How to Stop Breastfeeding?

Being a mother is a dream come true for many women, and breastfeeding your baby is one of the best mother-to-baby interactions. However, breastfeeding has to stop at some point. That’s how nature goes. You’re here because you’re probably wondering, “How to stop breastfeeding?”
Stopping breastfeeding starts when you notice signs that your baby is ready to stop. The baby will start wanting solid foods and will feel dissatisfied with just breastmilk. When that happens, the mother can reduce breastfeeding slowly and gradually while providing emotional support for her baby. We’ll break down this short answer into a more in-depth explanation in this post.

Recognize When to Stop Breastfeeding

Ideally, a mother should breastfeed her child for around two years. Sometimes she may need to do this a few months before or after the two-year mark.
The baby will show signs that tell the mother when it’s time to start weaning the baby, including:

Behavioral Changes

The baby starts to exhibit fussy behavior during breastfeeding sessions. They won’t start eating right away. They may also cause a fuss before and while eating for no apparent reason. Additionally, the babies start to reduce their “tongue thrust” habit. Babies use tongue thrust reflexes to stop themselves from choking and help them grip the nipple as they eat. Stopping or reducing the tongue thrust is one of the early physical signs that your baby is ready to let go.

New Food Interests

You’ll notice that your baby is starting to show interest in what you eat. He would stare at your food, lean towards it, or try to grab it or lash at it with his hands. Babies could start eating solid foods around the age of seven months, but they won’t be seeking it. When they actively start to want it, it’s another sign you should recognize that tells you to start weaning.

Developed Physical Abilities

Your baby will be able to sit down alone. They will also be able to control their heads and necks more. Babies will also start to grab stuff and try to eat them. Additionally, they’ll be able to recognize when you offer them food; they will open their mouths voluntarily. Last but not least, babies will stop accidentally spitting food or milk on their chins. They will be more able to push the food inside rather than outside.

How to Stop Breastfeeding

Now that you’ve recognized the signs, it’s time to start weaning. Here are the steps you should follow

Start Slowly

A sudden change isn’t often welcome, even by us adults. You shouldn’t suddenly stop breastfeeding as it will negatively affect you and the baby. Instead, partially stop by omitting one of your breastfeeding sessions every day. Replace it either with solid foods or bottled milk. According to your baby’s response, you should replace more breastfeeding sessions with solid foods or bottled milk. Keep this up until the baby is okay to go with his day without breastfeeding.

Give Yourself a Month

Weaning takes some time. The average period should be around 30 days. Babies at nine months old need breastfeeding six times a day if they eat other foods. They need to be breastfed nine times a day if they rely solely on breast milk. Many mothers prefer to stop breastfeeding around this age. If you decide to start weaning, omit one breastfeeding session every 3 - 4 days. That should bring you down to zero breastfeeding sessions after one month. The process will be better if you decide to start weaning after the ideal period, which is two years. The baby is now used to solid foods and bottled milk.

Provide Emotional Support

A message for all you good mothers out there: even if you do everything right, things could still go wrong. That is why mothers are mothers. Nobody can do what you do. If you follow all the steps and recognize the signs, your baby will still most likely resist the weaning process. Babies don’t want to be breastfed just for food. They have high physical demands at this age. Usually, they get that from being held close by their mother. That’s why many babies refuse to be breastfed by women other than the mother. The babies know who their mothers are and they want them close. As a loving mother, you should compensate for that reduced physical contact by spending more time hugging and interacting with your baby.

How to Handle the Pain

Stopping breastfeeding isn’t difficult just for the baby; it’ll affect the mother as well. The main complaints at this point are chest pain, congestion, and inflammation. Much like your baby, your milk glands need time to reduce the amount of milk they secrete. Until that happens, the milk that’s already secreted has nowhere to go. It stays where it is and causes pain and congestion of the breast. This is why we recommend weaning through an entire month. It’s not just for the baby; it’s for you too. Doing it through a month will reduce the pain, but it will still be there. Use these two tips to help ease the pain a bit more.

Control the Pain

The congestion pain can be controlled using ice packs. We recommend using these packs over plain ice or any cold objects from the freezer. Ice and frozen bags could worsen the condition of your breasts inflammation by causing an infection. This could lead to a condition known as mastitis, where one or both breasts feel painful to touch. Additionally, you could safely use acetaminophen, an OTC medicine that doesn’t need a prescription. It’s often better to consult your doctor before using any medicine, though.

Use Breast Pumps

Trusty breast pumps are great when it comes to relieving congestion pain. Additionally, you could fill bottles for your baby to consume later on. However, care should be taken to use them correctly. You shouldn’t “completely” relieve the congestion. Otherwise, your glands will secrete more milk to compensate. The point is to reduce the amount of secreted milk, so you should always keep some unused milk in the ducts to force your body to secrete less.

Final Words

So, how to stop breastfeeding? By following some simple steps, dedication, and emotional support. It’s never an easy process, but that’s why it’s reserved for mothers. They will always be the ones capable of accomplishing such a difficult task. Be patient, take your time, don’t snap at your baby, and it will be just fine.