Weaning can be a joyous celebration of an amazing breastfeeding achievement for some and for others it can be a time of great distress and emotional turmoil.  There are lots of factors which influence how you feel about weaning.  One of them is what breastfeeding goals you set yourself.  If you’ve reached those goals – whether it’s to feed for 3 weeks or just to enjoy breastfeeding – will have a big influence on how you feel about weaning.

Technically, weaning is the introduction of anything other than breastmilk into a baby’s diet.  This may be when you start solids or start to introduce a breastmilk substitute.  Most people understand weaning as the process of stopping breastfeeding.

The decision to wean may be initiated by the baby, the mother or a mixture of the two.  If the baby is less than 12 months old and seems to be weaning, it may be that s/he is going through a period of breast refusal.  This can be a very distressing time for both the breastfeeding mother and her baby.  There are many techniques which can be used to encourage a baby to go back to breastfeeding, and support your supply in the meantime.

If the baby is older than 12 months and starts the weaning process themselves, it may come as a shock to the mother and she may be distressed that her baby has initiated weaning before she is ready.  During these times, it can be helpful to discuss breastfeeding goals and strategies, to either support the weaning process or ways to encourage the baby back to the breast.

If the mother is initiating weaning her baby, for whatever reason or age, it can be helpful to discuss the likely progress of this process and ways to reduce the risks both to your baby and to the mother.  A slow and gentle process can help the baby to adjust to the lack of breastmilk and let the mother’s supply dwindle naturally.  Very rarely, there is an immediate need to wean the baby off the breast, and in these cases much management may be needed to help the transition.

In all cases of weaning – if you’re not ready to wean, but feel unable to continue – getting the right information and support can often help you to overcome the hurdle and continue to breastfeed until you feel the time to wean is right for both of you.  Please contact me if you would like to discuss your situation or would like to book a consultation.

For more information on how to continue breastfeeding while returning to the workplace, please read my posts about Breastfeeding While Returning To Work – a 3 part series.

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