Originally written and published by Dr. Bernstien in May 2014
We get a lot of phone calls and visits with questions about weaning strategies from breastfeeding. So who better to provide these wonderful tips than the young male doctor with no children, right? Well, I have done my research and will provide some helpful hints in this blog post. I also encourage our readers to post comments with their experiences and advice. (Please note that comments have to be approved before you will see them show up on the site. This is only the policy because we get a lot of advertisement posts on the blog.) Also, please note that I am writing this under the assumption that you are ready to wean. How long you should breastfeed and when you start weaning are questions best addressed with your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.
· Make sure you and your baby are feeling healthy and ready.
If you are sick or your baby is sick or teething you may want to consider delaying weaning. It seems to work best when everyone’s health is good. Also if there is a big change in your life (new house, new child care, etc) you may want to wait for stability before beginning the weaning process.
· Take it slow!!
The weaning process ideally will be a slow one. Taper the amount and frequency of breastfeeding over the course of weeks to months. Some people advocate removing one of the daily feeds per week. Others say 3-4 days seems to be an adequate interval to decrease the number of feedings. This slow weaning technique will diminish or prevent discomfort from engorgement.
· Eliminate mid-day sessions first.
Babies are more attached to the first and last feedings of the day, so consider eliminating mid-day nursing first. Depending on your baby’s age, you can supplement with solids, juice, formula, etc. Once you have dropped one feeding successfully, you can move towards the next a few days to a week later.
· Engorgement, Clogged Ducts, and Mastitis
Be aggressive about clogged ducts, lumps, engorgement, etc. Massage and warm compresses while nursing is best. If you get an area of redness AND get a fever over 101 or higher, please call the office and be seen for treatment of mastitis.
· What is normal after you have weaned?
Your breasts will start to feel less full as the weaning begins. When done weaning your breasts may still remain slightly larger than before breastfeeding. Some women will have stretch marks on the sides of their breasts. You should expect to have some leakage for up to a year and sometimes beyond. Lastly, don’t forget that as you wean, you will require less caloric intake to maintain your body weight. If you keep the same eating habits after weaning, you should expect some weight gain.
Best of luck! Thanks for any feedback or advice you may have.