Let’s not make any bones about it, breastfeeding can be hard. Whilst we all know it’s better for both mum and baby’s health, you still don’t widely see it on TV. When did you last see someone breastfeeding in the back of the Queen Vic whilst Phil Mitchell drinks his pint?
Not only can it be tricky getting it right to start with but it can be hard to stop too. We’re not just talking about physically stopping, but mentally preparing to stop breastfeeding your baby can lay on that mum guilt good and proper!
Current guidance suggests that babies are exclusively breastfed until they’re six months old. While you’re breastfeeding, having a good diet rich in oats and flaxseed, as well as drinking lots of water are important to maintain your milk supply and your own health. Sometimes you may find taking an Omega 3 supplement that benefits new mums and breastfeeding helps.
And the old “I’m breastfeeding so I need that piece of chocolate cake” won’t really benefit you and definitely won’t benefit your baby – although I bet it will be pretty tasty. It’s all about balance!
Decrease feeding by dropping one feed during the day. Gradually, as your baby takes more solids, you can offer a breastfeed for a drink rather than a meal.
When you’re ready to give up or reduce breastfeeding, be guided by your baby and your health visitor. We‘re all unique and there’s no one size fits all. It’s important to take things slowly. As you’ll already know, breastfeeding is all about supply and demand – the more you feed, the more milk you make.
Therefore it stands to reason that when you slow down and start missing feeds, your milk supply decreases too. Should you stop feeding too quickly, it can lead to engorgement and mastitis, two very unwelcome visitors. Should you become engorged there are a number of techniques you may find helpful;
- Using a soft toothed comb, gently but firmly ‘comb’ the red area on your breast, which will help break down the blocked duct.
- Use a warm flannel on your breast.
- Make sure you still feed from that side in order to empty the breast.
Now this one seems a little out there but cabbage leaves can be really soothing! Keep a Savoy or white cabbage in the fridge and peel off a leaf when needed (they’re handy as they’re boob shape) and stick it in your bra. Trust me, it works!
We would suggest you slowly start to decrease feeding by dropping one feed during the day. Gradually, as your baby takes more solids, you can offer a breastfeed for a drink rather than a meal. Most babies will continue to want a breastfeed at night. This is a source of comfort as well as food for your baby and will help you gradually wean off feeding.
When the time comes to return to work it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop giving your baby breast milk. Your place of work should provide a private and hopefully comfortable place where you can express and store your milk. This is a conversation definitely worth having before you finish your maternity leave and return to work.
It can be an emotional time when you stop breastfeeding but taking your time to stop can make the whole transition a little less emotional.
With breastfeeding and in fact all parenting, the one rule we would say is don’t be too hard on yourself. If you are breastfeeding for the first time you’ve never done it before and neither has your baby. It’s a learning curve, embrace it. When the time comes and it’s not working for you anymore there are always other options. At the end of the day we are all aiming for fed babies.
The Naked Midwives provide you with a completely different type of antenatal course. Run by experienced, practicing midwives, the courses are great fun and cover everything you will need to know for your labour, birth and beyond.