- Take it slow. It took me about 2 1/2 months to go from breastfeeding/pumping six or so times to a day to being completely done. I was petrified about getting mastitis, so I gave my body plenty of time to adjust. I dropped one nursing session a week. If my body still felt full during the time of my dropped session, I'd wait an extra day or two (e.g., the nursing session I dropped was at 3 pm and my next session was at 6 pm, if I couldn't make it to 6 pm comfortably, I'd wait a few more days before dropping the next session).
- Shorten sessions before dropping. This is harder to do if you're actually nursing vs. pumping, but it still can work (consider feeding your child before you nurse and make sure there is a cup of milk ready when you pull them off). If you normally nurse or pump for 10 minutes, start by shortening the time nursing/pumping to 8 minutes. Drop 2 minutes each day until the session is only a minute or two. Depending on how long you typically nurse, it might take a week for you to get down to a minute or two. You can go ahead and start dropping a new session at the end of the week or stay as is for another week, giving your body extra time to adjust. I found I didn't need to shorten the sessions when I was still nursing/pumping 4 times a day, but once I was down to just 3 sessions, it felt more comfortable to shorten before I fully dropped it.
- Provide your baby with other entertainment. It's easiest to drop the mid-day sessions first, because typically you can distract your baby during that time - a fun activity, a special food, or even just a bottle of regular milk or formula. Just keep things moving and don't give them any indication that nursing is nearby - that is, keep your shirts on ladies.
- Feel free to keep nursing just one or two sessions for a while. If it's easy to nurse your child to sleep or you like the comfort of early morning nursing...do it. You can easily do those two sessions for months and wait until your child loses interest. When you're ready to drop these particularly snuggly sessions, be sure to be extra patient and provide lots of extra soothing. Even if your child is taking a sippy cup during the day, you may want to provide a bedtime bottle for a few extra weeks just to make the weaning process easier. I was able to transition without the use of a bottle...two days in a row we had late dinners out (shocking, I know) and my son fell asleep for the night on the way home. After that, we just gave him a sippy of milk at dinner and called it a day.
- Cabbage leaves and ice work. So do tight bras. Cabbage leaves in the freezer are even better. When you get to the point that you're ready to drop the final session, go as long as you can. When you feel really uncomfortable try to hand express some milk in the shower or pump for just a minute or two to relieve pressure. You may need to do this occasionally over the next few days to fully finish the process.
- Enjoy your energy. I felt a HUGE surge of energy in the days after I fully weaned. And I never gained any weight. I think if you take the process slow, your body adjust. I'm convinced that when I nurse, I store fat for the winter...at least that is what I tell myself.
Week 1: Nurse/pump 6x a day
Week 2: Drop one day session cold turkey to get down to 5x a day.
Week 3: Drop one day session cold turkey to get down to 4x a day.
Week 4: Drop one day session cold turkey to get down to 3x a day.
Week 5: Shorten mid-day session by two minutes each day. At the end of the week you should be only nursing/pumping 2x a day.
Week 6: Continue nursing/pumping 2x a day. Begin using cabbage leaves and ice.
Week 7: Shorten one session by two minutes each day. At the end of the week you should be only nursing/pumping 1x a day. Continue with cabbage leaves.
Week 8: Continue nursing/pumping 1x a day.
Week 9: Shorten last session by a few minutes each day.
Week 10 and on: Pump ONLY when you feel uncomfortable.
When you're done: Celebrate. With a BIG drink. Burn nursing bras, pumps, etc. Cry at state of your boobs, but celebrate the fact that at least they are yours again.
More information here: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/weaning/