First off give yourself a pat on the back. For a number of reasons, only about 27 percent of moms nurse for at least a year—the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics—so it’s great you were able to keep at it. And while it might seem tough to wean now that you’re both so used to breastfeeding, the fact that you’re pros at this point can make it a positive experience.
Since your toddler is already eating table foods, weaning will be easier: You won’t have to substitute bottles of formula—you can just drop feedings. But that doesn’t mean you should do it abruptly; fewer feedings will likely mean some engorgement for you and could be tough for your toddler to handle.
Instead, gradually shorten the length of each of your nursing sessions, or skip one entirely every few days. And remember, your child has gotten used to the closeness and proximity, so it’s important to provide him with plenty of attention while weaning, says Jennifer Ritchie, IBCLC, author of I Make Milk, What’s Your Superpower? Remember, breastfeeding is far more than nourishment; your child also enjoys your closeness and proximity when you’re breastfeeding. After you’ve successfully eliminated one feeding — it will probably take at least a few days — try cutting out another.
Your toddler is curious and easily distractible, and that can work in your favor. If she’s in your lap during a feeding, let her go and button up. Keep her distracted with a toy or story. The first steps of weaning really can be that easy.
Many moms find that if they simply don’t suggest breastfeeding, they can successfully skip a feeding here and there. Try not sitting in the usual chair you would sit in to nurse, and instead plan some extra play sessions during that time or head outside. It’ll take both your minds off breastfeeding, and the fact that you’re spending time together will mean you’re still bonding, despite not nursing.
Concentrate on daytime first
You’ll find it easier to cut out the daytime feedings before the evening ones. During the day, your toddler is busy and his mind is occupied. At night, he’s probably come to expect cuddles and breast milk before bed, so try to make the nighttime feeding the last to go.
Going fast? Get guidance
If you need or want to stop breastfeeding sooner rather than later, talk to your physician or a lactation consultant, who may be able to suggest medication to decrease your milk production. You don’t want to rush it without help.
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