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Stop Breastfeeding by Slowly Weaning Your Baby from your Milk

Just as different cultures have different customs regarding how long babies should be breastfed, different women too hold their own opinion on how long they should breastfeed. It is a matter of personal choice. In some cultures, breastfeeding continues for several years, while in others, mothers breastfeed their infants for only a couple of months. The World Health Organization recommends that infants worldwide nurse for a minimum of two years. While there is no fixed age when to suggest to mothers to stop breastfeeding, the general consensus is that babies should be breastfed for as long as their mothers can feed them.

Your Baby May not want to be Weaned

Most babies enjoy breastfeeding and do not want to wean. According to an anthropologist expert in infant nutrition, the minimum weaning age for humans is somewhere between 2 1/2 and 7 years. It's only natural then that encouraging weaning before this time may meet with some resistance. For toddlers who are nursing, they most definitely know that they enjoy the taste of the milk, and being cuddled up to mom. Studies even show babies' heart rate drop, their stress levels drop, and their blood pressure drop when they are nursing. It is definitely a good feeling for babies.

Why You Ought not to Wean

Whatever your reason for wanting to wean your baby off your milk, please give it some thought since the benefits for you to continue breastfeeding outweigh any possible disadvantages. If you are experiencing breastfeeding problems, you can ask for help. Consider if there are any allergies in either your family or your partner's/husband's family before making the final decision to stop breastfeeding, for sometimes the infant may not develop immunity to the allergy. Also consider that the cost of breastfeeding in addition to the expense of day care can leave you poorer by up to $2,000 a year.

.And if you Must, What You Should Do: Go Slow

Some mothers who want to get back to work almost immediately after giving birth want to gradually wean their babies, the idea is to go slow and at the same time watch for signs to any allergic reactions to formula. This will also give you enough time so that you can avoid engorgement of the breasts as you slowly reduce your milk production. Slow weaning also allows the immunity level in your breast milk to increase and will give your baby some extra protection against infection. The process of weaning involves simply substituting someone else for each nursing and watching for any physical or emotional reactions in the baby or yourself.

Ways to Wean

One way to begin weaning is by replacing a day or evening nursing with a formula feeding. If you observe no reactions to the formula, and if your breasts are tolerating the decrease, after a few days or weeks you can replace a second nursing and so on.

Another way to begin weaning is by nursing or expressing just enough milk to keep you comfortable since letting your breast remain full will allow substances in the milk (suppressor peptides) to inhibit further milk production. You will need to wear a supportive bra and maybe even a milk pain reliever. You can also decrease the discomfort and swelling or engorgement by using ice packs over your breasts.

You can drink sage tea to decrease milk supply and drink as many as three cups a day for no longer than a week.

You can wean quickly by feeding formula exclusively for several days and maintaining your milk supply by pumping during this time while you watch your baby's tolerance to formula.

A baby who can't tolerate formula food will show any or all of these symptoms: bouts of crying, a lot of gas, increased spitting or vomiting, body rashes, redness around the rectum, and frequent watery stools that may be green, mucousy, or bloody. Other allergic responses to formula are wheezing and a stuffy or runny nose.

Nursing mothers might do well to remember that your breasts may also feel full and lumpy for 5-10 days after complete weaning and unless you experience any mastitis symptoms, you should not be concerned by this problem. Ideally, the pace of weaning occurs slowly enough to avoid causing an unhappy, clingy baby or full uncomfortable breasts. As soon as you start the weaning process, you will need to begin some form of birth control. Birth control pills, by reducing the milk supply, will help you stop breastfeeding.

Whatever means you adopt to stop breastfeeding your baby, don't rush the process. Instead, take it slow and gently remove her dependence on your milk.

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