One of the causes of mastitis is poor drainage from the breast during weaning. Therefore, it is important that specific instructions are followed when reducing the amount of milk that is produced during weaning.
*When suffering mastitis it is very important to continue to drain the breast. For this reason, it is not recommended to wean children from the breast during this time.
How to wean from the breast correctly for the mammary gland
Weaning is the process according which the baby stops breastfeeding exclusively and reduces it until the feeds are completely eliminated. This process can occur naturally for months or even years, or it can be directed by the mother and reduced more abruptly.
Regardless of the baby’s age or reaction to a weaning situation, whether gradual or abrupt, the fact of reducing the mother’s milk production requires a follow-up of its evolution in order to avoid complications such as milk retention, pain and mastitis.
Weaning is an important part of lactation so we have to continue to accompany the mother during the weaning process and monitor and act in the event that milk retention occurs. If this is the case, it is necessary to encourage draining the breast until these lumps are reduced and the mother stops feeling pain or discomfort.
The amount of milk that a mother expresses (by hand or pump) should be proportional to the discomfort and she should be careful not to express too much milk as you risk stimulating the breast more and achieving the opposite effect: producing more milk.
If there is pain, discomfort or engorgement, it is advisable to apply a cold compress (never apply heat), massage the breast, express milk and even take anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.
Ineffective or dangerous practices during weaning
As we commented above, to avoid mastitis during weaning it is important when the mother feels discomfort, that she continues to drain the breast. Therefore, outdated techniques such as wrapping and binding the breasts like it was done in the past must be avoided and one-time guidelines such as the recommendation to avoid pumping breastmilk need to be updated.
It is also not advisable to stop ingesting liquids because the production of milk is not related to the amount of liquid a mother drinks, but to the stimulation of the breast.
The indication to administer cabergoline (Dostinex ®) is neither adequate nor effective when breastfeeding has already been established and the mother has been breastfeeding for months or weeks. The medication appears to be effective only if taken immediately after delivery, as it acts as a prolactin inhibitor and interferes with the onset of lactogenesis II.
Recommended weaning practices
To achieve successful weaning from the breast the mother can extract an adequate amount of milk whenever there is discomfort or engorgement. The mother must be informed that in order to ensure that the breast does not bother her, she must express a little less milk every day in order to achieve a physiological reduction in milk production.
Finally, a reminder that even months or years after weaning, if a mother manipulates the breast, she is likely to experience the appearance of milk secretion from the nipple. As long as this does not happen spontaneously, this is a very common and harmless situation.