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Ask Dr. Sears: Weaning While Pregnant

Increase daytime touch. As baby is weaning from your breast, increase the other interactions you have with your baby. Again, remember that with happy weaning you substitute playful interactions for breastfeeding.

Make the breast less accessible at night. Co-sleeping is a setup for night nursing. It's a nighttime parenting package babies love. If baby is sleeping next to his favorite restaurant, inches away from his favorite food, he is going to want to eat. Try putting baby to sleep in a toddler bed or futon next to your bed and gradually increase the distance between you and your son at night. If baby doesn't buy this, here is a trick that we use in our practice and our family that nearly always works. We call this "moving out!" Relocate mom's "all-night diner" to another room and let baby sleep next to Dad for a few nights. Baby may wake up less when the breast is not so available. When baby does awaken, co-sleeping with dad gives the pair time and space to work out a nighttime comforting arrangement that doesn't require breastfeeding.

"Nummies go night-night." This is a phrase we used to entice our night nursers to wean. Around eighteen months, a child has the capacity to understand simple sentences and the idea that the breasts are sleeping. Use simple concepts to explain to your toddler when he can nurse and when he has to wait. Tell him, "We'll nurse again when Mr. Sun comes up." Remember, your first goal is to get more sleep and begin night weaning before day weaning. Medically speaking, unless advised otherwise by your obstetrician, it is safe to breastfeed a baby up until around halfway through your pregnancy. After that time, the hormones that produce milk also can cause premature uterine contractions. Most mothers find that by the time they are four to five months along, the body tells them it's time to wean. The usual sign is increasing nipple soreness. Weaning from Mom to Dad also helps prepare the family for the arrival of a new baby. With Dad taking over the toddler care, it frees you up to once again enjoy breastfeeding and co-sleeping with your newborn.