By BIANCA CARTER
Choosing to breastfeed is giving your baby the best start at health in life, but it is a labour of love as there can be challenges and trying times in the beginning, but sticking to it will come with big rewards in the long run.
The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommends “exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”
Once you have made up your mind on how long you will breastfeed for, weaning a baby might prove to be somewhat challenging. The best case scenario is to allow natural or baby-led weaning. This is when the baby weans from the breast by themselves after they no longer have the need to breastfeed.
This is typically common after the introduction of solid foods and the baby becomes more active and interested in the world around them. Some women have to wean their babies earlier than they would like for medical reasons or if they don’t want to pump after going back to work. If weaning is due to medication, I encourage you to speak with your OBGYN or paediatrician to ask if there is an alternative medication available that will allow you to continue to breastfeed.
The most important advice when it comes to weaning is to do it gradually and with love. You don’t want to wean a baby like some people do when taking away a pacifier – cold turkey. Try to replace a breastfeeding session with something else, like playtime, snuggling, your baby’s favourite toy, or gradually decrease the amount of feedings during the day or night. Some babies have an easier time giving up the breastfeeding during the day because of all the playtime and activities going on, those babies may prefer to just breastfeed at night time or just before bed time.
Remember that your baby has developed a close emotional bond with you through breastfeeding, so in some cases they are reluctant to let it go; lots of love and attention will be required though the process. Every baby is different and their needs are different. The weaning process may be short for some and long for others. Try to understand what your baby needs, and make your decision on when to wean based on that, as well as considering your desires.
If you are going back to work, breastfeeding when you are home or only at night time may be satisfactory for both.
Love and hugs!
• Bianca Carter is a certified lactation counsellor (CLC), founder of Bun in the Oven, and weekend radio personality on Y98 radio. For more information, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. Follow BITO on Facebook at babybunintheoven, and check out the BITO Blog every Monday and Thursday at http://babybunintheoven.com.