Now is the appropriate time. You’ve decided to wean your child from breastfeeding, and you’re going through a range of emotions as a result of this decision.
Perhaps you’ve reached the point where you’re completely ready to get rid of your breast pads, breast pump, and nipple shields. It’s possible that you’re not ready to give up breastfeeding just yet, but it’s become abundantly clear that you shouldn’t continue doing so. It’s possible that you’ve never breastfed, but after giving birth you find that you need to reduce your milk supply.
It doesn’t matter why you made this choice or how you currently feel about it; just know that it’s all right.
We are aware that you have probably given this decision a lot of thought, and we are here to support you regardless of how old your child is (three days, three months, or three years). (Or should we say in the beginning?) We have the information you require to successfully wean yourself off of breastfeeding in the most comfortable way possible.
Although there is no exact formula for determining how long it will take to deplete your milk supply, we hope that by following some of the suggestions that are provided below, you will find the process to be a bit less difficult.
Ideally, you stop breastfeeding over a period of weeks or even months. This allows your milk supply to gradually decrease as milk is removed less often.
Depending on the age of your child, this extra time also gives you the opportunity to introduce other solids and liquids besides breastmilk. Giving yourself time to slowly wean off breastfeeding will be more comfortable and less stressful. (Slow and steady wins the race!)
But sometimes it may not be possible to stretch out the weaning process. If you need to stop breastfeeding quickly (or even cold turkey), here are some suggestions to help the process:
- Begin by dropping the breastfeeding session that your child seems least interested in. Many people maintain the early morning or bedtime breastfeeding sessions for last. Unless you’re going cold turkey there’s no need to give up those sleepy snuggles right away!
- Wear a supportive bra that doesn’t put pressure on your breasts or cut into them. (Yes, we just offered you an excuse to go shopping!)
- If you really need to dry up your milk supply quickly, talk to your doctor about the possibility of using Sudafed, birth control, or herbsto try to reduce milk production.
- Consider also talking to your doctor about offering your child formula or another age-appropriate food item before offering the breast at feeding session times to decrease interest in breastfeeding.
- Offer your child only one breast per feed and try to stick to a fixed feeding routine to minimize breastfeeding “snacking.”
- If your breasts become engorged and painful, try to hand express or use a hand pump just until you feel more comfortable. Try not to empty your breasts. You don’t want to trigger an increase in the supply!
You may have experienced physical changes — and emotional ups and downs — as your milk supply increased. Now, as your body stops producing milk, many of those same side effects may appear again (or for the first time if you didn’t experience them when your milk came in.)
For example, you may find yourself with engorged breasts from milk not being drained out regularly. Clogged ducts or mastitis may come along with this. You may also find that your breasts leak some of the excess milk and that you feel a great amount of sadness, anxiety, anger — or even happiness.
Wondering how you can minimize some of the unpleasantness or deep emotions? The answer, though perhaps not what you want to hear, probably comes as no surprise: You may have fewer (or less severe) side effects to deal with if you prolong the weaning process.
By giving your body more time to adjust and decrease milk production, engorgement may be less — which generally means less breast swelling and less boob pain.
If you do experience side effects, consider treating your symptoms with some of our tips below sooner rather than later.
If you’re ready to stop breastfeeding and dry up your milk supply, a good rule of thumb is to plan to drop one feeding session every 3 to 5 days. This sounds simple and straightforward enough, but let’s talk about minimizing some of the common issues that come with this tried-and-true method.
No matter how long your milk supply is lasting, one method not to use to reduce milk production is breast binding. This may cause clogged ducts and mastitis.
Mastitis — basically, inflammation usually caused by infection — can come with a great deal of pain. In addition to not binding your breasts, consider the following tips to help avoid mastitis as you stop breastfeeding.
- We can’t say this enough: Give yourself time to slowly discontinue your feeding and pumping sessions. One of the major causes of mastitis is milk buildup in the breast tissue. Slowly tapering off feeding sessions gives the body more time to gradually decrease the milk supply so the milk buildup won’t be as great.
- Make sure to continue taking good care of your breast tissue. Bacteria can enter through any sores or cuts leading to an infection and mastitis.
- Only use pumps that fit properly!
Should any signs of mastitis — such as fever and hard red bumps — develop during weaning, immediately notify your doctor as you may need antibiotics or other medical treatment.
Dealing with the emotional ups and downs
Even with slow and steady weaning, your hormones are changing. And we’re not going to sugarcoat it — even if you haven’t been a fan of breastfeeding (which is totally OK, by the way), it can be emotionally tough to stop and may even feel like you’re losing some closeness with your sweet baby. (Don’t worry, though — the bond you have with your child will only deepen as the years go by.)
Some tips for dealing with this roller coaster if it happens:
- Make sure that you’re getting sufficient rest and nutrition. This will help regulate your hormones and make you feel your best!
- Find a support group or friend who understands what you’re going through.
- Spend time doing your favorite activities and hobbies.
- Get those endorphins flowing with some exercise!
Using home remedies for painful boobs
Here are some effective ways of treating sore breasts and engorgement at home:
- Use cold packs and over-the-counter pain medications to help with pain and inflammation.
- Hand express as needed to take a little breast milk out of the breasts tissue and relieve that pressure. (But be careful not to empty the breast completely and trigger more milk production!)
- Some women report that using some cold cabbage leaves inside a well supporting, but not tight, bra helps with engorgement.
Helping your baby through the process
Let’s be honest: Weaning can be hard on both mom and baby. If you find yourself with an enraged child, take a deep breath and try the following:
- Offer a pacifier for your child to suck on in place of your breast.
- Offer your child plenty of liquids and solid foods if age appropriate. Make sure to check with your child’s doctor to ensure that all of their nutritional needs are being met.
- Continue to spend plenty of time cuddling with your child and bonding!
- If your baby associates bedtime (or other activities) with breastfeeding, consider having your partner take over these duties during weaning.
What Can I Use To Stop My Baby From Breastfeeding
A less difficult tactic is to gradually cut back on the number of times you breastfeed your child over the course of several weeks. Begin with the activity that the baby seems to view as having the least importance or the one during which the baby eats the least. Before you stop the next feeding session, you should give the baby a few days to adjust to the change.
How To Stop Breastfeeding For 2 Year Baby
The act of breastfeeding can be a sacred journey for both the mother and the child, and although the end of that journey is unavoidable, it does not make it any less challenging. Putting aside the potential negative effects on your child’s physical health, weaning can often be an emotionally trying experience for both you and your child, and this can be especially true if your child is an older toddler. It’s possible that you’re feeling ready to learn how to stop breastfeeding a 2-year-old child, whether it’s because you’re going back to work, your child is going to daycare, you’ve got another baby on the way, or you simply want a bit more space to yourself. There are a lot of reasons why you might feel this way. You are not the first person to ever wean a toddler, despite the fact that it may feel like you are the first person to ever do so.
Actually, there are a few different approaches one can take in order to wean a child who is 2 years old from breastfeeding. The majority of people either wean their babies off of breast milk gradually or stop breastfeeding abruptly. Do some research to determine which strategy seems like the best fit for you and your family.
The conclusion of your breastfeeding journey may feel like a welcome relief to you, or it may bring up a lot of upsetting memories for you. You should be aware that any and all of your reactions to it are appropriate, and there is absolutely no reason for you to feel guilty about quitting.