The gradual weaning process will take at least one month. This transition period is slow, but prevents discomfort and hopefully any breast infection from breast milk not being emptied from your breasts. Each time that you take a breastfeeding away, you must take care of your breasts until they are comfortable with missing the deleted breastfeeding, It will take your breasts about 5 days to be comfortable as you remove each breast feeding. Follow either of the following suggestions for breast care as you wean
At the same time that you are removing (weaning) a breastfeeding and substituting a bottle of formula, place 2 to 3 large ice bags or large bags of frozen peas over and around each breast including your armpits for a fifteen-minute period. Us a layer of clothing under the ice to protect your sensitive breast skin from the cold. Hold bags in place with your arms. Each day repeat the use of the ice for a 15 mnute period while baby is fed the formula bottle. Continue until your breasts are comfortable with skipping a breastfeeding. It will probably take your breasts about 5 days to tolerate not being nursed. Then remove another breastfeeding, substitute another bottle of formula and apply ice bags/frozen peas to your breasts. Repeat in 5 day cycles until all the breastfeedings are replaced with formula feedings.
Breast milk can also be weaned from your breasts by use of a homeopathic remedy of applying raw chilled green cabbage leaf compresses to your breasts. Core the cabbage, pull the leaves off in whole pieces and rinse the leaves under cool water. Placed the rinsed leaves in a plastic bag in the refrigerator to chill. Apply the cabbage leaf compresses to your breasts at the same time that you are removing (weaning) a breastfeeding and substituting a botle of formula. Use enough fresh raw chilled green cabbage leaves to cover your entire breasts and armpits. Hold leaves in place with your bra. If the ridges of the cabbage leaves are hard, gently roll a soup can over the ridges to soften before use. Wear the leaves continuously for 2 hours then discard. Repeat each day until your breasts are comfortable with not being nursed -- usually 3-5 days. Then remove another breastfeeding, substitute another bottle of formula and apply the cabbage leaf compresses for 2 hours. Continue until all the breastfeedings are replaced with formula bottles. Discontinue the use of cabbage leaf compress if you notice any rash on your breasts while using The cabbage leaf compresses help to reduce bodily swelling and you may notice an increase in your urine output while using.
Part-Time Breastfeeding/Partial Weaning:
Partial weanings or part-time breastfeeding is possible. If you choose to keep certain breastfeedings and replace other breastfeedings with formula bottles, you will need to follow a strict plan. Your breasts will need the same signal every day for when to make breast milk and when to not make breast milk. Remember breastfeeding works on the principle of demand and supply. Less or no demand equals less or no supply. Wean the feedings that you wish to remove carefully and slowly. Continue the breastfeedings that you wish to keep, nursing the baby at the same feedings each and every day. Demand (emptying) stimulates supply (volume). If you are returning to work and feel that you will be unable to pump your breasts at work and maintain your breast milk volume, then you may wean the work feedings away and continue to breastfeed all the other feedings at home. Your baby will receive formula bottles from the day care provider and you will not pump at work. Request that your day care provider to not feed your baby for 2 hours before your pick up time so that you can begin breastfeeding as soon as you arrive and pick baby up after work. On your days off from work, you will need to follow the same schedule of breastfeedings and formula bottles. Your breasts will receive the same signal every day and maintain your breast milk at the times when you are able to breastfeed. Remember to keep well-hydrated while breastfeeding.
During complete or partial weaning, you need to be alert to any signs of a breast infection (mastitis). Call your physician if concerned.
Weaning to Cup:
Weaning to a baby cup avoids baby learning to bottle feed and then needing to be weaned from the bottle. Babies are able to drink from cups from birth -- small baby cups are availalbe for use in nurseries to avoid nipple confusion if formula supplements are needed during the early days of breastfeeding. Teaching your baby to feed from the cup is fun. Never pour the liquid into your baby's mouth; let baby feed him/herself. You just present the liquid to the baby's lips and let baby do the rest. Babies have 2 techniques: either sipping or lapping the liquid.
Experiment with different baby cups when teaching your baby to cup feed -- Avent, Playtex, and Gerber all make baby cups for use with babies from 3 months of age. Practice cup feeding in the tub -- where spills are no problem. try expressed breast milk or white grape juice -- neither stain!
Tips to Remember:
Sudden weaning is very traumatic to both mother and baby. Taking your time with weaning will decrease the stress and loss of the closeness of the breastfeeding experience.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that solid foods begin at six months. Your baby will thrive on breast milk, formula or a combination of both until 6 months of age. Around 6 months your baby will be "ready" for solids. Baby will signal his/her readiness by watching you intently as you eat and actually grabbing for your spoon while you are eating. Baby is finally interested and won't wait any longer!
Discuss introducing solids with your baby's physician. Remember, to maintain your breast milk volume always breastfeed first then offer the solids to baby. Solids can be offered immediately following breastfeeding or between breastfeedings.
Experiment with baby bottles and nipples. Avent bottles and nipples are preferred by many breastfeeding mothers. Talk with friends and nursing mothers support gorups for suggestions.
As you wean, some babies need the comfort of a pacifier or their fingers/thumb for soothing. If you choose a pacifier, purchase a one-piece pacifier that is unable to come apart and avoid any choking hazard to your baby.
Pinch bottle nipples and pacifiers daily. Discard and purchase new ones, IF the pacifier or bottle nipple sticks together.
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