We need to talk about weaning a breastfed baby
When you are weaning your baby, there are dramatic shifts in your hormones that can cause you to feel similar to how you did when your milk first came in. You may feel weepy, tired, anxious or like you have the baby blues again. This period of emotional change is something that often takes moms by surprise. It is important to know that it is common to feel a shift in your emotions and that it shouldn’t last too long. The severity of the emotional change is often determined by how quickly a mom weans her baby and/or how many feeds/pumps were happening prior to weaning. In order to help you stay emotionally healthy during the weaning process, we gathered 7 of our best tips for new moms who are weaning their babies.
7 Ways To Stay Emotionally Healthy While Weaning Your Breastfed Baby:
1. Wean slowly over time
Quickly weaning can cause very dramatic shifts in hormones and it is easier on your mental wellbeing to do this slowly over a period of time. Instead of going “cold turkey” try weaning over the course of a few weeks slowly cutting down the amount of feeds that your baby has or the amount of times that you pump during the day. Talk with your healthcare professional about this and make a plan that you feel comfortable with!
2. Have social support ready
During the weaning process, again you are going to need your village! For emotional support, to hold you accountable to the weaning process, and to help remind you of your reasons why you are weaning.
3. Write down your why
Many women start weaning and then the feeling of guilt makes them pick up breastfeeding again and the cycle can go on for months. Write down your reasons why you are weaning and remind yourself of this during the process.
4. Create a weaning plan
When you decide to wean, it’s important to have a plan in place! Often times, we work with moms to develop a plan about how, when, and why they are weaning their breastfed baby. Weaning with a plan can help decrease feelings of anxiety and could also decrease your risk of mastitis or clogged ducts. A plan may look like a schedule of how many feeds you will do each day as you wean down to zero feeds. It may also include coping strategies for when you feel physically uncomfortable or emotional. Each weaning plan will be a uniquely powerful tool!
5. Remember: You are a great mother no matter how you are feeding your child
Remind yourself of this over and over! You can and will have a strong attachment with your baby whether or not you are breastfeeding. Give yourself a ton of grace, stay off any social media that makes you feel unworthy, and remember that loved is most important!
6. Talk about how you are feeling
When you are weaning your baby it is important to talk to your support system. This can be a difficult time emotionally and physically and because of this it is important to ensure that you have people to talk to about these feelings. It’s ok to grieve this transition, and it is important to process your feelings around it. Whether that is talking to a professional counsellor or a doctor or social support like another friend or your partner, make sure that you talk about your feelings around weaning.
7. Cuddle your baby
There are many ways to feel close to your baby outside of feeding. As you enter this new season of motherhood focus on new ways to bond and connect with your baby! These may include cuddling, reading books, telling your baby about your day, or going for a walk together. Focusing on new ways to build connection can help you navigate the next season of your motherhood journey!