Deciding to stop pumping, which is also known as “weaning” from the pump, is essentially the same method nursing mothers use to wean their baby. Like weaning from the breast, weaning from pumping also needs to be done slowly. This enables the milk supply to decrease slowly, minimizing potential discomfort.
It is important for a woman to know when and how to stop pumping. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for mothers to exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of their life. Solid foods can be introduced after that and weaning from breastfeeding and pumping can be done after 12 months or whenever mother and baby see fit.
Breastmilk works as a supplemental food, as a source of comfort and as support to the immune system for children older than one year. If you want to stop breastfeeding/pumping for reasons such as pain, breast engorgement, and infections, we recommend you consult with a doctor or a breastfeeding specialist firstly.
How do you know when to stop pumping?
There is nothing healthier for babies than breast milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends providing breast milk to children at least for their first year (Source). Hence, it is after 12 months that mothers may start weaning from the pump. Gradual decreases in pumping sessions eventually lead to stopping the need for pumping altogether.
There are several other reasons why you need to stop pumping:
If thrush or fungal/yeast infection affects your breasts, you need to stop pumping. Feeding your child can cause him to get infected too. If you notice any blisters or white patches around your baby’s mouth, cheeks, gums, and tongue, he or she may be infected and a visit to the pediatrician is in order.
2. Life-threatening illness
If you are suffering from any life-threatening diseases such as HIV, it is likely to affect your baby through your breast milk.
3. Too much weight gain
Too much milk can cause your baby to rapidly gain weight. If you notice that your baby is gaining weight too quickly, you might need to stop or learn how to regulate the amount of feed. Your pediatrician can help determine if this is a factor.
4. Hepatitis C
If you develop hepatitis C, you need to stop pumping or breastfeeding your baby altogether. Hepatitis C is a common illness in the United States. About 4% of kids get affected by this disease through their mother’s breast milk. It’s better to find an alternative method of feeding your baby.
If you develop Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), a highly contagious infection, you need to find an alternate feeding method for your baby. Babies have vulnerable immune systems, which makes them more susceptible to disease and infection.
How to stop pumping safely?
Here are six steps on how to stop pumping breast milk:
1- Keep reducing pumping sessions slowly until you are down to two sessions per day, preferably 12 hours apart.
2- Among those two sessions, you can reduce the length/volume of one of the sessions as you see fit. Since these sessions are 12 hours apart, you can decrease the length of time or the amount of milk from one session, while keeping the other session at its regular length/volume.
3- Now, reduce yourself to one pumping session per day. You can drop the pumping session that you had been previously decreasing in length and volume, and just do the other pumping session in one day. Although you can pump a little only to relieve the pressure if you feel uncomfortable.
4- Now, be patient and wait for your body to catch up with you.
5- Gradually reduce the one remaining pumping session by length or volume until you are getting only two to three ounces.
6- Stop pumping. Try to skip a day completely when you’re getting two to three ounces. Then do your last pumping session after 36 – 48 hours. If you feel uncomfortable after a few days, do another session but make it as short as needed to be comfortable.
According to research, if you wean from the pump before 12 months, it is recommended to wean your baby to your own previously frozen milk or formula [Source].
How to stop pumping without getting mastitis?
Mastitis is a breast infection that occurs when you don’t remove breast milk regularly and efficiently or abruptly stop pumping altogether. Weaning from the pump must be done slowly and gradually to avoid infection and discomfort.
How to stop a child from breastfeeding?
When you decide to wean your child from breastfeeding, it is better to go slow at first. Your kid may show signs of frustration at first, but you can use the following methods to ease this transition.
Skip a breastfeeding
Try feeding your baby a baby bottle or a cup of milk in place of nursing and see what happens. Pumped breast milk, formula, or whole cow’s milk can be a good alternative if your child is at least one year old. Reducing feeding time once over a week allows your kid to have time to adjust. This works well for you too, as your milk supply reduces gradually without causing mastitis.
Shorten nursing time
Shorten the breastfeeding time for your baby. If he feeds for ten minutes, trying reducing it to five or seven. Depending on his age, look for another food to give him when he needs to be fed. Be aware that bedtime feeding takes more time to shorten due to there soothing and comforting nature.
Distract and postpone
If your child is old enough, try to distract him with other activities when he asks to nurse. Try postponing the breastfeeding time as much as possible and entertain him with other food depending on his age. Solid feeding time can be fun!
When do babies stop breastfeeding?
Weaning from breastfeeding should be done when you see it fit. If you and your baby have no problem with breastfeeding, then there is no need to worry, and you should let your child wean naturally when she is older. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to breastfeed your kids for at least one year and encourages women to breastfeed if both the mother and the baby are willing and able. Despite what others may tell you, there is no wrong or right way to wean. You should do it when you think you and your baby are ready for it.
Weaning is a piece of cake when your child begins to lose interest in nursing. Baby-led weaning can happen anytime when your baby starts eating solid foods (around 4 to 6 months). Some babies like solid foods more than breast milk when they are 12 months, and have tried several foods and started drinking from a cup.
Baby-led weaning also happens when your kid becomes more active and can’t sit in one place for too long. One of the signs that shows your kid is ready for weaning is that if he gets easily distracted or impatient and fussy while nursing.
Some women decide to start weaning because they are returning to work, and sometimes it just feels like the right time to do it. Just because you are ready doesn’t mean that your child is ready too, but you can wean your kid off your breast gradually. It takes a lot of time and patience during mother-led weaning. Your child might show signs of fussiness and frustration. Weaning also depends on your kid’s age and how he copes with that change.
It is recommended to avoid abrupt weaning. This approach can be traumatic for your baby and could also cause breast infections like mastitis for mom. Weaning from breastfeeding and pumping requires patience and time, and it is better to do it the right way so that you and your baby can stay healthy.
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