No matter how long you decide to breastfeed, the time will come when you’ll either need or want to stop. Depending on your body, your milk may dry up on its own or you might have to take a few steps to wean your body off. It’s a perfectly natural thing to have to figure out how to stop pumping, especially if you’ve been exclusively feeding your baby with breast milk. Below are some insightful tips and tricks to help your body stop producing milk.
Weaning Off of Milk Production
One of the most popular ways for women to stop breastfeeding is to wean their bodies off of producing milk naturally. Below are some great steps that you can follow to motivate your body to get rid of the need to make milk.
Step 1: Reducing Your Pumping Sessions
The first thing to do is to make sure that you reduce the number of times you use your pump every day. The more often you pump, the more milk you’re going to produce which is going to make it impossible to wean off. If you find that you’re used to pumping more than 3 times a day, start by going down to 2 times a day for the first week. During this week make sure you pump at least 12 hours apart.
Step 2: Reducing Length and Volume of Pumps
Once you’ve gotten the hang of pumping twice every 12 hours, it’s time to pick which pumping time you can live without. For example, if you pump once at 6 AM and once at 6 PM, figure out which feeding time you can cut out of your schedule. It might be easier to get rid of an evening session as it may give you the ability to get more sleep.
If you find it’s too difficult to cut out an entire session, consider cutting back on the amount of milk you’re pumping out. Remember, the key is the less milk you make your body produce, the less it’ll produce on its own.
Step 3: Waiting it Out
It’s important to note that it might feel slightly uncomfortable for the first couple of days after you adjust your pumping schedule, but you don’t want to instigate your breasts to produce more. If you find that the uncomfortable sensation is edging more towards pain, pump just to relieve pressure. Otherwise, you need to take this time to let your body catch up with you and wait it out.
Step 4: Reducing the Last Pumping Session
This step can be done gradually over the next week or so, as you won’t want to quit cold turkey. This is when you’ll need to reduce the length of time you’re using your pump for your one session per day. Again, you can choose whether you prefer to cut back on the ounces you’re getting or the length of time. Eventually, your breasts should only be producing a small amount of milk (possible 2 to 3 ounces).
Step 5: No More Pumping!
It’s time to get excited because once you’re down to a few ounces and comfortable, you can easily decide to skip an entire day. At this point you should be ready to stop and if you find that it’s starting to get uncomfortable again, pump only if you need to. But be sure to do as little as possible.
Tips to Stop Pumping
There are plenty of old wives’ tales floating around online that tell you how you can stop pumping, but it’s important to choose the right methods that are reliable! Here are some great doctor-recommended tips to help stop pumping.
Tip 1: Avoid Nipple Stimulation
Take a moment to think about it – when your child latches onto your nipple it’s going to stimulate your breasts to trigger the production of milk. The exact same theory applies if your nipples are stimulated outside of feeding time. Make sure you wear supportive bras that aren’t too tight and choosing loose-fitting clothing can also be beneficial. It’s also important to avoid direct stimulation from water while showering, as this is inevitably going to stimulate your nipples.
To prevent milk spots, consider buying nursing pads, which are designed to help absorb any leakage you might experience.
Tip 2: Drink Water!
Dehydration is an incredibly common cause for milk production and believe it or not, water can be a phenomenal way to prevent your body from producing milk. It’s also important to note that the more dehydrated you are, the more uncomfortable your breasts will be. Ensure that you drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, plus, your body will thank you for it!
Tip 3: Sage Tea
There’s nothing better than enjoying a nice cup of tea and many women have found that sage is a reputable method for helping to dry your milk supply. There are two main types of sage that you can use for this task: tea and tincture. Sage tea can typically be found in your local health store and to help add delightful flavors to the mix, consider adding in honey and milk. As for a sage tincture, it’s important to purchase one from a professional herbalist or a doctor. These mixtures are quite potent and you will need to know the appropriate dosage.
Tip 4: Cold Compresses
A cold compress is not only good for ailing wounds, but they can also be useful for stopping your body from producing milk. The other benefit of cold compresses is they can help to soothe your breasts in the event of discomfort. You can easily find cold compresses from your local big box store or drug store.
Tip 5: Doctor-Approved Pharmaceutical Remedies
As a last resort, you can always talk to your doctor about different prescribed medications that can help your body to stop lactating. These prescriptions are typically reserved for women suffering from severe medical issues such as being unable to suppress lactation over a long period of time. It’s important to read the warning labels of each medication as some can exacerbate existing medical conditions or force new ones to arise.
Stopping your body from producing milk can be a process. No matter what method you use it is important that you don’t put additional pressure on yourself to be successful. Much like learning how to breastfeed requires patience and strength, weaning off of the pump does as well.