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Stopping or ending breastfeeding

January 26, 2023

Stopping breastfeeding

We are often asked to provide information on how to safely stop or reduce breastfeeding, and this is essential knowledge for many families.

Why do you want to stop breastfeeding?

Before we begin, if you are looking for information on how to stop because of a medication you need or want to take, or because of a medical procedure you are about to undertake, and you don’t actually want to stop breastfeeding, then please see our Medications section in the Anya app and potentially also do a little further research via Drugs in Breastmilk or LactMed.

If you are stopping because you feel your breastmilk is not right for your baby, please see the Weight, Supply or Unsettled Baby sections within the Anya app. 

One thing that we often suggest to those who are struggling with breastfeeding, is to never give up on a bad day – because decisions made in haste might be regretted later.

How to stop breastfeeding your baby

When mothers want to stop breastfeeding, sometimes they can wonder whether breastfeeding supporters are the right people to ask for more information; the good news is that all properly trained breastfeeding supporters will have the ability to support safely ending breastfeeding, as much as starting. We are very happy to support those who have made an informed decision to stop or reduce breastfeeding, but we do liker to first check that it IS an informed decision!

If your milk supply is fully established, the general recommendation is to drop one feed every few days, or if exclusively pumping, to slowly reduce the amount you express at each session. 

Be careful not to get engorged or let lumps form – if you feel engorged, consider a little hand expression to relieve the pressure, just to provide comfort.

Gentle weaning from breast techniques

Your first and easiest tool in the bag for gentle weaning is distraction. Thankfully once they are approaching a year old they are easily distracted by colourful and noisy things! If you feel that it is approaching time that your little one would usually want to feed (before they ask!), then it’s a good time to bring out something exciting – or perhaps go to a park/playground etc when it would be feed time, to encourage them to space out their feeds a little longer. Also, you could try distraction by using another person – so if there is another parent, partner or grandparent on hand then you could get them to take over the care during usual breastfeed times – being fun! 

There’s lots more content on reducing breastfeeding appropriate to the differing ages and stages of a baby’s life, within the Anya app.

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