I'm a breastfeeding mother who will be returning to work soon and would like to wean my baby. When and how should I do it?
The decision of when to wean your baby is very personal and can be tailored to your needs. For many mothers the issue is settled by the need to return to work after maternity leave, while for others the decision rests on their need for a little more freedom.
Leave yourself -- and baby -- plenty of time to get adjusted before you return to work. The time frame for weaning can vary tremendously, but you should allow yourself at least two to four weeks. Weaning to a combination of nursing and bottlefeeding should not be attempted before baby is 3 weeks old.
Also consider your goals. Do you want your baby to be fed completely from the bottle once you're back at work, or will your employer allow you to be with your child for a midday feeding? Will you continue to express milk to give your child in a bottle, or will you offer formula?
Start by replacing one nursing session a day with a bottlefeeding one. Your baby may not like the idea of taking a bottle at first, and it may require some persistence and gentle coaxing. If she refuses the bottle, try again at another feeding, or have a family member offer the bottle. (Baby may smell your milk and prefer being nursed by you.) Some of her resistance may be objection to a different texture or the quality of the nipple, or she may miss being close to you. Usually more skin-to-skin contact or gentle stroking is all that's needed to provide that extra degree of reassurance.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.