Mother’s discomfort

I have seen my sister go through hell when she was weaning her child. What can I do to avoid that pain?

It is not uncommon that weaning is harder for the mother both emotionally and physically, than for the child. The most important tip for relieving both types of discomfort is to go slowly. By slowly decreasing the amount that you feed, you will naturally decrease the milk supply without stress to you or your baby. It is entirely possible that you will experience some emotional upheaval over the weaning process. For some women, who escaped fairly unscathed up to now, this can be an unpleasant surprise. The hormonal changes associated with weaning are considerable, so mood swings, irritability, and even depression are not uncommon.

There can also be sadness over the loss of the physical connection that you have enjoyed with your baby up to now. This is a perfectly normal thing to grieve about, and accepting the sadness as a part of the process is the healthiest way to deal with it. Cry if you feel sad. It will pass. However, if you are experiencing intense unmanageable emotions or are feeling so sad that you are unable to function, then you may be experiencing post-natal depression and should seek help. Read the section on post-natal depression.

Sudden weaning, for whatever reason, can be a very stressful activity for both mother and baby. Because your breasts will carry on making milk for a time after you stop feeding, you will experience engorgement, which is extremely uncomfortable. It is not unusual to have fevers as well. The best policy is to reduce the discomfort to manageable levels while your body adjusts to the changed situation. Hot compresses will soften the breasts, and a small amount of expressing can be a great relief. Try to express enough to reduce discomfort. If you express to enthusiastically then you run the risk of stimulating milk production! Hot baths and pain killers are also helpful. Do not be too heroic about this – if after a day or two you are still in pain, then you should consult your doctor.

Baby may be very unhappy as well and require plenty of reassurance, especially if you have to wean suddenly. Be patient and accepting of baby’s misery, keep things quiet, and try to spend extra time cuddling. Make sure that other caretakers are informed and will also give baby extra love.

Your breasts may never return to their former glory. They are likely to be less firm and also change in size, either larger or smaller. Changes in the breasts can continue for up to a year after weaning, and you may even still produce a little milk for that long. This is all perfectly normal. +27 (0)81 885 4683 

*Important : The information provided is for information purposes only. No medical diagnosis or prescription can be inferred or is implied. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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