A Mother’s First-hand Advice On How To Stop Pumping
Pumping must cease at some point, to give way to weaning. This experience is difficult and painful, especially when done in a hurry without any forethought.
You’ve heard the horror from other mothers: clogged ducts, boob leaks, swollen breasts, aching muscles, engorgement, fever and even mastitis can come into play. Yet you cannot breastfeed your child up to school age. How can you stop pumping without the pain and drama? How can you be ready to wean? It isn’t easy, you’ve got to prepare, so read on…
Prepare Yourself Emotionally
I’m not exaggerating when I tell that when you stop pumping, you may feel guilty and sad. You’ve got to reclaim your own breasts, yet you are feeling that something’s amiss. It is liberating to think that you will no longer have to worry about leaks and wet blouses.
Yet you are also asking yourself if you could have done more. The drop in breast milk production will restart your hormones. During this time, you’ll feel teary-eyed and sometimes, even hesitant.
If this is your first child, may I suggest that you talk to other moms out there? You’ll need support and advice. So connect and open up with your family and friends. Sometimes, only a simple validation that what you are doing is right, is all that you need.
Prepare Well Ahead And Take Your Time
If you will be advised to just stop, don’t! Cessation of pumping and start of weaning must be done gradually. Take it easy and plan it ahead, you’ll be needing at least a few weeks to do this right. Here are the tips to make this stage less leaky and painful:
• Reduce one pumping sessions per week. You might be pumping for five times a day, so cut it into four. Phase it out and reduce it gradually, one pump at a time, week by week. So your five-a-day pumps will be just a once a day pump at fourth week.
• Breakfast pumping is the last to go. During daytime, your pumping sessions are spaced out in around 3 to 4 hours. At night, your breasts are at rest the whole time you are asleep. No wonder it is gorging and leaky in the morning. My advice is to release this so that you can have a lighter day without worry of pain, leaks, and spoiled clothing.
• Eat nutritious foods and stay hydrated. Pumping cessation is not an excuse to indulge in everything that is “fast, preserved and junk”. Prepare your body to recover fast by eating only what is beneficial. Bulk up on greens and get your sugar fix through fruits. Save your potato chips and ice cream cravings for the next month. Drink up a lot of water and stay away from that soda in the fridge. A healthy mama equals to less pain and drama.
• Use cabbage leaves and cold compress. Cabbage leaves wrap work wonders on helping breasts to dry up naturally. Leave a leaf or two of cabbage per breast and let it inside your bra at daytime. For extreme engorgement, you may also leave them on at night. Before you hit that Ibuprofen bottle, start with a cold compress. It is not wise to take too much pain medications when there are lots of natural pain remedies such cold compress and cabbage wrap that can also do the trick.
• Feed baby well. Baby must already be well-fed and adjusted to solid foods before you go about weaning. Do not stop pumping if he is still not gaining enough weight for his age. If a baby is sick, support his system through breastmilk. Weaning and pumping cessation must be postponed during baby’s stressful times.
As with any stage of baby’s life, preparation is the key. Be consistent, be considerate and don’t ever attempt to stop it cold turkey. Be observant of baby’s response and prepare a contingency breastmilk supply at the freezer, just in case.
Check first with your doctor before stopping your breast pumping ritual especially if the baby has an existing medical condition. Give baby a lot of time to cope and to eat well. Take this stage one stride a time. Children can grow really fast, so might as well enjoy this journey.