Breastfeeding can be a beautiful time between a mother and her baby. Aside from giving them the essential nutrients they need to grow and develop, it allows mothers and babies to bond in a way that nothing else does. But, like all good things, breastfeeding must come to an end. Although weaning is dependent on both "parties" involved, there are a few ways your body is try to tell you it's time to wean that you may want to know.
Even if you plan to let your baby take the lead when it comes to weaning — the easiest route for most families — it makes sense to pay attention to your body's cues since your body is the one supplying the milk. These cues, used in conjunction with your baby's own signs it's time to wean, can be a powerful tool for weaning easily when the time is right.
Although weaning looks different for every family, taking it slowly is usually the simplest route. La Leche League International's (LLLI) motto for weaning is "gradually, and with love," and if taken into consideration along with the signs both you and your baby are sending, weaning can be just as beautiful as nursing.
1. Your Supply Is Dwindling
I remember right before I weaned both my daughters that my supply basically disappeared on its own. Since we only nursed a few times per day at that point, my body eventually decided it was time to quit and I just wasn't producing milk like I used to.
Although Belly Belly noted that your milk supply won't completely dry up until a few months after you stop nursing for good, the dwindling supply can be enough to encourage both you and your baby to slowly call it quits.
2. You're Constantly Exhausted
As exhausting as it is when you're nursing a newborn, nursing a toddler or older baby is equally exhausting in its own right. Although your child still reaps nutritional benefits from your breast milk, extended breastfeeding is often a comfort measure for toddlers than anything else. If it's draining you to be a human pacifier, gradually stopping might be best for your mental sanity.
Although LLLI is quick to point out that breastfeeding usually isn't the sole culprit of a mother's exhaustion, it can definitely play a role.
3. You Begin To Resent Nursing
For many moms, breastfeeding doesn't come naturally at all. And, despite reassurance that if they "just keep trying," it doesn't get any better. For whatever reason, sometimes weaning is necessary to ensure your baby is getting enough nutrition and that you don't completely resent breastfeeding (or even motherhood in general) because of a horrible nursing experience.
4. You're Pregnant Again
Although it's totally possible and safe to continue to breastfeed your older child when you find out that you're pregnant again, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) pointed out a few reasons why some pregnant mamas are ready to wean at that point. When you're pregnant, you will probably notice a dip in your milk supply and energy levels. Some pregnant moms with high risk pregnancies, or moms who are carrying twins are advised to stop nursing as well, the APA stated.
5. You Sense Readiness From Your Child
At some point, you'll start to realize that your baby is ready to wean too. Parents noted that some babies will start to loose interest in nursing, prefer solids to nursing, begin sleeping through the night, or show other signs that weaning is close.