When a mom decides to breastfeed, she will inevitably and eventually have to wean her baby. This time comes sooner for some moms than others. As great as breastfeeding is, both for the baby’s physical and emotional health, weaning is anything but. It is one of the most difficult parts of breastfeeding. If a baby is not ready to quit, they will fuss and cry when their mom fails to breastfeed them and may even refrain from drinking formula or eating whatever food mom and dad is trying to feed him or her in protest. There are several weaning options available to moms.
Baby Led Weaning
One weaning option is to simply let a baby breastfeed until they are ready to quit. This is referred to as baby-led weaning or natural weaning. The primary advantage associated with using this particular method is that it’s fairly easy. There aren’t any protests from baby. They simply stop wanting and taking the breast. Everyone’s happy.
There are, however, problems with natural weaning. It may take a baby longer to stop breastfeeding than is acceptable to mom. For some women, breastfeeding after a certain age is seen as taboo. For instance, if a baby still wasn’t ready to quit nursing after the ages of 1 or 2, mom may be reluctant to continue.
Gradual Weaning (Mom Lead)
Another option is to slowly wean the baby off of the breast. This is a gradual process. It is not something that is done abruptly. The amount of time it takes may differ. For some women, this process can be over, from start to finish, in a matter of days. For other women, it might take weeks. The amount of time it takes is likely to depend on the mother and the baby, specifically, their temperament and the baby’s dependency on the breast.
The Dangers of Abrupt & Sudden Weaning
When breast feeding is abruptly stopped, in addition to it possibly causing psychological harm to the child, it can also cause problems for the mother. When a woman suddenly stops breastfeeding and doesn’t do so gradually, her breasts will become engorged, (filled with milk). This is not only painful but can lead to infection or the development of an abscess. Depression is also a risk. Certain hormones are produced when a woman is pregnant and nursing. Once she stops nursing, they stop being produced, which can lead to devastating depression.