Stopping Exclusively Expressing in Three Steps

January 29, 2017

It’s been two weeks since Little M had her first bottle of formula and I started to wean myself off the breast pump. Stopping exclusively expressing after nearly eight months was a big deal for me. Here’s how I stopped expressing without giving myself mastitis!

Overall guidance

First and foremost, I listened to my boobs. If I felt horribly uncomfortable, then I expressed. But mostly I reduced the amount of time I spent at each pumping session, then dropped pumps as and when my boobs felt comfortable enough to do so.

Step 1 (Days 1-4) Reduce the amount of time at each pump

When Little M had her first bottle of formula, I was expressing for 18 minutes, four times per day. Typically I expressed at 6/7am, 12pm, 6pm then just before I went to bed, which was any time between 10pm and midnight. The first step was to reduce these pumps but one minute each day. So for example on Saturday I pumped four times, for 17 minutes each time. The next day I pumped for 16 minutes each time, and so on.

Step 2 (Days 5-11) Drop a pump

Once I’d got down to 14 minutes per pump, I felt I could drop an expressing session. In fact this came about because we went out somewhere, I lost track of time and got home later than planned, missing my intended session by about three hours!

This was positive though, as before my boobs would have been screaming at me to express and I would never have lost track of the time (a small taste of the freedom to come!).

At this point I switched my expressing times to 6/7am, 3pm, then just before bed at 10pm(ish). I continued to express for around 14 minutes each time for a couple of days, before starting to reduce the time spent on the pump again.

Step 3 (Days 12-14) Reduce to two expressions per day

This is where my milk supply rapidly declined. I dropped the number of pumps per day to just two, at around 7am and 7pm. By this time I was expressing for only around 8 minutes each time.

It might sound like it’s hardly worth it, but I was still waking with painful and lumpy boobs so it was still necessary to relieve the pressure and discomfort. After three days of this (by day 3 I was only expressing for 7 minutes each time) I no longer felt any need to express.

Why it’s worked for me

It’s been really good reducing my expressing in this way, as it’s given me time to adjust mentally to moving to formula feeding. It’s also given Little M the opportunity to be eased in to 100% formula feeding via combi feeding. We’ve been gradually increasing her formula intake and reducing the quantity of breast milk she’s had, as my supply has declined. She’s been totally fine and not suffered from any of the issues that I feared she might.

When I stated exclusively expressing and was looking for information on it, I could find very little out there. The Kelly Mom website was useful though, and I have used some of the tips for weaning from the pump here, at the end of my expressing journey.

I hope others will find this post useful if they choose to stop exclusively expressing.

Stopping expressing, weaning off the pump, stopping exclusively expressing, weaning from the brest pump

14 responses to “Stopping Exclusively Expressing in Three Steps”

  1. I reduced my pump sessions from every two hours to every four and then to first in the morning, midday and before bed. Then i only did it twice a day to then one a day and then every other day, to every three – to the point it was barely anything and i just stopped.
    Its all about slowing down gradually to ensure no mastitis as that is a bitch!!!

    • Jules says:

      Yep, that’s what I’ve been trying to achieve! Interesting that you still had milk there after three days; I’ll have to see what happens.

  2. you are right, there definitely isn’t a lot of info out there for pumping mums who want to reduce. I gradually reduced until the milk supply had dried up. #KCACOLS

  3. Bread says:

    Some great advice – hopefully something my wife can use when she stops breastfeeding. #kcacols

  4. Wendu says:

    Great tips. When I stopped breastfeeding the first time around I was completely clueless and could find pretty much no help online. This sounds like a really good way to reduce your milk supply and stop..will remember when it comes to weaning baby Number 2 xx #KCACOLS

  5. This seems like pretty sound advice. I didn’t breastfeed for long at all so when I stopped I didn’t express at all as per the midwifes recommendation. My boobs were so painful!
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday.

    • Jules says:

      Thank you. I can imagine it really hurt! I think I’ve definitely saved myself a lot of discomfort by doing it slowly.

  6. Great tips I didn’t breastfeed but I’d imagine this would really help out in reducing all the pain/side effects you might experience from stopping #kcacols

  7. Maria says:

    I really wish I’d know about gradually reducing when I had my first. I just stopped because I found expressing exclusively exhausting and I wasn’t producing enough and had to top up work formula anyway. I was in so much pain the first couple of days! You’ve got some great tips here! I did manage, second time round to reduce it gradually which made such a big difference!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday x

  8. Zoe says:

    Well done on your pumping journey.
    I hoped people would find the pumping mummies board on babycentre useful but realise it’s not the format everyone want to use.
    Slow is definitely best way to stop thanks for sharing what worked for you 🙂
    Zoe aka pumping mummy

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