It seems to be that topic no one ever talks about. We spend so much time focusing on pumping, increasing supply, meeting your breastfeeding goals. What happens when you’ve been successful at all of this and you are ready to stop pumping at work? Let’s talk about that a bit…
Keep in mind that there’s no magic number to pumping. You can pump for as long as you want (or don’t want) before deciding to hang up the horns. For many moms this line in the sand seems to be around 12 months, but many moms pump for different lengths of time. Keep in mind that there is no reason you can’t continue to pump, your employer should support you in your efforts, there is no limitation in the accommodations required by the Affordable Care Act.
Whenever you decide you are ready to begin weaning from the pump, keep in mind that you can continue to breastfeed when you are with your little one. Nursing during evenings, weekends, vacations are all great ways to connect with your baby and give them breastmilk you’ve worked so hard for.
There are 2 basic ways of pump weaning. In the first method you would increase time between pumping sessions. And in the second you would decrease the amount of time you spend pumping. You can also do a combination of these two through out the process.
There are some things to be aware of while you start the process, the first being your breasts. Cutting back on pumping too drastically can cause overfilling of the breasts. The last thing you want to deal with during the process is a plugged duct or mastitis. The other is your emotional state. Abrupt changes to the breastfeeding process you have established can cause hormonal changes which have the ability to impact your emotions through the process.
For an example, we’ll use a mom who typically pumps at 9 AM, 12 PM, and 3 PM. We’ll assume she also breastfeeds her baby shortly after 5PM when she arrives at daycare to pick him up. By moving the pumping sessions to 10AM and 2 PM, and continuing to breastfeeding right after work mom may be able to drop to two pumping sessions fairly easily. Keep in mind that it will take a few days, maybe even a week for the body to adjust to this new pump schedule. When she feels like things are going well with this schedule she can cut back on the amount of time she spends pumping at each session. If a typically pumping session is 15 minutes, cut back to 10. And again, give that some time to readjust.
The bottom line with weaning from the pump is to do it gradually, slowly, and while listening to your body. If you feel like you went too fast, it’s ok to take a step back and let your body adjust. You’ve trusted your body to provide for your baby up to this point, trusting through this process will serve you well. Continuing to space out pump sessions and shorten pump sessions will allow you to gradually eliminate pumping. You may find somewhere along the journey that the new schedule works for you, and you want to continue pumping for a little while longer. That is absolutely ok. And if you don’t, that’s ok too. You’ve done a great job providing for your baby within your circumstances.
What tips do you have for other moms who are weaning from pumping?