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Everyone seems to have an opinion on breastfeeding these days. My opinion is fed is best. However, I acknowledge that breastfeeding for however long a mother can manage it, is full of benefits for babies, specifically in terms of immunity. I breastfed for 20 weeks. It was hard and if you read my previous post (Everything I Tried During My Breastfeeding Journey) you know I tried pretty much everything to be successful. So when I found myself crying during my mid-day pump, I knew it was time to stop.
My son had been teething and was requiring all of my energy to soothe him. So I felt that the best thing for him was not a mother who was always tethered to a pump but a mother that could hold him when he cried.
When I made the decision to wean, I was still pumping four times a day. Lactation consultants will usually advise that you drop one pump session per week before you stop pumping all together but I just couldn’t do that. That’s when I remembered reading about a certain first-generation antihistamine that was known to reduce breast milk supply. It just so happened that this antihistamine, Chlorpheniramine Maleate was one of the few antihistamines that worked when my allergies acted up so I had a bottle on hand. I decided to give it a try.
What I Did:
- I took one 4mg tablet every 6 hours, and then two 4mg tablets right before bed for 2 days. (Note: This antihistamine can make some people drowsy. If you tend to get drowsy with first-generation antihistamines or are unsure, start your weaning process when you know someone can be around the house to help out with the baby in case you’re a little extra tired or out of it. This antihistamine does not make me drowsy but I may be an exception.)
- I avoided pumping for 48 hours until I could no longer handle the engorgement.
- I did not pump again following the 48-hour mark.
- I used my Lansinoh cold compresses to keep the warmth down in my breasts as they got used to not pumping or nursing anymore.
- I used my Lavie Breast Massager periodically throughout the day to make sure my ducts didn’t get too clogged.
The first two days were the worst. My breasts kept producing the way they had and hoping that I would pump. My chest hurt and I was uncomfortable. I was leaking randomly throughout the day. I also became moody and had an epic shouting fest with my husband. By the second day without a pump things were starting to get red. I was mindful to look out for symptoms of mastitis, like fever and chills.
At the 48 hour mark, I finally had to pump. My breasts were getting red and were incredibly heavy. I only pumped enough to make the redness go away. I got about 5oz out in total and it consisted of mostly foremilk.
From that point forward my soreness went steadily down and by day 4, I had no pain at all and was no longer leaking. I never got mastitis.
By day 6 I could already notice that my nipples were shrinking and getting lighter in color. I was able to take a shower without feeling like my breasts were being assaulted by the shower spray. I could skip wearing my sleep bra to bed without feeling like my pajamas were attacking my chest.
It’s now been two weeks since I made the decision to wean and took my first dose of antihistamine to slow down breast milk production. I’ve had no further engorgement or leaking. I have no sensitivity when anything grazes my chest. I do still produce a droplet or two of breastmilk if I squeeze but that’s about it.
Know that if you make the decision to wean you have at least a two-week window where if you change your mind you can relactate. It would just require that you start pumping and nursing all over again and do that 8 to 12 times a day. There’s no guarantee that your supply will come back at the same level that it was when you stopped but there’s a good chance you can still produce something.
My son at this point has two teeth so I’m not going back on my decision. Even though I struggled for over four months, I’m happy and proud of what I was able to accomplish for my son. I hope this post can help any Mamas out there struggling with the prospect of weaning and unsure of how to go about it. Let me know in the comments about your own weaning journey or if you have questions, feel free to ask.
You got this Mama,