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120. Overcoming Maternal Guilt: How You Know It's Time To Wean And Stop Breastfeeding

Who decides when it's time to stop breastfeeding? You or your baby? I want to walk you through the difference between mother-led weaning and self-weaning plus how to overcome all the guilt that can come along with the process.

Weaning from the breast Study

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*This podcast is not "medical advice". Please consult with your Healthcare Provider about your specific situation.



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Read the full transcript here: 

Welcome to the Breezy Babies podcast where we talk about all things boobs, babies and breastfeeding. This is episode 120, how you know it's time to Wean. I'm Bree the IBCLC and I made Brizzy Babies with you in mind to help ease your transition into parenthood. Becoming a parent changes your life in every way imaginable. Bumps in the road are going to come up as you move into your new role, but my goal is to help smooth out those bumps and help you become the most confident parent you can be. With good education and support, I know you can meet your breastfeeding and parenting goals. Let's do this together. Hey there friend. It's Brie. So glad to have you back for another podcast episode today. I so appreciate you listening in, taking the time when you're out on a walk, folding laundry, doing whatever you're doing, maybe you're even nursing your baby. As you are listening to this podcast episode, I am so excited to talk with you about how you know it's time to ween. And can I just start by saying that I can't even tell you how many families have told me that it is harder to stop breastfeeding, even harder than it was to start breastfeeding. Do you believe me? I hear that time and time again. So I can't wait to share my top tips with you on how you know it's time to wean. But first, I want to read this Apple podcast review for you and it kind of cuts it off on Apple podcast. But it is titled Some Peace of Mind for My. I don't know why it cuts it off. This is from E Colanda ecolange is how I think I would pronounce that. So this is what she said. She said, I recently discovered Breeze podcast and I am so glad I found it. I have been back to work for two weeks now and did a quick transition from exclusively nursing my little one to hybrid nursing and pumping. My anxiety has been through the roof worrying about everything from losing to supply to having my son develop a nipple aversion. I was pumping on my way to work and noticed that I wasn't producing much and feared that the stress I was feeling was making it even worse. I did a quick breastfeeding search through podcast trying to find something to call my mind and found Breezy Babies. I listened to a couple episodes and I'm amazed by the peace of mind I was given in brief delivery of the information and the knowledge that she has been through this herself. I have since recommended this podcast to other nursing friends. I highly recommend for anyone going through the breastfeeding journey. Sweetest review ever. Thank you so much, E colandja. If you send me an email to, I would love to share a freebie with you. One of my workshops can be yours for totally free or my ebook. I so appreciate you taking the time to leave a podcast review. And you guys listen, if you don't already know, for small businesses, any small business, leaving a review means everything. It means the world to that business. And a lot of times it's completely free to do and it takes two minutes or less to leave a review. So I so appreciate that. I love to send you freebies when you leave me a review. So I am excited to talk with you today about Mother Leading. This is kind of like a part two, so I won't be pulling too much off of last week's podcast episode where I talked more about distraction self weaning. I'm going to focus more on Mother Lead weaning. So it's not like you need to go back and listen to last week's podcast episode in order to understand this, but if you're like, oh, I'm missing the part where it talks about baby. Just go back to last week. And that's where I talk about that. Today I'm focusing on you how you know it's the right time to wean. This is often called mother lead. Weaning when we read about it and search for it online.

Participant #1:
I'm going to be referencing the same article that I referenced for last week's episode, so I'll link it again in the Show Notes. I know I linked it last week as well, but I want to really focus on Mother Lead weaning. That's when you are ready to wean and stop breastfeeding. Now, I do tell my clients all the time that they are an important piece of the breastfeeding puzzle. You listening to this, you are literally half of the breastfeeding equation. So if you want to be done breastfeeding for whatever reason, then your feelings are valid. Remember that this is a mutual relationship between you and your baby. This is not a one sided demand. Breastfeeding takes two. Okay? So before I get too deep into this, I just want to tell you that I work with clients who are ready to lean all the time. And that might be surprising to you because you might think, oh, a Lactation consultant is just for starting to breastfeed. Well, we actually help with stopping to breastfeed all the time as well. And if you are listening to this and you haven't already gone on to check to see if your insurance covers free consults, then why not? If you get a yes from Lactation Network, which that link is always in the Show Notes, you can always click there, go to the Lactation Network website that's tied to Breezy babies, you put in your information, and then they will send both of us a yes or no email saying if you are covered. And guess what? If you get a yes, you are 100% covered for at least six free consults. Never had a client had to pay a penny. You don't have to pay for your copay, your deductible, nothing, as long as your policy is active and you don't have a lapse in coverage and you're lactating, then you are covered. Which, yes, it even covers one prenatal consultation because you actually are producing breast milk while you're still pregnant. And so you do get one free consult before your baby comes. And then, like I said, you get at least six total to use at any time in your breastfeeding journey as long as you are still lactating. You still have those free consults if you got a yes from Lactation network. So even if I met with you when you were pregnant and shortly after your baby was born, let's say it's a year, a year and a half down the road, and you're like, okay, I am ready to wean, I'm ready to be done breastfeeding. If you still have your same health care coverage, you got a yes that you were covered, then you can use a consult to meet with me to help set up a plan for weaning. So fun. I love doing consults like that. I love prenatal consults. I love weening consults. Those are some of my favorites. So, again, if you want to check to see if your insurance covers free consults, you can always just click the link in the show notes or go to And I always have the link just on the main page right there. Okay, let's talk about mother led weaning. This also can be called planned weaning. Do you just love how everything has multiple names? I feel like that's just how it goes in healthcare. This has one name and another name and maybe even a third name as well. That always confused me when I first was a nurse and every medication had two names, and it seemed like some people called it by the generic name and some people called it by its official name, and I just was always confused. So if you're a little confused too, that's okay, just join the club. But basically, mother lead weaning, planned weaning. Same thing. So I want to read this definition to you. This says planned weaning occurs when the mother decides to wean without receiving cues from the infant that he is ready to stop breastfeeding. Okay? Does that make sense? So basically it's the mom deciding, okay, I'm done breastfeeding, and the baby was not giving cues that he or she was ready to be done breastfeeding. So some common reasons for planned weaning or mother lead Weaning could be that you don't have enough milk or you have concerns about your baby's growth, you have pain with feeds or mastitis, you're returning to work, you have a new pregnancy, you're wanting your partner or your other caregiver to be able to feed your baby with a bottle. Maybe your baby is getting teeth. These situations may result in premature. They go on to say premature. So that means early complete weaning, despite what your original lactation goal was. Okay, so even if it's mother leading your baby is not showing cues that your baby is done, but you are done, then that is valid. And your doctor, your lactation consultant, we are here to support you and also to help inform you, like I mentioned last week, that if your baby is less than a year and you're wanting to ween, then we'll have a conversation about, okay, breast milk is still your baby's main source of nutrition. So how can we fill that in? If your baby is not at the breast or you're not pumping, can we give donor milk instead? Can we give formula instead? Because those are going to be necessary. So our job is to inform and support you. But again, this is your decision to make. And then I love how they include if your physician is unsure on how to provide this type of support with weaning, then refer to a breastfeeding expert. I love that that doesn't always happen. And these poor pediatricians, these poor OBGYNs, they probably just feel like they have to be an expert on everything and they just can't be. And honestly, a lot of times they have little to no training on lactation. So don't hesitate to work with an IBCLC. Those are the lactation experts. Okay, let's move into top three tips. Tip number one is sometimes emergency. Weaning can be necessary. So there can be situations where you have to abruptly and quickly stop breastfeeding your baby. Maybe you were separated from your baby for some reason, maybe you were very sick. And in the study that I'll link in the show notes, I like how they mentioned that a lot of times mothers are told to inappropriately lean when they're on certain medications, and I find that to be true as well. If you're wondering about medications and breastfeeding and if it's safe to take certain medications while you are breastfeeding, then I would really recommend to go back a few episodes, more than a few episodes, go back a little ways where I talk about medications in breastfeeding, I talk about different resources where you can find out the safety of different medications. But the short of it is that most medications are safe to take while breastfeeding and there are very few medications that are an absolute no no when it comes to breastfeeding. But for more details on that, go back and listen to that podcast episode. So I will say that if your baby is sick, if your baby is sick, then that is not always a great time to wean your baby because that breast milk is chock full of antibodies that can help your baby to get better a bit faster and not get quite as sick. So not a great time to wean when your baby is sick. Now, keep in mind that if you're going through this and you're having to just really quickly and abruptly lean, just keep in mind that your baby may not take a bottle, especially if your baby wasn't used to taking a bottle before. So that could be part of the process with introducing a bottle. Sometimes a cup can be given like an open cup. Again, that's something that your IBCLC can work with you through and help you through. So just keep in mind that your baby may not take a bottle. You may have to practice with a bottle. You may have to have someone else give the bottle or the supplementing. And in the meantime, you can still be close to your baby. You can still do skin to skin time. You can still cuddle your baby and bond with your baby as you're going through this process. So that it's a little bit of an easier transition to end that breastfeeding journey. So if you are having to quickly lean, first of all, I would suggest to not quickly lean. Let's start with that. Because it's really hard for your body to adjust from making, let's say, 25oz every day to in two days making zero. That is a huge adjustment and it's really hard for bodies to do that. You would probably end up with clogged ducks, a lot of discomfort, a lot of engagement, hopefully not mastitis. You definitely don't want to do that. So I always recommend, when possible, to gradually lean. And I understand that that's not always a possibility, which is why I'm talking about it on this podcast episode. It's not always an option to do it slowly, but when possible, always do it slow, slow, slow. If you do have to do it fast, you still want to hand express or use a manual pump to just remove enough milk to take some of the pressure off so that you're not feeling so full, so uncomfortable. You want to use cold on your breast, maybe even cold cabbage leafs. You for sure are going to want to do some breast massage, maybe some breast gymnastics to help relieve that fullness, that engorgement. You're going to want to be really, really familiar with your breath, okay? Even if you're doing slow. Meaning I really recommend to be familiar with your breasts. Watch for any signs that a clogged duct might even just be starting, like just even a tiny bit of hardness under your skin. You're going to catch it super quick. You're going to do breast massage. You're going to do breast gymnastics. If you don't know how to do that, go to my Instagram. I have highlight bubbles on how to do both of these app breezy babies on Instagram or to set up a consultation with me and I'll show you how to do both of them. It is so necessary for anyone who is lactating to know how to do breast massage, know how to do breast gymnastics, know how to do hand expression. While you're weaning. You are going to want to wear a comfortable bra. You don't want to do tightness. You don't want to do restriction. We used to think that, oh, if you're weaning you want to bind up your breasts tight with something like an Ace bandage? No. We have found that can actually do quite a bit more harm than good. So we don't do that. And also just make sure that you're still drinking plenty of water. You don't want to limit. So again, when possible, try and do this gradually because doing abrupt, abrupt weaning is a huge transition not only for you and your breasts, but also for your baby. They talk about in this study about how psychologically abrupt weaning can be. Really traumatic for a baby and also uncomfortable for the mom. And so really try and avoid it if at all possible. Okay? Tip number two is maternal guilt is real. So they kind of talk in the study about how really all families start breastfeeding with the best intentions and sometimes obstacles come up, bumps in the road, and sometimes you wean a little bit sooner than you anticipated. Sometimes you had a goal of breastfeeding a little bit longer and it just didn't work out for whatever reason. So I really appreciate how they talk in this study about how you as a mom should not be pressured to breastfeed any longer than you feel is appropriate. No mom should be criticized for stopping early and also no mother should be criticized for breastfeeding longer than is the norm in her culture. Okay? So no matter where a family is out, we're meeting them where they're at, we're helping to support them, we're helping to get them through. And we're not judging either way whether we think that their journey is too short or too long. We're just guiding them through and helping them through and supporting them and loving them either way. So you're probably going to feel some mixed emotions when you start to lean your baby. On the one hand you're going to be like, oh my gosh, this is great. I have this newfound freedom. I don't have to be there for nighttime when baby goes to sleep. I don't need to make sure I'm back after 3 hours to breastfeed my baby. So on the one hand you're feeling like, oh my gosh, this is so great. I have all this new freedom. Maybe I could leave for a weekend trip. I don't have to worry about pumping or worrying if my baby will take the breast when I come back. I mean, honestly, as I'm saying this, you guys, I feel all these emotions bubbling up in me. Because if you don't already know my baby is coming up. She's almost eleven months. That means next month she's going to be a year. I cannot believe it. I seriously can't even believe it. With my other kids. As I got close to a year, I was like, okay, mama's done. I went a little past a year and then I was like, okay, I'm done. We're good, and this time, I cannot even fathom weaning. Just the thought of it makes me so sad. I know I'm not ready, but we also have some big trips planned for next year. We have a big family trip in January and then a couple's trip in March. And I'm already just thinking, okay, how are we going to do this? Do I want to still be breastfeeding when we go on this trip? Do I not want to worry about it? Or do I want to have that option for if she's having trouble sleeping or if she's having trouble with takeoff and having trouble on the plane? Maybe I do want to just be able to latch her on and get through that way. So I'm still working through a lot of these options myself, and it's okay if you are to be very flexible with this process. Know it's not all or nothing. It's not only breast milk or only wnik. It can be somewhere in between. You can do as little or as much as you want, but either way, we're here to support you. I really recommend to journal your feelings just right, without thinking. So I often will tell my clients that are just like sometimes I get on especially for telehealth consultations with a client, and they'll be like, okay, I want to lean. And then we'll get on the call, and they'll just be like, oh, well, I really enjoy it, and I love our mornings together. And the more that they talk, I'm like, okay, do you want to weane? Are you sure? Because it doesn't sound like you want to wean, so I'll just always talk them through. Hey, listen, I want you before we meet again, to just journal your feelings. Just start writing whatever comes to your brain. Just put it down on paper and don't censor it. Don't think, oh, my gosh, should I write that? Is that okay to write? Is that what I really think? Just start writing. Okay. What popped into my head? I want to wean my baby. That makes me feel sad. Maybe I don't want to wean whatever comes to your mind. Just write it. Write it. Write it. And there's something so powerful at just seeing what is actually in your brain and putting it down on paper. That's so valuable. So journal your feelings just right without even thinking, and talk through it. Talk through it. There's no right answer. There's no one size fits all. It's not, oh, you have to wean at this point or at this point or at this point. No, it looks so different for every family. Okay, tip number three you don't need a reason to win. If you want to stop, you can stop. Okay? I'm giving you permission right now because here's the thing. Yes, I'm a lactation consultant, but hear me out. If breastfeeding is ruining your life, then don't do it again. You might be surprised to hear that from a lactation consultant. Of course, I'm a huge advocate for breast milk, but it should not be at the expense of the mother. You are too important to risk burning out. Yes, every drop of breast milk counts. Yes, you can exclusively pump, and yes, you can also just wean altogether. All of those are options that are available to you. In the end, this is your decision to make. It's up to you and your baby. And also, you might want to involve your significant other in the decisionmaking process as well. If I happen to be your IBC LLC, just know that your goals are my goals, okay? I always tell my clients, hey, listen, my goals are not your goals, but your goals are my goals. Does that make any sense? So I don't like to project my goals on the clients. Like, oh, you really should breastfeed till a year. That might not be my clients goal. Maybe they just want to breastfeed for the first week, and then they'll see how it's going. That's totally cool. Totally fine. If you made it to your goal of three months and you want to be done, you can be celebrate your wins and let go of that mom guilt. Okay, let's review our top three tips from today. Number one was sometimes emergency, weaning can be necessary. Tip number two was maternal guilt Israel. And number three was you don't need a reason to win. If you want to stop, you can stop. There you have it. Thank you so much for listening in today. I so appreciate it if you found this podcast helpful today. Again, I would so appreciate if you leave me a review on Apple podcast. It would mean the world to me. And if I read your review here on my podcast, I will absolutely send you a freebie. Of course I'm going to leave you with your strongest. You are smart, you are beautiful. You're a good friend to all. Talk with you next Tuesday.

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