weaning from pump working mom

Weaning from Exclusive Pumping: Interview with IBCLC Katie Clark, The Breastfeeding Mama

Weaning from exclusive pumping is a delicate process. For some, there’s a transition to breastfeeding directly from the breast and for others, it’s simply that they are ready to be done pumping breast milk for their child. 

Weaning from exclusive pumping comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. As an IBCLC, I regularly help moms wean, and it’s important to take into account your comfort and mental health as you navigate this journey. 

In this article, you'll find actionable tips to help you navigate the weaning process, including how to cut back on pumping sessions and address specific issues that pumping moms may encounter. 

lactation consultant

There are various ways to wean from the pump.
The main options I recommend are: 

  • Gradual reduction in pumping sessions
  • Extending time between sessions
  • Shortening the amount of time spent pumping
  • Decreasing the amount of milk pumped

You can play around with these different methods and see what your body responds to best. I find that most moms implement one more of these techniques. 

Gradual Reduction in Pumping Sessions

Start by gradually reducing the number of pumping sessions per day. Aim to eliminate one session every few days to allow your body to adjust slowly. You can always speed up or slow down as your body adjusts. 

Extending Time Between Sessions

Gradually extend the time between pumping sessions to reduce the frequency of pumping. This can help your body adjust to producing less milk over time. I usually recommend increasing the time by about ten minutes at a time and adjusting as you go. 

Shortening Amount of Time Pumping

If your pumping session times are generally consistent, you can decrease the amount of time spent pumping by a few minutes. I would start with two minutes shorter until your body adjusts and decrease from there. 

Decrease Amount of Milk Pumped

For those who consistently pump similar amounts of milk per session, you can try and stop pumping after you’ve pumped less milk than usual. Usually, I recommend starting with .25 ounces less and adjusting as you go. 

Handling Discomfort

Expression for Comfort

If you experience discomfort or engorgement, consider pumping for shorter periods or hand expressing a small amount of milk for comfort. If you pump until you feel like you’ve fully drained the breast, this can prolong the weaning process. 

I find that hand expression or using a hand pump can be a little more gentle on the body than a traditional pump. You can also incorporate reverse pressure softening to decrease discomfort and pressure in your breast. 


I absolutely love recommending the use of CaboCréme to my clients who are dealing with engorgement or an excess of milk. It’s much easier to use than freezing a bunch of cabbage leaves, and it has a pretty immediate impact.  

If you are slowly weaning, apply CaboCréme when you drop a feeding. Once you are finished pumping, you should apply it every 3-4 hours until you no longer need it. If you need to wean from the pump immediately, you should apply it as frequently as you need to decrease discomfort.

CaboCréme can also be really helpful if you develop clogged ducts during the weaning process. Just add a couple of drops to the area where you are experiencing the clog. 


Exclusive pumping


Cold Packs

Apply cold packs to your breasts to help reduce swelling and discomfort. I usually recommend 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off until you feel comfortable. While it can be tempting to use heat, this may increase milk flow and production. 

Well-Fitted Bra

A well-fitted bra can provide you support through your weaning journey as your breasts start to adapt to producing less milk. It’s important that it’s not overly tight, as this can lead to clogged ducts, mastitis and additional discomfort. 

OTC Medications

If you are experiencing some pain with weaning, ibuprofen or tylenol can be helpful. There are also homeopathic remedies that can provide relief as well. 

Because of the increased chance of mastitis or clogged ducts that comes with weaning, make sure you are aware of the signs that you are developing this. Early treatment can make a big difference.  

Decreasing Milk Supply

As you start the weaning process, you may want to speed up the process to decrease your actual milk production. Some moms find their milk pretty quickly decreases while others deal with the extra milk for longer. 

I recommend working with a lactation consultant to determine the best course of action for your situation, but here are a few ideas that may help to dry up supply more quickly:

  • No more milk teas - there are various brands available
  • Essential oils - sage and peppermint can be beneficial. Make sure you wipe off your breast before pumping. 
  • CaboCréme - loaded with concentrated cabbage extract for soothing support
  • Decongestants (talk with your doctor before starting this - generally should be used as a last resort)

Emotional Support

As you wean, you will likely experience some emotional swings. In general, the faster that you decrease your milk output, the more intense these swings can be. Many moms feel that this time can be similar to experiencing the “baby blues” after giving birth. 

If you can gradually reduce your pumping sessions, this is often the best approach to managing the emotional ups and downs that come with weaning. However, this isn’t always possible - so it’s important to be self-aware of what you are going through and lean into others for support.  

Support from Others

Reach out to a lactation consultant, support group, or counselor for emotional support during the weaning process. La Leche League and Breastfeeding USA are two great organizations that offer free support groups across the United States and world. 


Practice self-care activities such as rest, hydration, and healthy eating to support your physical and emotional well-being during weaning. Journaling can be a really healing process. Be kind to yourself and focus on yourself. A piece of chocolate usually helps, too!

Celebrate Your Journey

Celebrate your accomplishments as an exclusive pumping mother, and remember that weaning is a personal decision that should be done at your own pace.

Weaning from exclusive pumping can be a challenging process, but with patience, support, and self-care, you can navigate it successfully. Listen to your body, seek support when needed, and prioritize your well-being throughout the journey.




Katie Clark is a mom of three boys and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who runs The Breastfeeding Mama. She runs a virtual and in-person lactation practice and has a passion for helping moms through all stages of breastfeeding with a particular interest in milk supply, weaning, and prenatal breastfeeding preparation. She has helped thousands of mothers around the world make breastfeeding work for them through compassionate and holistic approaches with her consults and online classes.