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How to Stop Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is said to be one of the most important things that bonds the mother and the baby. Mother’s milk is said to be highly nutritious and protects the little one from any kind of health problems while making her immune system stronger. For the first 4 – 6 months, the baby is fed only with breast milk as her body is not very strong to accept other types of foods. After six months, most mothers start giving semi-solid foods and formula. Though, nursing the baby offers emotional satisfaction to the mother, it has to be stopped after a certain period.

According to experts opinion, babies should be breastfed for at least a year, though there are women who continue to nurse their children even after they become toddlers. Though this is considered normal, the older the child gets, the more difficult it becomes to stop nursing. Nevertheless, it can be done by following proper steps mentioned below.

Many people say that the process of stopping breastfeeding is a natural one. After six months, the baby is introduced to other foods and her focus shifts on solid foods and the need for breastfeeding decreases gradually. However, it does not happen so perfectly and easily in every case. Breastfeeding is a way for the baby to feel closer and emotionally attached to the mother and hence, many babies may face difficulties during the time of weaning. However, continuing nursing for a long time can be difficult for the mother for different reasons, like, going for work, taking care of other children, household duties, physical problems, etc. During such situations, it becomes a necessity for the mother to stop nursing her baby. Here are some important steps that you can follow.

Weaning Gradually
One important thing that mothers have to remember is that breastfeeding should not be stopped suddenly. This can upset the child badly and can also become the reason for the child to throw tantrums. Rather, the process of stopping this act should be a gradual one and should be done very slowly. You should begin by reducing one feed during the day for a week and reduce one more in the next week. However, it is said that practice of feeding at night should be continued for some more time and should be taken as the last step of weaning. During this process, the baby can be fed with breast milk mixed with a little amount of baby formula for the initial weeks in a bottle or a sip cup and slowly shifted to formula milk completely.

Explain Gently
This step will be useful, if you want to stop feeding a toddler with breast milk. Most toddlers are able to talk and can understand what is said to them. Moreover, it is also said that the emotional stress caused by weaning at this age, is said to be greater than when it is done while the child is still a baby. However, talking to them gently can help in the process of stopping breastfeeding. In the beginning, you can tell your child that breastfeeding will be done only during nap time or bedtime. Once you are ready to stop nursing the child completely, you can tell her that she is a big girl and big girls are not breastfed. Explaining it gently to the child is important to ensure that weaning does not cause her emotional distress.

Taking Care of the Breasts
Many women are clueless about stopping nursing without pain. Though you have decided not to nurse your child, your breasts are still producing milk and refraining from nursing can make your breasts feel heavy, sore, and sometimes painful too. Though there are certain drugs that are said to dry up the supply of milk to the breasts, it will be best to stay away from them as they are likely to show some side effects.

If your breasts feel too heavy due to engorgement, pumping some milk and storing it to feed your child from a bottle can be helpful. However, you should pump only till your breasts feel light and less sore. Pumping too much milk can increase the production of milk, which does not serve the purpose. Slowly the milk producing glands get the message and gradually stop producing milk altogether. If your breasts are feeling sore even after pumping milk, applying cold packs or cold cabbage compresses can be helpful. Massaging the breasts or taking a hot shower are some other ways of getting rid of the soreness and pain in the breasts caused by engorgement.

Mothers must remember that stopping breastfeeding can cause emotional stress and discomfort to the child and hence, it is important to replace it with other physical comforts like hugging, cuddling, etc. One must understand that the process of weaning is a crucial one and handling it with patience and care will ensure that the baby soon gets over the distress caused by this process.

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