How to Dry Up Milk Supply

When Breastfeeding Is Over

When it’s time to wean your baby, it’s important to approach drying up your milk supply carefully. A gradual approach can ease your discomfort and help you avoid complications during the process.

When to Dry Up Your Milk

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Your breasts may start to produce milk even before your baby is born. If you have chosen not to breastfeed your newborn for personal or medical reasons, your milk production will not increase significantly after birth. It is the baby’s nursing that stimulates your body to produce more milk. If you've been nursing, your little one may be losing interest in some of his feedings. Or, you may be want to replace breastfeeding with bottle-feeding. Some women need to wean their babies because they're returning to work. Whatever the reason, a number of steps make the process go more smoothly.

How to Dry Up Your Milk

To slow down milk production, gradually decrease the amount of milk either through pumping or nursing. You might begin by eliminating one of your baby’s feedings. Keep in mind that the feeding before bedtime may be the most difficult one to eliminate, so start with a feeding earlier in the day. After a week or so, try eliminating another feeding. Take your lead from your little one and how he’s adjusting to the decreased feedings. You may be replacing breast milk with a bottle, a cup or with solid foods.

During the weaning process, you may begin to experience some discomfort and a feeling of fullness in your breasts. Try wearing a supportive bra to help stay comfortable. You can also use cold compresses on your breasts to help relieve the discomfort.

Tips

Some women find relief by using cabbage leaves. Wash and dry the cabbage leaves; then store them in the fridge until chilled. Put them inside your bra to help soothe your breasts, replacing the leaves after a couple hours or when they begin to wilt.

If your breasts are really uncomfortable, you can express a small amount of milk from them. You don’t want to express too much, because that will stimulate more production. Aim for just enough to ease the pressure.

You may find your milk supply decreasing significantly within a few days. Some women find the process takes a few weeks. A slow and careful approach is less painful than going too quickly.

Consulting Your Doctor

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If your breasts are becoming too painful, ask your doctor about a milk painkiller medication. If you’re experiencing difficulty with the process, your doctor can recommend lactation suppressants. Also, be aware that a blocked milk duct can occur when your breasts are very full. The area will become sore and may also be red or warm to the touch. Expressing milk and massaging along the duct line can help eliminate the blocked duct. If the blocked duct leads to mastitis, you may begin to experience flu-like symptoms. See your doctor immediately if you are feeling unwell, or if you cannot clear the blockage within 12 hours.

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