I have a great guest post to share with you! I shared previously how we did a combination feeding breastmilk and formula with my son since I had so much trouble with breastfeeding. We established a breastfeeding and formula feeding schedule that worked for us because finding what works and feeding the baby is most important. Are you wondering if you should try switching baby from breastmilk to formula cold turkey? Well, maybe a gradual approach is better.
Keep reading for great tips to help you learn how to stop breastfeeding and switch to formula.
Switching from Breastfed to Formula Fed
I had no expectations when it came to feeding my first daughter. When she was born, I just went with the flow. I always figured I would breastfeed – that’s just what you do, right? I didn’t even put much thought into it or even consider the possibility it might not work out for us. Turns out, I wasn’t a fan at all.
I know, these days it can be quite taboo to admit this, but I hate breastfeeding. I lasted until 12 weeks with my daughter, who one day started screaming on my breast until my mum walked up to me, handed me a bottle, and told me it was ok. I thought I was ‘meant’ to breastfeed, and felt so guilty making the switch, but was so happy once I did.
With my second daughter, I really wanted to last the 12 weeks again. Why? Mom guilt. I felt that because I had given my first daughter 12 weeks, I should do the same again. We made it, we made the switch, and once again I was so much happier afterward.
Then along came my son. Once again I had the same intentions, once again the same guilt, but it just didn’t work for us. By 6 weeks we were both well and truly done, and while my hormones got the better of me after I made the switch I was happy as anything.
So how do you make the switch from breast to formula? Cold turkey? Over a couple of months?
Really, you have to decide what works for you, but here are my tips.
Switching from breastmilk to formula
Don’t rush it
Unless you have really had enough with breastfeeding, it is always easier to cut down slowly. This is what I did with my girls. We started off by introducing a bottle in the evening and then cut down feed by feed. This gave my breasts a chance to adjust (and no longer produce milk at those times), and also gave my daughters some time to adjust. Of course, with my son, he just wouldn’t go back on the breast, so I had no choice but to stop cold turkey.
Have a pump handy
It takes time for your breasts to stop producing milk, and at times you will feel full and heavy and need relief. You don’t want to pump too much, as this is signaling to your breasts that you still want to produce the milk. Instead, just pump off the top for relief. I found the Haakaa really handy for this. I simply attached it and let it catch whatever came out but didn’t physically express and try and get more.
Wear tight bras
A firm bra is meant to help the process. I can’t say whether it did or didn’t, but it certainly was a lot more comfortable than the breastfeeding ones I had been wearing, so it is worth a shot! Also, make sure you stop up on breast pads to catch any inevitable leakage.
Use cold compresses
The heat stimulates your milk production, while cold compresses can help relieve any soreness you are experiencing without bringing on more milk. Whether it is an ice pack in the freezer or cold cabbage leaves (I have heard these work wonders but never tried it myself), have a go-to up your sleeve.
Watch out for blocked ducts or mastitis
I ended up with some blocked ducts with my son which were quite sore and painful. I took warm showers (yes, goes against the point above but I was trying to relieve the pain and unblock the duct), and massaged my breast while trying to hand express off the top. I also took some Nurofen to help with pain and inflammation. Thankfully, it never turned into mastitis, but there is always a risk, so be on the lookout for signs and seek treatment straight away.
How long does it take?
This question depends on so many things, such as how long you have been breastfeeding for, the age of your baby, etc. For me, going cold turkey the worst was over in about 3-5 days. When I cut down gradually, it took about 2-3 weeks for things to settle.
Look for support
Make sure you look for support when going through this. Your hormones will be all over the place and it’s important to have a support system to get you through. Remember, fed is best!
Felicity is mum to her two daughters, Cassandra (3.5) and Vivienne (21 months) and her son Elliot (2 months). Her passion is the parenting industry and creating a community where everyone feels welcome no matter how they choose to parent. It is this passion that led to the creation of The Baby Vine.