How to Stop Pumping

Tips for Weaning Yourself From Your Breast Pump

Congratulations! You've pumped for days, weeks, months, possibly even a year or more. But now you're done. You're ready to disconnect from the pump forever and regain some freedom. It's understandable: When you decide you're done, you want it to be over. When it comes to weaning yourself from the breast pump, though, a slow and steady approach is best. Try one of these methods to say goodbye to breast pumps, nursing bras and leaky breasts.

Why You Should Slowly Wean From the Pump

Beautiful smiling cute baby

How to Wean Yourself Off the Breast Pump

Learn More

You're over the pumping thing, but the cold turkey approach puts you in a potentially painful predicament. Your body knows how much milk to produce based on your pumping schedule. If you suddenly stop pumping, your body still goes full steam ahead with the milk making. And that leads to engorgement.

Engorgement happens when your breasts become overly full with milk. It's uncomfortable at best and downright painful at worst. Engorgement can lead to mastitis, which is a serious inflammation of the breast. Symptoms include swelling, redness, pain and fever. Contact your doctor if you're concerned you may have mastitis.

Slowly weaning yourself from the pumping routine cuts down on the chances of engorgement. Your body has time to adjust to the lower demands, so your milk supply decreases naturally.

Shortening Pumping Sessions

The first approach to ditching the pump is shortening the length of time you pump. Continue with the same number of pumping sessions, but stop a little earlier than you normally do. Your body eventually gets the hint that it doesn't need to keep up with the current milk production levels.

Not sure how long you usually pump? Track the time for a day to get a baseline. Then start reducing those numbers. For a gentle approach, decrease your nursing time by two minutes per session. You can cut your sessions more, but you may experience some engorgement if you shorten pumping too much. Give your body a few days to adjust to the decreased pumping time before you drop it by another two minutes. Continue decreasing the time until you're done with the pump.

Spacing Out Sessions

Beautiful smiling cute baby

Painful Breasts After Discontinued Breastfeeding

Learn More

Instead of shortening your sessions, you can space out your pumping sessions with more time between them. Delay each of your pumping sessions by about 30 minutes. If your schedule has you pumping every two hours, wait at least 2.5 hours between sessions. After a few days, increase the gap even more to once every three hours. Continue spreading out the sessions until you eliminate some and eventually stop pumping completely.

Skipping Sessions

Decreasing time and spacing out pumping sessions take a gradual approach. If you want to cut out entire sessions to speed up the process, try dropping one every three to seven days. Start with a session during the day. If you drop your first pump of the day, engorgement is very likely. You also want to pump before bed to avoid engorgement overnight. Once your body adjusts to missing the session, drop another pumping time. This method can be a little harder on the body, so don't try to drop too many times closely together.

Combination of Methods

Many women use a combination of the three methods to stop pumping. You might space out your pumping and cut back on the length of each session to get done faster. If you use the space-out method, you might reach a point where you drop a session or two completely. If you choose to just start skipping nursing sessions, you might readjust the timing of the remaining sessions, so they're spread out more.

Making Breast Pump Weaning Easier

You know your body better than anyone. Pay attention to how your body feels to guide the pump-weaning process. If you notice engorgement, painful fullness or swelling, slow down a little in your approach. If everything is going well, you may be able to step up your approach to get done with pumping faster.