Food & Feeding

Say Goodbye to Breastfeeding Guilt: A Guide to Guilt-Free Weaning

Author -

Melissa Iftimie

Ready to wean without the guilt? Check out our guide to guilt-free weaning. Trust-us, it’s possible and liberating!

Weaning is a natural part of a baby’s development. As babies get older they will transition from getting calories from breastmilk or formula to solid foods. However, for many of us this process can be difficult and even lead to feelings of guilt.

What’s the official rec?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life and then continue breastfeeding while introducing solid foods until at least 24 months of age. However, every mother and baby pair is unique, and the weaning process can look different for each family.

But - the official recommendation might not be best for you and your baby 

Mothers should trust their instincts and make the decision that is best for themselves and their families. Some mothers may choose to wean their babies earlier, while others may continue breastfeeding for longer. Regardless of when a mother decides to wean, it is a personal decision that should be respected.

You also don’t need to stop cold turkey - a common misconception. If you, your body and your baby still want to nurse one time a day - do it. If you’re totally done - good for you! 

So why the guilt?

Unfortunately, many mothers experience feelings of guilt when they choose to wean their babies. And guess what, a lot of the root causes are out of our control.

Society sucks

Society places pressure on us to breastfeed for extended periods, leading some to feel like they are failing their children if they don’t breastfeed forever. But society also doesn’t give everyone paid time off, paid maternity leave and a happy place to pump during the day! 

Sometimes our bodies are just done

Additionally, mothers should not feel guilty if they are unable to breastfeed for any reason. Some mothers struggle with low milk supply, physical discomfort, or a lack of support, making it difficult or impossible to continue breastfeeding. It sucks - but usually this happens when you go back to work or start working out again. Don’t feel guilty for making the best decision for your health and well-being.

We don't realize combo feeding is a legit option

One way to feed your baby, that feels unknown, is combination feeding. Combo feeding just means you feed your baby with a combination of formula and breastmilk, you pump, you use a bottle. It all is fair game. And you can make it highly personalized for you, your family and your baby.

So how can we combat weaning guilt?

Set goals that works for you

First up - let's think about your breast-feeding goals. They need to change as your baby grows and you both have different needs. One common pitfall we moms think is that breastfeeding is all or nothing. Nope! Find the balance that works for you.

For example: Is your goal to provide your baby with breastmilk for as long as possible? Great, let's set a goal that fits that aim, perhaps you do a breastfeed once a day and not 10. Maybe you look at your pump schedule and pump once a day and drop the feed. Make sure you find the root cause of why you want to keep or stop breastfeeding.

Or is your goal to feel productive at work so you can get home to enjoy your baby? Drop those pumps at work and enjoy one nighttime feed with your baby. Ain't no shame in formula!

Do you feel like you 'tried it all'?

Breastfeeding and pumping is hard. But for many of us, before we wean, we need to feel we gave it our all. Take a moment to write down every tea, position, and other odd concoction you tried - just to acknowledge it- and then laugh.

Celebrate your breastfeeding journey

Whether you breastfed for days, months or years, you did a thing! Celebrate it with a boob cupcake, big glass of wine, or maybe a massage! However you choose to do it, take a deep breath and be amazed at what your body did. We’re proud of you. You should be too.

There are other ways to keep the bond

It is important to remember that the decision to wean is not a reflection of love for your baby! Weaning is a normal part of the mother-child relationship and it does not impact the strong bond that has been formed through breastfeeding. If you are worried about that, there are other ways to be close to your baby. One idea? Cuddle while you read a book together.‍

Talk to your mom crew

Every mom has or will go through this. You are not alone. Ask your friends and other moms you may not know how they felt and handled this big milestone! 

Where can you get some extra help?

If needed, count on your doctor, lactation consultant, partner and friends for extra support. Here’s the official guide on weaning from the AAP, which might help you too.

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