What Happens When Mother Stops Breastfeeding?

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When the mother stops breastfeeding, her body stops producing milk, and the breasts gradually return to their pre-pregnancy state. This can lead to engorgement, discomfort, and potential mood changes as the body adjusts to the hormonal changes.

The process of stopping breastfeeding, also known as weaning, can be a significant physical and emotional transition for both the mother and the child. It marks the end of a unique bonding experience and can bring about various physical and emotional changes.

Understanding what happens during this time can help mothers navigate the transition with greater ease. From managing engorgement to addressing emotional adjustments, it’s essential to be prepared for these changes and support the body’s transition out of the breastfeeding phase.

Mother Stops Breastfeeding photo

Physical Changes

When a mother decides to stop breastfeeding, several physical changes occur in her body. These changes can vary from woman to woman, but they commonly include changes in breast milk production and breast engorgement. Let’s take a closer look at each of these physical changes:

Changes In Breast Milk Production

One of the first physical changes that occur when a mother stops breastfeeding is a decrease in breast milk production. The body recognizes that it no longer needs to produce milk to nourish the baby, so it slowly begins to reduce production.

This decrease can happen gradually or abruptly, depending on how the breastfeeding process is discontinued. It’s important to note that the amount of time it takes for milk production to stop completely varies from woman to woman.

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Breast Engorgement

Another physical change that can happen when a mother stops breastfeeding is breast engorgement. This occurs when the breasts become excessively full of milk and can result in discomfort and pain.

The engorgement usually lasts for a few days or weeks until the body adjusts to the decreased milk production. During this time, the breasts may feel heavy, swollen, and tender. Applying cold compresses or warm showers can help alleviate the discomfort.

It’s worth mentioning that breast engorgement can also occur if the mother decides to gradually wean her baby off breastfeeding by reducing the number of nursing sessions or pumping milk.

To summarize, when a mother stops breastfeeding, she can experience physical changes that include a decrease in breast milk production and breast engorgement. These changes are a natural part of the weaning process and can vary from woman to woman. If you experience any concerns or difficulties during this transition, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional for guidance and support.

Emotional Impact

When a mother stops breastfeeding, it can bring about an array of emotions, affecting both the mother and the baby. This transition can lead to emotional impacts that need to be addressed and understood for a smooth adjustment. Let’s explore the potential emotional effects of stopping breastfeeding.

Post-weaning Depression

Post-weaning depression is a real and often overlooked phenomenon. It’s essential to acknowledge that the hormonal and neurochemical shifts during weaning can contribute to feelings of sadness and anxiety for some mothers. These emotions may result from a sudden drop in oxytocin and prolactin levels, which can affect mood regulation. New mothers might encounter this period of emotional vulnerability after the cessation of breastfeeding.

Bonding And Attachment

Bonding and attachment between mother and child can experience changes after breastfeeding stops. The close physical and emotional connection built through breastfeeding may need to be adapted to ensure ongoing strong bonding. Mothers may worry about losing this special time spent nurturing their baby, but it’s important to recognize that the bond formed during breastfeeding can endure and grow through other forms of interaction.

Infant’s Response

When a mother stops breastfeeding, the infant’s response can vary from distress or anger to adjusting to a new diet. Understanding how the baby reacts can help parents navigate this transition with sensitivity and care.

Distress Or Anger

Some infants may exhibit signs of distress or anger when breastfeeding is discontinued. This can be expressed through crying, fussiness, and refusal to feed from a bottle. Parents need to provide soothing comfort and reassurance during this adjustment period. Additionally, seeking advice from a pediatrician can be beneficial in addressing any concerns related to the baby’s emotional well-being.

Adjusting To New Diet

As breastfeeding ceases, babies will need to transition to solid foods or formula. This adjustment can take time as the infant’s digestive system acclimates to the new diet. Parents need to introduce the new feeding method gradually and observe any signs of intolerance or allergies. Ensuring a well-balanced and nourishing diet is crucial for the baby’s growth and development.

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Mother’s Health

When a mother stops breastfeeding her baby, various changes occur in her body and overall health. From hormonal fluctuations to an increased risk of certain illnesses, mothers need to be aware of the potential impacts of weaning. In this section, we will discuss these effects in detail to shed light on what happens when a mother discontinues breastfeeding.

Hormonal Fluctuations

One significant change that takes place when a mother stops breastfeeding is hormonal fluctuations. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of specific hormones, such as oxytocin and prolactin, which are responsible for milk production and the bonding between a mother and her baby. However, when breastfeeding ceases, the production of these hormones decreases, leading to hormonal changes in the mother’s body.

These hormonal fluctuations can sometimes cause mood swings and emotional changes in the mother. It is not uncommon for mothers to experience feelings of sadness or even mild depression as their bodies adjust to the changes in hormone levels. However, mothers need to remember that these feelings are normal and usually temporary.

Increased Risk Of Certain Illnesses

Studies have shown that mothers who stop breastfeeding may face an increased risk of certain illnesses compared to those who continue breastfeeding. Breastfeeding provides numerous health benefits for both the mother and the baby, as breast milk contains antibodies and other essential nutrients that boost the immune system.

When a mother stops breastfeeding, she may become more susceptible to illnesses such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis. Breastfeeding has been found to have a protective effect against these conditions, so discontinuing breastfeeding may remove this safeguard.

In addition to these risks, mothers who have stopped breastfeeding may also experience an increased likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. While breastfeeding alone cannot prevent these conditions entirely, it can contribute positively to overall cardiovascular health.

It is worth noting that each mother’s health journey is unique, and the impact of stopping breastfeeding may vary from person to person. However, understanding the potential changes that can occur can help mothers make informed decisions and be proactive in managing their health.

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Support And Guidance

Once a mother stops breastfeeding, she needs to seek support and guidance for both herself and her baby’s well-being. This transition can be challenging, and professional advice can help navigate any potential issues smoothly.

Tips For A Smooth Transition

Missing important nutrients, your baby must get adequate nutrition from alternative sources like formula and solid foods. Ensure balanced meals meet their nutritional needs for proper growth and development.

During this transition, it is natural for both mother and baby to experience emotions. Be patient with yourself and your little one as you both adjust to this new phase. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to feel.

Weaning gradually can minimize discomfort for both you and your baby. Start by replacing one breastfeeding session with a bottle or cup of pumped milk or formula. Continue this process, replacing one more feeding at a time, until your baby is fully transitioned.

Offering comfort and reassurance to your baby is crucial during this time. They may find solace in snuggling, rocking, or other forms of physical contact. Establishing new bonding routines like reading or singing before bedtime can also help them feel secure.

Importance Of Professional Advice

Consulting with a healthcare professional or lactation consultant is crucial when stopping breastfeeding. They provide individualized guidance based on you and your baby’s specific needs.

Professionals can assess your baby’s overall health and growth to ensure they are thriving during this transition. They will offer tailored strategies to address any challenges that arise, such as engorgement or mastitis, while maintaining your baby’s comfort.

Monitoring your baby’s weight gain is essential to ensure they are getting adequate nourishment. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider will keep track of their growth and development, helping you identify any issues early on.

Additionally, professional advice can assist with managing any emotional or psychological challenges you may experience. They can offer support and resources to help you cope with feelings of sadness or loss that may accompany the weaning process.

Remember, your healthcare provider is there to assist and guide you through this journey. Seeking professional advice will provide you with the knowledge and reassurance you need to navigate this new chapter smoothly.

Stops Breastfeeding photo

Frequently Asked Questions Of What Happens When Mother Stops Breastfeeding?

What Happens To A Mother’s Body After Stopping Breastfeeding?

Once a mother stops breastfeeding, her body gradually adjusts its hormone levels and her breasts may become less full and tender.


To wrap up, transitioning away from breastfeeding is a significant milestone for both mother and child. Several changes might occur when a mother stops breastfeeding, including shifts in hormones, physical changes in the breasts, and adjustments in the baby’s feeding routine.

Understanding these changes and providing appropriate care and support during this transition is essential for ensuring the well-being of both mother and baby.


Dusty is the owner and editor of As Mom Sees It, a product review and family matters blog. She is the mother of two in Ohio and has partnered with companies like Nike, Verizon, Kingston Technology. You can find her on Twitter at @AsMomSeesIt.