Just like every mom and every baby is different, every breastfeeding journey is different – and each journey begins and ends under unique circumstances. No matter what factors have gone into your decision to wean, know that it can be a very emotional time – you may feel relieved, sentimental, sad, or a combination of all these emotions. Feel proud of what you’ve accomplished, whether you breastfed for 2 weeks or 2 years. You gave your baby the best nutrition possible for as long as you could – and that’s an amazing thing.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that moms breastfeed for at least one year, and many of the benefits for baby and mom increase the longer you breastfeed. It’s important to listen to both your baby and your own body, and know that there’s never a right or wrong time to stop.
If you’re feeding at the breast, you can start by taking the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” approach, which takes your baby’s needs into account while beginning the weaning process in a gentle way. Night feedings will usually be the last to go, and you can still enjoy snuggling and reading to your little one – your routine might change, but the bond you share is forever.
As you transition away from nursing or pumping, here are some tips to make the end of your journey as smooth as possible:
- Drop one breastfeeding or pumping session a week, while keeping other sessions the same. Depending on your comfort level, you can drop sessions more frequently or at a slower rate, as well, but taking things too quickly could cause engorgement or stress your little one out, so don’t rush the process.
- Space out sessions slowly or postpone feedings, which also leads to a decreased number of sessions over time. For example, if you usually pump or nurse every 4 hours, start pumping or nursing every 4 ½ hours, then every 5 hours, and so on.
- Gradually decrease the duration of each session by just a couple of minutes. So, if you usually pump or feed for 20 minutes, cut down to 18 minutes for a few days, then 15 minutes, etc.
If you’re having trouble or need support, reach out to other moms or to a Lactation Professional. You’re not alone, and so many other women have had the same experience. You’ll find that sharing your story, struggles, and accomplishments can be very rewarding – and you may even be able to help another mom out yourself.
If you have specific questions about managing the end of your breastfeeding journey, feel free to get in touch with our Lactation Consultant for tips and advice.
What was your experience like when you and your baby decided to wean?