There are many reasons why a mother would want to dry up her milk supply. Sometimes a baby weans themselves, but the mother’s milk production has not diminished, or a couple wants to try to get pregnant again.
Perhaps, you’ve had to go back to work and pumping isn’t an option or breastfeeding has caused other problems in your life.
There is nothing wrong with stopping breastfeeding. If it is something you feel you need to do...do it. No matter the reason, if your breast milk has not diminished on its own, stopping breastfeeding while still producing a full supply of breast milk can be extremely painful.
How Do You Stop Breastfeeding Immediately?
In order to dry up your breast milk in the fastest possible way, you will need to immediately stop all stimulation to the breast.
Even checking for milk production can cause breasts to continue to produce breast milk.
Some of the best ways to dry up milk production immediately are to stop nursing your baby, wear a supportive sport’s bra at all times, avoid manual stimulation and stay away from warm temperatures.
Wearing a support bra without an underwire will keep your breasts from becoming too painful while engorged or too stimulated by the natural movement of your body.
Make sure to ignore your breasts completely for a few days and stay away from warm baths and hot showers.
Breast Pain from Engorgement
One of the hardest obstacles to stopping breast milk production is the pain associated with engorgement. A lot of women struggle with this first stage.
If you are experiencing pain, you should take an over the counter pain medication. In most cases, pain relievers can help take the edge off the worst of the pain.
Taking a pseudoephedrine, such Sudafed will help slow milk production and might relieve some discomfort as well.
Another pain relief method that also lowers milk production is to ice your breasts for thirty minutes every two hours.
Avoiding Breast Stimulation
Any kind of nipple or breast stimulation can trigger milk production so make sure, at least in the first few days of weaning, not to touch your breasts. Even squeezing them to check their fullness will stimulate milk production.
Also if you and your partner are sexually active, it’s important not to engage with your breast area until the swelling and engorgement go down.
It’s recommended that all breast stimulation should cease for at least a month in order to avoid pain and clogging of milk ducts.
However, if your breasts do get clogged and there is a risk of mastitis, then massage the duct until it unclogs. This might prolong your breast milk production, but mastitis is dangerous and should be avoided.
Most lactation consultants recommend putting cabbage leaves over your nipples, tucked into your bra, twenty-four hours a day. Make sure to change the leaves often as they ease the pain and also help breastmilk dry up.
Drinking teas with sage and peppermint can stop milk production as well as taking cool baths and showers.
Hot water can stimulate milk glands so try to avoid warm baths and showers or heating pads.
Drink lots of water, contrary to popular belief staying well hydrated will help you stop breast milk production if your baby is not breastfeeding.
Wear nipple pads to reduce the embarrassment of leakage. One way to absorb nipple leakage without buying a specialized pad is to use sanitary napkins adhered to the inside of your bra. Remember your goal is to stop making breast milk, so do what you can to get through it.
Also, natural pain relief products such as THC can be used to help you when you are feeling uncomfortable. If this sounds like something you would want to try, make sure to look into the right capsules dosage for you, so you know how much to first consume.
Be Prepared for Emotions
Not only will you deal with a few days of pain, but there might also be emotions attached to the end of your breastfeeding journey.
These emotions may be in response to stopping your feeding relationship with your child, dealing with a tragedy such as a stillbirth or infant loss, a personal health concern or lifestyle change or perhaps you are dealing with feelings of inadequacy regarding your decision to stop breastfeeding.
Whatever the reason, your hormones and the changes your body is making will cause you to become emotional. Even if ending breastfeeding is a conscious choice and is one you welcome, there will still be some big emotions around it.
Remember to give yourself time to adjust and be kind to your mind and body. A lot of people attach feelings of success or failure around breastfeeding, however, breastfeeding is only one part of the many things parents do to give their children healthy, happy lives.
Make sure to recognize and congratulate yourself for the good things you are doing as a parent.
If you are facing child loss, understand that this is one of the hardest things any human can ever experience, give yourself the love and time you need to grieve.
Whatever the reason is, make sure to go ahead and cry if you need to.
Medical Ways to Stop Breast Milk Production
Doctors recommend a gradual weaning from the breast for both you and your baby. You can slowly decrease your milk supply by feeding your child breast milk fewer times a day and supplement with formula or food, depending on your baby’s age.
Mastitis and breast engorgement can become very important risks, so stopping breastfeeding cold turkey must be done carefully. One way to instantly decrease breastmilk production is to start taking birth control pills.
If you are not planning on getting pregnant again right away, then for those who were taking birth control, starting again will help end your milk production.
Consult your doctor about taking medication to stop milk production, especially if your need to stop breastfeeding is health related.
A doctor can give you a hormone shot that will speed up the process, however, these shots are not recommended and should only be used if absolutely necessary.
How Long Will This Take?
Every woman is different and so is their milk supply, however, if you stop cold turkey, you should expect your milk to dry up anywhere between two weeks to one month or more depending on your level of production.
The most painful part will be the first few days. If you are able, make sure to give yourself time to relax and take care of your body during that time.
If you have a partner, do this together. Have them help with the baby and your other children, while you relax and prepare your body.
In those first few days try not to exercise or do anything strenuous, instead pamper yourself with a good book, movie marathon and a nice cup of sage tea.
Despite the pain and the discomfort, know that it will end and your body will eventually return to its normal routine, size, and shape.