You have paid your dues and given your baby the benefits of breast milk for as long as you care to. Now you are ready to cut ties with your pump, but what is the best way to go about doing this? Today I am going to talk about how to wean properly and how to stop breast milk production.
Slow and steady wins the race.
The best advice to give to any Mother who is attempting to wean from breastfeeding or pumping is to do so slowly. Trying to quit cold turkey will only lead to pain, swelling and the possibility of mastitis. Save yourself the headache and work your way down.
Start by dropping one pumping or session at a time. If dropping an entire session is too uncomfortable for you, you could try decreasing the amount of time you are spending at one session instead, and see if that works out better for you.
Wait at least 3 days until dropping another session or decreasing the time of a session.
Gradually increase the amount of time between each pumping session.
Continue on this routine, dropping a session or decreasing the time spent at one every 3-7 days until there are none left.
Taking things slowly can still lead to discomfort. Especially if you were someone who produced an over supply of milk, you may find that going longer in between pumping sessions may be uncomfortable for you. There are some measures you can take to make things easier for you.
If you find yourself engorged to the point of discomfort, it is OK to express just enough milk to relieve the fullness of your breasts. You can do this by hand expressing, or pumping for a few minutes to relieve pressure.
Expressing small amounts of breast milk will not hurt your weaning efforts. Your body will still recognize that you are not expressing as much breast milk as before, which will result in an overall decrease in production.
You can also take warm showers to ease the discomfort of engorgement.
What about the baby’s diet?
Babies should have breast milk or formula until at least 12 months of age. If you are trying to wean prior to 12 months, you will either need enough breast milk in your freezer stock to last until the 12-month mark, or you will need to use formula to supplement with.
The amount of milk a baby drinks decreases after 6 months, as solid foods are introduced and become a larger part of their diet. After 12 months of age it is OK to introduce cow’s milk into the baby’s diet. The need for any type of milk also decreases at that point as the diet shifts to more solids.
Basically if the baby is 12 months of age or older, you will not need to make any alterations to his or her diet. If he is younger than that he will still need breast milk or formula throughout the day. You should plan your weaning needs accordingly.
Things That Can Help
If you are still having trouble decreasing your milk production after dropping pumping sessions, you may start looking for other avenues to help stop your supply. Here is a list of things that may be helpful in decreasing your milk supply.
- Estrogen containing birth control methods are known to decrease milk supply. That is why if you told your doctor you were breastfeeding and talked about birth control methods, you were probably offered what is known as the “mini pill” because it does not contain estrogen.
- Sudafed is known to decrease milk supply when used regularly, but you should talk to your doctor about this option before you try it to make sure it is safe for your specific health needs.
- Dried Sage may be helpful. Try taking a fourth of a teaspoon of dried sage three times a day for a maximum of 3 days.
- Some people apply green cabbage leaves directly to the breasts to aid in a decrease in milk production.
- Herbs such as jasmine, peppermint, spearmint, and parsley have also been said to aid in the decrease of milk supply
Things to remember
Do not try to stop your breast milk supply rapidly unless told to do so by a doctor. Take things slowly in the weaning process as it will lead to a much more comfortable experience and decrease your risks of mastitis.
If you experience engorgement to the point of discomfort during the weaning process, it is OK to express enough milk to decrease the fullness through manual expression or pumping for a couple minutes. You can also take a hot shower to help aid in the discomfort.
Follow guidelines based on your baby’s age to determine how to adjust her diet.
There are some things you can try if you are simply not decreasing your supply despite your weaning efforts.
I hope you this information was helpful for you! Please leave any comments, questions or concerns you may have in the comments section!