First and foremost, milk production works by supply and demand. The more your body expresses milk the more milk you will make. The long and short of weaning is making less and less milk. Your baby will naturally self wean; however, there are many reasons why women decide to wean way before a baby does. Here are some good tips to follow to avoid complications.
You need to do this gradually! If you stop nursing or pumping cold turkey you may cause a myriad of problems for yourself. The best way to start is to take one feed/pump away from your normal schedule and let your body re-absorb the milk. You most likely are making much more milk then you think so be patient with your body, it may take a few days to adjust to making less milk.
You will want to repeat this process by removing another feed/pump every 3-5 days. This can likely take several weeks to properly avoid engorgement and mastitis.
Another suggestion is to shorten your feeding/pumping sessions. If you normally nurse/pump for 20 minutes reduce this to 15. Once your body adjusts to making less milk continue this process.
The key is to not empty the breast and avoid nursing/pumping if you feel your breasts are still full. To wean, you must allow your body to re-absorb the milk and to do so you need to let milk stay in the breast. Remember, if you express you are telling your body to make more milk. We want the opposite to happen. Have patience with this process, your body will re-absorb the milk and begin to produce less and less.
If you feel you need extra support in reducing your milk production there are certain herbs you can take. You can easily find No Milk teas or consult with an herbalist that specializes in lactation.
Stay tuned for our next set in this series - Comfort Measures for Weaning