends on you and your baby. What I’ll give you is a few tips and questions to keep in your mind when you feel is the time…
1. Ask yourself WHY I want to wean? This is a personal decision, and only you and your baby can decide when to do it, when both of you feel ready.
2. If mommy takes the lead, then do it slowly. Forget about grossy stuff to put on your breasts. Your baby has been relying on your breast for nutrition, comfort, soothing, and wellness. You’ll take away a big part of his world; so you don’t want to do it at once. Trust me, you don’t. Not to mention that you might be at risk of engorgement and get plugged ducts if you do it right away. Of course, every case is different, and sometimes you don’t have a choice.
3. Start with the least “relevant” feedings. For example, your baby will probably miss more the bed time feeding, so don’t start with that one… Give him some time to adjust before you go ahead with another feeding.
4. If your baby is less than one year, you should substitute those feedings with formula or storage breast milk. If he’s more than a year, the milk intake is considerably less, so continue offering regular food with all the necessary nutrients.
5. Because breastfeeding not only means nutrition for your child, you’ll probably need to find other ways to soothe your baby that involve physical contact (such as hugs, kisses, cradle him and rock him).
6. Weaning is a feeling of loss. It makes us inevitably sad. Give yourself permission to mourn it. Talk about it. Look behind, and think, on what amazing things you have done for your child.
Finally, as you can see, those are general tips, and by no means substitute the advice of a lactation professional or a healthcare provider that is meant for your case in particular. If you have questions or doubts on how is the right way for you and your baby, ask for help!