Your baby needs milk. The World Health Organisation recommends babies are exclusively breastfed til 6 months. Then that they have breast milk alongside food until they are at least 2.
This does not come with a whole heap of mum guilt though. If you need to give up or not start breastfeeding, that is your decision and not for me to stick my oar in. However, if you think you could breastfeed with help PLEASE get some help. I have put a list of organisations which can help at the bottom of this article.
When it comes to stopping breastfeeding though, there are a few things to think about.
- There is no need to stop at 6 months. You can carry on as long as you wish/can.
- You don’t have to stop because you need antibiotics – discuss this with your GP, there are options in most cases though. Your health is important though – don’t just ignore the infection
- You don’t have to transition to formula milk because the companies say it’s great for your baby – breast milk is also great for your baby and it’s free, clean and plastic free too.
- Your employer should give you support to continue breastfeeding if you want it. From experience, it’s not easy to pump at work but in most cases it is possible.
Sometimes babies will naturally reduce their feeds and stop by themselves, others need a bit of encouragement. Drop one feed at a time. You may also want to reduce the length of the feeds to gradually transition. Remember as baby takes less milk from you, they need to replace the fluids with water and cow’s or alternative milks (see my blog for more info on alternatives) otherwise they could end up dehydrated and constipated.
If you stop too quickly you can end up with blocked ducts and mastitis. Cut down gradually and if for some reason you have to stop suddenly, get help from a lactation consultant on one of the numbers below.
Transitioning can be emotionally hard for you and baby, it’s another reason to take it slowly. Some people find making something out of a bit of their breastmilk can be a nice way to end. Or you could take picture of your last feed.
Don’t underestimate the power of hormones though. They can be a bit all over the place towards the end and afterwards. Be kind to yourself and find a trusted friend to talk to. Professional help is also available.
National Breastfeeding Helpline: 0300 100 0212
The Breastfeeding Network supporter line in Bengali and Sylheti: 0300 456 2421
Association of Breastfeeding Mothers: 0300 330 5453
La Leche League: 0345 120 2918
National Childbirth Trust (NCT): 0300 330 0700
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