Why Moms Choose to Wean from Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding, as we know, is beneficial to a baby. Colostrum (or first milk from the mother) is a low-fat, high-protein milk that is essential to baby’s well-being and helps to fight off infections. Breast milk is not only full of the essential proteins, fats, vitamins and carbohydrates that a baby needs to thrive, but it also reduces later health risks like asthma, diabetes and obesity. The act of breastfeeding creates a unique emotional bond between mother and child – no other activity known to man can replace it.
With these overwhelming benefits, it’s no surprise that moms are encouraged to breastfeed their baby for as long as they can. However, there are cases where moms are unable to breastfeed or breastfeed for as long as they want to. We’ll explore some of the reasons why some moms choose to wean from breastfeeding.
This is a common complaint among moms, especially the first time moms. Proper latching can be tricky to learn. When the baby is unable to latch properly, breastfeeding becomes painful and the nipples become sore. Some mothers reach the point of soreness where cuts and bruises actually appear near or on the areola.
Awkwardness/Baby not latching on properly.
A new mom may have some difficulty breastfeeding her baby during the first few days of the baby’s life. Seeing that the baby is so tiny and delicate, new moms are unsure how to hold them properly or how to position the baby comfortably for breastfeeding. What happens next is baby becomes really hungry, squalling and red as a beet – which makes it even harder to achieve proper latching.
Baby isn’t getting enough milk.
Some moms feel that their milk production isn’t enough for a baby’s whole feeding. This is especially true during the first few days of breastfeeding as the body builds its milk supply.
Baby starts teething.
When babies start cutting teeth, they sooth themselves by chewing on the breast during feedings. This can be painful for the mother and is one of the reasons why some women decide to stop breastfeeding.
I have to go back to work.
Working moms decide to wean breastfeeding babies before they return to work. They do so to avert the confusion and anxiety on the part of the baby of suddenly stopping breastfeeding.
I’m pregnant – again.
Some mothers choose to stop breastfeeding when they find out they are pregnant with another baby.
Some moms are diagnosed with breast cancer or a sexually-transmitted disease. To protect the baby from contracting the same illness, moms have no choice but to stop breastfeeding. Alcohol and/or drug addictions are included in this category as well. If the mother smokes, she can’t breastfeed safely, as the nicotine can be passed on to the baby.
Losing the baby.
Moms who lost their baby want to stop lactation as early as possible. Understandable, as iit's a painful reminder of their loss.
Baby is "too old" to breastfeed.
While the benefits of breast milk continue for as long as the baby nurses, some women are uncomfortable breastfeeding a baby beyond a certain age.
Baby is ready to wean from breastfeeding.
There comes a time when your baby is old enough to understand the concept of weaning and is ready to stop breastfeeding. Undoubtedly, this is the best kind of weaning since you do not have to worry about your child being unable to easily adjust when you stop breastfeeding.
Did you fall under any of the reasons mentioned above? (I did.) It’s true, breastfeeding is good for the baby, but more than the nutritional benefit, the emotional bond that you build with your baby is equally, if not even more important. As such, you should breastfeed for as long as you and your baby are happy to do it.
When you do decide to stop breastfeeding, it shouldn’t be taken against you or your parenting skills. Weaning from breastfeeding doesn’t mean you love your baby any less. Stopping breastfeeding is a decision between mother and child, and no one else should be able to decide for you. Furthermore, thinking about the best way how to stop breastfeeding to ensure that your baby doesn’t feel abandoned is part of being a responsible parent.