“When should I stop breastfeeding?”
“How do I stop breastfeeding?”
These are two of the most common questions we get from mothers. We all know the incredible benefits breastfeeding provides to the baby: It helps baby’s fight off infection better, lowers risk for asthma and allergies, and creates a special bond between the baby and mom. When is it time to stop though, and how do you get the baby weaned off the breast milk they have grown to know and love?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. This means not giving the baby anything else other than what you produce. After 6 months, you can begin to introduce you baby to solid foods, but should continue regular breastfeeding until they are at least one year old. After this point, you can continue breastfeeding as long as you and your child continue to want to. It is going to depend on your child and how much they like the breastfeeding process. Some toddlers are going to be fine breastfeeding, while others won’t want to sit still that long.
Other reasons to stop breastfeeding may be personal, such as the time commitment it requires for both mother and child. It is completely dependent on your lifestyle and the needs of your child; no ones situation is the same, so don’t compare yourself to other families.
When you have made the decision to stop breastfeeding (hopefully after a year), you may begin a gradual weaning process. You may want to postpone this process if you or the baby is not feeling well, if major changes in the home are occurring, or if you are concerned with allergens. All of these things will cause unnecessary stress to both the mom and baby, as this is a major change for both.
Weaning off of breastfeeding should be exactly that: weaning. Cutting breast milk off cold turkey will be bad for both baby, and painful for mommy. Make the process gradual by cutting off just one feeding per day. Typically, children are more attached to the morning and night feedings, so those should be the last to go.
If your child requests to be fed, don’t deny it from them. Eventually they will be distracted enough throughout the day with different foods and activities, that they will forget all about your breast milk! The time it takes to completely wean your child off breast milk is going to vary from person-to-person. Some women do it within a week, while others take months. Be perceptive about what your child, and you, need.
During the weaning process, ensure that your child is still getting love and affection with mom. Breastfeeding is an intimate experience between a mother and baby, so you don’t want yourself or the baby to feel like they are losing out on affection when the breastfeeding stops.
Nutrition After Weaning
You want to ensure your baby is getting proper nutrition once they begin to wean off of breast milk. If you are weaning before the child is one year old, you want to replace it with a formula. Your baby should not have cow’s milk until after their first birthday.
You also have to consider how the child was drinking prior to the weaning process. Is he/she used to a bottle? A cup? Your baby will have to be weaned off of the breast and learn to use a bottle, and then a cup.
Remember, each family is different and each baby has different needs. Trust yourself and your instincts, along with our recommendations, when it comes to the weaning process. Contact your obstetrician if you have more questions about the breastfeeding and weaning processes to ensure you are doing what is right for you and baby!
We all know that everything isn’t going to go perfectly according to plan during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Anything can happen on the big day, which is why it is so important to be prepared for anything.
Having a clear plan for the birth allows you to go over a lot of decisions that will have to be made on delivery day. Knowing exactly what you want, ahead of time, is guaranteed to make the process easier for you and your medical team. They will have everything printed in front of them so that your wishes are clear and in writing. It will also ensure you have researched all the available options and procedures that may pop up during delivery, so that you are confident in what you do and do not want.
So what things need to go on the birth plan? The most common things on the birth plan include how you want to manage pain while in labor. This is especially important if you plan on having an un-medicated birth. You may want to have other tools available for pain management such as a bathtub, birthing ball, stool, etc. You will want to check your hospital’s policy on these items or see if they have them available. If you do want to use an epidural, you will have the chance to discuss with your doctor ahead of time. Your birth plan can be changed at any time if you decide in the moment that you do or do not want an epidural, so do not feel bound to the plan!
Complications During Labor
Complications are something no one wants to think about. However, being prepared for complications that commonly arise during labor will help you prepare. Writing down what you want to do in the case of complications will ensure you don’t have to make any quick decisions without giving them the thought you deserve.
You should also include your wishes for intervention within your birth plan. This means if labor is not progressing normally, medical personnel may ask how you wish to proceed. Medical staff may insist on augmenting the labor, or breaking your amniotic sac to progress the labor. Determine what you wish to do in the case of something going wrong so that you are confident in your decision should the occasion arise.
Your birth plan should also include specifics on what to do in the case that you need a C-section. Some women prefer to view the c- section through a clear, plastic drape, while others prefer to have the drape lowered so that the baby can be placed immediately on the mother’s chest.
Typically, the baby will be wrapped in a warm blanket and placed on the mother’s chest. Some mothers prefer skin-to-skin contact with baby directly after delivery, while others may want the baby washed and dried as a first priority. Making this decision ahead of time for your birth plan makes it easier on you and the medical staff because everyone will know the immediate next steps you prefer after a whirlwind delivery. You will also want to specify whom you want to cut the umbilical cord following delivery.
Unless the baby requires immediate medical attention, most procedures and tests can be done in the room with you and your partner. You can state in the birth plan that you prefer to be present during these procedures.
Another consideration to make for your birth plan is whether you want to breastfeed or use formula. If you plan on breastfeeding, include it in your birth plan so that the hospital can set you up with a lactation consultant before leaving the hospital. Consider if you want the baby to use a pacifier, if you want to stay with baby through the night, and write down any other concerns or decisions you have made regarding your time at the hospital.
A birth plan is so important because it allows you to write down exactly what you want for your baby’s first day in the world. It is important to be flexible with the plan and understand that your medical team has you and your baby’s best interests at heart. Discuss your plan with your obstetrician and partner prior to delivery day, so that everyone is on the same page.