How to Abruptly Stop Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the recommended form of infant feeding, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, as it has a wide range of health benefits for the baby, as well benefits for the mother. However, you might want or need to stop breastfeeding abruptly due to illness, medication contraindications, supply issues, work demands or personal preferences. Also, some women choose to wean a baby at a certain age due cultural factors or personal readiness, choosing to do so "cold turkey" to avoid prolonging the process. Ideally, you should gradually wean your child as abrupt weaning can be an upsetting to the child and uncomfortable -- or even painful -- for you. If you decide to stop abruptly though, there are ways to make the transition easier for both you and your baby.

Some mothers choose to abruptly stop breastfeeding for various reasons. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Talk to your doctor about pain relief. Since abrupt weaning can be painful, your doctor may prescribe a pain medication to take while going through the process of weaning.

Step 2

Express milk when your breasts become full. You may hand express or use a pump to relieve pressure, but avoid completely emptying the breast. By only expressing a small amount, your body will be less likely to continue to produce an abundant supply of milk since breastfeeding works on the principle of supply and demand -- the more you express, the more your body will make.

Step 3

Place cold, fresh cabbage leaves in your bra. While not scientifically proven, the "Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health" recommends the use of cabbage leaves to relieve swelling in the breasts. It is theorized that fresh cabbage has dilation properties, opening the small blood vessels in the breasts, which improves blood flow in and out of the area, allowing the body to reabsorb the trapped fluid, according Marie Davis R.N., an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

Step 4

Use cold compresses or cold gel-packs available at most drug stores for temporary pain relief.

Step 5

Take a warm shower if engorgement is painful even after expression. Warm water might induce a slight milk letdown that can relieve pressure and pain and help soothe.

Step 6

Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is important to remaining healthy -- and decreasing water or fluid intake does not help the weaning process.

Step 7

Check for signs of breast infection. During weaning, plugged ducts, which can lead to breast infection, may occur. If you develop redness, hard breast lumps, fever or severe pain, contact your doctor.

Tip

To make the transition easier for your baby, provide her with a bottle that is similar to the breast in structure and provides a slow flow much like the human breast.

Warning

Consult your doctor before abruptly weaning; gradual weaning is the preferred method by most doctors.

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