Weaning from Pumping

Ladies - I did it! Yesterday after I got home from work I packed away my pump and all the pump parts. It was a bittersweet moment.  My little one was wanting so badly to be held, and it seemed totally appropriate, so I snuggled her up in my ring sling and we gathered up all my flanges, tubing and bottles, stuck them in the pump bag and put it away in the closet. It’s been quite freeing, and I’m happy to have a freezer stash that will last us for awhile.  

If you and your family are ready for you to finish pumping, you go through a somewhat different process when it's time to wean than breastfeeding moms. Since you choose your pumping schedule you can decide when and how that happens based on your family’s needs.

The first step is to drop pumps. Usually you don’t want to drop pumps any faster than one pump every few days to a week. Slower is better to avoid clogs.  You can either lengthen the time between pumping sessions, or just drop one cold turkey.  I went the cold-turkey method until I got down to 3 pumps a day, then I lengthened pumping sessions over a weekend until I’d reached a reasonable schedule for 2 pumps a day and 1 pump a day. You also want to make sure you are shortening your pumping sessions during this process as well.

Making it more comfortable

There’s a good chance during this process you’re probably going to feel a little uncomfortable. Here are a few things that may help you avoid much of the discomfort.  

  • Clothing - wear a tight sports bra whenever you can and use ice packs if you need to help with soreness
  • Hand express in the shower
  • Topical - Peppermint oil is useful to help you dry up
  • Medications - pseudoephedrine is known to help in the weaning process and ibuprofen will help if you’re feeling sore.
  • Cabbage leaves - wash them well, score them a bit and put them in your bra to help relieve soreness

Regardless of how you found yourself exclusively pumping, or how successful you felt during the process, remember that you did your best to provide for your baby.  You helped your little one develop a good immune system and have a great start at life!  You rocked! Be proud of your accomplishment and enjoy the freedom of the post-pumping lifestyle!

Jenny Ditch lives in Illinois and is happily enjoying the post-pumping lifestyle with her little girl.

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