When Is the Best Time to Stop Breastfeeding?
Not sure when and how to stop breastfeeding your baby? Here’s some information that might help!
What's the best time to stop breastfeeding your baby? This is a confusing question that often bothers new mothers. While how long you want to breastfeed your child is a personal decision, and should totally depend on you and your baby, mothers can often feel confused and influenced by different factors. These factors can include your child's needs, your own feelings, and the opinions of others around you.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), babies should only be fed Breastmilk until they are six months old and should be fed breastmilk and other complementary food until they are at least one year old.
For however long you choose to breastfeed your baby, it won’t harm her in any way, as breastmilk is a natural immunity booster and works as a comforter whenever your child is tired or cranky.
When is the best time to start weaning my little one?
Weaning is a process of replacing a baby's current breastmilk diet with normal food items. This process starts gradually (ideally when the baby is 6 months old) where you introduce your baby with complimentary food items alongside your breastmilk. This process continues until the baby's diet is completely replaced by solid food items.
When your baby is six months old, she starts to develop a need for nutrients like zinc, iron, Vitamin B, and Vitamin D. And your breastmilk can't supply all these nutrients. You need to include other food items in her diet to provide her with complete nourishment.
But breastmilk will still remain your baby’s main diet for many months to come, and other food items will only be added as a complement.
Studies show that a typical seven-month-old baby fulfills 93% of her calorie intake from breastmilk. Even at the age of 16-17 months, babies can fulfill half of their nutrient needs from breastmilk.
It is a misconception that breastfeeding is no longer important once your baby starts eating solid food. You can stretch the weaning process for however long you want.
In the end, when to stop breastfeeding is your personal choice. Don’t feel pressured by what your family members, friends, or neighbors may tell you. Stop breastfeeding whenever you think is the right time.
How to Stop Breastfeeding
The ideal way to stop breastfeeding without causing yourself and your baby any pain is to do it gradually. The best way to start a gradual weaning process is to cut on a feeding session every few days. You can also shave a few minutes off of every feeding session instead of cutting one feeding session entirely.
During this process, you can also expect some physical reactions to your body. Each mother is different and reacts differently to the weaning process. But continue this process slowly and consistently to reduce the risk of developing conditions like mastitis and engorged breasts.
Some women use supportive bras during this phase to protect their already sensitive breasts. The risk of engorgement can also be reduced by using hand pumps to draw out milk, but you will have to make sure that you do not completely empty the breasts, as it can lead to more milk production.
This new stage can also leave you emotional at times, and rapidly changing hormones are again to blame. But be kind to yourself during this transition. Continue to take a healthy diet and take care of your body. If you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, share your feelings with your partner or a with a professional. Soon, you will have a little bit of free time to yourself, as you won't be breastfeeding regularly. Use this time to take care of yourself and adopt a new hobby to keep your mind and body relaxed.
To make it easier for your baby to handle the weaning process, make sure to first cut on your baby’s least favorite feeding session. Also, your baby’s first feeding of the day and the last feeding during the nighttime should be dropped at the very end of the weaning process.
Do I need to stop breastfeeding?
Mums usually think that they can't continue with breastfeeding when they actually can. If you are returning to work after childbirth, you can continue breastfeeding and maintain a good bond with your baby during this big change. Express milk for your baby during work and feed them at the start and end of the day. If you are traveling for work purposes without your baby, you can express milk to send back home.
You can even breastfeed your baby when you are sick—just make sure to consult a health care professional before doing that.
Stopped Breastfeeding: How Long Would It Take to Dry Up?
Once you completely stop breastfeeding (that also includes pumped-up milk), the milk production will dry up in about 7 to 10 days. However, you can still see some drops of milk for as long as a month. If you see a significant amount of milk production even after the weaning process is complete, there may be something wrong with your hormones. In that case, you should immediately contact a doctor and seek treatment.
Last but not the least, be confident about your decision and don't put too much pressure on yourself. Figuring out whether to breastfeed or not is an easy part. However, the guild you may feel because of your decision can make everything very stressful. Slowly and gradually grow out of the weaning process, and once it's done, give yourself a pat on the back! You are doing a great job as a mom.
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