All good things must come to an end, breastfeeding included. If you’re wondering just exactly how to stop breastfeeding, Mustela has you covered!
In this article, our experts discuss different methods of weaning your baby so you can discover which one is right for you. And while you’re at it, check out our tips for a happy mom and baby during this time of transition!
When To Stop Breastfeeding
There’s no right time to stop breastfeeding your baby. It’s totally up to you and what you feel comfortable with. Some cultures even nurse their little ones through the toddler years!
To get a good idea of when to stop breastfeeding, follow The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines. They recommend exclusively breastfeeding for at least the first six months of your baby’s life and continuing until their first birthday or beyond.
(We understand this is not always possible. But if you can make it happen, go for it!)
Once your baby is introduced to solids around the six-month mark, the volume of your breast milk changes. Your baby will nurse less because they’ll be getting full on food instead of your milk, and your body will adjust.
At this point, your baby’s little belly is growing and so are their nutritional needs. The time will soon come to cut out breastfeeding altogether. But how?
There are a few different ways to approach this transition, so now that we’ve talked about the when, let’s take a look at how to stop breastfeeding.
How To Stop Breastfeeding Gradually
The safest way to stop breastfeeding is to gradually wean yourself and your baby. Gradual weaning reduces your chances of getting blocked ducts or mastitis, which are very painful for you!
Gradually weaning is gentle on your baby and allows your body and hormones to slowly adjust. And that’s just what this will be: an adjustment for both you and your baby!
There are a few ways to stop breastfeeding gradually. The first one is by dropping one feeding every three days; the second one is by shaving off a few minutes of each feeding; and the third one is by practicing baby-led weaning.
Let’s take a look at each method in detail so you can make the best decision for your family, particularly for you and your baby.
Drop One Feeding Every Three Days
By the time your baby is one year old, you’re probably only nursing around three times a day: morning, afternoon, and evening.
For the first method of gradual weaning, start by dropping the afternoon feeding. Wait a few days and then drop the morning feeding.
This means that your baby will only nurse once a day — at night. But your little one may need more than just a few days in-between each phase to adapt. Always be aware of your baby’s needs and adjust accordingly.
Leave the late evening feeding as the last one you drop. This feeding may take a few more days for you and your baby to adjust to.
Remember every baby is different. So if your baby needs more than three days to drop a feeding, that’s OK. Soak up these last precious moments of nursing your little one!
Shave A Few Minutes Off Of Each Feeding
The main goal of shaving minutes off of each feeding is to reduce your baby’s demand, which reduces your milk supply. This will make the transition easier on your breasts as well as your baby!
To achieve this, gradually cut a few minutes off of your baby’s usual feeding time to make the sessions less satisfying, especially if your baby likes to nurse for comfort.
For example, if your little one nurses for 15 minutes, pull away around the 12-minute mark. Do this for every feeding for one to two days. Continue shaving off time of each feeding until your baby no longer shows interest or your milk dries up.
The goal of these two weaning methods is to get your breastmilk to naturally dry up. The time it takes for this to happen varies.
During this time while you gradually stop nursing, you may need to hand-express your milk. But only express enough to ease any discomfort because you don’t want to encourage your body to produce more milk.
Practice Baby-Led Weaning
Pay attention to your baby and their needs. Some babies naturally wean from the breast on their own. If your baby is no longer interested in nursing or pulls away when you offer your breast, then it’s a good sign they’re starting to self-wean.
With this particular method, your baby can adjust easily because weaning is now on their terms — whenever they feel comfortable. Your body will follow their lead.
Your milk supply will naturally dry up due to the decrease in your baby’s need for your milk, making it an easier adjustment for your body as well.
How To Stop Breastfeeding Right Away
Sometimes circumstances are out of your control and for unexpected reasons, you may have to abruptly stop breastfeeding. There’s no particular weaning method when you need to immediately stop breastfeeding. You simply no longer offer your breasts to your baby when it’s time for them to eat.
This is not ideal, but sometimes you have no other choice. Possible reasons for stopping breastfeeding right away include:
- A change in your work schedule
- Taking a certain medication that might not be safe for your baby
- Your physical and mental health aren’t allowing you to continue breastfeeding
- Sore or painful breasts or nipples (When this happens, use our Nursing Comfort Balm to protect your nipples, ease discomfort, and replenish your skin during and after breastfeeding!)
- Low milk supply
- Getting pregnant again (With guidance from your doctor, you can still breastfeed your baby while pregnant. However, you may feel tired, and changes in your appetite and emotions can make breastfeeding challenging while you’re pregnant.)
With this method, you’re at risk for a breast infection, mastitis, and for a painful experience.
To ease the discomfort of stopping breastfeeding cold turkey — and to ensure a happy transition no matter which method you choose — follow our tips below.
Tips For A Happy Mom And Baby While Weaning
Wear A Supportive Bra
Having good support for your breasts can make a huge difference in how this transition goes. Your breasts may still feel full for a few days after your baby stops nursing, and wearing the right bra can help relieve pain and discomfort while your body adjusts.
Choose Soothing And Restorative Skin Care Products
Choosing the right skin care products can be a game-changer while you’re learning how to stop breastfeeding! As we mentioned above, our Nursing Comfort Balm is one of those products!
Another product that can make a world of difference to your skin is our Bust Firming Serum. This serum hydrates and tones your skin to give it a firmer look and feel!
Reduce Pain And Swelling With Ice Packs Or Cabbage Leaves
If you’re experiencing pain or swelling, ice packs or frozen cabbage leaves can help! The cold will ease your pain and may also help your breast milk dry up.
Simply put an ice pack or cabbage leaves inside your bra to easily relieve pain and reduce swelling.
It should take anywhere between seven to ten days after you completely stop breastfeeding for your breastmilk to dry up.
Hand-Express Your Milk
Using a pump while you’re trying to stop breastfeeding may actually boost your milk supply. This is not what you’re aiming for!
To relieve any discomfort, steer clear of the breast pump and hand-express your milk instead.
Your body will go through some changes during this time, so it’s important to stay healthy. To keep your body in the best shape possible while weaning your baby, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise.
Eating well and exercising were crucial while you were breastfeeding, and they’re still important while you’re trying to stop breastfeeding. These long-term habits are good to practice no matter what stage of life you’re in!
Continue To Bond With Your Baby
As you know by now, there’s more to breastfeeding than providing nutrition and calories to your baby. Your little one (and you!) will miss the closeness that comes with these feeding sessions once you stop nursing.
So keep stealing those special moments and snuggling up close with your baby whenever you can!
Breastfeeding And Beyond
Whether you’re gradually stopping breastfeeding, stopping immediately, or letting your baby lead the way, Mustela is here for you.
This parenting journey is so much better when we do it together! That’s why we created postpartum products to meet your needs through this transition, like our Bust Firming Serum and Nursing Comfort Balm.
With the right skin care and our tips for how to stop breastfeeding, both you and your baby can be happy and healthy!
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