How to stop breastfeeding quickly

How to stop breastfeeding quickly – Transcript

Over the years I’ve come across a lot of women who have told me that they gave up breastfeeding in the past, for many different reasons, and often this was because they were put on medication out of the blue, and thought that they had to stop – they may have even been told that they had to stop, from a medical professional. Also, women have had to have medical tests, and that for that reason they also stopped – and the list goes on.

And the truth is that many of these things ARE compatible with breastfeeding – sometimes you may just need to make a few adjustments, or cut down the feeding to a degree, or keep your supply up while you’re on a treatment, for instance,  and then get your baby back to the breast again when the treatment is over. So there is great flexibility, and it’s usually for the lack of knowledge around lactation that cause many women to unnecessarily stop.

And of the women that I’ve spoken to about this matter, they have been left feeling really quite negative when they gave up so prematurely, and many experienced engorgement, coupled with blocked ducts or mastitis, because they absolutely stopped at one moment in time, and didn’t do it in a kind way to their body, gradually reducing that supply, and this is very unsatisfactory.

So I would really encourage you to look at the related videos so that you can make an informed choice about these matters, and if you do find that the treatment or the test or the particular medication that you have been put on isn’t compatible, there are still things that you can do.

You may need to stop breastfeeding for a short time, but keep up your supply with pumping and orientate your baby back to the breast (relactation) at the end of the treatment. It might simply be that you can offer your expressed milk that you expressed before the treatment began, and offer that to your baby during the treatment, keep your supply up, and then bring your baby back to the breast again – and remember that babies are hard wired to breastfeed, and it is possible to get your baby back to the breast.

And it might be that you have a few weeks to prepare and this is better because it gives your body time to gradually reduce your supply – maybe cutting out one feed for two to three days, and then another feed for another two to three days, enabling your body to gradually reduce that supply. It can be re-boosted up again.

I would however, encourage you in the process of reducing milk supply to always use hand expression as a means to keep yourself comfortable because it’s possible to get engorged (a general congestion going on), and hand expression will help to prevent a blocked duct – and look at the related videos about that.

Although it’s very rare, if you do have to stop abruptly, if you’ve been perhaps diagnosed with a condition where you need treatment as soon as possible, then pump your milk, and gradually then reduce that pumping time – and keep yourself comfortable with hand expression in between, to prevent blocked ducts or mastitis.

And it’s likely here that you would be offering a breastmilk substitute to your baby, and your recovery is really important – so lots of rest – Keep your baby close for all that extra comfort and attention because of the lack of breastfeeding. You can still replicate all of that lovely closeness, and make sure you get lots of help as well, practically, from your friends and family around you.

And remember that if you do have to stop abruptly before your baby is 12 months old, seek out support and information from your health professional who can give you good, impartial information regarding breast milk substitutes, and how much your baby would be required to have.

So if your baby is less than 6 months old, it’s likely you’re going to be offering a bottle, so it’s good to know how you can offer that bottle in a responsive way – have a look at the video relating to that. Know, also that after six months, babies can be offered an open lidded cup.

If you are going through the process of trying to stop your milk production entirely, pump your milk as often as your baby would have fed, gradually start to reduce one of those pumping sessions for two to three days, but ALWAYS keep yourself comfortable in between. If you start to feel uncomfortably full, then use your hand only, just to get minimal amount of milk off (the breast) – that will prevent a blocked duct from occurring, and mastitis potentially.

Then you can then start to reduce another pumping session over another two to three days, all the time, you’re trying to keep as comfortable as you can – and gradually your body will make less and less milk.(how breastfeeding works)

And another strategy that you can add in the mix here is to reduce the actual pumping time so that you’re taking less (milk) off in each session too – and know that your milk supply is always in a state of flux, so there is flexibility. If you start to drain the breast again, your body will start to make milk again. Women have re-lactated – it is possible to do that, after days or weeks or sometimes months.

But I do appreciate that if this decision is final then you will be feeling quite emotional – and there’ll be lots of different feelings but know that keeping your baby close, skin to skin, feeding your baby responsively via a bottle, will also be helping to develop your baby’s brain. All that lovely responsive feeding and closeness is a wonderful thing, irrespective of the milk – and congratulate yourself on all of the milk that you’ve given to your baby up to this point.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022


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