How do I stop breastfeeding? So many women, like me, search for the answer to stopping or gradually reducing breastfeeding.
As you know I am supportive of a woman’s choices when it comes to breastfeeding and if you’re like me and find yourself ready to end your breastfeeding journey with your child then read below… (it is recommended to exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months of their life and the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends feeding your child two years and beyond, combined with solid foods from six months).
Anyhow, for me personally, as I breastfeed my four-year-old and sometimes seven-year-old, I have been searching for answers to stop breastfeeding my eldest as I have been getting aversion to breastfeeding her (where I just crave having my own personal space).
The natural-term age of weaning is between 5-7-year-olds in mammals as it’s when they start to loose their baby “milk” teeth.
If you’re thinking of stopping breastfeeding due to external pressures or struggles, I would first suggest that you seek support from a midwife, GP or call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on: 0300 100 0212 (it is run by Association of Breastfeeding Mothers and the Breastfeeding Network).
Here I asked fellow breastfeeding mums and peer supporters online for their tips for stopping breastfeeding.
How do I stop Breastfeeding?
“Stopping is fuelled with so many emotions that i think it is very complicated,” said breastfeeding peer supporter Sheryl Wynne who runs Simply Natal a hypnobirthing and pregnancy relaxation company.
She said: “I’ve been ready to stop a few times- but really not.
“And for me making the decision is the hardest step of all.
“My boys are trying to go through the night without it at the moment (it’s my compromise) so the only way that works is by daddy sleeping with them and stopping them from coming in for me when they wake up.
“I try to restrict the times by saying when they can have it next. And what has been working is counting to get them off. So i count to three.”
“My 4 year old always comes off at 1 because he wants to win!”
Here are 13 ways to help you stop or reduce breastfeeding…
- Confessions of A Slummy Mummy said: “I found it helpful to designate a breastfeeding space. I wouldn’t nurse anywhere except there, that helped to reduce feeds at first.
“As for stopping entirely, the aversion got us in the end.”
- “Don’t offer and don’t refuse, tell them the milk is going and give them the chance to say goodbye. I’m breastfeeding my 4-year-old still, he has one feed before bed most evenings if he wants it.” Said Jenny Lord @midwifeandlife
- “I decided that three years was enough for me (although that was nearly two months ago and I’m still a bit sad about it). I explained to the twins that they wouldn’t be able to have mummy’s milk after their birthday. We talked about it a lot in the couple of weeks before they turned 3 and we talked about what they could have to help them sleep instead – lots of cuddles, cow’s milk, their favourite teddy etc. I was expecting it to be really hard to stop, but they didn’t even ask the morning after their birthday, which makes me think they were ready to stop,” said Rebecca Sieber of www.beccablogsitout.com
- Sarah Hurst of Www.arthurwears.com suggests gradually reducing feeds: “I use the count down from five method to gradually shorten the feeds – it means I can decide when it is time to stop and when I start counting slowly “5,4,3,2,1, stop,” they understand it is time to put the milk away. I managed to get my first down to one feed at about 4-5am using this method before he self weaned, and I do it now with my 19 month old if she is keeping me awake by feeding for a long time at night.”
- “DON’T go cold turkey!” Warns Parenting Blogger Amy Downes. “I had just had enough when my son was about 7 months old so I had one last week of feeding and then stopped. He was fine as totally happy on bottles, but man I was in agony for weeks. Also don’t quit because people are telling you to, I quit because i had hoped it would fix his sleeping… two years down the line and he still doesn’t sleep so, no unhelpful stranger, it wasn’t the breastfeeding!” Www.mumfullofdreams.com
“My first self weaned, my second stopped when I was pregnant because she could see how much pain I was in at each feed. My nipples were super sensitive and I would wince when she latched on. At nearly 3 she was old enough to understand it was making me unhappy so we would cuddle instead,” said Kate Kirk of https://www.countingtoten.co.uk
7. “Be busy, a lot of children ‘seasonal wean’ which is usually when you are busy over Christmas, or on holiday etc.
“You can drop feeds easily this way,” said Jade Karly Staff .
8. Leyla Preston of Motherhood Diaries said: “I breastfed throughout pregnancy until I gave birth (my son was 15 months old) and then my second was 2 1/2 years when I finally stopped because he was so stubborn.
“I would say start introducing the bottle early and keep alternating. It was the main mistake I made after not really introducing the bottle after 1 year. I won’t be doing that with my next baby!”
9. “I breastfed all my three children. My first one until 4, 2nd until 3, and my youngest is 5 and still breastfeeding.
“I just let them self-wean and let them stop whenever they are ready to stop. “However, I understand that there are some mothers who want to stop breastfeeding mostly because of work.
“Some friends suggest tips on how to stop breastfeeding like making their child full during bedtime with solids so they will forget to breastfeed. Some say to talk it out with the child and explain well why he/she needs to stop breastfeeding,” Said Veronica Mitchell www.myparentingjourney.com
Here are some more tips from breastfeeding mums (who don’t want to be named)
10. “I had to stop from one day to another with my 3 year old but it was too brutal for her I think. I was just not in a good place and started smoking again so didn’t want her to get all the poison from my cigarettes. She is now 6 and perfectly fine but still she’s asked to have some of my milk regularly over the years…”
11. “I had to cold turkey when he was 2.5yrs! He had no nursing manners and would pull out the other boob to twiddle while feeding, no matter where we were!… He got the message pretty quickly.”
12. “I weaned my two at the same time (aged 6&7).
“I gave them plenty of notice but found that wasn’t really working as they just got upset so in the end I talked about how it was time for me to stop, we talked about how lovely it was for us all but that I had willingly shared my body with them and now needed to do things differently.
“Lots of body autonomy type stuff. I explained things like when I tickled them I always stop if they say and this is the same.
“It took a few days of asking but they weren’t upset.”
13. “My little girl was feeding once a day on a morning and I was ready to stop. On her second birthday we went to Yorkshire wildlife park and she chose a baby animal to give the booboos to.
“I did prep her for about a week before. I know this is a bit random but it worked so well for us. She asked a couple of times but when I reminded her we gave them away (to a baby wallaby if you’re interested), then she just accepted it. A month later and she doesn’t ask anymore at all. She’s still allowed to touch them for comfort which she likes to do from time to time.”