Facts and advice on stopping breastfeeding. Direct from paediatricians. Some different strategies may be needed to stop breastfeeding a small baby and a larger child. It's time to stop breastfeeding when the mother and baby want to. Long or short-term, full-time or part time is up to you.
It's time to stop breastfeeding when mother and baby want to
Sometimes you need to take medicine that you must not breastfeed with. A mother with an infectious HIV infection must also not breastfeed. In very rare cases, the baby cannot tolerate the mother's milk, so she must also stop breastfeeding.
But for the vast majority of mother-child relationships, this is the truth: breastfeeding should end when mother or baby do not want to continue anymore. For some, this happens in the first week, for others the fifth year of life, for many at some point during the first or second year of life. Babies are different, mothers are different. And each mother-child relationship is unique. The length of breastfeeding time that is suitable for a mother with her first child need not fit at all with others.
If only the baby wants to stop breastfeeding but mother wants to continue
This sometimes happens early in life, during the first weeks of life. It is often when infants fail to get enough milk from the breast that they prefer the bottle. This may be because the mother does not have enough milk, or the baby is not so good at sucking.
If you, as a mother, want to continue breastfeeding, I think you should consider whether there is any situation that your child still likes breastfeeding. For starter? For dessert? That night? To comfort and cuddle? Then continue to breastfeed in that situation for now. If you get a nice lactation cooperation then, it may happen that the baby then wants to breastfeed more and more. Or not.
Try not to fight too much against the baby's will, it rarely works. Without trying to connect. Sometimes breastfeeding can be great for babies who find the breast difficult. A feeding set can also help. There is a thin plastic hose taped to the nipple. At the other end sits a baby bottle of milk that goes into the plastic tube and feeds the baby while sucking at the breast. Contact a breastfeeding help mother or breastfeeding clinic for help with the feeding kit. Breastfeeding pacifiers are available at pharmacies.
If mother wants to stop breastfeeding but not the baby
This situation is very common with larger babies. Mother wants to stop at night, or stop breastfeeding completely. The baby or the little child wants to continue. I usually have one year of age as some kind of mental boundary here. Until the age of one year, I think it is good if you can let your baby control the mother as much as possible. Over the age of one, I think the mother has to decide much more about how much she wants to breastfeed. And set breastfeeding limits. At home but not out, in the evenings but not on days, or whatever you want.
The one-year-old rule, of course, is not carved in stone. On the contrary, rather plucked out of the air. But most one-year-olds usually eat so much that they can grow without breast milk or replacement.
For the first ten days after childbirth, the breasts are for some reason protected from milk congestion. Therefore, if you stop breastfeeding the first week of life, you do not need to be so careful about slowing down breastfeeding slowly, although it may feel nice that the breasts are not so full.
After that time, you risk your milk if you stop suddenly. Stepping down is preferred. Remember that the more often the baby empties the breasts, the more milk is formed. So reducing breastfeeding will reduce the milk with a few days delay. A tight bra is a good tool. If you get a red and tender lump in your chest, let the baby suck on that chest. At the same time, stroke from the lump to the nipple as to help the milk out of the breast. No hard massage!
To stop the night feeds
Many newborn babies can only fall asleep with the chest in their mouth. Good thing. But when they have done it every night for seven or nine months, many mothers tend to feel their heads will burst and want to get some time for themselves. At that age, the child is nutritionally sound without food at night. Sleep often gets much better when you stop at nighttime and through the night.
Quitting night-feeds for children who like it is often a struggle. Maybe the first big fight in the family. If it is so in your family, decide if it is worth it. Discuss with the other parent if there is such a thing that you think feels best. Some prefer the other parent to stay in another room. Other mothers want to continue at night but with tight sweaters and bra and without offering the breast. Often there will be a few nights with lots of protest before the child has learned that the breast is no longer offered at night.
But the other parent then, shouldn't they have a say about breastfeeding?
If the other parent sees that the mother is suffering from breastfeeding, I think they have an obligation to take it up with the mother and hear with her how she is feeling and what she really wants. Otherwise, breastfeeding is a shared body experience between the breastfeeding mother and the baby. Therefore, I think they should decide if breastfeeding is something they want to do, for how long and under what conditions.
To start with other foods
Starting with foods other than breast milk is something other than stopping breastfeeding. Read more about it in the post: Tasting portions - to start with foods other than breast milk or substitute. In order for the child to be able to meet his nutritional needs, firstly of iron, but then also other nutrients, you need to start with other foods around the 6-month mark.
To breastfeed and work
To feed and work I know many people have done without major problems. There are many doctors who pumped in the on-call room during night calls because we spent all other nights nursing our fairly large babies or children at home. Breasts adapt to how to breastfeed.
To breastfeed and work is legally right in Sweden, with breastfeeding breaks from work. But in my eyes, it is a lot to demand from a partner that during their parental leave they will have to revolve around just my job with a baby in case the baby gets hungry. But the parents agree on that, of course. Go for it.