Your decision to wean from pumping is a personal one and needs to be made by you. Every breastfeeding journey is unique where some may have issues with ongoing milk supply, breastfeeding challenges, or a job that makes it difficult to solely breastfeed. No matter the reason for pumping you are likely wondering how to wean from pumping.
Check out these tips for you to help you out when it comes to weaning from pumping.
How to wean from Pumping
You will want to wean from pumping gradually and reduce your time spent during each pumping session as well as lengthen the amount of time between your pumping sessions. These reasons will help your milk production decrease and help regulate your body and hopefully decrease the chances of issues that may arise.
5 Tips to wean from Pumping
Gradually decrease your pumping sessions
To help reduce your risk of mastitis it is best you do not abruptly stop pumping. You will want to start gradually decreasing your pumping sessions by dropping one pump session every few days.
This will help your breast milk supply slowly decrease. For example, if you pump 6 times per day, you will eliminate one session every few days or longer to allow your body time to adjust. Then drop another pumping session one by one until you have no more milk to pump.
Reduce your time spent pumping
Not only will you be gradually decreasing your pumping sessions you will also need to start reducing the amount of time you spend pumping each session.
Start by reducing each session by just one or two minutes at a time. Just like with gradually decreasing your pumping sessions you will want to give your body a few days to adjust to the new time before decreasing your time again.
Lengthen the amount of time between your pumping sessions
You likely have a set pumping schedule, especially while at work. Start adjusting the amount of time between each of your pumping sessions when possible.
Sometimes this is more challenging when working but do your best to add an hour or two between each session to gradually increase your pumping intervals.
As you lengthen the amount of time in between pumping sessions you’re telling your body to stop milk production, that not as much is needed. In return this will cause your breast milk supply to slowly decrease.
Let your body guide your weaning
Listening to your body is important when it comes to weaning from pumping.
Do not become overly gorged. If you find that your breasts are becoming hard and you’re experiencing discomfort then pump a little just to relieve some milk.
If you are noticing that your milk is not decreasing contact a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider for additional tips for weaning off pumping and let them know right away if you suspect you have a clogged duct.
Reasons why you must slow wean when pumping
There are a few reasons why you will want to gradually reduce your pumping sessions. The biggest reason is mastitis. Mastitis is very painful and can happen if you are not fully emptying your breast. Mastitis is a nasty infection where bacteria grows in trapped breast milk. To avoid mastitis and the discomfort it brings is one reason why you must slowly wean from pumping instead of stopping abruptly. Some other reasons why some moms must wean from pumping:
- Ready to stop pumping while at work
- Pregnant with the next child
- Have enough milk stored in the freezer
- Pumping to increase milk supply and no longer needed
- After bringing home preemie baby from the hospital.
Alternative Milk Options
If you are weaning from pumping and you do not have enough stored in the freezer and your baby is less than 12 months you will want to mix formula with frozen milk so your baby’s tummy can get used to the new proteins in the milk being offered.
After 12 months your baby can start drinking cow or soy milk for their feedings instead of breastmilk. You can also start offering water with meals. Be sure to feed your baby all of your milk you have worked hard to store before offering them an alternative milk option.
No matter your child’s age breast milk offers substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of their life to include protein, fat, and most vitamins.
Ending your pumping journey
The end of pumping can be a hard decision because likely it means your baby is getting older, health concerns, job demands, or constant contraction of mastitis. Just remember that wherever your journey was with pumping it was yours and be patient with your emotions that come with the end of your pumping journey.
It is completely normal to have mixed feelings when weaning from the pump. You may feel sad or you may feel joyful at times as well.
If you added up all the time you have spent hooked up to the pump you may find yourself a bit joyful at times while weaning from pumping. You will have so much more time to do other things that can be done instead of pumping. You no longer will need to wash pump parts or lug your pumping bag to and from the car at work.
Just be aware as you wean from pumping your hormones will fluctuate as well. Just take it slow and just know that things will take time to adjust back to normal.
There are no set rules when it comes to weaning from the pump. Try to remember to do it slowly and gradually this will help you do this with minimal to no discomfort. Listen to your body and let it do its job!
Share in the comments tips you have for weaning from pumping that have worked for you!