Before you wean ask yourself if you are really ready to wean your baby. Are you feeling breastfeeding fatigue? Are you ready for some space? Have you stopped enjoying breastfeeding?
Or do you feel pressured to wean your baby by external factors such as culture, your mother-in-law or going back to work?
Baby led weaning
You don't have to wean your baby until and unless you want to, and some mothers choose to let their baby lead the way. All baby's stop breastfeeding eventually. World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding for two years or more, so if breastfeeding is still enjoyable for you there is no reason to stop.
If you are going back to work or feeling burnt out consider partial weaning, or combination feeding. Once established, many mothers can maintain their milk supply on just two or three breastfeeds a day, which you can give your baby overnight if you are apart during the day. Partial breastfeeding has nearly of the advantages of regular breastfeeding including allergy prevention, increased immunity and increased nutrition. Some mothers find partial breastfeeding gives them a little space, so they can continue breastfeeding for much longer. For more information visit Kellymom.
Mother led weaning
If you really are ready to quit breastfeeding then you have two main options, with all sorts of variations between. Decide what will work best for you and your baby. Make sure you take it slow so your milk supply can adjust, or you may end up with engorged breasts or blocked milk ducts.
- Never offer, never refuse is the most gentle way of weaning a baby and can take a very long time. As the name suggests it involves giving your baby a feed whenever they ask, but not offering if they don't ask.
- Dropping one feed at a time is a more active way of approaching weaning and will be a little quicker. Choose the time of day when your baby is least interested in breastfeeding and drop that feed first. Once your breasts and your baby have adjusted, which could take a week or two, then you can drop another feed. Try and distract your baby at the time when the feed is being dropped by getting out of the house, having friends to play with or substitute the feed with a favourite snack or drink. You will be much more successful if you can keep one step ahead of your baby and have a distraction ready before they have a chance to think about breastmilk!
Comfort and reducing your milk supply
If your breasts are engorged and tender you can put some cabbage leaves inside your bra. Cabbage leaves are soothing and cooling, and they also reduce your milk supply so only use cabbage leaves when you are weaning.
Sage tea is a delicious way to decrease your milk supply. Brew 1 tablespoon of dried sage in 1 cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drink 1 cup between 2 and 6 times per day depending on how engorged you are and how quickly you are trying to wean.
Do not bind your breasts.
Only express a little milk to relieve fullness if you absolutely have to. Sometimes a hot shower is enough to bring comfort without removing too much milk. The more milk you remove the more milk your body will make.
Grief and depression after weaning
Some mothers feel very sad or have mood swings after weaning, even if they weaned by choice. Click here for more information.