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When should I stop breast feeding

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You’ve got past any latch issues, cracked nipples and getting up seven times a night to breastfeed your child but the next question asked by many mothers is ‘when should I stop breast feeding?’

Guidelines

The World Health Organisation recommends that babies should be exclusively breastfed until they are six months old. While this a good general guideline, it’s never going to fit every mother and child around the world. In fact, experts from the UK’s Institute for Child Health have said that some babies may benefit from being introduced to solid food from four months. Your health visitor should be able to help you decide when your baby is ready for solids.

Exclusive breastfeeding

Exclusive breastfeeding means the baby’s sole source of nutrition is the breast, with no other foods or drinks. Many new parents make the mistake of thinking the advice means they should stop breastfeeding after six months. Rather it means this is the stage where solid foods should be introduced alongside breastfeeding. Of course, if you think the time is right to stop breastfeeding at this point that is fine but you will have to replace breast milk feeds with formula to ensure your child receives all the nutrients she needs.

Deciding when to stop

When should I stop breast feedingSome mum and baby partnerships are happy to continue breastfeeding into toddlerhood or beyond while others will call it a day much sooner. When to stop is really up to you and your child. As your child starts to consume more food, she will probably reduce the number of feeds she takes from the breast. You may find that there comes a point when she just doesn’t look to be breastfed and therefore you don’t have to actually make the decision to stop.

Work

Obviously for many mothers returning to work after maternity leave is a huge factor in deciding to stop breastfeeding. If you are happy to switch to formula when you return to work that’s great. However, it makes sense to start introducing bottles a few weeks before you start back to make the transition nice and easy for your baby. If you’d rather your child still got breast milk then you can express milk for your baby to be given while you’re at work. Some women find a combination of formula during working hours and breastfeeding in the mornings and evenings works well for them.

Pressure to stop

Now and again parents can come up against other people saying it is about time they stopped breastfeeding. However, the decision is entirely yours so try not to let other people’s opinions pressure you into stopping before you’re ready. The support of your partner will be a great help in ignoring what other people think.

No right answer

In short, there is no universal answer to the question ‘when should I stop breastfeeding?’ As long as you and your child are happy to carry on then keep on doing what you’re doing. However, if a time comes where you’re no longer comfortable, it becomes impractical or you just want your body back to yourself, you can relax knowing that you’ve given your baby a great start in life.

 

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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