Although breastfeeding is recommended for as long as you and your baby are happy to do it, there comes a time when both mother and child will have to bid breastfeeding goodbye and hello to weaning.
The nutrients in breast milk would be very hard to replace, especially the benefit of keeping your baby immune from simple cold viruses to massive flu strains – which is why some mothers still try to incorporate breast milk in their baby’s diet by expressing milk and storing it in a bottle.
Stopping breastfeeding is a mutual decision between mommy and baby. Usually, the baby exhibits physical signs that he is ready for weaning, especially for solid foods – being able to hold his head upright, the ability to sit by himself (or sometimes with the help of whoever will be feeding him), the emergence of a tooth (or teeth in some cases), eyeing food with curiosity, etc.
Sometimes though, the mother has to stop due to personal reasons.
Medical conditions (either pre-existing or diagnosed right after giving birth) are the most common reasons a mother has to stop breastfeeding. Cancers, respiratory problems and tumors or abscesses of the breast are just some problems a mother has that will not allow her to breastfeed her child.
Sometimes, a mother needs to wean her child, especially if she has work waiting for her. Most working moms wean their children off of breastfeeding to the bottle early in preparation for the day she will have to go back to work. Since they have a timeline to follow, most of these women do the weaning gradually, as soon as the baby learns how to drink from a bottle. (There are different sucking patterns for babies – sucking on a mother’s teat is different from doing so from a silicone nipple.)
Sore nipples? Definitely a factor too, especially if your child is a biter and you not only have soreness, but also the baby already draws blood. This early, you can try to say “no” to your child – should he try to bite you again, put a finger in his mouth and take off the nipple, while saying no.
Breastfeeding takes a lot of time and commitment from moms who have to juggle work and home responsibilities. Hang in there as much as you can, do your best, so that when it's time to wean, you can look back without regret at the precious weeks, months, and years that you were able to breastfeed your baby.