4 Ways to Wean from the Pump

4 Ways to Wean from the Pump

Weaning may look different for everyone, your friend may have been able to wean in a week whereas it may take you a month. The legnth of time to wean will be based on your current volume, pumping sessions per day, prone to "clogging" and possibly other factors. Regardless of these variables it's safe to say, the slow but steady approach will always be in your best favor. Cutting anything cold turkey, stopping abruptly, can really shock our systems and may leave us engorged which has the potential to lead to masitis. If you find yourself battling a clog, first things first, don't freak out! Watch this video and read this Protocol by the Acadamy of Breastfeeding Medicine #36 when dealing with masistis, clogs, blebs and more. 

Ways to Wean from Pumping

Weaning Option #1

Rearrange your most current pump schedule until you have eliminated all sessions. Aim to eliminate daytime sessions before eliminating morning or night time sessions. Space sessions evenly throughout the day each time you reduce your schedule.

Sample Schedules 

Based on your production and comfort you can eliminate a session once a week or every few days. 

6 pumps per day 6a, 9a, 12p, 3p, 5p, 9p 

5 pumps per day 6a, 10a, 2p, 6p, 9p

4 pumps per day 6a, 11a, 4p, 9p

3 pumps per day 6a, 1p, 9p

2 pumps per day would be your morning and night, relieve any discomfort throughout the day if necessary. You can use a manual or electric pump but the objective is NOT to empty the breast. Only remove enough milk for comfort, when you proceed to empty the breast you will be signaling to your body to replace this volume. If you are only removing until comfort and leaving milk behind, your body isn't going to go into milk production mode to replace a larger volume of milk.

1 pump per day will likely come fast and when to officially eliminate this session will be based off your comfort. You can even skip a day and monitor how you're feeling throughout the day, if you need to pump for comfort- absolutely do. Once you down to 1ppp then you will begin to reduce time at each session. 


Ways to Wean from Pumping

Weaning Option #2

Choosing to completely eliminate sessions to reduce milk supply may not be in your favor if you are dealing with a large milk supply. A better option may be to address this weaning process from cutting the session length. Eliminate time at each session rather than reducing full sessions. You can eliminate any increment of time you find appropriate for you, 5 minutes - 10 minutes at a time. Once you find your comfort and supply evening out, drop another handful of minutes from your schedul. This approach can be revaluated every few days or once a week. 

Ways to Wean from Pumping
Weaning Option #3

If you are familiar with your output and have an idea what you expect at each session you can decrease your demand by actively leaving milk behind. When we do not fully empty our breasts, our bodies are signaled to reduce supply to this “new demand”. Essentially this will entail you cutting your sessions short but the difference will be the volume you aim to remove then stopping your pump session. 

If milk is not removed, elevated intramammary pressure and accumulation of a feedback inhibitor of lactation reduce milk production and initiate mammary involution. If breast milk is removed, the inhibitor is also removed, and secretion will resume. The role of the feedback inhibitor of lactation is to regulate the amount of milk produced which is determined by how much the baby takes, and therefore by how much the baby needs. Physiology, Lactation 

Ways to Wean from Pumping
Weaning Option #4

There’s no one right way to wean from pumping. You might find a combination of time on the pump, number of sessions or stopping a session short once you hit a desired volume might be your best fit to take the thinking out of this process. If you ever find yourself in discomfort don't be afraid to remove milk to put your body back in the safe zone, we never want you to be in pain. 

Weaning 11/10/19
𝘔𝘺 𝘧𝘪𝘳𝘴𝘵 𝘸𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦

November 2019

The decision to wean was made by my body alone. It happened abruptly and I followed its lead. I did not try to fight it or encourage it to increase, I did not power pump or supplement with additional herbs and liquids. I felt it was time and trusted my body was making the right choice for me.⠀

At the time of the decrease in my supply I was pumping 4 times a day, 7am, 10am, 1pm and 8pm, averaging 25opd (ounces per day). October 9, 2019 I noticed my supply had already been decreasing gradually over the last 7 days. At this time I was producing approximately 14opd. This remained the case for the following week. At the end of this week I decided to reduce to 3ppd (pumps per day), 7am, 1pm and 8pm. ⠀

Please note: No matter how many sessions I’m pumping per day, if I reduce a session it is guaranteed that I will lose ounces. This has been the trend my entire journey.

Once down to 3ppd over the next few days my body regulated to my new demand, which was now 5opd. ⠀

Another note : When I chose to reduce sessions I did not fully intend on weaning, I wanted to continue to supply as much fresh milk as my body would allow with fewer sessions☀️⠀

I continued to pump 3ppd for the next week. My supply continued to hang around 5opd during this time. To be perfectly honest, I could probably have kept this schedule but I was tired and ready to drop my 1pm pump session. I knew dropping this pump session would be a severe blow to my remaining milk supply, but I was mentally ready (kind of)...⠀

⠀ ⠀⠀
As if watching my supply dwindle down to single digits wasn’t hard enough, my hormones were getting the best of me. I found myself to be emotionally distraught and questioning if I was making the right choice by knowingly reducing my supply. ⠀⠀
There were days when I wanted to add sessions back into my schedule, but I fought the temptation and continued to allow my body to make this needed transition to wean.⠀⠀
Over the next 2.5 weeks I continued to pump at 7am and 8pm, I cut my 1pm session cold turkey. My supply was already so low that I wasn’t too concerned about discomfort. Had my supply been elevated I would have pumped to relieve pressure if needed. I also initially planned on using my @laviemom silicone pumps to relieve pressure without the act of nipple stimulation, which could encourage milk production. Since my supply was 5opd I felt cutting the 1pm without pushing it closer and closer to my 8:30pm session over a weeks time was a possibility for me. ⠀⠀
At the end of these 2.5 weeks now only able to produce 2opd (1oz per session) I knew it was time to reduce to 1ppd. At this time since I was now planning on completely weaning I also reduced my sessions by length. For the duration of my journey all of my sessions were at the least, 30mins. Now having an exit strategy I pumped for half the time, 15min sessions became my new norm. ⠀⠀
This transition from 1ppd to 0 happened much faster than I anticipated. I had cut my sessions to 1ppd (8pm), pumped two days in a row on this schedule. Took a day off to gauge how my body would respond, at this time I producing between .75oz- 1opd. Again I felt taking a day off wouldn’t cause me any discomfort, had this been the case I was ready to pump. ⠀⠀
After the day off, I pumped once that next day at 8pm. This session yielded .5oz, this was all I needed to see. I knew that was the last session of my journey. I then took the following 2 days off, and on the 18th of October 2019 I attempted to hand express. After an unsuccessful manual expression I knew that I had officially and successfully weaned from the pump. ⠀⠀

Oh boy it’s 2023 and re-reading this really brings a flood of emotions. If you’re struggling with the thought of weaning you’re not alone. The decision isn’t always ours but sometimes driven by hormones, pregnancy, medication or other needs.

Never forget that any time you’ve spent time providing breastmilk for your little one is valued time and provided them and yourself benefits 🤍


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1 comment

I am pumping 8 times a day including at night. I just want to pump less at night. And in between feeding on demand. I start work full time in a month how can I decrease the amount I’m pumping. I just got mastitis and want to decrease a little at a time but scared to get to ahead of myself and stop to soon. My baby is only 2 months old but I’m almost full in my deep freezer.

Claudia Steinbarth

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