Breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed your child, but it can be hard to stop. There is no set time frame for ceasing breastfeeding. There are many factors that can influence when breastfeeding stops, including how long you have been breastfeeding, your baby’s age, and how much milk your baby is getting. Some moms find that they can stop breastfeeding within a few weeks, while others take up to a month or more.
Let’s take a deep dive:
What to consider when deciding how slowly to wean breastfeeding
When it comes time to wean your baby from breastfeeding, there are a few things you’ll need to take into account. How much your baby needs will play a role in how long it takes to stop breastfeeding, and the first breastfeed of the day should not cause discomfort for either you or your baby. Ideally, breastfeeding should be reduced by only one feed per day at most.
Weaning your baby off breastfeeding can be done gradually by cutting out a breastfeed each week or less, depending on how comfortable you are and your baby’s willingness.
As weaning progresses, the concentration of antibodies to bacterial and viral diseases in breastmilk increase, which ensures that your baby is protected during the introduction of new foods and formula.
Remember to give plenty of cuddles when breaking away from breastfeeding so that you still have close time together with your baby.
If you decide to reduce the number of breastfeeds, talk with a healthcare professional or lactation consultant about how to care for your breasts. Slowly reducing the number of breastfeeds minimizes problems such as mastitis while protecting baby’s health during weaning.
Further reading: How to stop pumping without getting mastitis
How long does it take to stop breastfeeding?
There is no set time frame for how long it takes to stop breastfeeding. It is a personal choice that should be made between you and your baby. Most women take at least a few weeks to stop but the gentlest way to wean your baby is to slowly decrease breastfeeds over months.
If you have to stop breastfeeding for medical reasons or because your baby is not with you, you may feel uncomfortable and anxious. However, there are ways to express milk if this becomes necessary. For example, many women use a breast pump.
You can relieve pain with ibuprofen or paracetamol.
Further reading: How to relieve breast engorgement when stopping breastfeeding
How long does it take milk to dry up after you stop breastfeeding?
When you stop breastfeeding, it will generally take around 7-10 days for your milk to dry up. However, it can sometimes take weeks or even months for all the milk to disappear.
It’s normal to feel tender at first, but your breasts will adapt over time. Wear a soft and supportive bra during this weaning so your breasts don’t hurt. One of your sleep nursing bras would probably do.
This Kindred Bravely French Terry Sleep Bra is made of super soft bamboo. I’m still wearing this to sleep long after stopping breastfeeding.
Not breastfeeding as much triggers a hormone called the “Feedback inhibitor of lactation” (FIL) which tells your body to slow production when your baby stops breastfeeding. It can take days or even weeks for breasts to adjust after stopping breastfeeding. Heck, I could still express milk 4 months after stopping!
To wrap up
It typically takes around two to four weeks for the body to stop producing breast milk when you stop breastfeeding. However, this time frame can vary depending on how often you breastfeed and how much milk is produced. There are a few things that you can do to help the process along, such as gradually reducing the number of times you breastfeed or using herbal supplements like sage.
If you have any questions or concerns about stopping breastfeeding, be sure to speak with a qualified medical professional.
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