Stop baby breast feeding
How to stop breastfeeding - NHS
It's up to you and your baby to decide when you want to finish breastfeeding.
How long to breastfeed
It's recommended that you breastfeed your baby exclusively (give them breast milk only) for the first 6 months of their life.
Breastfeeding still has lots of benefits for you and your baby after 6 months. It protects them from infections and there's some evidence that it helps with the digestion of your baby's first solid foods. It also continues to provide the balance of nutrients your baby needs.
The World Health Organization recommends that all babies are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of their life, and from 6 months babies should start eating solid foods as well as being breastfed for up to 2 years or longer.
If you're not sure whether to continue with breastfeeding, you can contact the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 (every day, 9. 30am to 9.30pm).
Read more about the benefits of breastfeeding
Stopping breastfeeding gradually
There's no right or wrong way to stop breastfeeding. For lots of mothers and babies, stopping breastfeeding happens gradually as the child grows and eats more solid foods.
It's important that solid food should not simply replace breast milk. There's evidence that breast milk may play a part in helping a baby's digestive system to deal with their first solids.
Once they're eating solids, your baby will still need to have breast milk or formula as their main drink up to at least their 1st birthday.
Cows' milk is not suitable as a main drink for babies under 1 year old, although it can be added to foods, such as mashed potatoes.
Carrying on breastfeeding while giving your baby some formula can work very well.
Babies breastfeed for comfort as well as food. Phasing out breastfeeding gently will give you both time to get used to the idea. Stopping gradually will also help prevent problems like overfull, hard (engorged) breasts and mastitis.
You'll probably find it easiest to drop 1 feed at a time. It does not matter which feed you drop first, so it will usually be a case of how it fits in with your life. For example, some mothers may prefer to continue night feeds so their baby can still have the comfort at night.
If your baby is younger than 1 year, you'll need to replace the dropped breastfeed with a formula feed from a bottle or (if they're over 6 months) a cup or beaker, instead.
If your child is over 1 year and having a variety of foods and drinks, they will not need a replacement feed.
Once you and your baby are settled into a pattern of having 1 less breastfeed, you can then think about dropping another feed. Completely stopping breastfeeding can take anything from a few weeks to several months.
If you're trying to stop breastfeeding and having problems, you can get help and ideas from a health visitor or a breastfeeding specialist.
Read more about drinks and cups for babies
Combining breast milk and formula
Some women decide to combine breastfeeding and bottle feeding with formula milk rather than stopping breastfeeding completely.
If you want to do this, it's best to wait until your milk supply is fully established. This can take around 6 to 8 weeks.
You can start by replacing 1 of your baby's regular daily breastfeeds with a bottle (or, if your baby is over 6 months, a cup or beaker) of formula, instead.
Common reasons for stopping breastfeeding
Sore or painful breasts
Some women find breastfeeding uncomfortable, especially in the early days and weeks. Common problems include sore or cracked nipples and painful breasts.
These problems can often happen when your baby is not positioned or attached well at the breast. A midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding specialist can help you with positioning your baby and getting them properly attached.
Not enough breast milk
Lots of women worry that their baby is not getting enough milk when in fact they have plenty to meet their baby's needs.
A midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding specialist can suggest ways to increase your milk supply if necessary. This could just mean making sure your baby is well attached to the breast and that you're feeding often enough.
Going back to work
Some women worry about breastfeeding and returning to work. Going back to work does not necessarily mean you have to stop breastfeeding.
If your breast milk supply is well established, going back to work does not have to affect your milk supply for your baby. You can either express at work and give your breast milk to your child's carer, or provide formula milk while you're away.
If your employer is not familiar with the rules around breastfeeding and expressing in the workplace, it's worth sharing the ACAS guidance on pregnancy and maternity with them, or contacting your union if you have one.
Going on holiday
As with work, going on holiday does not mean that you have to give up breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding can be more convenient while you're away.
If you breastfeed, you do not need to worry about boiling water and sterilising feeding equipment. Plus, if you're flying, there's no need to worry about restrictions on carrying bottles or cups of formula through airport security checks.
Breastfeeding also helps to equalise the pressure in your baby's ears on take-off or landing.
Getting pregnant again
If you get pregnant again while you're breastfeeding, it should not affect your baby or the pregnancy. However, you may feel tired, and changes in your appetite and emotions can make breastfeeding more challenging.
Occasionally, women are advised to stop breastfeeding before getting pregnant again, particularly if they've previously had a miscarriage or premature labour.
Do not be put off feeding an older baby and a newborn (tandem nursing). The more milk your babies take, the more your breasts produce, so it's possible to feed more than 1 baby.
Taking some medicines
Most medicines can be taken while you're breastfeeding without harming your baby.
But it's always best to tell a doctor, dentist or pharmacist if you're breastfeeding.
Read more about breastfeeding and medicines
Restarting breastfeeding after stopping
Stopping breastfeeding does not always have to be permanent, but starting again may take a lot of time and not everyone will produce enough to meet their baby's needs. It partly depends on how well-established your milk supply was already.
Stimulating your breasts by expressing breast milk and offering the breast to your baby regularly can encourage your body to start making milk again.
Skin-to-skin contact with your baby can promote lactation (milk production) too.
You can ask a midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding specialist for help if you would like to restart breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding older children
There's no reason why you should not continue breastfeeding your child into their 2nd year and beyond. You and your toddler can continue to enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding for as long as you want to.
Your toddler may also find breastfeeding comforting when they're ill or upset.
Weaning: When and how to stop breastfeeding
When’s the right time to stop breastfeeding your baby, and what’s the best way to do it? Read on for plenty of practical weaning advice
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Once you’ve established breastfeeding, how long should you continue? Three months? Six months? A year? Or several years?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other health bodies recommend that babies are fed entirely on breast milk for their first six months of life and continue having their mother’s milk alongside other foods – known as complementary foods – until at least the age of two. 1
This is because breast milk isn’t just food. A natural comforter if your child is worried or tired, it also contains immunity-boosting components that increase dramatically in number whenever she’s ill.2
Anthropologists estimate the natural age for humans to stop breastfeeding is even higher than two. Looking at factors including tooth development, body weight, comparison with other primates and historical evidence, some say it could be two to four years, while others believe our ancestors might have been breastfed until the ages of six or seven.3
Today, more than 60% of mums in developed countries give their baby some formula or complementary food before the age of six months,4 even though WHO guidelines don’t recommend this.
When’s the right time to start weaning my baby?
Weaning is the process of stopping feeding your baby with breast milk. Ideally, the first step towards weaning your baby is introducing complementary foods alongside your breast milk around the age of six months. The weaning process continues until breast milk is completely replaced by other foods and drinks.
“After six months, your baby begins to need higher levels of certain nutrients – such as iron, zinc and vitamins B and D – that she can’t get from your breast milk or her own reserves alone,” explains UK health visitor and nurse Sarah Beeson.
“But solid food will only complement your baby’s milk intake to start with, and replace it gradually. Breast milk will remain her major source of nutrients for many months to come.”
A typical seven-month-old still gets 93% of her calories from milk. Even at 11 to 16 months, milk may still provide around half her daily calorie intake.5
“Mums sometimes think breast milk isn’t important once their baby has started eating solids, but in fact there’s no better milk for her, however old she is,” says Sarah.
Indeed the entire weaning process can take as long as mum and baby want it to: “When to stop breastfeeding is your choice,” says Sarah. “Don’t feel pressured by what friends are doing or what family members – or even strangers – say. All that matters is what feels right for you and your baby.”
How to stop breastfeeding
Whenever you decide to start weaning your child off breast milk, it’s best to do it gradually. Stopping breastfeeding suddenly could put you at risk of engorgement, blocked ducts or mastitis, as well as being an abrupt change for your baby’s digestive and immune systems to cope with. It may also be difficult for you both emotionally.
Do I need to stop breastfeeding?
Sometimes mums mistakenly think they need to stop breastfeeding when they don’t. If you’re returning to work, breastfeeding can be a great way of maintaining intimacy during a big change in both your lives. You can express milk for your baby at work and keep nursing sessions as a special time together at the beginning and end of the day. Or if you need to travel without your baby, you could express milk to take or send home.
If you get ill, it doesn’t always mean you need to stop breastfeeding either – read our advice on breastfeeding while you’re sick and be sure to consult with your healthcare professional.
Stopping breastfeeding before six months
If you feel unable to continue breastfeeding until the six-month mark and want to try mother-led weaning, start by cutting out one breastfeed a day and replacing it with a bottle of formula.
“Ideally, start with the mid-day feed. Babies are remarkable and can identify the scent of their mother’s milk nearby, so ask your partner or a relative to give your baby the bottle while you are in another room,” says Sarah.
“Be mindful of good hygiene when preparing feeds. It may be that your baby takes fewer feeds of expressed breast milk than from the breast during a 24-hour period. Don’t force her to take more milk than she wants.”
You’ll probably notice your breasts feel full and tender as your body adjusts to producing less milk. If this becomes uncomfortable, try expressing a little breast milk – just enough to relieve the discomfort without stimulating your body to make more.
Once your body is used to this new volume – usually after a few days – cut out another feed each day. Repeat until you’re no longer breastfeeding and your baby is fully weaned.
“I had complications after my first birth which meant I lost a lot of weight very quickly and I also suffered with mastitis. My supply was low and at three months, I needed to stop,” says Jennifer, mum of two, UK. “I swapped one feed at a time so didn’t struggle too much physically, but I found it hard mentally.”
If you want to maintain the intimacy and health benefits of breastfeeding, but need to cut back, try partial weaning, where only some of the feeds are replaced with formula.
Stopping breastfeeding after six months
As your baby starts to have solid foods at around six months, you will find that her breastfeeds naturally become less frequent over time. Within a year she will probably be down to a couple of feeds a day, complemented by meals and healthy snacks.
However, if you’d like to cut back further, do it gradually, dropping one breastfeed at a time and offering your baby formula milk instead if she is less than 12 months old. Cow’s milk should wait until she is at least a year old.
“My son was down to three breastfeeds a day and having three meals plus snacks when I decided to start weaning him. I gradually replaced each feed with a bottle of formula – leaving the night one until last, at 11 months,” says Ruth, mum of one, UK. “The slow pace meant I had no problems, just a little fullness for a few days.”
There are various ways to distract your child from the change in her feeding patterns. Some mums offer a drink and a snack instead, which you could share to bring a feeling of closeness. You could also alter your daily routine, play a favourite game, or replace a feed with a cuddle from you or your partner. Some children will take longer than others to feel happy with the change, but things will get easier over time. If you’re having any difficulties with weaning, it’s always helpful to seek support from your healthcare professional.
Stopping breastfeeding naturally over time
If you choose to let your toddler decide when to stop breastfeeding (known as baby-led weaning or natural-term breastfeeding), the weaning process is likely to be slow and gradual. Over the months, her feeds will probably become shorter and less frequent, while some mums report their child simply losing interest one day.
“My daughter self-weaned at four,” says Sarah, mum of one, UK. “She gradually slowed down and hardly fed at all from three-and-a-half. Then she seemed to forget when we were on holiday. Six months on, she sometimes wants to latch on, but knows the milk is gone.”
Your body should have plenty of time to adapt, so you’re unlikely to experience any uncomfortable engorgement. You may find it tough emotionally, though, so make time for plenty of cuddles and bonding moments.
“Baby-led weaning was right for me because my son had never had formula or a bottle. I didn’t want to stop suddenly and deny him,” says Kelly, mum of one, UK. “He lost interest at two-and-a-half. It was the best scenario for us, although I was quite emotional.”
What if I need to stop breastfeeding quickly?
Although it’s best not to stop breastfeeding abruptly, sometimes it’s necessary for health reasons, or because you and your baby can’t be together.
If your baby has been breastfed until this point, you’ll almost certainly need to express milk to avoid your breasts becoming uncomfortably engorged. Some women find a breast pump easiest for this, while others prefer to do it by hand. Again, only express enough to ease any discomfort – you don’t want to encourage your body to produce more milk.
While your breasts may feel swollen and tender at first, they will adapt. Your breast milk contains something called feedback inhibitor of lactation (FIL). When your baby stops breastfeeding, FIL tells your body to slow production, but it may take a few days or even weeks for your breasts to adjust.
Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen can help to relieve any pain (although ibuprofen has contraindications for those with asthma). Always follow the manufacturer’s and pharmacist’s guidance and consult a healthcare professional about any medications you need to take.
“I had to give up breastfeeding suddenly when my daughter was eight months old because I needed to take strong painkillers,” says Peggy, mum of one, Switzerland. “I found it very hard – she kept looking for my breast and crying. I held her tightly against me for reassurance while giving her a bottle. After a month, she seemed OK with it.”
Can I continue breastfeeding if I want to get pregnant again?
While breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive, it’s not foolproof. And it’s unlikely to be effective after six months, or if you’re not exclusively breastfeeding. This means you could conceive while still nursing your child.
Pregnant breastfeeding mums sometimes receive conflicting advice about whether to wean. Tandem feeding two children of different ages is certainly possible and when your new baby arrives, your body will produce milk to fit each of their needs.
Some mums find that their older child weans naturally during the pregnancy or drops certain feeds. This may be due to changes in the composition of your milk during pregnancy, which mean that it tastes different and less sweet.6 If your breastfeeding child is under a year old when she starts to wean, keep an eye on whether she continues to gain weight.
You should take advice from your healthcare professional if you want to continue breastfeeding while pregnant if you have previously had a premature birth, a miscarriage or are suffering any bleeding.
If you need medical help to conceive, you may find that doctors will not administer certain fertility drugs or treatments if you’re breastfeeding. Discuss all the options before making a decision on weaning.
The last word on baby weaning
Whenever and however you stop breastfeeding, be gentle with yourself and your baby. It’s a big shift physically, hormonally and emotionally for you both, so do it with thought and care.
“While my body coped with weaning fine, I felt very emotional. It was something we’d shared for so long and it had come to an end,” says Jane, mum of two, USA. “I was working long hours, five days a week, and breastfeeding made me feel very relevant in their lives. But when that stopped, we soon found other ways to bond.”
1 World Health Organisation. [Internet] Health Topics: Breastfeeding: 2018 [Accessed: 08.02.2018]. Available from: http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en
2 Hassiotou et al. Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk. Clin Transl Immunology. 2013;2(4):e3.
3 Dettwyler KA. When to wean: biological versus cultural perspectives. Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2004; 47(3)712-723.
4 Victora CG et al. Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. Lancet. 2016;387(10017):475-490.
5 Dewey KG et al. Breast milk volume and composition during late lactation (7-20 months). J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1984;3(5):713-720.
6 Prosser CG et al. Mammary gland function during gradual weaning and early gestation in women. Aust J Exp Biol Med Sci. 1984;62(Pt 2):215-228.
Termination of breastfeeding | Stopping breastfeeding
When is it time to stop breastfeeding and what is the best way to do it? Read our article for useful practical tips on weaning.
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How long should breastfeeding continue? Three months? Six? Year? Or maybe a few years?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other authorities recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and then continue to be breastfed along with other foods (complementary foods) for at least two years. 1
The fact is that breast milk is not just food. It is a natural sedative if the child is anxious or tired. In addition, milk contains immune-boosting components, the amount of which increases dramatically when the baby gets sick. 2
According to anthropologists, the natural age of a person to stop breastfeeding is even more than two years. Given factors such as tooth development, body weight, comparison with other primates, and historical evidence, some scientists believe that breastfeeding may last up to two to four years. A number of researchers even believe that our ancestors breastfed children up to six or seven years of age. 3
Today, more than 60% of mothers in developed countries start giving their babies formula or complementary foods before six months of age, 4 although WHO does not recommend this.
When is it time to stop breastfeeding?
Weaning means that you gradually stop breastfeeding your baby. Ideally, the first step in this process is the gradual introduction of complementary foods, starting at about six months of age. In this case, breastfeeding continues. The weaning process continues until the mother's milk has been completely replaced by other foods and drinks.
“After six months, the baby needs higher doses of certain nutrients, such as iron, zinc, vitamins B and D, that he cannot get from breast milk or from his own reserves,” says Sarah Beeson, health visitor from Great Britain.
“But solid food should at first only supplement the main diet with breast milk and gradually replace it. Mother's milk remains the main source of nutrition for the baby for many months to come.”
On average, a seven-month-old baby gets 93% of its calories from breast milk. And even between the 11th and 16th months, milk provides him with about half of the daily calorie intake. 5
“Sometimes moms think that breastmilk isn't that important once a baby has started solid foods, but the truth is, no matter how many months old a baby is, there's nothing better than your milk,” continues Sarah.
In fact, the process of finishing breastfeeding can take as long as mother and baby want. “When to stop breastfeeding is up to you,” says Sarah. The only thing that matters is what you think is right for you and your child.”
How to wean
Whenever you decide to start weaning your baby, it's best to do it gradually. An abrupt cessation of breastfeeding can lead to lactostasis, blockage of the milk ducts and mastitis, and in a child such a sudden change can adversely affect the state of the digestive and immune systems. In addition, it will be difficult for both of you psychologically.
When should I stop breastfeeding?
Sometimes mothers mistakenly believe that it is time to stop breastfeeding, when in fact there is no reason to. If you're returning to work, breastfeeding can be a great way to stay close to your baby during this difficult time for both of you. You can express milk at work, and morning and evening feeding sessions will give you the opportunity to spend time alone with your baby. If you need to leave without your baby, you can also express milk and bring or send it home.
If you get sick, this is not always a reason to stop breastfeeding. Read our advice in the article on breastfeeding when sick and consult with your healthcare professional.
Weaning up to six months
If you cannot continue breastfeeding until six months and want to try weaning your baby, start by replacing one feeding a day with a bottle of formula.
“It's best to start with midday feedings. Babies are very alert and able to smell breast milk nearby, so ask your partner or relative to give your baby a bottle when you're in the other room,” Sarah advises.
“Be hygienic when preparing meals. Be prepared for the fact that the baby will take fewer servings of expressed milk per day than if he was fed directly from the breast. Don't make him eat more milk than he wants."
You will probably feel that your breasts are fuller and more tender. This is due to the fact that your body is rebuilding to produce less milk. If this creates discomfort, try expressing some milk—just enough to relieve the discomfort without stimulating extra production.
When your body adjusts to the new volume - usually after a few days - replace with formula for one more meal a day. Continue this until you have changed all feedings and your baby is completely weaned.
“I had complications after my first birth, as a result I lost a lot of weight very quickly, and besides, I developed mastitis. Lactation was very weak, and at three months I was forced to stop breastfeeding,” recalls Jennifer, a mother of two from the UK, “I gradually replaced one feeding, so physically it was easy, but mentally it was hard for me.”
If you want to maintain closeness with your baby and all the health benefits of breastfeeding, but still need to cut down on breastfeeding, try partial weaning, replacing only a few feeds a day with formula.
Weaning after six months
Once your baby starts eating solid foods (about six months old), you will notice that breastfeeding naturally occurs less and less. For a year, it can be reduced to just a couple of times a day, and feeding will be replaced by full meals and healthy snacks.
Anyway, if you intend to continue to reduce breastfeeding, do it gradually, replacing one feeding at a time. Use formula milk if your baby is under 12 months old. With cow's milk, you should wait at least up to a year.
“When I decided to wean my son, I breastfed him three times a day and gave him other foods three times plus light snacks. Gradually, I replaced all breastfeedings with formula. By 11 months, we only had one nighttime breastfeed left,” says Ruth, a UK mom.
There are various ways to distract a child from changes in his diet. Some mothers suggest that instead of breastfeeding something to drink and eat together to maintain a sense of closeness. You can also change your daily routine, play your favorite game, or replace feeding with caresses - from you or from your partner. Some children take longer to get used to the new food, but in the end everything falls into place. If you are having difficulty weaning, ask your healthcare provider for advice.
Ending breastfeeding naturally
Ending breastfeeding can be guided by the baby's wishes. This is called baby-initiated weaning, or the natural termination of breastfeeding. Such a process is likely to be long and gradual. Month after month, feeding sessions will become shorter and less frequent, until one day the child completely loses interest in the breast.
“My daughter stopped breastfeeding on her own when she was four years old,” says Sarah, a mother from the UK. And once, when we were on vacation, she seemed to just forget about her breasts. Now, six months later, she sometimes still asks for breasts, but she already knows that there is no milk there.
You will have a huge amount of time for the body to adapt, so there should be no discomfort or swelling of the breast. However, you may find it difficult emotionally, so spend more time petting and bonding with your baby.
“Child-initiated termination of breastfeeding was right for me because I never gave my son formula or a bottle. I didn’t want to abruptly stop feeding and refuse him,” recalls Kelly, a mother from the UK, “He himself lost interest in breasts at the age of two and a half years. For us, it was the best scenario, although emotionally it was not very easy for me.”
What if you need to stop breastfeeding quickly?
It is best not to stop breastfeeding abruptly, but sometimes it is necessary for medical reasons or because you cannot be near the baby.
If you have been breastfeeding your baby up to this point, you will most likely have to express your milk to avoid breast swelling. Some mothers prefer to use a breast pump for this, others find it easier to express milk manually. You only need to pump a little, just to eliminate the discomfort, otherwise your body will take it as a signal to produce more milk.
At first, the breasts may swell and become tender, but this will pass. Breast milk contains a so-called feedback lactation inhibitor. When breastfeeding is stopped, this inhibitor tells your body to slow down milk production, but it can take days or even weeks for your breasts to rebuild.
Certain medications can relieve pain and should be discussed with your doctor. Always follow your pharmacist's instructions or directions, and consult your healthcare professional before taking any medication.
“I had to abruptly stop breastfeeding when my daughter was eight months old because she had to take strong painkillers,” says Peggy, a mother from Switzerland. “It was very difficult because the baby was constantly looking for a breast and crying. I held her tightly to me as I gave her a bottle. This calmed her, and after a month everything was all right.
Can I continue breastfeeding if I want to get pregnant again?
Breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive. However, this method is not the most reliable, especially after six months or if you are not exclusively breastfeeding. This means that you can get pregnant even while you are breastfeeding.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers sometimes receive conflicting advice about whether to stop breastfeeding. Consistent feeding of two children of different ages is of course possible, and with the advent of the second baby, your body will produce the kind of milk that both of them need.
It is not uncommon for an older child to refuse to breastfeed or skip feedings if the mother is pregnant. This may be due to changes in milk composition that occur during pregnancy. Milk can change the taste and become less sweet. 6 If your baby is under one year of age when he starts to stop breastfeeding, make sure he continues to gain weight.
Talk to your doctor if you want to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy, but have had a preterm birth or miscarriage, or have any bleeding in the past.
If you need medical help to conceive, certain drugs and procedures may not be suitable while you are breastfeeding. Discuss all possible options before deciding to stop breastfeeding.
Whenever you decide to end breastfeeding, and whatever method you choose to do so, be kind to yourself and your baby. This is a huge change for both of you physically, hormonally, and emotionally, so proceed thoughtfully and carefully.
“Although my body responded normally to stopping breastfeeding, it was psychologically difficult for me. The thing that united us for so long is over, - Jane, a mother of two children from the USA, shares her impressions, - I worked long hours, five days a week, and breastfeeding made me feel that I occupy a special place in the lives of children. But when it stopped, we soon found other ways to be together.”
1 World Health Organization. [Internet] Health Topics: Breastfeeding: 2018 [Accessed: 02/08/2018]. Available from : http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en - World Health Organization. "Health Issues: Breastfeeding" [Internet]. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO; 2018 [Visit 02/08/2018]. Article linked: http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/e
2 Hassiotou et al. Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk. Clin Transl Immunology. 2013;2(4): e 3. - Hassiot F. et al., "Infectious diseases of the mother and child stimulate a rapid leukocyte reaction in breast milk." Clean Transl Immunology. 2013;2(4):e3.
3 Dettwyler KA. When to wean: biological versus cultural perspectives. Clin Obstet Gynecol . 2004; 47(3)712-723. - Dettwiler KA, "Time to wean: weaning from a biological and cultural point of view". Klin Obstet Ginekol (Clinical obstetrics and gynecology). 2004; 47(3):712-723.
4 Victora CG Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. Lancet. 2016;387(10017):475-490. - Victor S.J. et al., "Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms and long-term effects". Lancet 2016;387(10017):475-490.
5 Dewey KG et al. Breast milk volume and composition during late lactation (7-20 months). J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr . 1984;3(5):713-720. — Dewey C.G. et al., "Amount and composition of breast milk in late lactation (7-20 months)". F Pediatrician Gastroenterol Nutr. 1984;3(5):713-720.
6 Prosser CG et al. Mammary gland function during gradual weaning and early gestation in women. Aust J Exp Biol Med 9021 9029 Sci. 1984;62( Pt 2):215-228. - Prosser S.G. et al., "Breast Function During Gradual Weaning and Early Gestation." Aust J Exp Biol Med Sai. 1984;62( Pt 2):215-228.
Cessation of breastfeeding for medical reasons
Cessation of breastfeeding is the process of transferring a child from mother's milk to other sources of nutrition. In rare cases, abrupt cessation of breastfeeding may be required due to illness of the mother, medication, or prolonged separation from the child. Unlike gradual weaning by the mother or refusal to breastfeed by the baby over several months, abrupt cessation of breastfeeding can be psychologically difficult for both mother and baby. In addition, it can cause significant chest discomfort and put the mother at risk of mastitis. If possible, abrupt cessation of breastfeeding should be avoided and the baby should be weaned gradually so that he himself refuses it.
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Physiological changes in the abrupt cessation of breastfeeding
In the process of cessation of breastfeeding, the composition of milk changes greatly, especially if it happens at the same time. Despite the fact that the secretory capacity of the mammary glands decreases, in the process of involution, the breast tissue partially retains its functions for quite a long time (about 45 days). Between days 1 and 45, the concentration of lactose and potassium decreases, while the concentration of sodium, fat and total protein increases. In addition, milk becomes more salty due to an increase in the content of proteins (lactoferrin, immunoglobulins A, G and M, albumin, lactalbumin and casein).
Abrupt cessation of breastfeeding can cause dramatic hormonal changes, especially in the first month after birth when prolactin levels are extremely high.
General guidelines for stopping breastfeeding for medical reasons
- If you need to stop breastfeeding for medical reasons, it is recommended that you seek support from a qualified lactation specialist. He should help determine if there are other options (for example, if other medications for the mother can be used).
- Moms should express milk manually or with electric breast pumps to relieve full breasts and feel comfortable, but the amount of expressed milk should be minimal so as not to stimulate further production.
- Other methods may be helpful, including wearing a comfortable supportive bra and monitoring for signs of blocked milk ducts or breast infection.
- Some mothers, especially those prone to depression, may need emotional and social support during the transition from breastfeeding.
- Do not neglect the instructions for stopping breastfeeding for physiological reasons.
Lawrence, R. A. and Lawrence, R. M. Breastfeeding: a guide for the medical profession (Elsevier Mosby, Maryland Heights, MO, 2011). - Lawrence R.A., Lawrence R.M., "Breastfeeding: A guide for healthcare professionals." (Maryland Heights, Missouri, USA: Elsevier Mosby; 2011.)
Li, R., Fein, S.B., Chen, J., Grummer-Strawn, L.M. Why mothers stop breastfeeding: mothers' self-reported reasons for stopping during the first year.