Monday, March 8, 2010

Weaning: Gradual & Partial

There are many considerations when deciding to wean your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year. If you choose to wean before one year, first make sure your baby tolerates other foods well. Next absolutely, positively, do not wean cold turkey. Before you wean, consider your alternatives such as pumping at work or partial weaning. Partial weaning works well when a baby is older than 4 months. Moms can choose to use formula during the day while at work and still nurse in the morning and at night. This only works after milk supply is well established which is why you should wait until at least 4 months of age before employing this method and always follow the same schedule seven days per week. You cannot put the baby to the breast in the middle of the day, if you have weaned that feeding. Whether you choose to partially wean of fully wean, drop one feeding every three to five days. For example, if you are nursing 8 times per day, drop one feeding in the middle of the day, substitute formula, and continue that schedule for at least three days. At the end of the three days, if your breast have no plugged ducts or pain, you can drop a second feeding. If you feel discomfort, wait until the 5th day to drop another feeding. You continue dropping on feeding every 3-5 days until all feeding are dropped. After the last feeding is stopped, you may need to nurse or pump one or both breast a final time within the next week to make yourself comfortable. One pumping or nursing in a 24 hour period will not increase your milk supply and helps to alleviate any discomfort. This method is slow, but pain free. Sudden weaning can lead to clogged milk ducts, breast infections and even breast abscess. Both you and baby will be happy with gradual weaning.

Don't be misled by advice that tell you to bind yourself.  If you need to expedite weaning, cold cabbage leaves in your bra replaced every hour can help, but make sure you listen to your body and if it is talking to you by means of pain, you are weaning too quickly and you will need to nurse or express milk if you are feeling lumps.  If you have chills, fever or flu-like symptoms, call your doctor right away.

Best wishes for painless weaning,

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