Feeding FAQ: 3-4 months – Breast Feeding

What is the best way to drop feeds for my 3 month baby without becoming engorged?

I want to avoid painful, engorged breasts when I begin to stop breastfeeding, which I plan to do when Leo is around 4mths old (he is 3mths now).
With my first child it took a long 2 or 3 months to give up, as I tried to drop feeds and only express a little to give relief.
Leo has just started to go through the night and I am finding it painful just dropping this feed. I don’t want to start expressing milk in the night, but I am awake with pain in the right breast and under my arm. The right breast is producing a lot more milk than the left. I only express a tiny amount (60mls) from the right side, now only in the evening as Leo has formula at 10.30 (160mls). Lately I have felt I could/should express more than this, as I am going to bed with full breasts and know that will cause a problem in the night. I have not increased the amount I express at 10pm as I have been trying to drop this feed for 4 weeks. How can I stop feeding more easily? I don’t really like breastfeeding, and I sometimes feel it is getting in the way of enjoying time with my baby.

Unfortunately, when you do have a good supply of milk it can take quite a while to stop feeding altogether. If you try to speed things up too much, you could become engorged and a bout of mastitis could follow.
Now that Leo has dropped his middle of the night feed and you were already trying to drop the 10pm, you are in the situation of missing two feeds in a row which has caused your breasts to become engorged and painful.
Although it may feel like regressing, begin to express more at the 10pm feed. Bearing in mind that Leo is taking 160mls at this feed and that your breasts will go on making milk during the night, it is better to keep this expressing going whilst you also start cutting back on the day feeds.
Are you aware of lying on your right side at night? This can often have the effect of causing the milk to pool and become blocked in the ducts. If you are still wearing a maternity bra at night, make sure it fits properly and the seams are not digging into your sides as this also can cause blockages. If you do wake in pain, rotating your arm round in circles can help ease the blockage and therefore the pain. Be aware of any painful lumps forming; massage them downwards towards the nipple especially when feeding.
As you do have a good supply, it would best to begin to drop feeds slowly. Once you feel an improvement in the middle of the night begin to drop the 10.30am.
Rather than dropping the feed all at once begin to feed him for 5 minutes less each day and begin to top him up with formula. It could take your breasts at least seven days before they register that they no longer need to make milk for this feed.
On page 56-57 of The New Contented Baby you will find an explanation and chart, which helps you see how to drop feeds gradually. By the time that Leo is taking all formula feeds in the day you should be able to stop expressing at 10pm.
Although it takes time, it is better to drop feeds in this way when you have a good supply, as the outcome will be less pain and discomfort for you in the coming weeks.