5 Times Not to Stop Breastfeeding

5 times not to stop breastfeeding__1452884175_50.243.196.179Weaning your baby is big decision and one that you will have to negotiate with your baby.  The terms of your breastfeeding relationship are unique to your special bond and weaning should not be taken lightly.  Many new moms mistakenly stop breastfeeding when it becomes challenging due to illness, baby’s habits, baby’s age, scheduling conflicts or other circumstances.  However, most of these are not truly signs that breastfeeding must end.  Today we’re pointing out 5 times not to stop breastfeeding.

First, we should go over the healthcare recommendation for breastfeeding.  The American Academy for Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of your baby’s life.  They also urge mothers to continue breastfeeding until at least one year of age even after introducing other foods into your baby’s diet.  The AAP recognizes many benefits of breastfeeding beyond a year for both babies and mothers too.

With that said, there are many times when moms unnecessarily wean rather than working through some common breastfeeding challenges.  These are some common examples of times not to stop breastfeeding:

When your baby has a cold:  Just like you, when your baby has a cold, he may not feel like eating much.  He may also find it difficult to breathe while breastfeeding when his mouth is sucking and his nose is clogged.  But breast milk is actually the best nutrients for your baby during a cold because it contains essential antibodies to help your baby fight off illness and infections.  Try to clear your baby’s nose with an aspirator and saline mist before feedings to help him breathe while nursing.  Also feed on demand as much as possible, even if this means short frequent feedings rather than longer scheduled feedings.  Your baby will likely give you signs as to what he needs to help him feel better so be hyper aware of his cues.

When your baby gets teeth:  Many moms dread their babies getting teeth and use it as a reason to stop breastfeeding.  In actuality, teeth should not be a reason to wean and many babies and moms continue breastfeeding comfortably through many teeth ruptures.  In fact, breastfeeding may soothe your baby as teeth are breaking through.  This uncomfortable time can cause ear and nasal congestion that are relieved through sucking.  If your baby does bite your breasts with his new teeth, make him unlatch, tell him “no, biting hurts mommy,” and then continue feeding.  Stopping the feed temporarily each time your baby bites will help him learn not to repeat that behavior.

When you get mastitis or clogged ducts:  The common breast infection known as mastitis, as well as clogged ducts, can cause pain in your breasts.  However, the best solution is to continue breastfeeding or pumping through the pain.  Mastitis and clogged ducts both cause a blockage in one or more channels through which your breast milk flows.  You need to clear the path by continuing to express milk.  Use warm compresses or lanolin cream to alleviate pain or soak in a warm bath when possible.  Despite a few days of discomfort, weaning at this time is not necessary.

When your baby goes on a nursing strike:  Nursing strikes can happen for many reasons but they don’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding.  Many moms mistake a short nursing strike as a sign their babies want to wean.  Rather, it may be something completely unrelated that is causing your baby not to want to breastfeed.  LaLecheLeague says most nursing strikes last 2 to 4 days and some common reasons for them include: baby is sick or in pain, nursing positions are uncomfortable, baby has been separated from mom, baby is distracted, a change in routine or schedule and baby’s needs are not being met.  Instead of weaning, try to identify the cause of the nursing strike and address it directly.  Also, continue to offer the breast as much as possible to encourage your baby to get back on track.  Usually babies rediscover their love of breastfeeding (and cuddle time with mom) after a few short days.

When you introduce solids:  As the AAP guidelines indicate, breastfeeding should continue after introducing solids.  Breast milk will continue to be the main and best source of nutrients for babies who are just getting the hang of eating new foods.  It takes some babies awhile to learn to appreciate solids and actually swallow them.  While you may breastfeed less often, your baby’s appetite will continue to grow as he gets older and bigger.  By offering both breast milk and solids, your baby will be getting a healthy diversity of nutrients and flavors to become a wholesome, balanced eater.

Before you stop breastfeeding, make sure you are weaning for the right reasons.  Only you and your baby can make that important decision together.