Breastmilk is the primary source of nutrition until the baby turns One. WHO recommends to breastfeed until 2 years and many breastfeeding support groups recommend until the baby weans himself/herself. Though breastfeeding journey sounds divine and the wonderful way of bonding, I’d like to be honest it has its own tough cliffs which no one wants to talk about fearing if they would be judged for not enjoying the motherhood. It’s totally mom’s choice how and how long she wants to feed. Breastmilk or formula, fed is the best. No doubt breast milk is the liquid gold, no other could replace this. Yet, not at the cost of mom’s physical or mental health which is the most important for the baby than anything else. As working mom, I exclusively pumped 6 months and exclusively breastfeed another 6 months (thanks to lockdown) which gave me an opportunity to see both sides of the coins. No matter how tough it was I was strongly determined to feed mine for atleast year and I was happy I could do that. I think when he was around 11 months, I had serious health issues and my body was getting weaker. Considering my own health condition and work from home with little or no help, I understood that my body can’t support anymore and I need to be physically and mentally happy if I have to take care of him. I decided to wean him from breast feeding and introduce cow’s milk as it is safe to introduce after 1 year. I mentally prepared myself that if I start now it may take even 6 months or more to wean completely. Luckily our weaning journey was done in 2-3 weeks <3. I bet any mom would dream for tear free weaning. When we say gentle weaning or gentle parenting is it no tears at all in any scenario? More than tears its about understanding, validating and give affirmations for all their emotions. I didn’t want to go through harsh methods like introducing bitter taste etc where it would leave a negative impression or memory for weaning.
From almost a month I started telling him every time we feed that soon we would be switching to regular milk like anyone else as he will be big ONE soon. Though they are too young to understand everything, they do understand many things.
Everyone loves to have daily rhythm with predictability especially children as it is easier for them to go with their biological clock predicting what’s coming next. Children can’t communicate well like adults and often the way the communicate is by crying or throwing or hitting when the rhythm gets disturbed. Rhythm helps us to keep both parent n child calm and understand the child’s needs better.
Dropping the feeds with solids gradually based on age:
It is often recommended to breastfeed on demand but trying to maintain the schedule like every 2.5-3 hours and increasing the time between the feeds as we introduce the meals as per the age.
I had breastmilk stash which I pumped and saved. I used this milk to initially wean from direct breast feeding in the bottle and then switch to cow’s milk.
Taking partner or family member’s help:
Taking partner or any family member’s help to put them to bed if they are used to breastfeeding to sleep or to introduce milk as they resist to take other milk from mom. I took my husband’s help to offer him cow’s milk with a cup in the morning which was totally failure so tried with bottle which was rejected too. Of course there was crying both me and him. My husband would try for less than 5 minutes and I used to take him n put to nap mostly without feeding (sometimes with feeding if the situation was worse). One fine day he finally accepted the bottle and I offered twice in the day which was a good start. Night weaning was little tough compared to day 😦 and we followed the same strategy where his dad would try to feed with bottle. Slowly it got better one feed at a time.
Weaning one feed at a time:
Introducing milk or replacing one feed at a time especially with the morning feeds as most of them are replaced with meals and snacks by the time they turn one. Also introducing milk in the mornings helps us to rule out any allergies or discomforts. It helps us both as we are more active in the day time and main sleep is not totally disturbed and we are not exhausted.
Plenty of bonding time:
Breastfeeding is more than nourishment as they suddenly feel rejected, insecure and miss the warmth of that cuddling love and coziness. It’s important to validate their feeling and assure them that we are still and always be there for them. Nothing is gonna change between mom and child even though we are moving from breastfeeding. The bonding time helps both mom and child to feel the secured and loved. As it’s not only the child but also mom who goes through rollercoaster ride of emotional and hormonal stress and changes.
Care for moms:
Be gentle with yourself:
Not just for the baby but also for mom its not easy. Hormonal and emotional stress may make u feel worse. So please be gentle yourself along with baby
Good company of people or readings:
Talking with people who can understand n validate u or reading good books or articles with help in the emotional support.
Having nutritious food:
It’s important to have nutritious food both u and baby which will support physical and mental well being.
Emptying the breast at the end of the day:
Engorged breasts again s we stop feeding made me feel worse. I used to empty at the end of the day and tried avoiding pumping as that wouldn’t help in reducing milk supply. Shower and emptying with hands helped me feel better.
Vitamin B1, B6, B12:
Vitamin B6 especially is known to reduce milk supply so trying to having the food rich in B6 may be helpful
There are some medicines to dry the milk supply. I didn’t take any. Please consult your doctor before taking any.
What are other tips which worked for you?