Breastfeeding: one of the most natural and beneficial ways to feed your baby. It provides your baby with the best nutrition, protects them from infections and diseases, and strengthens the bond between you and your baby. Breastfeeding also has many benefits for you, such as reducing the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, helping you lose weight, and saving you money and time.
However, breastfeeding can also be challenging, especially for new mothers who may face difficulties such as sore nipples, low milk supply, engorgement, mastitis, or thrush. You may also have questions about how to stop breastfeeding, what are the best breastfeeding positions, what are the benefits of breastfeeding, how alcohol and breastfeeding affect each other, what are the recommendations of the Australian Breastfeeding Association, what foods to avoid while breastfeeding, how to lose weight while breastfeeding, how to deal with sore nipples breastfeeding, how to breastfeed after drinking or after a c-section, what are the advantages of breastfeeding, and what is the age to stop breastfeeding.
In this article, we will answer some of these common questions and provide you with some tips and resources to help you have a successful and enjoyable breastfeeding experience.
How to Stop Breastfeeding
There is no right or wrong time to stop breastfeeding. It depends on your personal preference, your baby’s needs, and your situation. Some mothers may choose to breastfeed for a few months, while others may continue for years. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods until at least two years of age or beyond.
However, you may decide to stop breastfeeding earlier or later than these recommendations for various reasons, such as returning to work, health issues, pregnancy, or simply feeling ready to wean. Whatever your reason is, it is important to stop breastfeeding gradually and gently, both for your baby’s and your own well-being.
Stopping breastfeeding suddenly can cause physical and emotional problems for both of you. Your baby may feel rejected or confused by the sudden change in their feeding routine and may protest or cry more than usual. You may also experience engorgement, pain, leaking, infection, or depression.
To avoid these problems, you should plan ahead and follow these steps:
- Choose a time when you and your baby are relaxed and healthy. Avoid weaning during stressful periods such as moving house, starting daycare, or travelling.
- Start by dropping one feed at a time, preferably the one that your baby is least interested in or attached to. For example, you can start by skipping the mid-morning feed and replacing it with a snack or a drink. Wait a few days or weeks until your body adjusts to the reduced demand before dropping another feed.
- Offer your baby alternatives to breast milk, such as formula (if they are under one year old), cow’s milk (if they are over one year old), water, juice (in moderation), or solid foods (depending on their age and readiness). You can also offer them comfort in other ways, such as cuddling, singing, reading, or playing with them.
- Reduce the duration and frequency of each feed gradually until you are down to one or two feeds per day. You can also try changing the location or position of each feed to make it less familiar or appealing to your baby.
- Be prepared for some resistance from your baby. They may try to nurse more often or longer than usual to make up for the missed feeds or to protest against the change. They may also become more clingy or fussy during the day or night. Be patient and supportive of your baby’s feelings and needs. Don’t force them to stop if they are not ready. You can try again later when they are more willing or distracted.
- Seek support from your partner, family, friends, health professional, or a lactation consultant if you need help or advice. You can also join a local or online support group for mothers who are going through the same process.
Finding a comfortable and effective breastfeeding position is essential for both you and your baby. A good position can help your baby latch on properly and get enough milk. It can also prevent problems such as sore nipples, blocked ducts, mastitis, or low milk supply. It can also make breastfeeding more enjoyable and relaxing for both of you.
There are many different positions that you can try depending on your preference, your baby’s age and size, and your situation. Here are some of the most common ones:
This is one of the most popular positions for breastfeeding. You hold your baby across your lap with their head resting on your forearm and their body facing yours. You support their back with your hand and their bottom with your elbow. You use your other hand to support your breast and guide it to your baby’s mouth. This position is suitable for most babies, especially older ones who can hold their head up.
This is similar to the cradle hold, but you use the opposite arm to hold your baby. For example, if you are feeding from your left breast, you hold your baby with your right arm and vice versa. You support their head with your hand and their body with your forearm. You use your other hand to support your breast and guide it to your baby’s mouth. This position is good for newborns or babies who have trouble latching on, as it gives you more control over their head and mouth.
This is also known as the clutch or rugby hold. You tuck your baby under your arm on the same side as the breast you are feeding from. You support their head with your hand and their body with your forearm. You use your other hand to support your breast and guide it to your baby’s mouth. This position is good for mothers who have large breasts, twins, or a c-section, as it keeps the baby away from the abdomen and allows more room for the other breast or baby.
This is a good position for night-time feeding or when you are tired or sore. You lie on your side with your baby facing you. You use a pillow or a rolled-up towel to support your head and another one to support your back. You use your lower arm to support your baby’s head and neck and bring them close to your breast. You use your upper hand to support your breast and guide it to your baby’s mouth. You can also use a pillow or a rolled-up towel to support your baby’s back or bottom if needed.
This is also known as the biological nurturing or reclined position. You lie back on a bed or a couch with your baby on top of you. You place your baby’s tummy against your tummy and their head near your breast. You let them move and bob their head until they find the right position and latch on by themselves. This position is good for newborns or babies who have trouble latching on, as it imitates the way babies breastfeed instinctively.
Remember to bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to your baby, to avoid sore nipples or blocked ducts. Your baby’s mouth should cover not only the nipple but also a big part of the areola (the dark area around the nipple) to get a good latch and extract enough milk.
Alcohol and Breastfeeding
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to stop drinking alcohol completely while breastfeeding. However, you should be cautious and moderate in your alcohol consumption to protect your baby from any potential harm.
When you drink alcohol, a small amount of it passes into your breast milk. The concentration of alcohol in your milk is similar to that in your blood, but it peaks about 30 to 60 minutes after consumption and decreases as your body metabolizes the alcohol. It takes about two to three hours for the average woman to eliminate the alcohol from one standard drink (e.g., one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits).
If you decide to drink alcohol while breastfeeding, consider the following guidelines:
- Moderation: Limit your alcohol consumption to an occasional drink and avoid heavy or binge drinking. The more you drink, the longer it takes for the alcohol to clear from your breast milk.
- Timing: If you plan to have a drink, try to do it right after you breastfeed or pump milk. This allows more time for the alcohol to leave your system before the next feeding.
- Pumping: If you need to be away from your baby or want to have an alcoholic drink, consider pumping and storing enough breast milk in advance. This way, you can feed your baby with breast milk that is free from alcohol.
- Safety: If you feel intoxicated or impaired, avoid breastfeeding until you feel sober again.
- Observe: Pay attention to your baby’s behavior and feeding patterns. If you notice any unusual changes or reactions after you consume alcohol, consult your healthcare provider.
Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA)
The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a valuable resource for mothers in Australia who are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed. The ABA provides information, support, and education to mothers, their families, and the community on all aspects of breastfeeding and maternal health.
You can access their website (https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/) for a wide range of resources, including articles, videos, webinars, and forums where you can connect with other mothers and share your experiences and questions. The ABA also offers a helpline (1800 686 268) that you can call if you need immediate assistance or advice.
Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding
In general, there are no specific foods that you must avoid while breastfeeding. However, some babies may be sensitive or allergic to certain foods that you eat. If you notice any unusual symptoms in your baby after you consume certain foods, you may want to avoid or limit them in your diet. Common foods that may cause sensitivities or allergies in breastfed babies include dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
If you suspect that a particular food is causing a problem for your baby, consult a healthcare provider or a lactation consultant. They can help you identify the issue and guide you on how to adjust your diet or your baby’s feeding to alleviate the symptoms.
Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Weight loss is a common concern for many mothers after childbirth. While breastfeeding can help you burn extra calories and lose some weight, it is essential to approach weight loss with caution, especially during the early postpartum period when your body is still recovering and adjusting to the demands of breastfeeding.
Rapid or excessive weight loss can release toxins into your breast milk and affect its quality. It can also lead to a decrease in milk supply and affect your energy levels and overall well-being. Instead of focusing on strict diets or intense workouts, try to adopt a balanced and gradual approach to weight loss:
- Nutrition: Eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid crash diets or extreme calorie restrictions.
- Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay well-hydrated. Breastfeeding can make you feel thirsty, so always have a water bottle within reach.
- Exercise: Incorporate light to moderate physical activity into your daily routine, such as walking, swimming, or yoga. Consult your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program, especially if you had a c-section or other complications during childbirth.
- Rest: Aim to get enough rest and sleep whenever possible. Lack of sleep can interfere with your body’s ability to recover and produce milk.
- Patience: Be patient with yourself and your body. It took nine months to grow and nourish your baby; it may take some time to return to your pre-pregnancy weight.
Support and Help
Remember that breastfeeding is a learning process for both you and your baby. It is normal to face challenges and questions along the way. Don’t hesitate to seek support and help from healthcare providers, lactation consultants, support groups, or other experienced mothers.
A proper latch is crucial for successful breastfeeding, as it ensures your baby gets enough breast milk and prevents discomfort for you. If you experience issues such as sore nipples, mastitis, vasospasm, or low milk supply, reach out for assistance as soon as possible. There are often simple solutions and techniques that can alleviate these problems and help you enjoy your breastfeeding journey.
Breast milk provides essential nutrients and antibodies that can protect your baby from infections and diseases. It is a unique and precious gift that only you can give to your child. Embrace the experience, cherish the bond, and remember that every drop counts in your breastfeeding journey. You are doing an amazing job, and your dedication and love are making a significant difference in your baby’s life.
Lanolin and other soothing products can help with sensitive nipples and provide relief from discomfort. Be sure to check the ingredients and consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
If you encounter breastfeeding problems or need advice, don’t hesitate to seek professional treatment or support. Breastfeeding is a learning process for both mother and baby, and there are resources available to help you overcome challenges and continue providing the best nutrition for your little one. Remember that you are not alone, and there are many people willing to assist you on your breastfeeding journey.
In conclusion, breastfeeding is a natural and beneficial way to nourish your baby, and it offers numerous advantages for both you and your child. While it may come with challenges, seeking support, information, and help can make the experience more enjoyable and rewarding. Cherish the moments, stay informed, and remember that you are giving your baby the best possible start in life through the gift of breast milk.