Wean From the Breast

If you have been exclusively pumping and bottle-feeding expressed breast milk, it is best to drop a pumping at a time. You may want to only partially drain your breasts at each pumping for the first 2 days of the weaning process.

In the case of sudden cessation of breastfeeding, where circumstances require your infant to be removed from your breast immediately, use a pump to wean yourself over the course of 14 days or so; replace the former breastfeeding sessions with pumping sessions and then slowly decrease the number of pumping sessions. Feed the expressed breast milk to your child, unless there is concern about its safety.

Outdated remedies such as binding of the breasts are unnecessary and do very little to help with a healthy weaning process. Rather, it is important to support but not constrict your breasts during weaning by using a normal bra. If there is any engorgement, you can try ice to relieve the pain and swelling. You can also try drinking sage tea or eating sage leaves in a salad. (Sage has been known to decrease supply.) During the weaning process, keep your eye out for plugged ducts, which are temporary lumps in the breast that can be tender but are harmless, versus mastitis, an infection of the breast that in most cases needs to be treated medically. Symptoms of mastitis include extreme tenderness, redness at the affected area, low-grade fever, and flulike symptoms.

You may experience mixed emotions about weaning and might want to pick a time period when you can be available for some extra quality time with your little one. Whenever you wean you should reward yourself for going through this very important rite of passage. You have given your baby optimal nutrition and bonding, and have given yourself the gift of optimal health as well. Congratulations!



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