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When it’s time to start weaning from pumping or breastfeeding, it can seem to be a daunting task but I’ve got a few tips that may help. These basics helped me wean from breastfeeding for my first child and wean from exclusively pumping for my twins, without getting major clogs or mastitis.
When to Wean from Pumping or Breastfeeding
There really is no right time to wean from pumping or breastfeeding. It depends on the person producing the milk, the baby, or babies, and overall health, including mental health.
It is recommended to provide babies with breastmilk one way or another through the first 12 months of their lives, the first 6 months being the most important.
However, things don’t always go as planned and sometimes life gets in the way.
For my oldest, I kept breastfeeding him until he was 21 months old and I was 2 months pregnant with twins. With my twins, I was unable to breastfeed them due to their tongue and lip ties, but I did pump for 8 months until I had to stop in part for mental health reasons.
Whatever your reason for wanting to wean from producing milk, I hope the tips below from my own experiences help you wean safely.
Peppermint Essential Oil
When I was weaning from exclusively pumping for my twins, I read that mixing a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil, with some peppermint essential oil would help reduce milk production. I would do this and rub it on my breasts, avoiding the nipples, before getting dressed in the morning and before going to bed.
I feel doing so helped decrease the milk production quicker than when I wasn’t doing so.
*Note: Don’t diffuse peppermint oil around babies, only do so if they are sleeping in another room.
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The pinkStork No Flow Hibiscus Mint Tea helped reduce my milk production when I was weaning from pumping. Each tea bag can be used for two cups of tea so I’d have one cup then save the tea for later. I feel that this helped reduce my milk supply as well.
- Pink Stork No Flow Tea features natural anti-galactagogue herbs Sage, Parsley, and Mint to help dry up breast milk supply when it's no longer desired - plus support energy and postpartum hormonal balance.
- The decision to stop breastfeeding for any reason can be very stressful for women. We’ve added Spearmint and Peppermint to manage breast milk overproduction - AND to help ease feelings of stress and support relaxation during this emotional time.
- Brewing tips: steep the pyramid tea sachet in hot water for 5 minutes -- steep up to 2 more times for more benefits! For a pitcher of tea, steep 4 sachets in 2 quarts of water and store in the fridge. You can sweeten, if desired. Each tea sachet typically makes 2 8-ounce cups of tea. We recommend drinking 1-3 cups of our organic Sage and Hibiscus tea daily.
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I always highly suggest taking Sunflower Lecithin while breastfeeding or pumping to keep the milk ducts slippery in order to help keep milk production up, reduce the prevalence of clogs, and reduce the chance of mastitis.
My chiropractor suggested taking sunflower lecithin when I was breastfeeding my first child and I continued taking it, and increasing the dose due to the increased milk output, when I was pumping for my twins.
For my singleton I took the recommended dose of 2 Sunflower Lecithin capsules a day. For my twins I took four a day, two at lunch and two at dinner, if I remember correctly.
If you aren’t already taking sunflower lecithin while weaning, I highly suggest starting. Of course, checking with your doctor is a good idea if you have other health conditions.
Sunflower lecithin will help reduce the chance of clogs and mastitis while weaning. It would really be frustrating to have to keep pumping or breastfeeding longer than you want to, not to mention the immense pain involved if you were to get mastitis during weaning.
- A Pain in the Boob - Legendairy Milk Sunflower Lecithin helps you avoid developing plugged ducts. As a natural fat emulsifier, it can help to reduce milk “stickiness,” keeping it from clumping together. Product is also suitable for use outside of breastfeeding.
- Let Milk Flow Freely and Comfortably - By helping to loosen existing fatty clogs, Legendairy Milk Sunflower Lecithin supplement supports milk flow, so you and your baby can enjoy a more relaxing feeding experience.
- Safe, Simple Lactation Support - For fast relief, take 1 softgel 3 to 4 times daily. If you wish to keep things flowing smoothly, take 1 softgel 2 times a day. Our liquid sunflower lecithin in softgel capsules are easy to swallow.
- Fenugreek-Free - Although fenugreek is a well-known lactation supplement, our product is fenugreek-free as a significant number of women have reported adverse effects on themselves or their babies from using fenugreek breastfeeding supplements.
- Organic Sunflower Lecithin - Legendairy Milk only uses certified organic Sunflower Lecithin ingredient in its products (note: other ingredients are not certified organic). This product is verified by the Non-GMO Project. Please note that this product is not just for breastfeeding and nursing; men and women use our Sunflower Lecithin for its added health benefits.
Adjusting Pumping/Feeding Schedule
When I was pumping for my twins, I was pumping 7 times a day, almost every 3 hours except for overnight I’d go 4 hours between pumping. At the height of it I was producing 8oz each time I pumped and I needed to get that down to 0. It seemed like a daunting task that would take forever and I knew I needed to read lightly in order to do so without getting clogs or mastitis along the way.
This adjusted schedule could also be used when weaning from breastfeeding, just cut down a couple minutes every few days on one nursing session until you no longer have that nursing session at all. Then start working on the next one you want to drop.
You could also shave a few minutes off of more than one nursing session and decrease the overall time spent nursing but keep the same amount of sessions for a while. It’s all up to you, your situation, and preferences.
My Original Pumping Schedule
Originally I was pumping 7x a day at 1 am, 5 am, 8 am, 11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, and 9 pm, which was every 3-4 hours. Every pumping session I was producing about 8 ounces of milk. In total, I produced about 55-60 ounces of milk a day equating to about 14 bottles a day for my little guys (there were two of them so 7 bottles a day each).
First I cut out 1 pumping session a day so that I was pumping 6 times a day. My schedule then was 1 am, 5 am, 9 am, 1 pm, 5 pm, and 9 pm. I kept this schedule for about a week.
By the end of this first week of weaning, I was producing 51 ounces on average per day which was less than what I had produced previously so we’re going in the right direction.
Weeks 2 & 3
After one week of dropping one pumping session, I dropped another, down to 5 pumping sessions a day. My new schedule was 1 am, 6 am, 11 am, 4 pm, and 9 pm. The original plan was to continue this for just one week until I dropped another session but I decided to stick with 5 sessions a day for about two weeks.
At the end of these two weeks of being at 5 pumping sessions a day, I was producing about 48 ounces per day. Not a huge decrease but still progress.
Weeks 4 & 5
After delaying the additional dropping of pumping sessions the week prior, I decided to do the same for the next decrease. My schedule for the 4 pumping sessions per day was so much more relaxed, it was so freeing. Sure, I was still getting up overnight but I was so glad to be down to just four times a day. My new schedule was 1 am, 7 am, 1 pm, and 7 pm. I continued this for two weeks.
By the end of these two weeks of pumping just 4 times a day I was producing between 40-44 ounces per day.
Week 6 I was down to pumping just 3 times a day, every 8 hours. I finally dropped my 1 am pumping session which was so nice not to have to be up for about an hour in the middle of every night. My new schedule was 5 am, 1 pm, and 9 pm. I continued this for just a week before going down again.
By the end of week 6, I was pumping just about 27 ounces a day, which was a huge dip from the previous week, which is why I decided to just stick at the 3 times a day for one week.
Weeks 7 & 8
By week 7 I was down to pumping 2 times a day, every 12 hours. I did this for two weeks and went from pumping 27 oz a day down to pumping 15 ounces a day. Wow! I was so excited to only be pumping about 4 bottles a day, it was great. Since I kept taking my Sunflower Lecithin and kept listening to my body to pump until I needed to, I didn’t have any clogs or mastitis.
I realized though that I needed to make some adjustments to be able to go down to 1 pumping session a day and then zero. I not only needed to cut down on the actual pumping sessions, as I had been doing, but also on the amount of time.
Bigger Changes: Down to 0
Slowly I cut down on how long I pumped for each pumping session. I used to pump for about 25 minutes each session but as I decreased the number of pumping sessions, I realized I had to increase how long the sessions were. By this time I was up to 40 minutes a session so I had a long way to go.
Here is what I did:
Days 1-3: 6 am I pumped for 40 minutes and 6 pm I pumped for 20 minutes
Days 4-7: 6 am I pumped for 20 minutes and 6 pm I pumped for 20 minutes
Days 8-10: 6 am I pumped for 20 minutes and 6 pm I pumped for 12 minutes
Days 11-14: 6 am I pumped for 10 minutes and 6 pm I didn’t pump at all
Then I pumped for 10 minutes just one time every 48 hours, for a week
And I was done! I no longer was pumping or producing any milk, the twins switched fully to formula and I was officially done with that chapter of my life.
Emotions While Weaning
Ultimately, I ended up weaning from pumping because my postpartum depression was so incredibly bad and exacerbated by the constant pumping, that my therapist and I decided it was the best thing for me, and the kids. Once I was free from the pump I was less grumpy, my moods were a bit more level, and I felt comfortable enough, after a few months, to get on antidepressants.
While I was sad that I didn’t make my goal of pumping for my twins for a full year, I did make it 8 months and that’s pretty awesome considering all of the random places I had to pump, all of the appointments they had when I had to pump while driving, all the pain I had from some really bad clogs soon after they were born, etc. I needed to be done.
I also realized that while they were no longer receiving the benefit of my breastmilk, they didn’t seem to notice the difference since they had always been fed from a bottle due to their tongue and lip ties early on. To them, a bottle was a bottle, and it filled them up. They also had already started formula as I was finishing up pumping.
By the end of weaning, they didn’t even want the extra 65 ounces or so of pumped milk I had frozen for them so I ended up donating it to a few babies who needed it. It was heartbreaking as we kept trying to give them the milk, even mixing it with formula, and then I finally gave up and donated it.
Throughout my pumping journey with them, I donated over 600 ounces of milk to other babies. It was great to do especially since I’m dairy, gluten, and soy-free and many babies end up needing dairy-free milk if they start to have an allergy so it was nice to be able to help out those babies and their mamas.
Below is how I froze my milk when I had excess. I’d put it in a breastmilk storage bag, lay it flat in the freezer until it froze, and then place it on it’s side in a shoebox-sized plastic bin. I always wrote the date and amount on the bag before I froze it and also labeled the bins in the freezer. When I’d donate the frozen milk I would put the bags into a large ziplock bag and then label it and keep it frozen until I got it to the babies in need. This is just one of the bins full of frozen milk. I think we had up to 6 at one point. They took up most of the chest freezer!
As a mom of identical twins and a son two years older, I have gained invaluable experience in the realm, and chaos, of parenting. With a Master's Degree and Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology, I spent years as a school psychologist, helping children navigate through their educational and emotional challenges. Now as a stay at home mom and professional blogger, I combine my areas of expertise to help you in your parenting journey.