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How to stop breastfeeding without pain

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Breastfeeding doesn’t have to end painfully, with engorged breasts and the risk of mastitis. In short the best way to stop breastfeeding is to do it gradually over a few weeks. This way your body and baby can adjust. Moving on to the next chapter of you journey within motherhood smoothly.

 

I recently stopped breastfeeding after nearly 14 months pain free, so I wanted to share my experience. I’m not in the medical profession, I can only talk about my own experience and I hope it helps someone out.

 

All I ever seem to hear was how horrific the pain of stopping breastfeeding was. To be honest, it had me slightly worried about stopping. Turns out everyone I spoke to who had terrible stories and had gone cold turkey. Which by the way, is the worse way to stop breastfeeding, unless you really have to.

 

After a very shaky start to breastfeeding, me and baby eventually go the hang of it. When we hit that stage after a few weeks it was the best thing ever. I always wanted to breastfeed, to me there’s no other option to feed my beautiful baby and so I was determined to make it happen as hard as it was. My plan was to breastfeed for 6 months, so I was really chuffed when I hit the 1 year mark. I decided that when baby turned 1, it was job done. I know there are many benefits to feeding longer but for me a year was practical.

 

How I stopped breastfeeding without pain

 

Whether you’ve been breastfeeding for 14 days, 14 months or 24 months, you can still stop pain free. I’m writing from my own perspective and referring to my own experience. So just adapt according to your own situation.

 

  1. Stop the night feeds
  2. Dropped a feed a week
  3. Had one feed a day
  4. Had one feed every other day

 

These are the stages I went through. I will elaborate on each one too and give you my own time scales.

 

Since baby was 6 months old, we had started to give her a bit of full fat cow’s milk at some point in the afternoon. She had repeatedly rejected formula milk, probably because it tastes so bad. Also I’m rubbish at expressing and find it really boring, so it was great that she was happy to have something else.

 

 

When baby hit a year and 1 week. I was utterly exhausted from waking up every night for the past year. I hit that wall and I was done. I didn’t want to finish breastfeeding just yet, since its still beneficial for baby but I really was done with the night feeds.

 

How I stopped night feeds

 

I would breastfeed baby her final feed of the day about 7pm and then my partner took over the night shift. It was fairly simple and I got to sleep for an entire night, Woohoo! He would offer baby only water or milk, water was always offered first. It took a while for baby to settle since she just wanted me, mostly for comfort. During our night feeds, I would put her on and she’d be back asleep within 2 minutes. So I knew she wasn’t waking up for hunger. In hindsight, she started doing this from about 10 months old, so with my next baby I would start weaning them off the night feeds when this begins to happen.

 

It would take my partner around an hour if not more to get baby back to sleep. But with a lot of patience we got there (well he did, I was happily sleeping). The first two nights were the worse, then from the third it got better. It took 5-7 days for baby to stay settled and then next thing we knew baby was sleeping 12 hours (7pm-7am) and not waking up at all. AMAZING!

 

My breasts adjusted quickly, they were never engorged, just a bit full since there were no night feeds. They settled down after two or three nights.

 

How I stopped day feeds

 

Once night time was sorted, it was time to work on our day feeds. I follow my baby’s patterns when deciding which feeds to drop and in what order.

 

Baby had already sometimes had cows milks instead of me at around 4pm, so we dropped this one completely.

 

I noticed baby’s first morning feed was very short and she would quickly become uninterested. So I started to replace breastfeeding with a beaker of cow’s milk. Baby took to this well, although waiting for a kettle to boil was not a winner with her. Having to get out of bed and go downstairs to feed baby was a shock to myself. Breastfeeding is just so easy in the morning. All you have to do is pick baby up, pop them on and kick back.

 

We continued this for about a week before dropping another feed. Next we dropped the 1pm feed. This was replaced with food and cows milk.

 

Out of baby’s 10am and 7pm breastfeed, her favorite by far was the 10am feed. This was also the feed she would have a mid morning snooze too, so this would be the last to go.

 

Dropping the 7pm bedtime feed was the trickiest. For the past year our bedtime routine was rigid and fixed, it was all she knew. Dropping this feed required some change to our usual. The easiest way for us to begin the process was for daddy to feed baby. After bath time, baby massage and a change for bed, I would pass baby over to daddy. Then I would scarper, I couldn’t be anywhere in sight or smell of baby. Baby did get use to this, although daddy would have to let her play around a bit before putting her down.

 

When it came to me giving her a beaker of milk instead of me that was harder. And after many failed attempts with the beaker I would just breastfeed, it was the only thing she wanted at that time. This continued for a while!

 

Usually I would give baby a feed in my room and on the bed, I guess baby associated this with time for a bedtime breastfeed.  One day, after she was ready for bed, I simply fed her in her own bedroom and she drank the milk. Changing the environment worked! She did moan a bit when I put her down but nothing bad enough I felt like I had to feed her again. Another thing I did I think helped, was giving baby a massage for about 15 minutes. The connection and relaxation helped myself and baby adapt to stopping our bedtime feed. And on three occasions baby fell asleep after I changed her. All I had to do was gently lower baby into her cot, RESULT! I 100% recommend baby massage, if you can’t find a course then check out youtube.

 

The following nights I kept this up, just massaging and giving milk in a beaker before bed and we got there. I was still breastfeeding at around 10am everyday so I’m sure baby could smell some milk but she happily went to sleep with our new routine.

 

We’re now living the night time dream with baby. Long gone are those early days when the only time she would sleep would be on me or in our bed. Now once babys had her milk, she will lean over to her cot to be put down. Then she moves around to get comfy and settles down for the night, AWESOME!

 

Now on to our last breastfeed, our 10am feed. For this feed, I didn’t rush or lead the way for dropping it, unlike the others. I could easily handle one feed a day and it was a nice time of the day, it was our time. I had the best of both worlds, Pims would still get the wonderful benefits and antibodies of breast milk and I’m not having to be 100% depended on for food and comfort. I wouldn’t have minded at all if baby decided to have this feed for another week or another year.

 

As it goes, she self-weaned after three or four weeks. (If you want to speed up the process, give it a few days for baby and your body to adjust, then every other day).

 

After a few weeks of only having a 10am feed, baby gradually began to not prompt me for the feed as much. Baby would forget about it, to suddenly remember she’s been short changed 40 minutes later. She also stopped falling asleep after this feed, baby was just becoming less interested in her feed. This probably saddened me more than baby, since I loved it when she would snuggle into me for a snooze. Naturally we would sometimes skip a day and then it felt like I was prompting baby for a feed. Feeding every other day lasted about a week, I then decided to not prompt baby but to offer cows milk in a beaker instead. She would drink it, she didn’t root around or tug at my clothes much. If she was tired then she was more fidgety and restless. After a few days I’m guessing my milk disappeared as she completely showed no interest in breastfeeding.

 

Since my breasts didn’t change, I have no idea how long milk stays around. I was really surprised and happy about the lack of change and to stop without any pain.

 

I’ve made a table so you can see my feeds and timeframes at a glance. This is just what worked for me to give you an idea. Ultimately, it’s just about stopping gradually.

 

Exclusive Breastfeeding Times Feeds Dropped Approx. Timeframe
7am 3rd Week 2 – 3
10am 6th Week 5 – 7
1pm 4th Week 3 – 4
4pm 1st On and off from 6 m/o. Fully stopped week 1 – 2
7pm 5th Week 4 – 5
Night time (anytime) 2nd Week 0 – 1

 

I’m so happy I breastfed my baby for as long as I did. She is so happy and healthy, it really is worth it. The time and effort I’ve invested into my baby will benefit her for the rest of her life. I think it’s a real shame when so many mummies associate breastfeeding with pain. It doesn’t have to be like that, just be patient, plan ahead and you will be able to stop breastfeeding without pain.

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About Zena Grantham

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About Zena Grantham

Zena is a baking fanatic spending most of her free time dreaming up her next tasty recipe. She has been known to accidentally make people fall off their diet or healthy eating wagon with chocolate cakes!

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