Weaning – the time for this comes at some point for every mother and her child. It is often associated with quite conflicting emotions. Although many women eventually wish that breastfeeding would end, this also ended a very intimate and therefore wonderful time with their baby.
Weaning – how and when to wean?
Of course, you don’t have to do without a close bond and intimacy with your child even after you’ve stopped breastfeeding.
If you have wished to breastfeed for a longer period of time and at some point your baby no longer wants it: allow your emotions, give your child a lot of attention, playtime and physical closeness – your relationship will continue to develop closely and positively after breastfeeding.
Weaning – there is no right time
There is no right time to wean. Although the World Health Organization and the National Breastfeeding Commission recommend exclusively breastfeeding a baby for at least six months and then slowly getting used to solid food in addition to the breast, the only decisive factors here are the feelings of the mother and the baby.
Some children lose interest in their mother’s breast earlier, while others continue to be breastfed until they are one year old or even longer. Long-term breastfeeding is considered rather unusual in this country – but there is just as little reason to justify it as there is with weaning at a very early stage.
Incidentally, there are medical reasons for breastfeeding for a long time: Babies who have been breastfed for more than six months are less likely to develop middle ear infections or diabetes later on. It has been proven that the mother’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis decreases.
Natural weaning – the child decides when
The breastfeeding period ends most simply and harmoniously when the child decides when it is time to stop breastfeeding – whether after months or years. Of course, it is ideal if mother and child agree on this, but many children also decide on their own that they no longer want breast milk. Natural weaning is often fairly quick.
After a developmental spurt, your baby suddenly finds everything else more interesting than breastfeeding and from this point on usually wants “real” food too . You should accept your child’s decision and not keep pushing him to continue breastfeeding.
If very young children – around the end of the fourth month of life – suddenly refuse the breast, clarify with your doctor, your midwife or a lactation consultant as soon as possible what the possible reasons are and how you can continue to motivate your baby to breastfeed. In most cases, this is more of a breastfeeding strike, because by nature children under the age of one year very rarely breastfeed on their own.
However, it is clear that if your child absolutely does not want breast milk, you will have to switch to bottle feeding after a very short time.
Gentle weaning – the slow weaning from the breast
The gentle weaning comes from the mother. Like natural weaning, it extends over a longer period of time. There should be at least a week between each stage. During this time, not only your baby but also your breast will get used to the changed situation – your milk production is reduced due to the reduced need.
If you plan to wean your baby gently, first replace a breast feed with bottle feeding or – if your child’s age already allows this – with baby food and then “fill up” the meal with (mother’s) milk . It may take a few weeks for your baby to stop drinking milk.
You should keep breastfeeding in the morning and evening for the longest time – to end the day, this breastfeed is also particularly important emotionally for your baby. In addition, you can also reduce the length of breastfeeding and supplement your baby’s meal with a healthy snack, water or unsweetened tea .
Excess milk is usually absorbed by your body. If a hard spot occurs due to a blockage of milk , it can be carefully smoothed out with the flat – either damp or oiled – hand. Please do not pump the milk, as this will stimulate milk production again.
A sage and peppermint herbal tea blend, drunk regularly, helps reduce breast milk production. A tight-fitting bra, which of course must not be too tight, can also have a supportive effect here. Contact your midwife . She is responsible for you until you are 9 months old or until you stop breastfeeding (regardless of when that is).
Rapid weaning – sometimes unavoidable
Rapid weaning can be necessary for various reasons – illness, other unforeseen events or if the mother does not want to breastfeed in the first place. Stopping breastfeeding abruptly is not that easy, professional help is always recommended. Please contact your midwife! Under certain circumstances, breast inflammation and milk congestion can be very painful and problematic.
Cold compresses, tight-fitting bras or tying off with a large cloth, stroking the breasts and gentle breast massages will usually get the milk production under control after a few days. If you have severe pain or fever, you must see a doctor immediately.
In some cases, they can prescribe medication that prevents the formation of the breastfeeding hormone prolactin – however, massive side effects in the form of severe circulatory problems often occur here. Home remedies – peppermint and sage tea or breast wraps with quark and a few drops of geranium oil – as well as homeopathic and natural remedies can also support a quick weaning.
For your baby, too, a quick weaning means a huge change, which it has to cope with physically and mentally. It is even more dependent on your attention during this time than at other times. The father or other helpers should provide enough freedom here or, if necessary and desired, relieve you of some of the burden of caring for the child.