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Breast Feeding

Ending breastfeeding

06/18/2007

Question:

My baby is 4 months old now and I have breastfeed her the entire time. I originally wanted to breastfeed until she was 6 months old, but my milk supply is not lasting. It`s still there, but not meeting her demands. She`s stopped sleeping through the night and is extremely fussy all the time. Therefore, I decided to go ahead and switch to formula. I haven`t nursed her in two days and my breast are killing me!!!! What do I need to do to relieve the pain? I`ve heard of cabbage leaves drying up milk supply. Does that work? Any suggestions?

Answer:

When the baby sleeps through the night, the milk supply will diminish unless the mother pumps during the night to keep up her supply.

When the milk supply goes down, the baby cannot get fully satisfied during the day.

Mothers who wish to continue to nurse longer need to start pumping during the night or getting the baby to nurse at least once in the night, even if baby is half asleep.

However, suddenly stopping all breastfeeding is invariably painful and dangerous, and can lead to plugged ducts, mastitis, etc., since the breasts are still in the production mode. If you wish to continue nursing to 6 months, you can still do that while supplementing with formula.

My best advice would be to let the baby nurse until your breasts are again comfortable. Your milk supply will already be a bit less than before you stopped nursing. Place warm, moist compresses over your breasts for about 5 minutes before you offer the breast.

If she is still hungry after the breasts are soft and comfortable, just give her some formula to satisfy her appetite. As time goes on, your breasts will gradually become accustomed to making less and less milk, as you feed more and more formula.

You may decrease the amount of time at the breast and increase the intervals between feeds, if you wish to stop breastfeeding sooner rather than later.

Cabbage leaves are for early engorgement and don’t always work. If not very clean, they may cause infection.

Sudafed can cause blood pressure problems.

In summary, weaning the baby gradually is the healthiest route for both you and your baby.

For more information:

Go to the Breast Feeding health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM
Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati