For mothers who want to stop breastfeeding

What are the psychological aspects when you stop breastfeeding and how should you manage your relationship with your baby?

There are many requests on this subject and even if each situation is unique and like every mother-child-tit relationship is, I will try to give some advice to mothers who have decided to stop breastfeeding by making a premise that seems necessary to me.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusively breastfeeding up to the sixth month of a child’s life. Subsequently, the mother’s milk should remain the main food, to which other foods are gradually added, up to the first year of age, and it is advisable to continue breastfeeding for the entire second year of life. After the second year, the WHO always states, the choice to continue and for how long is at the discretion of mother and child.

I wanted to talk to you about what the WHO says in this regard, as I believe that the decision to stop breastfeeding must in any case be a personal choice, because there are no predefined limits or times that are the same for everyone but there are needs both from a point of psychological and physical view of the mother and child couple. 

In reality, there is no study demonstrating that breastfeeding after the first “necessary” months leads to an emotional dependence on mother and child or that this leads the child to not become independent. Ours is a question of culture, as we are not used to mothers on park benches breastfeeding 2-year-old children almost a meter tall or so. Most people usually don’t like this but the fact remains that this majority doesn’t know the story of that specific mother-child couple so they shouldn’t make judgments .

In any case, I believe that if a mother has decided to stop breastfeeding her baby, it means that she no longer feels like it and does not consider it essential to continue.

Consistency when deciding to quit

My advice is to explain very simply to the baby that the milk has run out and therefore he will no longer be able to feed through the teat. Babies often ask for their mother’s breast when they need comfort and consolation, but they will soon learn to ask for comfort in other ways and will sometimes self-soothe.

What I recommend is consistency so be firm and calm when your child asks for the boob, pampering him but avoiding picking him up (he could immediately associate the boob and it would be even more difficult) and distracting him with songs, nursery rhymes and stories .

Nocturnal awakenings

I recommend, especially as regards night awakenings, to put the child to bed after following small rituals, such as a hearty dinner (without exaggerating, but making sure that the child does not go to bed hungry), a nice bath warm, the telling of a story perhaps invented by mum and dad in which the child can identify and alternate between mum and dad in the phases of falling asleep and in the phase of waking up at night.

During nocturnal awakenings it is good to remain calm, cuddling and reassuring them , but if you are determined to want to stop, do not give in to giving the tit and do not distract them too much. They must learn to understand that the night is made for sleeping and even if he stays calm in his cot without sleeping it doesn’t matter, little by little he will understand and every night will get better and better.

Bristol billboard

If the child is older (from 18 months upwards) you can create a Bristol billboard with him, with all the days of the week, in which, the next morning, you will attach little stars or whatever you want (drawings of toy cars, dolls, animals, etc. .) if the child fell asleep without a roof and without too many tantrums. You will explain to your child that if at the end of the week he has reached the stars every day, he will be able to receive a prize of his choice among those you offer him.

I can emphasize that the more peaceful you are, the more peaceful your children will be and that they will not suffer any trauma.

Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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