How To Wean Off Pumping: Best Way To Let Pumping Go Gradually

how to wean off pumping

If you exclusively pump to extract breast milk to feed your baby or donate, you have probably wondered how you will eventually end your pumping sessions without the hassle or risk of things like Mastitis, pain, and clogged ducts.

Or maybe you are ready for your last pumping session now and want to know how to be able to put down the breast pump and how to wean off pumping gradually.

This article will provide information about practical tips to wean off pumping in the safest way possible, the weaning process, and how to stop pumping without adverse effects on you and your breast health.

The Weaning Process

The weaning process is when you decide that you are finished pumping. Perhaps your child is done breastfeeding, you are finished with your donor journey, or you want to switch to formula or attempt to exclusively nurse.

Don’t Go Cold Turkey

Some women think that the best way to put down the breast pump is to go cold turkey. After one pumping session, you just put down the pump, and you’re done. If only it were this simple.

Expecting your milk production to just cease because you stop pumping is asking for issues like clogged ducts, or worse, Mastitis. You could end up in a fair amount of pain, or worse, really ill.

Gradually decreasing your milk supply is the only way to end your pumping sessions safely. If you do not gradually decrease your pumping sessions and complete the weaning process slowly, you could be putting yourself in danger of some unnecessary issues.

How does Mastitis occur?

Mastitis occurs when clogged ducts become inflamed. If you end your pumping sessions without slowly weaning, you could end up with a clogged duct, which is incredibly uncomfortable.

Most exclusively pumping moms have battled clogged milk ducts at some point and understand how painful the condition is. Mastitis, however, is so much worse.

If you don’t stick to a pumping schedule to gradually decrease your milk supply, you can quickly end up with engorged breasts. This is when there is more milk than what your breasts would typically hold, and you aren’t releasing that milk because you refuse a pumping session in an effort to dry up your milk supply and milk production.

A clogged duct can occur, and the longer you go without professional medical advice to address the clogged milk ducts, the more risk you run of Mastitis. 

Mastitis can cause enormous pain and discomfort, and it is difficult to relieve. You can develop flu-like symptoms and even need antibiotics or painkillers to manage the discomfort.

how to wean off pumping

The Safe Way to Produce Less Milk

There are specific steps that should be taken when you want to wean the body from breastfeeding and drop the levels of milk you are producing. The key is to gradually reduce the demand on your body to make milk without stressing it out and end up with an infection or clog.

How Long Does it Take to Wean Off Pumping?

You may be more than ready to be done. Pumping sessions are involved, take a lot of patience, work, and time, and can cut into our personal, social, and private lives. While you can’t just stop after one pumping session, you can rest assured that this will not go on forever.

As long as you follow the steps suggested, most women find that they can stop pumping sessions altogether after about two weeks.

The following are ways to safely dry up your breast milk and put down the breast pump when you’re ready to wean.

Shorter Pumping Sessions

Milk production follows a supply and demand system. The longer you pump, the more breast milk your body thinks needs to be made. Therefore, cutting small increments of time from your pumping schedule can help your body understand that it can start to make less milk.

If your pumping session lasts twenty minutes, for example, start by decreasing the pumping time to fifteen minutes for a few days.

After three to five days of these shorter sessions, decrease the time again to pumping for ten minutes for several sessions. While you can’t just be done in one session, many women agree that this is often the easiest way to slowly end their pumping journey.

Drop One Session at a Time

Pumping breast milk on a schedule is what you have to do to keep your supply up. So it only makes sense that you should cut out one pumping session to dry up your supply. Your body will assume that your breasts don’t need to produce as much milk anymore.

Continue to pump during your other sessions, and even decrease the time you spend pumping during each session. Your body will start to drop milk supply, and this method of weaning can reduce or eliminate significant breast discomfort.

After several days of just one dropped session, you can drop another session. If you start to notice that the weaning process is making your breasts tender, full, or you are in pain, then wait a little longer between dropped pumping sessions.

Hand Express to Alleviate Pain

While weaning, you may notice that your breasts are full and maybe even leaking, as your breast milk volume is trying to decrease and regulate itself. If you feel as though you are starting to become uncomfortable, avoid the temptation to add a pumping session to the regime to relieve the pain.

The simple steps to hand weaning are a better route to help transition from pumping and avoid the pressure you feel when your breasts are full of milk.

In the morning, when you take your shower, or at night, try not to allow the shower’s hot water to touch your breasts as the heat will encourage your breasts to fill with more milk.

Instead, turn around so that the water is hitting your back, and with your hands, squeeze out just enough milk so that you are no longer hurting.

how to decrease milk production and dropping pumping sessions

Stop Taking Supplements

Stop eating lactation cookies regularly, drinking breastfeeding smoothies, drinking coconut water, or taking vitamins or supplements to aid in milk production. While you should stay hydrated, you don’t need to employ extra measures to your diet because you are no longer feeding breastfeeding.

Avoid Stimulation

Avoid all stimulation to the breasts or nipples. This will encourage your body to stop making such a high volume of milk and will help speed up the weaning process.

While you can and should be intimate as often as you’d like, avoid nipple stimulation and focus on other areas instead. Don’t directly wash the breast or nipple area when in the shower. Wear padded bras when holding your baby so that the baby isn’t tugging or stimulating the breast.

It’s Worth the Wait to Wean Properly

When you drop sessions gradually instead of deciding to wean all at once, you are saving yourself a world of hurt and complications. Each week, add another step to the process and cut out a session or shorten a session.

While treatment for complications when dropping the pumping process exists, the best way to deal with complications is to eliminate the risk of them. Mothers who take it slow will attest that it generally makes life more tolerable.

Mothers who quit suddenly and completely often find that the health issues that can come with that aren’t worth the rapid drop in milk production.

If you do end up engorged, you can do a few things to relieve the pressure you may feel associated with it. But there are a few tried and true treatments that mothers have decided work better than others.

  • Cabbage leaves in your bra can help to dry you up and alleviate pain as your breasts fill with milk that has nowhere to go.
  • Hand expressing on an as-needed basis can help to stop the pain.
  • Ice packs in the bra can help mothers dealing with engorgement issues.
  • Band-aids over the nipples can prevent breastfeeding infants from stimulating the nipples.

In about a week, most mothers see results when they choose to wean properly. And after just a few weeks, what used to take up significant time in your day is now just a memory. Safety and comfort are important factors. Patience will keep you from experiencing adverse effects and being miserable.

Recent Posts

Join the community

Subscribe for exclusive offers, articles and updates!

**Please check your spam folder for our email