Stopping Breastfeeding:

Finally, Real Info on Stopping Breastfeeding

by Leah Day

I’m a little disgusted by how little information there is on the internet about breastfeeding.

Oh, yeah, there’s plenty about how great breastfeeding is, tips, tricks, and stats on how horrible of a mother you are if you don’t do it. Yep, our kids are going to be delinquents cause we’re not dedicated to art of breastfeeding for life. Give me a break!

I could find hardly anything on the internet about stopping breastfeeding. This is a pretty important topic because so many things have to happen for the end of breastfeeding to be a smooth transition. I’ve taken notes on my own experience so I can share the information with other mothers.

Before we begin let’s get a couple things straight:

1. You are a terrific person and a wonderful mother. Stopping breastfeeding does not make you bad, awful, neglectful, or abusive to your child.

2. You’ve already done plenty for your kid for breastfeeding him or her as long as you have.

3. It is doubtful that your child will throw “You didn’t breastfeed me long enough!” back in your face when he or she is a teenager. It’s probably the only thing they won’t resent you for later. Ha!

Okay, now that that’s done, let’s get on with THE END OF BREASTFEEDING!

Start by eliminating a feed a day. I started with the after lunch snack, then lunch, then dinner, night snack, then breakfast. Give your child a bottle or sippy cup with whatever breastmilk alternative you feel comfortable with. I used watered down goats milk in a NUK sippy cup. My son was almost 10 month old so I didn’t think formula was necessary or desirable.

When you sit down to both nurse continue to do so in your normal place. This will help your baby feel comfortable and secure. Do not give your child a sippy cup alternative in your typical nursing place or position. This is confusing and will result in crying, frantic rooting, and you feeling like a heel (or giving in).

I found that sitting down with my son facing out (his back to my stomach) worked really well. He never nursed in this position (how could he?) so there was no confusion. The added distraction of a book on my knees helped keep him entertained while he drank his milk.

Also, it might be helpful to have someone other than you feed the baby in the morning. This was the hardest one for my son to take because he was used to snuggling into bed with me for breakfast and a cuddle. My husband doesn’t smell like milk so James wasn’t confused by a cuddle and a sippy cup from him.

Feel your breasts as you eliminate feedings. If they feel very full, leaky, or hard then you might need to pump or express some milk. Don’t pump so much you trigger let down. This will keep your milk supply going, which isn’t what you want. Just make sure you are comfortable and you don’t leave gallons of mik in your breasts.

One thing I started doing was a breast massage. I would get hard lumps in my breasts where the milk was in the ducts. I would gently massage the lumps in the shower until they softened up and dissipated. I did this in the shower because my breast would often leak while I was doing it.

Generally my breasts were sore and tender for about three weeks. My son transitioned very fast and now shows no confusion or disappointment about being handed a cup rather than a breast. I have increased the amount of mama time and book reading so he doesn’t feel too cut off from me.

He is a little more of a mama’s boy now and sometimes I’m the only one that can soothe a hurt or put him to sleep. I doubt this has anything to do with ending breastfeeding, but more to do with just general mom/baby bonding.

Honestly, our end to breastfeeding was much less traumatic than I was led to believe it would be. It was remarkable how little James seems to care that he is now getting milk from some other source. His poo smells a little stronger, but other than that I can see no difference in his health or attitude.

In response to the above article, Lena writes:

Hi Leah,

I want to thank you so much for your article on stopping breastfeeding.I searched the internet and could not find any articles about stopping permanently. All the sites wanted to tell me how to start again, which is something I could not do. I am in a good amount of pain and am still searching for how to make that feel better. But, I want to thank you very much for being the only source that did not make me feel like I was doing something bad!

Sincerely, Lena

Editor's Note: Leah is my daughter-in-law and an award-winning quilter. She shares insights almost daily about quilting and art and life on her very popular blog, The Free Motion Quilting Project. To see Leah's gallery of beautiful quilts that she's created, click here. If you're a quilter, both of these sites require a visit right now!

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