Weaning your toddler from nursing, or discontinuing breastfeeding, is sometimes a slower, less dramatic process than starting to breastfeed. Perhaps you hold onto the morning and bedtime feedings a little bit longer and progressively reduce one day feed each week. When your child feeds for the final time, you might not even be aware of it.
Weaning may be necessary during medical treatment or during work schedules, however. Here are a few things to remember as you go, regardless of where your own weaning process falls on the continuum from gradual to sudden.
As you wean, your hormones change.
A mother’s body undergoes significant changes as the human milk feeding process is initiated and hormone levels such as prolactin and oxytocin rise, enabling milk production and influencing mood and attachment.
The fact that weaning, depending on how it is done, might also result in significant hormonal changes makes sense. Estrogen and progesterone rise as you begin weaning. Menstruation often resumes as a result of this change. However, some people experience this while they are still nursing.
Weaning also affects you emotionally.
In addition to adjusting to the potential return of your menstrual cycle and the absence of those predictable oxytocin surges, ending breastfeeding has an emotional impact. In contrast, a parent may experience resentment, fear, or confusion if they feel forced to wean but don’t have the necessary information and support. Your mood and general mental health are both impacted by changes in your sleep patterns.