Looking into how to stop breastfeeding your baby? The breastfeeding journey is often tough and deciding when to stop can be even tougher. If you’re unsure about whether to stop breastfeeding, don’t worry. You’re in the right (and judgment-free) place to learn all the reasons to stop breastfeeding, plus tips and tricks for how moms can creatively do it.
Why, When, and How to Stop Breastfeeding
In this article:
The 411 on Breastfeeding
When a woman becomes pregnant, hormones allow the breasts to produce milk. After you give birth, the more you breastfeed, the more milk you’ll produce. There is no formula that can 100% replicate the composition of breast milk (though that doesn’t mean formula isn’t good food for your baby, too).
As a mother, you’re well aware of how invaluable your breast milk is to your baby. The World Health Organization says so, and your doctor will recommend it. Breast milk is complete food, available in a jiffy, with no lengthy preparation needed. Best of all, it’s free!
Besides its physical benefits, breastfeeding creates a strong bond between mother and child. Both mother and baby benefit from a strong emotional bond. Breastfeeding also protects your baby from foreign bacteria, infections, and diseases. Without a doubt, breast milk is perfect for your baby.
Reasons for Stopping Breastfeeding
There are valid reasons why mothers opt to stop breastfeeding. These reasons could be medical or personal in nature. One of the top reasons cited was the concern that breastfeeding alone doesn’t satisfy the baby. Other personal reasons include returning to work, time constraints, and having to be separated from the baby for long periods of time. Medical reasons include excessive weight loss, painful sessions, and taking medication or undergoing a medical procedure.
There is also a common perception that breastfeeding makes the breasts droopy. This is one of the reasons why some women don’t breastfeed at all. This is a misconception. Breastfeeding doesn’t cause the breasts to sag; pregnancy itself does that. This can also happen if you have a bigger cup size, if you have more than one pregnancy, or if you have a late pregnancy.
Whatever your reasons may be, know that they are valid. Only you can make an informed decision about what path to take in nourishing your baby.
Tips on How to Stop Breastfeeding
If you have decided to opt out of breastfeeding, check out these tried-and-true tricks mothers worldwide employ to stop breastfeeding:
1. Plan This Process
Before you make the decision, ensure that you’ve laid out your plans for your baby’s nutritional needs. Find out what your baby will need for the feeding routine. Find out which bottles and feeding equipment and accessories are safe for your baby. Choose bottles and nipples that look and feel similar to your own breasts.
You might also want to check with your doctor for advice. Ask about the formula that is best suited to your baby, one that is closest to breast milk in taste and nutritional content.
2. Start Weaning
If you’re not in a hurry to stop breastfeeding, introducing your baby to other foods will sooner or later wean him/her. Many moms start at around four to six months. Never give your baby any food other than breast milk or formula before four to six months of age.
Vegetable or fruit puree and powdered cereal are common baby foods introduced at around six months. You can find out how to make your first baby food here. Remember that at first your baby will reject any other food but milk. Your baby’s tummy is no bigger than his fists, and will take only small servings. You will need a lot of patience in this process.
3. Combining Breast Milk and Formula
The first milk you produce after giving birth is called colostrum, which is said to be your baby’s first immunization. You can take advantage of this natural food rich in antibodies for your baby, then mix breast milk and formula afterward if you plan to stop breastfeeding at any time. This is the first step toward fully weaning.
Many moms practice this trick of formula feeding during the daytime and breastfeeding at night to get much-needed rest and sleep. This is because they won’t have to go through the lengthy preparation process involved in formula feeding. You can also express your breast milk and use it to introduce bottle-feeding to your baby.
Continue providing closeness and cuddles even when bottle-feeding. This will give your baby positive reinforcement away from breastfeeding.
4. Go Cold Turkey
Going cold turkey can be tough, but it’s the quickest possible way to stop breastfeeding a baby. You will need all your willpower to pull this off. Try feeding your baby with your breast milk in a feeding bottle before you full-on stop.
While many health organizations state that breast is best until two years of age, many moms report that breastfeeding becomes more uncomfortable and painful, especially when the baby is teething at around this stage.
Remember how sore and painful your breasts were after you began breastfeeding? You’ll feel a somewhat similar pain if you decide to stop breastfeeding right away. You cannot express your milk to relieve the pain because the breasts will continue to produce milk. Ask your doctor for safe medication to relieve the pain. Don’t worry, as the pain won’t last for more than a couple of days.
5. Apply Deterrent to Your Nipples
This should be your last resort if everything else fails. It will sound mean to others, but desperate times call for desperate measures. As a mom, you know your body and your baby. Sometimes, you will exhaust all the tricks in the book to no avail.
Some moms apply a form of deterrent to their nipples and breasts. The most common is lemon or vinegar. This discourages the baby from breastfeeding, but you must supplement with either formula or your own breast milk in a bottle.
Don’t feel as though you’re alone in this or that you’re a horrible mother. As long as you’re applying a safe food item (and nothing too terrible, like hot peppers) to your nipples, your baby will be fine. You can also try communicating to your child that mommy’s boobs are tired or painful and teaching them that it’s time to stop breastfeeding.
Watch this video from Mama Natural for more ideas on how to stop breastfeeding:
Don’t be stressed if you’ve decided to stop breastfeeding. You’re not alone in this difficult choice and you’re not a bad mother for making that decision. It will be challenging at first, especially if you don’t have an idea of where to begin. While these tips and tricks may work differently for each mother and child, make sure to try them all out to see which one best suits you and your child!
Do you have any tricks of your own on how to stop breastfeeding? We’d be delighted to hear all about them in the comments section below!