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How To Stop Breastfeeding?

There isn't a "one way fits all" in this transition for you and your baby. The decision to stop breastfeeding can be tricky no matter what your baby's age, and the process can also be full of uncertainty around how to actually do it!

Here are a few ways to help you stop breastfeeding:

  • Take your time, if you don't need to rush! Both you and your baby need to adapt to a new way of feeding, and dropping one feed at a time - slow and steady - will help both of you (and your boobs!) adapt.

  • Work towards a target! By this, we mean to set a timescale to achieving your goal to stop breastfeeding. We suggest giving both you and your baby at least a month to navigate your way around this change. The process can be emotionally draining, so make sure that you aren't juggling too much at once and that you are both in a good place to start. A word of advice, by giving yourself a month to gradually stop breastfeeding will ultimately help prevent issues like breastmilk overfull, engorged hard-as-rock breasts and mastitis.

Image Source: @moonandcheeze

  • You'll need a route! It's better to not go into this blindfolded so we're glad you're here. You'll need to phase out breastfeeding, so take away one feeding session whether that be every week or every other week depending on how comfortable you both feel. You will have to do this until your baby is completely on bottles or solids. (Pro-tip: A baby who is 9 months or older can be weaned directly to a cup to avoid them being weaned off the bottle at a later date.

  • Baby not taking the bottle? No problem! Try letting someone else take the lead. That can be anyone with a familiar face so that your baby can take the take to trust them joining into the process. If there's no one to hand then potentially try a change of scenery, another room in the home or even in the garden. Things like changing your way of holding the baby during your feeds can also help in getting them comfortable in adapting. It really is trial and error, if nothings working don't lose hope, maybe it's just not the right time! try again in a few weeks. Click through to our "Bottle Aversion: Why Does My Baby Refuse To Be Bottle-Fed?" Blog for more advice. 

If you're not sure whether to continue with breastfeeding, you can contact the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 (every day, 9.30 am to 9.30 pm).

Image Source: @moonandcheeze

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • This is a change for you baby and we all know how much they love having control and familiarity in their days. Why not try letting them lead? It's not the quickest way to wean off the breast but it's a way that focuses on meeting your baby's needs. When trialling this method also known as the "Don't offer, don't refuse" it's important to go along with your baby's cues, don't offer and only nurse when your baby shows interest.

  • Let them know that you are still around! Your baby might start to feel a little distant from you as you start the process to stop breastfeeding, so it's really important to give them as much physical and emotional contact as possible. This could include, cuddling up to watch a movie or reading a book, playing interactive games together and even just having a few minutes to talk to them about stuff. They'll probably look at you as though you're crazy but it's a great bonding exercise and you'd be surprised at the amount they've got to say back.

  • You might experience engorging! This happens if you're moving too quickly within your journey to stop breastfeeding. Basically, sometimes your milk ducts don't clock on to the fact that you're trying to stop. So they still continue to produce milk, all that milk then has nowhere to go and is trapped in your boobs! When this happens, press a cold flannel to your chest or use an icepack. At this point, you are more than welcome to use your breast pump or your hands to empty the trapped milk and bottle it for your baby or use it in their cereal.

Image Source: @moonandcheeze

One last thing from us! You are doing great...It's completely okay to have a breakdown if you need one (Better out than in we say). This change isn't just for your baby but it's for you as well, so look after yourself. You probably miss your old "normal" boobs and can't stand to do this any longer! We've all been there but just remember that once you've finished nursing (however long you choose to do it for, or if you choose to do it at all) you'll be even prouder of yourself than you already are! You need to look out for yourself so that you are well enough, able enough and happy enough to then look after your baby!

Image Source: @moonandcheeze

Love,

Team Mamamade

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