Breastfeeding builds your child’s immune system and gives your baby the essential nutrients he or she requires in the first years of life. Breastfeeding your child is a very special experience, but it can be tiresome at times. You have to be careful with what you eat or drink and you cannot leave your baby unless you have expressed enough breast milk for them.
Some may choose to breastfeed for a few months and some for the full two years. Whatever you choose, there will come a point when you will have to wean your child. This can be both a difficult time and a time of relief. You do not have to worry about what to eat, but at the same time, that special time you shared with your baby will no longer be there.
It is best to wean your baby over a gradual period. With some women, the breast milk stops naturally. Most of the time, however, this does not happen. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you deal with a leaky lactation.
How to Dry Up Breast Milk When Stopping Breastfeeding
1. Take Things Slowly
Your body is already making many adjustments after childbirth. Do not push your body to stop producing milk. It is best to take things gradually. If you quit ‘cold turkey’, you will only feel severe pain and discomfort. There is also the possibility of developing mastitis, a breast infection, and a fever.
It is important you stop slowly, expressing less and less milk each day. Your engorged breasts will leak milk for some time, but this too shall pass. Using various remedies, such as cabbage leaves, you can ease the pain.
It is important that you take things slowly for your physical health and for your mental health. You want to be emotionally ready when you stop feeding and understand that you are not doing something wrong. Be certain that this is the choice you want to make because afterwards, you will not be able to start again.
2. Do Not Pump
If you stop breastfeeding or pumping, the prolactin hormone, which makes breast milk, will turn off. In its place, a prolactin inhibiting factor (PIF) will be released. When PIF is secreted, the brain is told that milk no longer needs to be produced. Slowly, milk production shuts down.
If you continue to pump, your body will continue to create breast milk. Your body is controlled by supply and demand. The more you pump, the more breast milk is created. The opposite also holds true. If you refrain from pumping, your breasts become full and your body knows it no longer needs to produce milk.
When you are weaning your baby or when you have completely stopped expressing milk, your breasts will become engorged. It is important not to completely empty your breasts. If you do so, your body will only demand to make more. To relieve yourself of the discomfort, expressing some milk by hand is okay.
3. Apply Cabbage Leaves
Cabbage leaves are a traditional home remedy used to soothe engorged breasts. You simply place cold, refrigerated cabbage leaves inside your bra. You do not need the hard bottom portion of the cabbage. Break up a few leaves and arrange them in a comfortable position. Leave them in place for a few hours or until they begin to wilt. If you are allergic to sulfa or cabbage, avoid using this technique.
The science behind the soothing powers of the cabbage leaves has not been studied dutifully. However, it is believed that the vegetable contains substances, which can heal swelling and inflammation.
4. Drink Sage Tea
Another home remedy that can be used easily is sage tea. Sage contains a form of estrogen, which will help your body dry up the breast milk. Sage tea can be found at any health food store. You can also make it at home if you have the sage spice. Simply rub 1 tsp. of sage into a cup of hot water and let it steep for about 15 minutes. Add some honey or milk to the tea, as sage is very bitter.
Drink one cup every six hours; this should help reduce your milk quickly. It is best to use sage tea alongside the cabbage leaves, to give your body comfort while you wait for the milk to dry.
An alcohol tincture also helps the milk dry up faster. The mucous membranes easily absorb it so it works more efficiently in reducing your milk supply. 3–4 ml every six hours should be sufficient.
5. More Tips
- Wear properly. If your nipples are stimulated in any way, this can cause milk production. Wear loose fitting clothes and a supportive and comfortable bra. Sports bras are helpful in this regard.
- Use nursing pads. Nursing pads will absorb the milk when your breasts begin to leak. Give your breasts fresh air occasionally. It is imperative that you not bind your breasts in any way. This can cause mastitis and plugged ducts, adding to your discomfort.
- Apply cool compress. A cool touch can help soothe your engorged breasts. Ice packs, cold compresses or even a frozen bag of peas will work. Anti-inflammatories, which do not contain any steroids, such as ibuprofen, will also help. Although these will not help in reducing milk production, they will make you feel more comfortable while you wait.
- Avoid warm touch. While a cool touch can bring relief, a warm touch can trigger your body to produce breast milk. A warm or hot shower can stimulate milk production, so unless you are looking for a way to release a little milk, keep your breast away from warm water.
- Drink water. It is important to keep yourself hydrated. One myth that has serious negative impact is that if you reduce your water intake, this will reduce your milk supply. However, if you do not drink water, you will become dehydrated. This will increase the risk of developing not only a breast infection, but a urinary tract infection as well.
Here is a video you can watch to learn more about how long it will take your breast milk to stop being produced: