How to Wean From Pumping: Step by Step Guide

If you’re a breastfeeding mom that exclusively pumps, we know that it can be hard to wean from pumping. Pumping is hard! It is not only time-consuming but exhausting.

A lot of mothers find themselves stuck in the middle ground between pumping and formula feeding. You want to wean from pumping but are unsure how to wean without having engorged breasts, feeling uncomfortable, or even developing mastitis during the weaning phase.

We’ve created a blog post outlining a step-by-step guide for the best way to wean from pumping so you can get through the process more comfortably. Avoid mastitis, engorged breasts, and other discomforts during this transition with these helpful tips.

How Long Does it Take to Wean From Pumping?

A good rule of thumb is that it takes about 1 week of weaning for every pumping session you currently do. However, many factors affect how long it takes to wean from pumping. These include:

  • How often do you pump
  • How old your baby is
  • Your milk supply
  • Your lifestyle- including where you work and the on-demand feeding needs of your baby

Depending on the circumstances, adjusting a pumping schedule can take a couple of days or a few weeks. As you prepare to wean from pumping, you’ll want to slowly decrease the amount of time you spend every day attached to the breast pump. The following steps will help you comfortably wean from pumping.

scoop with formula for bottle

Steps to Wean From Pumping

When you are ready to slowly transition away from pumping, use these steps and tips as a guide. Remember to be patient with yourself during this process. Weaning can be unpredictable, and it can take some time for your body to adjust.

Step 1: Gradually Drop Pumping Sessions

The first step to weaning is gradually dropping the number of pumping sessions that you do each day. The most effortless session to get rid of at first is the sessions in the middle of the day. Skip one and after a couple of days, try skipping another until you are down to 2 pumping sessions a day.

Step 2: Reduce Length and Volume of Remaining Sessions

The next step in the weaning process is to reduce your time at the remaining two pumping sessions. Reduce your time pumping and do not pump until your breasts are empty but until you feel comfortable. Start out reducing your time pumping by a few minutes each day.

Step 3: Drop to One Pumping Session

Once you feel comfortable, try dropping another pumping session. Dropping another session will leave you with a session either in the morning or at night. Keep the session you feel will be the hardest to stop. That may be the pumping session that is still producing more milk compared to the other session.

When you’re down to one pumping session per day, it’s time for the final step in the weaning process!

Step 4: Stop Pumping Altogether

Continue reducing the time spent pumping on your last session until you feel comfortable dropping it altogether. Your body may feel ready to do this when you only get a couple of ounces during this pumping session. After two or three days of getting only a couple of ounces a day, drop it entirely and see how you feel.

Note: All content and information on this website are for informational and educational purposes only; it is not medical advice. The information in this post is based on my own experiences and opinions. Always consult a medical professional for your particular needs or concerns before making any medical decisions.

Tips to Weaning Comfortably

1. Monitor Your Milk Supply

As you wean, monitor how much milk your breasts are producing. If they start feeling engorged or uncomfortable in any way, try hand expression to relieve your discomfort. Continue monitoring your supply and adjust accordingly.

2. Avoid Breast Stimulation

You should avoid breast stimulation as much as possible during the weaning process. Breast stimulation can cause an increase in supply and lead to additional discomfort while weaning.

3. Try Cabbage Leaves

Cabbage leaves may help relieve engorgement as well as decrease milk supply during the weaning process. Place two chilled cabbage leaves on your breast in your nursing bra to hold them secure. Wear them for about 20 minutes or until they feel warm, then discard. Cabbage leaves have anti-inflammatory properties that help the inflammation and swelling of your breasts. 

4. Use a Cool Compress to Reduce Swelling

Reduce any engorgement by applying a cool compress to your breasts after each feeding session. Keep the compresses on for 20 minutes or until any discomfort from swelling goes away.

5. Use Earth Mama No More Milk Tea

Earth Mama Organic No More Milk Tea Bags for Weaning from Breastmilk, 16-Count (2-Pack)
  • During the summer months products may arrive warm but Amazon stores...

You can try using Earth mama no more milk tea to help dry up any excess milk. No More Milk Tea is made with anti-galactagogue herbs traditionally used to reduce breast milk production. You can drink up to 3 cups a day to help reduce your breast milk supply while weaning. 

6. Try Cabocreme

Cabocreme Breast Cream for Engorgement, Weaning, and Suppression of Breast Milk | Ob-GYN Doctor Created, Breastfeeding Mother Approved
  • All Natural active ingredients
  • Dose dependent, use a little or a lot depending on desired use.
  • No more cabbage leaves!

Cabocreme is made from concentrated cabbage extract. Therefore, it has the same effects as the cabbage leaves but is more concentrated and easy to apply. The creme helps reduce inflammation and slowly helps dry up your milk supply while you are gradually weaning. You can try using it more often to encourage a faster weaning process. 

7. Use Pink Stork No Flow

Pink Stork No Flow Supplement: Milk Reduction Supplement for Weaning Mothers, Naturally Reduce Breast Milk Production, Stop Lactation, Lactation Supplement, Women-Owned, 60 Capsules
  • Stop nursing naturally: Helps support the natural reduction of your...
  • Breast milk reduction: Supports natural breast milk reduction by...
  • Clean: Made without gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, GMOs, and more....

Pink Stork No Flow supplement is formulated to help reduce your breast milk production and help your mood and energy levels during the weaning process. It includes sage to encourage breast milk reduction, parsley for relief from inflammation and engorgement, and a vitamin B complex for increased energy and mood support. 

8. Keep Yourself Comfortable

As you wean, keep yourself as comfortable as possible. Wear nursing pads or breast shells to prevent leaking, and try wearing a sleep bra instead of a pumping bra at night. Sleeping with the bra on can help reduce engorgement and swelling during weaning.

9. Monitor for Discomfort

Since weaning can increase discomfort, monitor yourself closely for signs of mastitis or plugged ducts. These are conditions that require medical assistance to treat. If you experience any pain, be sure to contact your doctor.

Weaning from Pumping Symptoms

Some conditions may occur during weaning that may need medical attention. Be sure to monitor your body throughout the process and contact your doctor with any concerns. The following are some symptoms you may experience:

Engorgement–  Breast engorgement happens when your breasts are overfilled with milk, and they become painful. Your breasts will become hard and swollen feeling. It will typically go away within a few days after reducing or stopping pumping.

Mastitis– This is an infection of the breast tissue that causes redness, swelling, and inflammation. You may need antibiotics to treat it. You might also feel flu-like symptoms like fever and chills. 

Plugged Ducts– These are milk ducts that become blocked because of milk build-up. Plugged or clogged can cause pain and discomfort. A clogged duct usually appears as a hard, painful knot in your breasts. Mastitis can become a complication from a clogged milk duct, so it is crucial to relieve the clogged duct. Massage your breast where the blocked duct is and try applying a warm compress. 

Hormonal Changes–  Your body may experience some hormonal changes as you wean from pumping. You may have a surge in your milk supply when you decrease the number of times you pump per day or night.

Mood swings–  You may experience mood swings or sudden changes in your attitude. The changes in hormones cause these symptoms. They tend to disappear once milk production decreases and your body adjusts. 

Depression–   Some women experience depression when they stop pumping. Depression during weaning can cause mood swings, changes in appetite, and fatigue.

Sadness–  You may feel sad when you stop pumping. This is due to hormones that trigger these feelings. It should pass with time, but talk with your doctor if it becomes more than sad feelings or too much to deal with. 

Remember, it takes several days for your body to adjust once you stop pumping. Be patient and stay consistent until the process feels comfortable again.

FAQ’s on Weaning From Pumping

1. What is the fastest way to wean off pumping?

The fastest way to wean from pumping is to reduce your pump sessions to get your body used to the lower supply. You want to reduce pumping sessions slowly to minimize discomfort and avoid mastitis.

You can use Cabocreme, drink No More Milk Tea by EarthMama, and take Pink Stork’s No Flow to speed up this process. All of these encourage a reduction in milk production and can speed up the process of weaning. 

2. How can I dry up my milk without getting mastitis?

Use cabbage leaves in your bra, use Earth mama no more milk tea, try using Cabocreme on your breasts after each feeding session, and keep yourself as comfortable as possible. If you feel engorged, try hand expressing a little milk to avoid getting a plugged duct which can turn into mastitis. Monitor your body and how you are feeling throughout the process of weaning. 

3. Is it ok to stop pumping cold turkey?

You shouldn’t quit pumping cold turkey because it can cause clogged ducts or mastitis.  Instead, reduce your pump sessions slowly to avoid blocked ducts and mastitis.

4. What is a plugged duct?

Plugged Ducts are milk ducts that become blocked because of milk build-up. This can cause pain and discomfort as well as inflammation.

5. What is engorgement?

Engorgement is when the tissue in your breast swells. This can cause pain and discomfort as well as inflammation. Engorgement usually occurs when breasts become overfull and not enough milk is being expressed or pumped.

6. What are mastitis symptoms?

The symptoms of mastitis can feel like the flu, including fever and chills. Symptoms also include redness, swelling, and inflammation of the breasts. Most of the time, mastitis needs medical attention and requires antibiotics. 

7. When is the right time to wean a baby?

It is recommended that mothers nurse their babies for at least the first year of life. After one year of age, it is then safe to begin weaning from breastfeeding or exclusively pumping. 

Conclusion

It can be tough to wean from pumping, but there are several ways you can do so without getting mastitis or experiencing any discomfort. For instance, start by gradually reducing your pump sessions to get your body used to the lower supply of milk produced.

Reduce pump sessions slowly and consistently until you’re comfortable with stopping completely. Be sure not to quit cold turkey because this could cause clogged ducts or mastitis- just reduce the number of times per day or night that you use a pump (or even express milk) as often as possible.

You may also experience specific symptoms like depression or mood swings during this process. Continue to monitor how you feel throughout the entire process and contact your doctor if you have any concerns. While weaning is no easy feat, with the right amount of patience and consistency, you can successfully wean from pumping without experiencing mastitis or other adverse effects.

How to Wean From Pumping: Step by Step Guide
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