Note: This is just based off of my experience so I cannot guarantee this will work for you by any means. I’m just stating how I weaned and that it worked for me.
Weaning from Exclusively Pumping
If you’ve followed me through my breastfeeding journey, you know I exclusively pumped for over 13 months because direct feeding didn’t work for us. I had a fear of weaning because I’d heard horror stories…the clogs, the engorgement, the mastitis, the need for medication, the HORMONES, the emotions. And I really didn’t want to deal with any of that. I think that’s part of while I pumped for so long…a fear of stopping.
But praise the LORD, my time finally came to a close and it was not nearly as awful as I had imagined! Clearly, I did something right in my weaning process, so I thought I would share my method with you. But first, we need to take a trip back to the start of my pumping journey!
Also, I wasn’t really sure how to organize this for effective reading, so I put the most important statements in bold. However, I do recommend reading through everything so you can get the full picture.
I pumped every two hours until Landon was 12 weeks old. That’s when I was told my milk would be established and it would be okay to drop a pump. The first pump I dropped was the middle of the night (MOTN) pump. This is also when Landon started sleeping through the night (STTN). Let’s just take a minute to soak in the amazingness of that feeling……….okay done. The first night this happened, I was woken up by my massive boobs leaking all over, so I hand expressed until I was comfortable (per the recommendation of my lactation consultant) and then went back to sleep. It took a few nights of this for my boobs to adjust. I also adjusted to pumping every 3 hours in the daytime (about 6 times a day…still a huge pain in the A**!)
About a month after I went back to work, the 6 times a day was way too much for me to handle while working, so I dropped to 5 pumps per day (PPD). This looked like one pump when I woke up, one late morning, one early afternoon, one late afternoon, and one at bedtime. My milk output remained the same. To drop this pump, I spaced out my pump times to about 4 hours. So for example, if I pumped at 6am and 9am originally, I would pump at 930am one day and then 10am the next day to help the boobs adjust. Honestly, it was such a small difference they didn’t notice.
I kept the 5ppd for quite some time because I was nervous about what would happen to my supply when I dropped to 4ppd. I made the jump around 10 months (I think) and oh my gosh it felt like heaven. I used the same method…I extended the time between my pumps slowly over the course of a few days to help my boobs adjust. I did drop a but in my supply, but at this point Landon wasn’t taking as much milk because he was eating more solids. I also had a deep freezer full of milk.
At 11 months I dropped to 3ppd to help prep for the full wean. This looked like a pump first thing in the morning, one early afternoon, and then another at bedtime. Again, using the same method, I extended pump times. My supply took a BIG dip at this point. I was just making enough to get Landon through the day and would occasionally need to supplement with frozen milk.
At 12 months, I dropped to two pumps, morning and bedtime. My supply dropped. I started introducing Landon to cows milk (which then changed to almond milk because of a slight reaction), and I would use one bag a day of frozen milk. I kept the two pumps for about a month, to give Landon some time to adjust to the almond milk and to make sure he had no further reactions. When he was getting two full bottles of almond milk a day, I decided it was time to drop again.
At 13 months I dropped to one pump…in the morning. This lasted for a week because my milk supply was just gone. I pumped a half ounce TOTAL on the day of my last pump. Landon was getting more almond milk than breast milk at this point, and I was able to dip into my freezer stash for his nighttime bottles. I cried for one day, mourned my journey because I had come so far….and then when I woke up the next morning and realized I didn’t have to pump, I was all PRAISE JESUS HALLELUJAHHHHHHHHHHHH!
My boobs were a sad, sad case at this point..I could tell there was minimal milk left because they FELT it. My plan was to just hand express if they felt engorged or if I noticed any clogs. Every day I would massage to make sure no clogs were to be had. About a week after I stopped, I noticed HUGE clogs in both boobs, so I did hot compresses, massage, and hand expressed until they were gone. After that, I was fine!
No mastitis (thank the LORD). Minimal clogs. No crazy emotions. And I got my boy to over a year of breastmilk.
The most important tip I could give you is to be ready to wean. Women’s hormones effect our emotions so much, and weaning is naturally an emotional process. If you’re not ready to wean, it could take a significant toll on your mental status. I hate when I hear stories of women who were forced to wean for medical or other reasons because it breaks my heart knowing how difficult it is on them. So if you can, be ready to wean. If you’re being forced into it, please know I’m so sorry this is happening and I pray you get through it as easy as possible. <3
I don’t know if weaning from nursing is any different (I’m assuming it is!), but I felt like this method was a good one! Especially when I literally had NO idea what I was doing. You know, usual first time mom stuff.
If you have any questions that I may not have answered here about weaning from exclusively pumping, leave them in a comment below and I promise to respond to you (and maybe update this as well!).
Check out our Exclusive Pumping category for more posts that may fit into your lifestyle!