Making the decision to wean your baby is fraught with complications, not the least of which is easing breast pain. Being prepared for weaning and taking the process slowly will help to make the transition smooth for you and your baby.
Decide if weaning your baby will be a gradual or abrupt process. This decision sometimes hinges on medical reasons, work issues or other personal factors. The La Leche League advises against abrupt weaning if it can be avoided as it results in engorgement of the breasts, unnecessary pain and can increase the risk for infection.
Reduce feeding by either taking away the least important daily feedings or by reducing each feeding by a few minutes. Weaning gradually reduces the amount of breast pain involved in the weaning process.
Provide your baby with substitutes for usual feeding times such as a bottle, sippy cup or acceptable snack, depending on the age of your child. Acceptable snacks may include baby food, finger foods designed specifically for babies or diced or mashed vegetables or fruit.
Reduce breast pain by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and using warm compresses or taking a hot shower. You can also express a little milk to reduce the pressure using either your hands or a breast pump.
Give your baby extra reassurance during this time of transition. Making sure your baby is happy will make stopping breastfeeding easier for you, too.
If you have to end nursing abruptly you can reassure your baby by spending extra time cuddling and by explaining what is happening in simple terms. Letting another person, such as a spouse or grandparent, provide a bottle or snack may make baby more inclined to accept this new form of sustenance.
If you experience extreme breast pain, fever or if you express any blood or discoloured liquid during the weaning process see a doctor as soon as possible as you may be experiencing an infection. Once you have weaned your baby it will be difficult for your milk supply to rebound so be sure of your decision to wean.