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Weaning: What To Expect

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If you have been a breastfeeding mother, you will someday need to wean your child. There are many reasons why you may need to wean your child. Some of the reasons include the age of the child, disinterest, returning to work, certain medications, low milk supply, and the list goes on. If you have questions about when to wean, a doctor's office visit to your pediatrician may be able to help the process go more smoothly. 

No matter your reason for weaning, there are some challenges to weaning that people do not talk about often. Breastfeeding can be a very personal and needed bond between mother and child. Some people do not seem to understand the emotional respite that can be found in feeding your child with your whole soul. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Here are a few things to look out for when weaning your baby.

Emotional Changes

Most breastfeeding women know that their bodies emit certain hormones when they are nursing. Prolactin and Oxytocin are two hormones which help both mother and baby to feel calm, loving, and peaceful when nursing. As soon as you stop weaning, these hormones are cut off, which can cause you to feel very stressed and anxious. Some women even fall into depression if they wean their baby too quickly. It is best to taper off on these hormones by weaning your baby slowly, feeding by feeding. 

Physical Changes

Weaning is often painful and uncomfortable. When a woman breastfeeds, her body adjusts its milk production depending on how much the baby consumes. If the baby tries to eat more, the body will produce more for the next breastfeeding session. If your baby stops nursing, your body may need a little bit of time to halt production. You will likely feel very full and potentially engorged. In order to stop milk production, you should avoid pumping, though hand expressing works well. Do not empty your breasts completely. Only hand express until you are to a comfortable level. 

Changes in Your Baby

You are not the only one who will feel the effects of weaning; your baby is also used to that deep connection. If you attempt to wean too quickly, your baby may become frustrated, acting grumpier than normal. They may try to cling to you more often, attempting to connect in ways other than breastfeeding.

In summary, weaning can be challenging, but you can do it. Make sure to give yourself and your baby plenty of love and affection through the process, as it can be difficult emotionally and physically. If weaning seems to be harder than you think it should be, schedule an appointment at your doctor's office or talk to your baby's pediatrician.