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10 Most "Favorite" Weaning Reasons

Weaning reasons vary mother to mother. With all the known benefits and advantages of extended breastfeeding less than 25% of US women breastfeed their babies past their first birthday.*

Not all weaning reasons are solid and necessitate untimely weaning. I devote this section to mothers who are torn apart by one of these reasons. Hopefully you will find a breastfeeding-friendly solution here.

Weaning reasons

Returning to work

Returning to work is not a good justification to wean. Lots of women go back to work and successfully breastfeed their babies past toddlerhood.

You have a right to spend a set amount of time (time may vary – check with your HR) on breastfeeding or pumping. Most work places have new mom’s rooms for comfortable pumping. Some even provide pumping equipment.

Yes, pumping can possibly decrease your milk supply, but remember even a drop of breast milk is of an immense value! More about breast milk benefits here.

If your baby is under one, you will have to introduce bottles and formula if you wean. Give expressing your milk a try. Most women are able to maintain their milk supply by pumping at work and never need formula.  

If you breastfed past your baby’s first birthday, now is not the time to wean. You can quit pumping now (if that was too much work and commitment) and still continue breastfeeding when you are at home with your child.

The beauty of extended breastfeeding is that you don’t have to. You made it past the recommended age minimum and now every ounce of breast milk that your toddler gets is an extra bonus! Now is the time for you to really truly enjoy breastfeeding.

Getting your freedom and lifestyle back

Some women set a time for themselves when to wean before they even start breastfeeding. They are driven by the determination to fulfill their duty and then get back to their “normal” way of living.

Really? I mean you just had a baby. I hope you realize your life will never be the same again. Will it be better? Absolutely! More exciting? Definitely! More rewarding? Don’t ever doubt it! But it will never be the same.

You will hear someone saying that your baby gets all he/she needs out of your milk by 6 months and then breastfeeding is of no value afterwards.

Some will say that 9 months is the “ceiling”, others will set the mark at 12 months.

Remember that breast milk has the same nutritional and emotional benefits every day. It grows with your baby. More about benefits of extended breastfeeding here.

Twelve months is the breastfeeding minimum set by the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, World Health Organization set the minimum to 2 years. Breast milk is not any different in Europe, breastfeeding culture is.

This shows that setting your nursing duration maximum is quite arbitrary.  As your baby grows your milk doesn’t get less nutritious and valuable. It still fulfills the same functions.

The misconception is that your baby doesn’t need it as much. This is one of the oddest weaning reasons. Don’t be in a hurry to talk about the end before the beginning. Let your baby and your motherly instinct lead.

Experiencing breastfeeding problems

Having a new baby is quite an experience by itself. No one ordered breastfeeding problems! But whether we need them or not, not every nursing story is a fairy tale.

Unresolved breastfeeding problems are the most common weaning reasons. Do not let a problem overwhelm you. Seek help.

Visit Breastfeeding Problems section to find a solution to your particular problem. Stopping breastfeeding is often an easy way of resolving sore nipples or mastitis, but is it the best for your little one?

Misinterpreting a nursing strike

At times babies will suddenly refuse to nurse. Do not take it as a sign that your baby is ready to wean. He/she may just be going on a nursing strike. Nursing strikes happen for a variety of reasons. Visit Nursing Strike section for how to react.

Being criticized and frowned upon

This one is easy to deal with. However, it is one of the most common weaning reasons. Remember: every woman desires to breastfeed for as long as possible. It is in the nature of mothers.

Those who disapprove of your extended nursing are most often the ones who failed to do this themselves. All other women will be taking pride in your act. Try to surround yourself with the latter. Ignore the former.

Closet nursing or secret nursing emerged out of the desire to avoid criticism. It is absolutely fine if that’s what works for you. There is no need to be a hero here and publicly announce your deed.

Trying to preserve your breasts shape

I don’t think extended breastfeeding has a lot to do with the shape of your breasts. If anything, first months of breastfeeding do. It is in the beginning when your breasts are fuller when the shape changes (if it does).

Being pregnant

There may be two reasons why you consider quitting nursing when pregnant: oxytocin release and vitamins/minerals deficiency.

Nursing promotes hormone oxytocin release. This is the same hormone that makes your uterus contract after delivery. Many fear that these contractions may stimulate premature labor. During a normal pregnancy flow doctors are not usually concerned with it. Ask what your doctor thinks.

Another concern is that milk production mechanism draws vitamins and minerals into your milk leaving little for the new baby.

With your doctor’s evaluation and some additional prenatal vitamins these two weaning reasons will be nothing to worry about.

Trying to get pregnant

Nursing is the best natural birth control. It is not a 100% certain, but if it seems like it for you, try decreasing the number of your breastfeeding sessions. This alone boosts your fertility.

Breastfeeding may not be the cause of your not getting pregnant. By reducing the frequency instead of a complete weaning you give yourself more chances to get pregnant, and still keep breastfeeding.

Hoping that your baby will eat solids better

Every baby becomes ready for solids at his/her own time. It is a huge developmental achievement and shouldn’t be rushed.

If your baby is not interested in solids at 6 months it is not because of breastfeeding.  Weaning may make your baby eat more to satisfy hunger, but it will not be the most baby-friendly way.

Experiencing health problems

Due to some medical issues and after every other option was explored your doctor may recommend or even order for you to stop breastfeeding. This is one of the true weaning reasons. Here is how to do it.

If you need to undergo a breast surgery consider weaning from just one breast and nursing from the non-operated one. Read more here.

* Source: "The Essential Guide to Breastfeeding" by Marianne Neifert, MD

There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.



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