As a mom, there comes a time when you have to completely wean the baby off the breast.
The decision on when to stop breastfeeding is a personal choice and only you can make that resolution.
I know you are here because you are looking for ways on how to dry up breast milk fast and safely.
As always, I have your best interests at heart and will help you find the best approach that will be pain-free.
I have been there and I know how frustrating it is for a mom looking for solutions on how to dry up milk supply without getting mastitis or how to clear clogged milk ducts.
I have two boys, and both of my breastfeeding experiences were totally different. During those times, I’ve learned different things when it comes to drying up breast milk.
Hopefully, these tips I’m sharing will help you avoid some of the things that I had to deal with like engorged breasts that were extremely painful.
Reasons Why Women Stop Breastfeeding And Want To Dry Up
Breastfeeding is wonderful, but it’s also hard. There are so many benefits that come with breastfeeding, but for some, the cons outweigh the pros.
Below are a few reasons why a mom may want to suppress their milk production.
Some women may have serious medical issues that make nursing their babies risky or impossible.
Problems with the glands may make breastfeeding painful.
In other cases, a mother may require large doses of aspirin for the management of arthritis.
In such a scenario, breastfeeding is not recommended as the drug can be transmitted through breast milk.
Other times, the infant may be suffering from galactosemia and should not be nursed.
Stressing too much
Moms cannot tell how much their little one has fed, especially if they are only breastfeeding.
This makes a mother worry about their ability to satisfy their infant.
The best way to judge whether your baby has had enough milk is by checking their urination frequency.
However, this is made hard by the super absorbent diapers in the market and, therefore, a mom gets over-stressed.
Loss of baby
Although this is sad, it does happen a lot. If a mom loses her child, the breasts will continue to produce milk, and she needs to stop breast milk production.
Postpartum mental health
Postpartum depression can completely change your entire motherhood experience.
It can make you feel too overwhelmed to deal with everything a new mom has to do.
You may be unable to breastfeed your baby at the time because of your current mental state.
Breastfeeding is PAINFUL
Breastfeeding in the first few weeks after birth is painful.
Although the pain only lasts for a short while, it can be intense with milk blebs and clogged milk ducts.
Some women feel that this vicious cycle of nursing and pumping is too much work, and they start to resent the experience.
It becomes depressing and something they HATE.
Inability to keep up with milk supply
If you are a working mom with several other responsibilities, getting enough time to concentrate on milk supply can be hard.
Having to balance all the missed pumping or nursing sessions can be quite hectic.
Combine all this with everyday life stresses, and your milk supply will naturally dip.
Babies are funny little humans. Some of them will refuse to nurse, and no matter how much you coax them to breastfeed, they will resist.
Mom has achieved her breastfeeding goal
Some moms plan they will nurse their young ones for a specific time, such as three months, six months, etc.
When a mother gets to that goal they had set, then it is a considerable achievement, and they will want to dry up milk supply.
How To Dry Up Milk Supply Safely
Let’s look at the following tips on how to dry up breast milk without risking your health.
Start slow and be realistic in your expectations
The safest way to stop breastfeeding and dry up milk supply is wean the baby or breast pump off the breast gradually.
This will help your body to adjust and also the baby will get accustomed to reduced feedings. Breast milk is usually produced in terms of demand and supply.
So, the fewer the feedings, the less milk is produced.
Do not set expectations of drying up your milk as soon as you minimize your breastfeeding sessions as this may disappoint you.
However, with time, you will realize that as you reduce your pumping or breastfeeding sessions, so will your milk production decrease.
Cold packs or Ice packs
A cold pack will go a long way in alleviating pain and the swelling that comes with breast engorgement.
If you are trying to dry up your milk supply, hop over to amazon and grab this awesome cold pack.
Alternatively, a bag of frozen peas can get you the same results; pain relieve.
Use your hands to express milk
Don’t have a pump? No worries! Use your hands to express and dull your breast pain. Sometimes, you may end up with blocked milk ducts or mastitis.
Hand expressing or pumping out just a little milk will give you some relieve.
The goal here is to only express a little for relieve, not much that will stimulate more milk production.
The amount of breast milk you express should just be enough to relieve off the pain but not too much to trigger more milk production.
Get on a birth control pill
If you are already on one, I’m pretty sure it’s a progestin-only type. This is because birth control pills that contain estrogen have been linked to decreased milk supply.
You want to get on a pill that contains estrogen to help in drying up your milk.
However, before you get on the contraception, consult with your doctor.
Postpone and distract
If you are just nursing your baby several times a day, you can try to postpone the feedings.
However, this method will only work if you are breastfeeding an older baby who is well-fed on solids and can be distracted.
You can give him a pacifier or play with him to deviate his mind from feeding.
Drink plenty of water
I know you are probably wondering water, again? Reducing the amount of water you are taking will not help your breast milk to dry up.
So, hydrate as much as you need to. Do not dehydrate yourself. You are also free to continue taking any drinks that you used to enjoy while breastfeeding.
TIP: To ensure you are taking enough water, use water bottles especially once that are calibrated. I usually put the amount of water I intend to drink the entire day in a bottle.
It helps as I can move around the house with my water and by the end of the day, I am sure I have taken the right amount of water.
How To Dry Up Breast Milk Naturally
Cabbage leaves to dry up milk supply
Such an old trick that surprisingly works! Thoroughly clean cabbage leaves and freeze them.
Once frozen, crush the cabbage veins and then place them in your bra.
Ensure the crushed cabbage veins are against the skin. Leave them for around one hour then repeat the same procedure with other frozen leaves.
This treatment also helps in reducing breast engorgement.
Although there is little scientific study that says cabbage leaves will help dry up milk supply, a lot of moms over the years swear by it.
If you’d rather take the lazy way out like me, then try this Cabo crème Breast Cream.
You’ll need to apply it every 3 to 4 hours and it works just like those cold cabbage leaves. Pretty a better idea! Or better still, you can use cabbage sheets.
The cabbage sheet mask helps to relieve breast soreness just like the real cabbage would do. It contains extracts of Korean grown cabbage extract to help in cooling engorged breasts.
Simply pull out a sheet and lay it on your breasts for relieve when drying up milk supply.
I’d recommend putting it in the fridge so that you get that cooling effect when placed on the boobs.
Feed your baby more solid food
Feeding your little one more solid food can help to dry up milk supply. But this will only apply if your little one is six months and above.
If your infant is less than six months, feeding them on formula also works. This method is effective because when the baby is full, they will not likely want to breastfeed.
With reduced breastfeeding sessions, your milk supply will start to naturally dry up. As long as you are offering a balanced diet to your baby, he will not lack any nutrients.
Peppermint oil to dry up breast milk
If you have some peppermint oil in your house, try using it to reduce milk supply. My favourite brand is Majestic peppermint oil. It is pure and natural.
Sage is one of the best herbs used to dry up breast milk. It has an estrogen effect on women and for that reason, it helps to reduce breast milk supply. You can take it in your tea or boiled in broths.
I prefer my sage in tea and that worked for me when I was weaning my sons. You will find sage tea in your local health food store.
Sage that is in lotion or essential oils CANNOT have the benefits you are seeking. It must be ingested!
Herbs have been used for years as medications and one of my favorite sage and peppermint teas is the Pink Stork No Flow. Get it on Amazon and you will love its unique taste.
Get a comfortable bra and a loose shirt
When you are trying to dry up breast milk, your breasts will become hard. They will feel like rocks and that’s breast engorgement.
Therefore, it is important for you to get a comfortable nursing bra for the extra support needed.
You will also need a loose button down shirt so that your nipples are not stimulated in any way.
On those few days you will be weaning your baby off the breast, there’s bound to be some level of discomfort.
Jasmine tea or oils
Jasmine is also great for drying up milk supply. If you have Jasmine growing in your house or backyard, pick the flowers and crush them.
Put them in the fridge to cool them apply the cool paste on your breasts using a nylon bag.
However, if you do not have Jasmine growing around you, worry not. We got you! You can buy jasmine oil to help dry up breast milk.
Word of advice, Jasmine is an aphrodisiac. You want to keep your partners hands off the breasts until you completely dry up milk supply. So, be careful with that.
What To Avoid When Trying To Dry Up Your Milk Supply
There are a few things you want to steer clear off when you are trying to stop breastfeeding.
Some of this practices may be great to help you with the pain, but right now, they will interfere with the process. You don’t want that to happen!
Avoid hot long showers
Heat stimulates the production of milk. Therefore, it is important to avoid long hot showers while trying to dry up your milk supply.
I’d recommend you do short quick showers while avoiding direct contact with hot water to your breasts.
As you decrease your nursing sessions, your breasts may feel engorged.
It can really be tempting to pump to get relieve, but that will only signal the breasts to produce more milk.
I recommend hand expressing and only get out just a little milk to keep the pain manageable. Remember the end goal during such times.
When you touch your breast, you are sending signals that milk needs to be produced. I know sometimes the breasts can feel so sore you just want a massage to numb the pain.
However, touching them will just encourage milk flow. It is best to keep your hands off the breast(even your partner) while you are trying to reduce your breast milk supply.
Avoid Breast binding
Binding the breasts with tight clothes is not recommended. Only wear a well-fitting bra. Also, do not ignore engorged breasts.
If your breasts are sore, express them a little to relieve the discomfort.
Engorgement may lead to mastitis, which is not something you want to deal with at the moment.
Drying Up Milk Supply Cold Turkey
I know this may seem like the easier way out, but it’s actually the hardest. And I strongly do not recommend it. You will experience lots of pain and breast engorgement.
Rather than stop pumping or breastfeeding your baby abruptly, extend the hours between feedings and pumping sessions.
Once your body adjusts to that, you can go longer. Eventually, you will end up drying up your milk supply.
However, if you do not have a choice and want to dry up your milk supply cold turkey, here are some tips to help you.
- Take acetaminophen or ibruprofen every 4 hours during the first days to help you manage the pain
- Use cold compress to assist with breast engorgement
- Use breast pads to absorb any leaking milk and be sure to change them regularly
- Keep your cold raw cabbage leaves or Cabo cream close to help with the discomfort when you need them.
- Hand express just a little for relieve.
- Remember to be careful in the way you handle your breasts as they will be very hard and tender.
- Talk to your lactation consultant before you decide to dry up milk supply cold turkey
Trouble signs to watch out for when drying up milk supply
Weaning is a stressful period full of emotions.
Whether you have been forced to wean or have decided on weaning, you need to prepare yourself to deal with the emotions that come with this period of time.
Some moms have to deal with depression and anxiety, while babies will struggle trying to self soothe. Contact your primary health care giver if you notice the following;
- Your breasts become red or hot.
- You develop fever
- You have some foul smelling discharge from your breasts
- You feel depressed or anxious
How long will it take to dry up breast milk?
Well, there is no definite answer for how long to dry up breast milk. Sorry!
There are so many factors that will come into play such as how long you have been breastfeeding, your milk supply, and how often you have been breastfeeding your baby.
For most moms, it will take about two to three weeks to dry up breast milk, while others, it will be a matter of few days.
However, there other moms for whom the process of trying to dry up breast milk will take a little longer. Drying up milk supply is a different experience for every mother.
Patience will go a long way in helping you safely reduce your milk supply without getting mastitis.
The above tips are a sure way to help you as you wean your little one off the breast.
And if you are looking for ways to ease your breast pain because of engorgement or clogged milk ducts, use some of the above recommendations.
Do you have some ideas on how to dry up breast milk? I’d love to hear them in the comments.
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