Hey Tranquility Tribe! There’s a lot of talk in the mama-sphere about starting breastfeeding, but not much talk about how to stop once your nursing journey is done. Today we’re going to give you the lowdown on drying up your milk supply, so let’s get into all you need to know!
The best way to go about drying up your milk is to decrease feedings slowly until you are no longer feeding at all - the slower you wean, the less pain you’ll be in! Once you have weaned off of feeding, you should try to stimulate your nipples and breasts as little as possible to signal to your body that it no longer needs to be making milk - it’s a process of supply and demand, and once your body stops receiving the demand signals, the supply can be reduced!
Just like everyone’s experience is different with breastfeeding itself, the process of stopping is unique for everyone. The length of time it will take to completely dry up really varies from person to person based on your circumstances when you stopped - the age of your child or stage of pregnancy and how much milk you were making at the time.
You don’t have to completely stop expressing milk, especially if you are in pain from your breasts feeling too full. However, only express a little at a time and only when you’re feeling really full - just enough to ease a little discomfort!
Along with classic cold compresses/packs and painkillers, cold cabbage leaves are going to be your lifeline during this! Wash and dry a couple of leaves, stick them in the fridge for a few hours, and then put a leaf in each bra cup for up to 2 hours - this will feel really soothing!
Medicines are an option too, but of course should only be turned to after consultation with your doctor. These medications are not specifically made for stopping breastfeeding but are known to decrease milk supply. They include combination birth control pills (containing estrogen and progestin) and decongestants (specifically Sudafed). If herbs are your thing, sage is known to help with weaning! A couple of cups of sage tea a day may really help you out.
Definitely don’t bind your breasts up tightly - this can just lead to more pain and even increase your risk for plugged ducts and infection. The biggest thing to look out for when weaning are symptoms of mastitis, an infection of the breasts. Mastitis often starts out as pain, redness, and increased temperature in the breasts and then develops to flu-like symptoms. If you experience this, be sure to get to your doctor ASAP! Slowly weaning can help prevent this.
Let’s be real - engorgement is absolutely no fun, but there are many steps you can take to both prevent it from happening in the first place and relieving pain if you do experience it. Good luck on the finish of your breastfeeding journey and always remember to reach out your village whenever you need support during the process!