How long should you breast feed?
There is no right answer to this, but here are some time frames that I have heard from patients:
Nurse for 6 weeks because this is the minimum to provide the newborn protection from infection provided by breast milk.
Nurse for 3 months because you are returing to work, and it is not feasible to pump or breast feed during work hours.
Nurse for 6 months because by this point the baby is eating solid food and is drinking less breast milk, causing a partial weaning effect.
Nurse for 9 months because then the baby can be weaned from breast to cup, bypassing the bottle.
Nurse for one year because this is the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
So, how long should you nurse? It is UP TO YOU!
When you decide that it is time to stop nursing, you may need to wean the baby. Sometimes the baby "weans him/her self" but if this does not happen, here is our advice:
For 2-3 days, eliminate every other feeding. If you feed every 3 hours, go to every 6 hours. If you wean down to nursing
4 times a day for 3 days then decrease to 3 times a day for 1-2 days, then twice a day for 1-2 days then you can stop at this point.
If you stop nursing suddenly, this is called going "cold turkey." The breasts can become very engorged, hard and painful. Wear a tight bra, use ice packs as needed to reduce pain and swelling, and use Motrin, Advil or Tylenol as needed for pain. It can take up to a week for the milk production to disappear.
For at least 4 weeks, do not stimulate the breasts or allow any suckling as the milk production could start up again.