While we often think of weaning as the closing of the nursing relationship, there is nothing simple about the experience. Far from the closing of a door, weaning is a complex passage in the relationship of mother and child. Weaning begins early in the breastfeeding relationship — when babies find comfort and food away from the breast, when mothers and babies are separated — and continues for months and sometimes years as mothers and babies grow and change together.
Recently at our Extended Nursing Meeting, the subject came up of a product to encourage weaning. We usually think of products that protect and sustain, not only our milk, but our breastfeeding and mothering relationships. The introduction of a product to interrupt breastfeeding is at odds with what many mothers recognize as the core of LLL philosophy. After all, nursing is a relationship. Weaning may be child-led or mother-led, but hopefully it is not product-led. As mothers we celebrate our earliest moments of communication and trust with our children at the breast. We hope that trust will continue. We hope the last moments we welcome a child to nurse will be worthy of memory.
La Leche League philosophy is based on 10 concepts. The sixth concept addresses weaning: Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need. But when will your child outgrow his need? What if you are being pulled in a different direction? Is it normal to have ambivalent feelings about nursing?
The LLLI website offers articles that answer some questions and raise others as you explore your own mothering path. For topics addressing a range of issues from nursing strikes to tandem nursing, visit the wide variety of LLL articles on weaning. Common questions are addressed in “Weaning as a Natural Process” and “Weaning and Mothers’ Feelings”
You may notice a continuing thread of philosophy. Mothers know their children. Children thrive on trust and respect. La Leche League is here to reflect mothers’ experience, report research of interest, and moderate forums for conversation. But no one knows what is best for your child, or for you, but you.
We hope you will join us at our next meeting, and throughout your nursing season. Mother in good company! Our conversation will be richer for your voice.