Read this article to learn when you should stop breastfeeding and some tips for weaning your baby off breastfeeding.
After months of breastfeeding, you may be thinking, “i don t want to breastfeed anymore.” However, you can’t quit breastfeeding all at once and will need to wean your infant off of breastfeeding slowly. How long this period takes will vary from one infant to another.
There are probably reasons you decide now is the time to stop breastfeeding. Whether this is for personal health reasons or you can see your baby taking less interest in breastfeeding. There’s no set age when your baby should stop breastfeeding, so you will have to pay attention to their behaviors.
Once you decide to stop breastfeeding, you’re going to have to give yourself time to wean your baby off breastmilk. There should be weeks for you to go through the process, and your milk supply should lessen over time. However, there are some tactics you can try to quicken the process if it’s safe to do so.
How to Stop Breastfeeding Faster
Talking to your doctor is the best way to discover how you can specifically quicken the weaning process. They will give you an idea of what formula and other foods to offer before turning to breastfeeding. Your doctor can also advise you about using birth control or Sudafed to reduce milk production.
If you do decide that you want to wean your baby off breastfeeding quicker, then you can try:
- Giving up a breastfeeding session. There’s a chance that your baby is already losing interest in one of the feeding sessions, so you can start by dropping it and introducing solid foods or other liquids.
- Get a supportive bra. You want something that will support but not put pressure on your breasts.
- Talk to a doctor about using birth control. Using birth control can help lessen milk production, which can help if you are weaning off breastfeeding but still producing milk as if you were feeding at the same rate.
- Offer formula or other foods before resorting to breastfeeding. If it’s become your habit of breastfeeding your baby whenever it’s feeding time, then you should instead start offering other foods like formula, other liquids, or even solid foods if your child is old enough.
- Offer only one breast per feed. Minimizing to just one breast during feeding time will get your infant used to getting less breast milk. You can offer other liquids or formulas if your baby wants more.
- Avoid emptying your breasts. Whether you are breastfeeding directly or using a pump, avoid emptying your breasts, as this can cause an increase in milk supply.
These are just some things you can do to help stop breastfeeding faster. Ensure that you talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes in your feeding routine. There can sometimes be side effects from stopping breastfeeding too quickly, so start slow.
What Happens if You Stop Breastfeeding Too Quickly
Experiencing physical and emotional changes as your body stops milk production is average, and there are many of the same side effects that you experienced when your milk came in. You may experience engorged or leaking breasts from excess milk. The emotional side effects can be sadness, anxiety, or anger.
Even if you didn’t experience any side effects while your milk came in, there is a chance that you will have some when your milk starts to decrease. You are less likely to have as many or as severe side effects if you slowly wean off breastfeeding than if you stop very quickly.
Some of the side effects you can expect are:
- Engorged breasts
- Clogged ducts or mastitis
- Leaking breast milk
- Emotional swings like sadness, anger, anxiety, and even happiness
There can be other side effects depending on your condition. The best way to avoid these side effects or at least minimize them is to slow down the weaning process, so your body has time to adjust. As you slowly decrease your milk production, there is less chance of swelling and pain in the breasts.
Ways to Wean Your Baby Off Breastfeeding
Before you can go through the weaning process, you need to decide how to replace the nutrition your infant was getting from breastfeeding. It’s also good to find ways to decrease the stress weaning can cause in some infants and stressors on yourself. Ensure that you are also looking for signs of trouble.
The following steps are here to help both you and your baby adjust to a new feeding routine with as little stress and discomfort as possible.
To wean your baby off breastfeeding:
- Choose the right time to stop. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants only be breastfed for the first six months of their lives. After six months, you can start to introduce solid foods. Infants primarily use breastmilk after their first year as a source of comfort and to support their immune system.
- Replace the nutrition source. Once you remove breast milk from your baby’s diet, you will need to replace it will the appropriate foods. If your infant is old enough, this replacement can be formula, donor breast milk, or solid foods. Wait until your baby is at least one year old before giving them other milk products like cow’s milk or soy milk. Multivitamins can also help those that need a source of vitamin D.
- Reduce stressors. Some babies wean off breast milk better than others, so it’s best to plan for a difficult transition and adjust your plans as you go. It would be best if you picked a time in your life when there aren’t any stressors that could affect your physical and emotional health, as there can be side effects that impact these areas. Going slowly can prevent stress in your infant as well.
- Wean at night. Most babies feed less often at night, so nighttime could be an excellent opportunity to wean without causing stress. If there is another time when your baby feeds less, you can start there instead.
- Slowly decrease breastfeeding sessions. Avoid quitting breastfeeding all at once but instead choose one feeding time not to breastfeed, or alternate between breast milk and formula or other foods.
- Use a pump. If you are experiencing something like engorgement or leaking breasts, you should use a breast pump to help alleviate some of the discomfort. However, ensure that you aren’t emptying your breasts, as this can cause more milk production.
- Look for signs of trouble. Some signs to look out for are:
- Mother developing a fever.
- Swollen, red, or hot breasts.
- Green or foul-smelling discharge from breasts.
- Mother has symptoms of depression or anxiety.
- The baby doesn’t have as frequent wet or soiled diapers.
- The baby has a significant change in sleeping patterns.
- Comforting your baby. Weaning off of breastfeeding doesn’t mean that your infant doesn’t want to spend some time close to you. Ensure that you are still holding your baby close and offering a pacifier if they want to nurse.
It’s best to stop breastfeeding when you can see some change in your infant’s behavior around breastfeeding or you start to decrease your milk production naturally. However, if you want to stop sooner, you can begin replacing breast milk with other liquids or solid foods, but there could be uncomfortable side effects that go along with it.