When the time comes to stop breastfeeding, you may want to get through the pain and discomfort as quickly as possible. Rapid milk reduction is a bit of a misnomer. Reducing breastmilk takes at least a month before you feel comfortable in your breasts and you no longer feel like you have to express milk. If you are going to stop breastfeeding while your infant is still of breastfeeding age, contact your pediatrician for advice on the best infant formulas to replace breastmilk.
Be Prepared to Spend Up to Four Weeks Expressing Milk
Your body is used to producing milk to feed your infant every two to four hours. This lesson is often hard to unlearn. It can take four weeks or longer for breastmilk production to slow down enough that you don’t have to express milk to relive pressure. At first you’ll need to express milk every two hours or so. As “demand” lessens, less breastmilk will be produced. Express just enough milk to relieve pressure and try to avoid nipple stimulation whenever possible.
Find a New Way to Hold Baby
Throughout the past few months or longer, you have created a unique bond with your infant. That bond is something engrained in you and your infant. When holding baby while reducing breastmilk production, try to avoid using the same holds you used when breastfeeding; your mind will tell your breasts it’s time to breastfeed and stimulate milk production. Also, hold baby’s head away from the breast. Infants will nuzzle the breast and root, stimulating breastmilk production.
Skip the Prescription Medications
Prescription medications like bromocriptine have been used in the past to reduce prolactin. Prolactin is directly related to breastmilk production. This drug and others are not proven to speed up rapid milk reduction. They can, however, cause negative side effects.
Talk With Someone About the Emotional Stress of Stopping Breastfeeding
It is extremely common to feel emotional about your decision to stop breastfeeding. This connection is one you have with your infant and no one else can have that connection. If the time is right to stop breastfeeding, congratulate yourself on a job well-done without regret.
Restarting Milk Production
If you find you’re not ready to stop breastfeeding, you can restart milk production for about six weeks after rapid milk reduction. Your supply will return to normal levels and you can start breastfeeding again immediately, though baby may need supplemental formula until your supply is completely restored.