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Weaning Blues: What are They & How Long do They Last?

When you consider stopping breastfeeding, it's important to recognise the significant hormonal shifts that accompany this transition. Just like the postpartum period or even menopause, ceasing breastfeeding triggers a decrease in oxytocin and prolactin, the main breastfeeding hormones. Beyond their role in milk production, these hormones also contribute to feelings of calm and happiness during lactation.


However, when you stop breastfeeding, it takes time for your other feel-good hormones to adjust to their new levels. This temporary hormonal gap can lead to various depressive symptoms, including insomnia, "brain fog," irritability, low mood, and tearfulness. Additionally, some may experience physical symptoms like hot flushes, headaches, or nausea, along with an overwhelming sense of grief.



Each woman's experience with these hormonal fluctuations is unique, with some being more sensitive than others. Older mothers, in particular, may find themselves more susceptible to weaning depression due to their stage in the oestrogen life cycle.


I weaned my son off the breast at 3 years and 9 months to the day. I had been very ready to stop although most definitely was not. Although I had actively taken carefully considered steps to wean my son from nursing, I was still struck by waves of grief as we approached our final feed. Given my role, I was probably more prepared than most for what weaning blues might look like, but I was not prepared for them to last several months.


If you're struggling with weaning depression, remember that you're not alone. Here are some compassionate strategies to help navigate this challenging time:


1. Stabilise Blood Sugar Levels: Opt for protein-rich meals and snacks to support stable energy levels throughout the day.



2. Stay Hydrated: Prioritise hydration by carrying a water bottle and keeping a glass of water beside your bed to sip on first thing in the morning.



3. Get Outdoors: Spend at least 30 minutes outside each day, preferably in natural surroundings and sunlight, which can positively impact mood and sleep quality.



4. Incorporate Kefir-Based Products: Some studies suggest that kefir-based yogurts and drinks may help reduce depressive symptoms.



5. Consider Ashwagandha: This herbal supplement can support oestrogen levels, but be cautious, as its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding hasn't been empirically proven.



6. Journaling: Set aside a few minutes each day to journal your thoughts and emotions. Here are some prompts to get started:


- How do I feel about no longer breastfeeding?

- What has been the most challenging time of day?

- What do I miss the most?

- Who can I turn to for support?

- What activities or habits help me cope?

- What is my favourite memory of breastfeeding?

- What do I need more or less of?

- How can I show more compassion towards myself?

- What permissions can I grant myself during this transition?




It's common for weaning blues to persist for up to eight weeks. However, if you don't start to feel better after a month or so, don't hesitate to seek support from a medical professional, naturopath, or hormone specialist. Remember, you deserve as much help, grace, and love at the end of your breastfeeding journey as you did at the beginning. With the right support, the clouds will eventually lift, and brighter days will come.


This post was adapted by my new & improved 40 page Weaning with Love guide, which answers questions like:


  • How do I introduce breastfeeding boundaries in a gentle way?

  • How do I stop nursing to sleep?

  • How do I night wean?

  • How do I comfort my child in ways other than nursing?

  • When will my child accept any other comfort?

  • How can my partner help with weaning?


Get 20% off yours, here, using discount code: WEAN20.



With love,

Danielle

❤️



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