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When To Stop Breastfeeding

5 months ago · · 0 comments · Sticky

When To Stop Breastfeeding

How To Accept When You Need To Stop Breastfeeding

when to stop breastfeeding One of the most common issues new mothers face is the stress of knowing when to stop breastfeeding. The guilt associated with having to stop breastfeeding earlier than expected can be very debilitating to a mothers confidence. Breastfeeding is meant to be such a natural part of motherhood and we are told over and over again how important it is to breastfeed.

However….the rules regarding when to stop breastfeeding keep changing!

When I had my eldest daughter (now 10), the World Heath Organisation (WHO) recommended mothers to stop breastfeed babies from a minimum of 12 months – up to 2 years. However, it was not common for mothers to breastfeed past 12 months. I remember other mothers thinking I was a bit strange for continuing to breastfeed my baby at night to comfort her up to her 2nd birthday. Yet now, the recommendation has increased again. Now the WHO recommends mothers breastfeed up to 2 years and beyond.

The Push To Breastfeed has led many mothers to feel stressed when they decide to stop breastfeeding


when to stop breastfeeding It can be very stressful when you decide to stop breastfeeding. This may be the result of not having sufficient milk supply, you or your baby not enjoying breastfeeding, falling ill (ie mastitis) as a result of breastfeeding, your baby rejecting your milk, having to return to work and so on. It can be difficult for new mothers to reconcile having to stop breastfeeding. However, if you are unable to breastfeed (for whatever reason) the key things to focus on is the health and wellbeing of your child and yourself during this new phase of parenting.

Having to accept when breastfeeding isn’t working

I was shocked to find I did not produce anywhere near the same amount of milk I had produced for my first child. No matter how much breast pumping, herbal drops or food I ate, my second baby was not putting on enough weight. So I had to accept it was time to top up with formula. I really wanted to keep the closeness I really enjoyed during breastfeeding. So I start with breastfeeding and then finished with formula whilst she held on to the other breast for comfort.

Despite other mothers and ‘experts’ telling me my baby would start to reject my breast, this never happened. She eventually moved to having just bottled formula during the day and breastfeeding for comfort at night. I personally wanted to continue this closeness, but the focus was 100% on what my child needed to be healthy. 100% breastmilk was not getting the job done the second time around. So once I accepted this fact, I knew it was time to stop breastfeeding. This led to a win-win for both of us.

So, how do you know when to stop breastfeeding?

The first things to ask yourself is: “Does my baby need more milk to be healthy?”

If your baby’s needs are not being met with breastmilk, then it’s time to invest in a good quality milk formula. This way you ensure your baby’s health is your number 1 priority.

Analysis of breastmilk versus formula

Many years ago, there was a genuine argument for formula milk being significantly poorer quality than breastmilk. However, now there are particular brands of breastmilk that are very close to the real thing. So you don’t need to worry that your baby will be missing out on essential ingredients. On Babylist.com you’ll find their list of their ‘Best Baby Formulas of 2020’. Similac Advance Non-GMO with Iron and Earth’s Best Organic Dairy Infant Powder Formula with Iron are the two that top their list.

Similac is made with HMO. HMO feeds good bacteria in the gut and contains nutrients to support brain development, eye health and developing cells.

Earths Best is certified organic and non GMO and is designed to be as similar to breast milk as possible. It is also high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.

What if my baby is not interested in the breast any more or isn’t satisfied with breastmilk alone?


when to stop breastfeeding The primary focus of any parent needs to be on supporting the nutritional needs of your baby. One of the most common complaints of new mothers is baby’s biting them, mastitis, cracked/sore nipples, lack of interest from babies, or gagging on too much milk. These are important issues that need to be addressed.

One of the keys to a happy baby when feeding, is a mother feeling calm and happy herself. Pain whilst breastfeeding is not conducive to a happy mother!

There are many health professions such as lactation consultants that can support mothers who are having difficulty. However, if you have reached a point where you and your baby are just not happy, there is no reason to feel guilty or bad for swapping to good quality formula feeding.

When bottle feeding try to ensure:

  • your bottles are always well sterilised
  • your milk is well prepared (eg test a drop on your arm to ensure its not too hot)
  • do not over dilute the formula
  • maintain the same regular nappy checks and maternal health checks to ensure your baby is gaining sufficient healthy weight
  • always leave home with enough formula so you can feed your baby when required

What if I have to stop breastfeeding because I need to return to work?

Whilst many work places are much more accommodating to breastfeeding in the office, it is not often practical for a mother to have a carer bring her baby into work in order to breastfeed, or to leave work a few times per day to feed her baby. If you can easily and quickly express milk for a carer to feed your baby, that’s great. However, if it’s becoming stressful, rethink how you can make your life easier and happier for you and your baby.

Pumping breastmilk is an option, however, it us not always easy

Personally, with my youngest child, I spent hours pumping to try to stimulate my breastmilk and I still never produced enough milk. So whilst pumping can be a great option, if it’s quick and easy. It can become very stressful if it takes too long and is painful.

Switching to formula if pumping breastmilk is not an option makes sense in a number of cases. If you find yourself in this position, remember that your primary goal is to ensure your child grows up healthy and strong. The key is to ensure your baby is getting the nutrients required from a good quality formula and that you are both feeling happy and healthy.

If possible, try to breastfeed up to 6 months of age

The WHO highly recommends exclusively breastfeeding up to 6 months of age to achieve optimal growth, development and growth and protection from common childhood illness such as diarrhoea and pneumonia. So if you can keep the 6 month mark as your goal, that’s the ideal. However, this is not always possible. So if you find yourself in this position, look for a brand like Similac or Earth’s Best that will provide as close as possible nutrients for your baby.

The key is to focus on your baby’s health, not on being the perfect mum. Take the guide of your health care professionals and seek help when you feel things are not working out the way you’d planned.

If you are feeling distressed about deciding when to stop breastfeeding, make an appointment for a phone consultation or an in house visit to help for mums. You’ll be surprised what a talk to an expert can do for your confidence, happiness and health as a new mother.

Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums & Author of Perfect Mums

2 years ago · · 1 comment

What happens if I experience breastfeeding problems?

Breastfeeding Problems – the biggest stressor for many new mums today

counselling for new mumsAs a new mother, you make certain assumptions. One of these assumptions is that you will be able to breastfeed naturally and not experience breastfeeding problems. You assume breastfeeding comes easily to most mothers and subsequently, it should come easily to you too. Unfortunately, breastfeeding is one of the biggest causes of stress for many new mothers. The main reasons for this are:

a) it does not always come easily to all mums

b) babies can reject the breast

c) there is a method behind getting it right so babies latch correctly

d) there can be issues with milk supply

All these issues can result in problems breastfeeding when your new baby arrives.

 

‘But.. Isn’t Breast the best?’

There is little talk about the issues many mums face when attempting to breastfeeding. The facts are that approximately 5% of women are physically unable to produce enough milk to feed their babies and further. The Centre For Diseasde Control and Prevention in the United States notes, by the time a baby is 1 year of age only 33% of mothers are still breastfeeding. This is despite the fact that currently, the World Health Organisation recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby until 6 months of age and then combining breastmilk with solids until the age of 2 or beyond. So you can understand why new mothers feel such intense pressure to breastfeed and why they berate themselves and feel so stressed and depressed when breastfeeding does not go according to plan.

Why is breastfeeding claimed to be so great?

There are many benefits to breastfeeding. According to The World Health Organisation :

Colostrum, the yellowish, sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, is recommended by WHO as the perfect food for the newborn, and feeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth.

The Word Health Organisation also notes the following:

  1. Breastmilk contains antibodies that protect a baby against diarrhoea and pneumonia – the two most common causes of infant death world-wide
  2. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer
  3. Breastfeeding reduces the chance of your child becoming obese or overweight later in life
  4. Mothers often require assistance in how to breastfeed correctly
  5. Formula milk does not contain the antibodies of breastmilk

In addition, research has shown that breastmilk also influences your baby’s gut microbiota which protects your baby from skin conditions such as eczema and can having a healthy gut helps protect against chronic illness’s later in life. You may like to read the book ‘Clean Gut‘ for a details explanation of the importance of good gut health.

So, the message is clear – if you can breastfeed – it’s the best source of nutrients for your baby.

But what if you experience breastfeeding problems and must top up with/or exclusively feed with Formula?

bringing baby homeThere is an underlying assumption in the wider community that women stop breastfeeding because they want to make their lives easier. This is rarely the case. Most mothers (in the Western world at least) are very intent on breastfeeding and go through a very traumatic emotional turmoil when they experience breastfeeding problems. They experience high levels of stress when they come to the realisation that they HAVE to formula feed their baby – for the baby’s health’s sake.

Whilst breastfeeding should come naturally to most mothers – it doesn’t always come easily and often takes a bit of practice and guidance to get it right. In fact, it is not uncommon for pregnant women to enter motherhood quite unsure about how to breastfeed their baby.

 

Anecdotally, mothers often report having issues during the breastfeeding days, such as:

  • cracked nipples
  • sore nipples
  • enlarged breasts
  • decrease in milk supply
  • tongue-tie
  • vasospasm
  • babies gaining insufficient weight
  • babies with wind pain after breastfeeding

just to mention a few….

Therefore, in order to feel calm and relaxed during the breastfeeding process, new mums should consider the following:

  1. Be aware that it’s not uncommon for breastfeeding to take time to get the hang of
  2. When/if things do go wrong there are things you can do to ease the issues
  3. All you can do is try your best and if all else fails, you can still look after your baby’s health well using the right formula

There are a number of things you can do if you are experiencing trouble breastfeeding

  • Speak to a lactation consultant (start with a call to your midwife, or the Australian Breastfeeding Association Helpline on 1800 686 268)
  • If you have engorged/swollen breast, try to gently hand express some milk, or place your baby solely on this side of the breast to initiate the flow of milk – this will hurt a bit, but it should only last until the milk has flowed through the breast
  • Place a cold pack on the breast when swollen, or a heat pack to ease the pain
  • Speak to a health expert about natural herbs to increase milk supply (we can recommend Herbario in Melbourne)

If all else fails and you need to switch to formula milk, it’s very important to not feel like a failure and to trust the most important thing is that you and your baby are healthy and happy. If you are increasingly getting stressed and your baby is also stressed – this is NOT good for your baby’s health. If your baby is losing weight due to poor milk supply, this is also no good for your baby’s health. So, in this case, it is a good idea to do some research into the best brands of formula. There are many formulas that are very close to the make-up of breastmilk. These brands are the best to use to ensure your baby is getting the best nutrients possible.

There are a huge range of formulas to choose from. However, one formula brand which is recommended by Naturopath Kate Dalgleish, containing  a good source of nutrients for your baby is the Bellamy’s organic brand. Kate also recommends adding DHA and probiotics to the formula, which you can read about in her downloadable guide.

The take-home message

In the ideal world every mother would breastfeed easily and without any breastfeeding problems down the track. However, this simply is not the case for many mothers. Personally, I was able to fully breastfeed my first child with the help of some lactation teas from Herbario. I struggled with the pain of engorged breasts from time to time, but was able to treat myself and continue breastfeeding. However, despite being confident everything would be the same for my second child, I did not have sufficient milk for her. I persisted, expressed milk and tried natural therapies, but nothing changed my milk supply.

I didn’t want to lose the intimate connection I had soothing my baby with breastmilk, so I finally gave in to ‘formula top up feeding’. I continued to breastfeed my second child until 2 years of age and just topped up her feeds with formula milk and solids (after 6 months of age). I was warned that my daughter would reject the breast, but she never did. Perhaps this was because she had started the first 3 months with exclusive breastfeeding. Perhaps it was because she would soothe to sleep on the breast and found this very comforting. I’m not 100% sure. However, the main thing for me was knowing I was doing my best for the health and wellbeing of my child. She soon began to regain weight on formula milk and we still had our comfort feeding with breastmilk, so it was a win-win in the end.

As a new mother all you can do is try your best and ensure you have your own and your child’s best interests at heart. With this mindset you can handle anything that comes your way.

 

breastfeeding problems