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When to Stop Breastfeeding: A Guide for Nursing Moms

When to Stop Breastfeeding A Guide for Nursing Moms

Breastfeeding is one thing mothers need to learn and relearn to help ensure their newborns’ well-rounded development. 

The catch is that it’s really challenging for moms because so many factors can get in the way, such as the environment, work, stress, and latching problems.

But aside from knowing how and when to breastfeed, the other thought that takes up headspace for lactating moms is when to STOP breastfeeding.

That’s why my guide for nursing moms will answer this question and help you with other breastfeeding essentials, such as knowing when it’s time to shift to the bottle and formula.

How Do I Know When to Stop Breastfeeding?

How Do I Know When to Stop Breastfeeding?

In my observation, different factors affect the decision of moms to stop breastfeeding, even before the baby reaches the six-month mark. These include:

  • Breastfeeding takes a toll on their health
  • Their maternity leave is ending, and they need to go back to work
  • When their milk supply gradually decreases

Besides those mentioned above, other cues will signal that it’s time to stop breastfeeding. These often come up just before or usually after a baby turns six months old, and they often come organically.

Stopping Breastfeeding Before Six Months

Pediatricians advise moms to keep breastfeeding their babies exclusively until they turn six months old. However, some moms may find this impossible due to their stressful environments or the need to return to work.

Besides the reasons enumerated above, here are some signs that the breastfeeding period is over:

  • You need to go on a business trip for a week or two
  • Your baby is diagnosed with galactosemia, a disorder that prohibits the digestion of sugar galactose
  • Your nipples are bleeding
  • You have nutritional problems which limit your milk supply
  • You need to drink medicine for an illness

Stopping Breastfeeding After Six Months

I observed that some moms could easily accomplish the six-month exclusive breastfeeding period but don’t go the whole year without transitioning to the bottle or actual food. 

The reasons I found for this transition were the same as in the previous section: work, nutrition, and medical reasons.

Babies may also let you know if they’re ready to stop breastfeeding.

For example,  my sister, a mom of two, said she stopped breastfeeding after six months because her babies were ready for solid foods and formula milk.

Stopping Breastfeeding Naturally

Stopping breastfeeding after six months can also occur naturally.

As the baby grows, they will start preferring solid food and drinking formula milk from a bottle rather than latching to your nipples for breast milk.

Once the baby resists latching, the mom’s milk supply steadily decreases until she has little to no supply, ensuring their baby’s transition to the next stage of their dietary development.

Should I Stop Breastfeeding If I Plan to Get Pregnant?

No, you should not stop breastfeeding if you plan to get pregnant because no research or other scientifically-proven statements back up the general superstition that breastfeeding may get in the way of your pregnancy.

You can do both simultaneously; continue breastfeeding your baby while trying to get pregnant to ensure the well-being of both of your babies.

How to Stop Breastfeeding Gradually

How to Stop Breastfeeding Gradually

If the time has come that you need to stop breastfeeding for personal reasons, I suggest you do it gradually.

This gradual change benefits you and your baby as it helps them get a better feel for other milk options. It will also lower your risk of breast pain, breast enlargement, and other issues.

Here are some things you need to do:

  • Combine breast milk with formula; start with ½ teaspoon of formula with 3 ounces of breastmilk, and slowly increase it as your baby learns to bottle-feed
  • Incorporate solids into your baby’s diet once they turn six months old
  • Lessen the times your baby breastfeeds in a day but feed them more per session

You can make these changes at least a month before your work starts, travel date, or other reasons for stopping breastfeeding.

What to Do If You Need to Stop Breastfeeding Immediately 

Stopping breastfeeding in an instant is not recommended as it can adversely affect your and your baby’s health. 

But if there is a need to stop instantly, you can ask for support and medical advice from your doctor.

These tips can also help you out:

  • Wear a supportive bra
  • Try breast pumping
  • Stay close to your baby (maintaining skin-to-skin contact)

When Will My Milk Supply Dry Up?

Your breast milk supply can dry up at any time. There is no specific date or period that indicates that your milk supply will dry up, though your milk supply can drastically decline for the following reasons:

  • You are stressed
  • You do not get enough sleep
  • You do not eat nutritious food
  • Your body undergoes hormonal imbalance
  • You have a medical condition

Talking to Your Baby About Bottle Feeding

Bottle feeding is the next big thing once your breastfeeding journey ends. However, it can be challenging to introduce to your baby because it is an entirely different experience for them compared to the nipple.

To help them adjust, you can talk to your baby. 

Regardless of age, your baby can understand what you are saying by including physical cues like cuddling them while holding the bottle, helping them hold it, and guiding them throughout the drinking process.

If your child is old enough to understand the words you are saying, make sure that you choose your words carefully, say them with care, and give real-life examples for them to visualize your reasons for bottle feeding.

Tips to Introduce Weaning to Baby

Tips to Introduce Weaning to Baby

Weaning is the process of introducing solid food to your baby. The recommended age to do this is six months old. Just like breastfeeding, it takes a lot of effort to help babies adjust to it.

Here are the tips you can try when introducing weaning to your baby:

  • Apply the four-day rule, where you introduce one kind of food to a baby for four days before changing it
  • Allow your baby to adjust to the texture and taste of the food 
  • Offer solid food with breast milk or formula milk
  • Let your baby touch and feel the food
  • Feed your baby without distractions (e.g., gadgets, TV)

What to Do When Your Baby Refuses Weaning

When your baby refuses to wean, it is probably because you did it abruptly or he is still adjusting. With that, put these reminders in mind:

  • Do not force the baby and stop feeding when they resist
  • Change their diet gradually
  • Give them time to feel and adapt to the solid food
  • Stick to a routine because the baby can easily adjust when there is repetition

FAQs

Before concluding this article, I want to answer some of your frequently asked questions on breastfeeding and caring for your little one. Read on!

What Are the Effects of Stopping Breastfeeding?

The effects of stopping breastfeeding are the following:

  • You may become emotionally unstable (hormonal changes)
  • If you stop breastfeeding immediately, you have higher risks of engorgement and blocked ducts
  • Your milk dries up
  • You will feel tiredness and fatigue
  • The baby’s risk of infections may increase if they do not receive proper nutrition and vitamins

It’s thus important to do it gradually, if possible, and ensure that your baby’s ready to make the switch to solids and formula milk before cutting breastfeeding out completely.

When Do I Stop Breastfeeding at Night?

You can stop breastfeeding at night when the baby turns six months old. You can also stop when you are gradually transitioning to formula milk or weaning.

Until When Can I Continue Breastfeeding My Baby?

You can continue breastfeeding your baby even when they reach two years old and above. The important thing is to exclusively breastfeed your baby for the first six months and slowly introduce other options after that age.

Conclusion

It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a strong, patient, and consistent mom to stop breastfeeding their baby, particularly when it concerns their health, well-being, work, or other factors.

At the end of the day, your baby can still be healthy and well-developed whether you breastfeed them or not. Just ensure that if you are a lactating mom, stopping the feed must happen slowly and gently.

Do not hesitate to ask your doctor for medical help if you have unique concerns.

Sky Bustillo
Sky Bustillo

Hi, I’m Sky!
As a Filipina in her mid-20s, a sister to young ones, and a tita to my nieces and nephews, I somehow share the same sentiment as other parents. I have a growing aspiration of becoming a mom someday!
But there also comes a worry that you won’t be able to give the best to your children, especially with the food they eat, the products they use, and the new habits and hobbies we introduce to them.
Your kid’s safety and welfare are your top priority, that’s why I always make it to a point to learn from the stories and experiences of other moms.
It’s a delight to share what I learned and know to help the moms close to my heart, and this time, I’m writing to relay advice to you from the insights of other moms and my experience around kids, too.
I’d love to be a part of your journey, and I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful for you and your young one!