The time has come to wean off breastfeeding. Your pace of life no longer allows you to breastfeed, maybe you (or your baby) do not want it anymore. Our advice to approach this delicate step gently.
Like more than half of the mothers in US, you chose to breastfeed your child. He has thus benefited from the irreplaceable nutritional and immunological qualities of your milk, beneficial even for a short period of time.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends, for the health of toddlers, exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
To nurse baby is to ask many questions
The weeks have passed and today, whether for reasons of resumption of professional activity, weariness or under the pressure of your entourage, you have decided to interrupt this tender fight.
Serene or a little hesitant, you ask yourself a few questions. Why do you feel a pinch in your heart? Can your baby be disturbed? How to make this step happen at best?
Above all, keep in mind that there is no recipe, weaning is a personal matter where the pace, the desire and the evolution of each one must be respected.
A Privileged Relationship
At the beginning of his life, the newborn bathed in the illusion that nothing will ever separate him from his mother. When she is breastfeeding, he relentlessly takes possession of his body, day and night, during the first weeks. All his needs are satisfied.
It is during this period – when his mother feeds him in the breast (but also with the bottle) – that he draws all his love from her (through milk, through his eyes, his words, thanks to the contact of his body and its caresses) and interiorizes it. It is said that the baby “drinks his mother”.
A Structural Lack
The toddler will then rely on what he has lived, on his inner feelings to know who he is and plans to go serenely outward and others. These exchanges will allow him to build his psychic life.
Over the days despite “this milky cord”, the baby is increasingly confronted with the daily reality. His mother can not always, and indefinitely, meet his imperious needs! Little by little, he will integrate his absences and frustration. Of course, weaning is a lack, but like any lack, it is structuring.
Weaning Baby: an Intense Experience
A New Separation
For your part, breastfeeding prolongs the feeling of intense fullness felt during pregnancy when you were one with your baby. Feeding one’s child requires availability and a great capacity for listening and abandonment.
Many of you are talking about the ineffable pleasure of feeling your toddler curled up against your skin, his hand on the breast, his little sucking noises expressing his contentment, his gaze immersed in yours. However, at one time or another, you must separate from him (separare in Latin means among others wean).
The weaning of the baby is also that of the mother, like him, she must give up this privileged relationship, this carnal contact. To accept that a certain distance is created between her and her child, that there is between them a third object: the bottle.
All the women who have nursed their child in happiness remember it with nostalgia many years later and know how painful it is to deprive oneself of what one likes … By giving the breast, the woman is makes it essential, breastfeeding gives her an omnipotence because the survival of her baby depends on her. How then to calmly accept not to be the only one?
The Experience of the Mother
It is therefore quite understandable to understand the passage from breast to bottle. Especially since he refers the mother to her experiences of separation, whatever they are (her own weaning, a setting in nanny, the divorce of her parents …).
If these happened without major problems, the weaning of his child will probably follow the same path. Otherwise, it will seem insurmountable because she will be afraid then to relive these unpleasant moments. Unconsciously, she can delay the deadline as long as possible, or send it within a few days, taking great care to lock in her emotions and sensitivity.
The Fear of Emptiness
To dread this moment is also to fear emptiness. After childbirth, full breasts replaced the empty stomach. Now who will replace the empty breasts? Who feeds who? Is it her baby that she is breastfeeding or the little child who lives deep in her thirsty for love?
To nurse one’s little one is to grow up and become a mother in everyday reality. It is breaking with the old story to create another, different, but equally rich.
Weaning Baby: Conflicting Feelings
Nothing is more normal than being a little melancholy during weaning. A period ends, your child needs you less, he grows up and starts to escape. Ambiguous feelings arise, some women may even blame the baby, become aggressive or suddenly exasperated by him.
Relationships with the spouse may also be strained. If the father feels excluded from the mother-child relationship, he can push his wife to wean her baby faster. Unconsciously still, this one can make him grievance.
In other cases, she may blame her companion for not being attentive enough and not supporting her enough. All these feelings are not easy to manage because most of the time, neither the mother nor the entourage make the link between the experience lived during the weaning and this emotional state.
It is however preferable to open it to a trusted person, the pediatrician of the baby or a therapist to avoid to keep deep inside negative feelings.
When do you start weaning baby
It’s your Decision
It is not your entourage, close or medical, who must take the initiative of the ideal moment to wean your toddler. Whether it is 1 month, 3 months or 9 months, it is your decision and, if you wish, that of your companion.
Talk with him. He can put things in their proper place and express, moreover, a very legitimate desire to find his wife “for him alone”! Listen to him and discuss it together.
Your baby is ready to bottle-feed
As for your baby, some signs may announce that he is ready to go through the next step. If he rejects the body backwards stiffening, turns his head aside several times in a row when you offer him the breast, perhaps it is a way for him to signify that he does not want ( sometimes it’s just a “feeding strike” that will not last).
The oldest of them bite the nipple … When they “bite”, they want to measure themselves against something stronger than milk. Hard to accept, but you have to do it.
Dissociate weaning and return to work
Moms often consider weaning when they return to work. Better to dissociate the two, otherwise these upheavals are too hard for the mother and her baby to bear.
Work does not rhyme systematically with weaning! Keeping a feed in the morning and two at night makes one feel less guilty about leaving one’s child at the nursery and continuing to do the best for him. Everyone wins in serenity.
On the other hand, if you do not wish to opt for this formula, avoid weaning your baby completely too early before the recovery … or too late.
Count a fortnight
A weaning lasts an average of fifteen days. The milk dries up very quickly. No need to go one month in advance or stop all feedings in a hurry three days before the date fateful. Be aware that in case of exclusive breastfeeding, doctors may prescribe an additional rest of two to four weeks. Remember to ask early enough.
Finally, it is important that words be put on the passage from the breast to the bottle. If you are cocky, it is essential to explain to your child how you feel. So far, he has been fed on your milk, now the language will further connect you to him. And the bottle is a good opportunity for dad to take over.
Weaning baby: how to make him accept the bottle?
Delete feedings gradually
The only way to operate smoothly is to remove a feed every two or three days to replace it with a bottle. And so on to the end … Start by replacing the feeding late afternoon (your baby will be more easily satiated with a bottle), then alternate breast and bottle.
Morning feeding will be removed last. If you want to continue breastfeeding while reworking, keep breastfeeding at the end of the afternoon and evening as well as that of the morning (keep three feeds to maintain lactation).
Each person at his own pace
A weaning lasts an average of fifteen days, sometimes more or less, depending on your child. Do not hesitate to go back if necessary, time works for you. Do not get stuck on a deadline of last feeding, you may be disappointed! The end of weaning is slower than the beginning.
The first time, when your baby pushes his bottle, do not insist. You will repeat the experience in a few hours.
Stay as relaxed as possible
He systematically refuses the bottle when you give him? It’s probably because he smells like your breast is ready. Hand over to the father, or to anyone else, and get out of the room. Little by little, you can even enjoy your new freedom to go out without your baby (go to the hairdresser, for example).
They are closer to the shape of the nipple. But do not be fooled, they have neither taste nor smell and the first concerned is not fooled!
Opt for low speed
Put the pacifier in the “low speed” position because your baby is used to pulling hard on the breast. Otherwise, his need to suckle will not be satisfied and the milk will arrive too quickly in his stomach with, consequently, problems of digestion.
Compensate for frustration
Murmur soft words in his ear, placing small kisses on his forehead. Adopt a position close to the one in which you gave the breast (body and faces facing you).
Give him your milk to the bottle
At the beginning of weaning, the transition is less brutal if you give your milk to the bottle.
Empty your breasts in the shower
Your milk will dry up quickly because the less you put the baby in the breast, the less milk. If your breasts are sore and swollen, empty them in the shower by pressing them. And when your baby sucks, press the palm of your hands around the areola to clear the outside of the breast.
Accept your sadness, its normal
It is a period of your life that ends, it is not without renouncement. Breastfeeding prolongs the feeling of fullness felt during pregnancy. After giving birth, full of breasts replaced full belly. And now, what will replace the empty breasts?
“Not to mention that when breastfeeding goes well, the hormone lactation (oxytocin) makes happy, it hovers,” said Christine Coursaget, midwife and consultant breastfeeding. If you feel down, put words on how you feel. Your baby must hear it. And do not hesitate to extend the body to body by doing more hugs!
Ideally, it’s up to him to give the bottles. Take the opportunity to go for a walk! If your baby feels the nearness of your breast, he will not understand why he is deprived of it.
So, for your toddler, things will quickly become clear: when you are there, he takes the breast. When you are not there, he drinks the bottle in his dad’s arms.
Keep confidence in yourself
The less you strain, the better things will happen. Your baby pushes the bottle? Do not fight. Tell yourself that sooner or later he will eventually accept it.
If you do not, you’ll give him something to drink with a cup or a goblet, that’s all! He goes on a “hunger strike” at the nursery or at his nanny’s? “Be confident, it will compensate the evening, ensures Christine Coursaget.
The people who keep it must be quiet about it. Otherwise, he will feel it and it will only complicate things. And no one is better placed than you to reassure them … If you do not make a whole story, they do not either!
Author Bio: Elaine is a 40-something freelance writer at Kingdomofbaby and social media consultant who has an unhealthy love for makeup, hair, and fashion. She lives with her husband and 8-year-old daughter in Toronto. Connect with Elaine on twitter or instagram.