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How To Wean Off Pumping Breast Milk: In 8 Easy Steps

Breastfeeding, pumping and all that goes with it can be tough both mentally and physically. Breast pumps are a godsend and if like me you have used yours a great deal more than you ever expected this transition may be a sad time.

But my breast pump provided me with the opportunity to get some much needed me time, even if it was just coffee with a friend alone!

If you are thinking that it is time to transition away from your breast pump then you need to read our easy 8 step guide on how to do just that below.

How Long Does It Take To Wean From Pumping?

Your goal here is to slowly reduce the amount of milk that your body is producing and not just suddenly stop pumping.

This slow and gradual decrease will help to reduce discomfort and the chance of developing clogged ducts, mastitis, and engorgement. Generally, you are going to need to give yourself around a week for each session that you need to drop.

This is not a race so if you have had problems while pumping with mastitis or clogged ducts you may want to take it a little slower and give your body plenty of time to acclimatize to the new schedule or no schedule.

Weaning From The Pump In 8 Easy Steps

Step 1: Drop Pumping Sessions

It is usually easier to start by dropping your evening pumping sessions as this is when women’s milk production is at its lowest.

If you are currently pumping for three or more sessions per day, start by dropping one pumping session at a time until you are down to two sessions per day. 

Step 2: Gradually Reduce the Length of Each Session

Once you are down to just two pumping sessions per day, the next step is to start reducing the time that you are pumping for.

Try reducing your pumping times by a few minutes at a time and after a few days once your body is used to the reduction you can gradually reduce each session by a few more minutes.

This will allow you to relieve the feeling of an overly full breast but does not drain the breast completely. Once you are no longer emptying your breast consistently your body will reduce the production of milk to meet your new needs.


Step 3: Increase The Time Between Pumping Sessions

If you have a set pumping schedule, add an hour or two between each session gradually increasing the time between each pumping session.

As the points above this let your body know that the demand for milk has dropped and so it needs to slow down its production in order to meet your needs.

You do need to give your body a few days to adjust to your new pumping schedule before increasing the time between sessions again.

Step 4: Keep An Eye Out For Mastitis

Mastitis and clogged milk ducts are usually associated with localized pain and redness in the breast. Often these symptoms are accompanied by a hard lump or the area may feel hot.

If you find that you have either of these issues, you should ensure that they are resolved before you continue to reduce your pumping sessions. 


Step 5: Drop Down To One Pumping Session Per Day

Once you are down to just a few minutes and only producing a few ounces on the pumping session you are hoping to drop, try skipping it completely and see how it goes. 

If you do feel uncomfortable, go ahead and pump but only enough to relieve the discomfort.

Step 6: Sit Tight For A Few Days

This allows your body the time it needs to catch up and get used to the new milk regime.

Step 7: Time to Reduce That Last Pumping Session

Start by gradually reducing this pumping session by time or volume depending on which works best for you and your body. Continue to do this until you are getting only 1 to 2 ounces from it.

Step 8: Stop Pumping Altogether!

Once you are down to just one session a day and only producing 1 to 2 ounces try skipping the session completely. If all goes well do one last pumping session around 36-48 hours later.

Hopefully, by now your body should be completely caught up and you should be set to finish your pumping journey completely.


How long does it take to wean off pumping?

The usual time it takes for moms to wean off pumping can be a week to two. Most mothers start by reducing each pumping session by a few minutes each time.

How do you know if your milk is drying up?

There are a few different signs that will show your milk is drying up such as your breasts are softer than they were earlier in the week, your breast doesn’t leak milk, you can’t pump as much milk as you were and your baby will now take a bottle after a feed.

Can you go 8 hours without pumping?

Avoid going longer than 5-6 hours without pumping especially during the first few months. 

Is it ok to pump and bottle feed instead of breastfeeding?

Of course, it is absolutely ok to pump your breast milk and give it to your baby in a bottle.

Pumping offers you the opportunity to still continue to give your baby breastmilk without the need for them to actually breastfeed. This may be due to health issues or latching problems.

Manual breast pump with milk, mother and baby at background

The Final Thought

You may be under the impression that this is going to be an easy transition, but you might have some concerns, mixed feelings, and even some sadness.

You may feel that you are going to lose your connection with your little one – remember that you will more than likely be going through some hormonal changes which are going to throw you off course a little.

Or you could look at it like this your life is about to become a whole lot easier – no more carrying a breast pump around, no more tiny pump parts to wash and reassemble.

So try to look at the positives that your little one is growing and flourishing and that you have given them the best possible start in life!