You’ve given your body up to your child from the day they were born and now you face the task of weaning them from using your body as a source of comfort. This can be both daunting and emotionally draining (for both you and your toddler!) as you go through this transition.
Allah (swt) reminds us in Sūrah al-Baqarah that the burdens upon us are no greater than we can bear, “On no soul [does] Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Pray): “Our Lord! [do not] condemn us if we forget or fall into error; [Oh] Lord! Do not lay on us a burden like that which [You] did lay on those before us; Our Lord! [do not] lay on us a burden greater than we have [the] strength to bear. Blot out our sins and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. [You] are our Protector; help us against those who stand against faith.”” (2:287)
Here we’ve compiled three categories to help you care for yourself when you are undergoing this change:
The emotional toll this can take on your body can be immense as you have built an attachment and a bond with your child through nursing them; when they cried you were their source of comfort, when they were hungry, your body provided for them, and when they were sick and teething, your body was solace and your milk a customized source of shifāʾ (healing).
When weaning, it is important to acknowledge and be mindful of the process, rather than trying to hurry the process along or getting frustrated from all the changes, it is valuable to be aware of the transition you are going through and valuing these precious moments as they come to an end.
You may find comfort in speaking to your spouse or a fellow mom who has weaned their own child about what you’re feeling, whether it be regarding the difficulties associated with it, the sadness at ending a chapter, or your worries and frustrations that arise.
The physical effects of nursing mostly surround the fact that your body now needs to adjust to a child who is no longer feeding, or transition to fewer feeds. You might experience engorgement in your breasts, this can be alleviated with these options:
- Frozen cold towel applied to your breast
- Cabbage leaves washed and placed in your bra until engorgement reduces
- Massaging and hand expressing a small amount of milk in a hot shower, just until swelling reduces and pain is relieved
In addition to the physical effects, you will also have a hormonal change occurring in your body as your hormone levels, prolactin (milk making hormone) and oxytocin (the hormone of love and responsible for the milk ejection reflex) will drop as you wean. Because of these levels dropping you may feel your mood is lower, maybe more weepy, or even depressed and angry. These changes may take a few days to even a few weeks to regulate. It is important to give yourself grace and be patient with yourself as your body adjusts to these changes.
Our soul is just as, if not, more so important than our physical body. And as our body goes through this change and transition, so too is our soul being affected. It can be valuable at this time to find peace, comfort, and reminders in the words of the Noble Qurʾān;
- Sūrah an-Naḥl (#16)
All things come to an end, whether you find pleasure in them or difficulty, they will pass: “What is with you must vanish: what is with Allah will endure. And We will certainly bestow, on those who patiently persevere, their reward according to the best of their actions.” (16:96)
- Sūrah al-Burūj (#85)
This Sūrah is recommended to be read by the mother to facilitate weaning and overcome the hardships that may come with it. You may write it on a piece of paper, fold it, and sew it into a small pouch and put it on your baby in a pouch (similar to a taʿwīdh or amulet).
All in all, remember to thank Allah (swt) for giving you this opportunity to breastfeed your child as it is a blessing not everyone is afforded and to pray to Him to make the transition easy for both yourself and your child.