Stopping Breastfeeding Cold Turkey: 5 Simple Tips

Weaning is a process; it takes time. Don’t do it in a rush. Stopping breastfeeding cold turkey is difficult both for the mom and the baby. Weaning abruptly isn’t easy.


Every mother eventually comes to a time when weaning is inevitable. So let me guide you on how you can be successful at stopping breastfeeding cold turkey.


​Health Risks to Weaning Mother


Perhaps you have to wean your baby because of some unavoidable circumstances. Your doctor might have advised you against breastfeeding since you are ill or taking a particular medication.

It can also be because you have to go somewhere and your baby will be away from you for quite some time.

Stopping breastfeeding cold turkey affects a mother’s body in different ways. It is unnatural and may result in:

​1. Pain and engorgement

There is a right way to wean. Ideally, it must be done gradually. Stop breastfeeding cold turkey, and you will inevitably accumulate a significant amount of breast milk because your body is accustomed to producing milk on demand.

But stopping breastfeeding cold turkey will change all that.

Now that there isn’t any outlet to release your milk, your breast tissues will fill up like an overflowing balloon. Your breasts will eventually expand to give all that milk some extra room. It will be a painful experience, so be warned.

2. Breast infection (mastitis) or abscess

Mastitis or breast tissue inflammation and infection happen to some weaning women. Its symptoms may include redness of the breasts, pain, and possibly fever. See your doctor as soon as you experience the first signs of infection.

3. Feelings of loss or exacerbation of depression

Stopping breastfeeding cold turkey can sometimes make a mother feel incompetent or inadequate. This can even lead to depression. Oxytocin and Prolactin hormones calm both mom and baby. The abrupt withdrawal of hormones can make you feel stressed and put your emotions out of whack.

​Health Risks of Cold Turkey Weaning to Baby

mom and breastfed baby

Sudden stoppage of breastfeeding can be stressful to the baby. It can affect his health and wellbeing in a lot of ways, particularly on:

# Loss of breast milk protective function that calms baby

The mom’s milk keeps a baby calm. It also stabilizes baby’s tummy, protecting him from common illnesses. Cold turkey weaning can make baby irritable and colicky.

Loss of mom’s comforting breasts can make your little one cry incessantly for hours at a time, something that rarely happens before when he was still breastfeeding exclusively.

# Increased risk of contracting infection

As said earlier, mom’s milk keeps baby’s tummy in check. With the abrupt withdrawal of child’s sustenance, he has no choice but to eat solid foods or switch to formula milk.

Eating new food stuff and trying out new milk can increase baby’s likelihood of contracting stomach flu and diarrhea. To prevent this, introduce only one food type per week. Try not to overwhelm baby’s tummy.

# Decreased weight

If weaning was not done gradually but through cold turkey, your child would lose his primary food source. It will take time for him to adapt to new formula or solid foods.

New tastes and flavors can make a baby hesitant to eat. Add to that the feeling of loss due to the change of routine and your child will indeed feel down. All these can affect your child’s weight and can slow down his growth.

Tips on How to dry up your Milk Cold Turkey

# No pump, no massage. You might be tempted to express your milk just to relieve the pain or engorgement. I advise you against doing this. Don’t pump and don’t stimulate your breast. Endure the pain if you must. The milk will eventually dry up and be reabsorbed into your body.

# Try cabbage leaves. Wrap your sore breasts with cabbage leaves. You can also crush the leaves and spread the cabbage paste on the breasts for increased drying potency.

# Ice pack. You may use an ice pack or cold compress to relieve engorgement or breast pain.

# Wear sports bra. Take care to keep your breasts supported with a tight fitting bra.

# Natural remedies. You may try using sage or peppermint oil to relieve your chest pain. You can also drink sage and peppermint tea. These herbs can help to calm you while drying up your milk in the process.



As much as we want to exclusively breastfeed our little ones, there comes a time when we have to give up.

 The first weeks after stopping breastfeeding cold turkey will be difficult both for mom and baby. You may be strong enough to bear this on your own, but it helps to ask for help.

There are lactation consultants, nurses, and doctors that can give you advice. Seek help; it won’t hurt to ask.

And remember:

Whatever your reason is for stopping breastfeeding cold turkey, you must be proud of yourself. Not every mother has successfully breastfed, but you have accomplished just that.

Sarah Morgan

Chief editor of and striving mom-extraordinaire.Let me share and inspire you with my daily struggles to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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