Sooner or later breastfeeding must come to an end. But what if your baby simply refuses to stop breastfeeding? Many mothers face this problem but a few simple tips can help ease the pain of weaning for both mother and child.
For many mother and their children stopping breastfeeding occurs naturally. The baby starts taking an interest in the food being eaten by others around her and begins to eat solid foods for herself. As the baby eats more solids, the less she wants her mother’s breastmilk. However some children simply refuse to voluntarily stop breastfeeding and many mothers can become upset, tired and at their wits-end as to how to stop breastfeeding altogether. If you’re having problems stopping breastfeeding, then the following tips may be of help.
Avoid going cold turkey. This is usually very upsetting for the child, which in turn causes tantrums. Instead it is better to reduce the number of breastfeeds during the day, perhaps replacing the feed with a bottle or cup of mother’s expressed milk. This gradual reduction of time spent sucking at the breast will ease the child sense of loss or discomfort, especially if bottle fed with her mother’s breast milk. Eventually, breastmilk could be replaced with formula.
Many children cry when they wake up in the middle of the night. Usually it is the mother who tries to sooth the baby back to sleep. Unfortunately, this soothing process can mean breastfeeding the child. It might be better if the baby’s father, or some other person, who the child feels secure with, takes care of her. Many mothers will instinctively go to their child if the child is crying, so it might also be a good idea to try to stay out of earshot. The child may take quite some time with this new regime but perseverance is the key. Eventually, when the child has been weaned off these nighttime feeds, the mother can go back to settling the back at night.
With an older child – who is able to talk and understand what is being said – you could begin by putting limits on where and when you breastfeed. Tell her, “We only breastfeed in at naptime and bedtime” or “We only breastfeed when it is dark outside”.
When you are ready to stop entirely, you could simply tell her, “You are a big girl now, and big girls don’t breastfeed”. It is important to remember that with children of this age, the emotional stress caused by stopping breastfeeding can be great. Therefore replace the lack of breastfeeding with more cuddles; replace her emotional dependency on breastfeeding with other physical comforts.
It is also important to take care of your breasts during this time. Any distress or pain felt by the mother will be picked up by the child who will then also feel upset, thus aggravating an already delicate situation. By gradual reduction of breastfeeding you should help ease engorgement of your breasts. Your milk supply should gradually decrease. If it doesn’t and your breasts feel uncomfortable, then express your breastmilk- this can be given to your baby in either bottle or cup. Cabbage leaves are known to help reduce engorgement. Crush the cabbage leaves with a rolling pin if the leaves do not accommodate to the shape of your breast. Wrap the cabbage leaves around the breast and leave on for about 20 minutes. Twice daily is enough. It is usual to use the cabbage leaf treatment two or three times or less. You can use the cabbage leaves after each feeding and leave them on until they wilt.