How to Stop Breast Milk Production

When nursing mothers have decided to start weaning their baby, it should be a gradual process. Any abrupt weaning, especially in early postpartum, is likely to cause the mother some pain and discomfort, and puts her at risk for engorged breasts, blocked ducts, and the possibility of developing mastitis or breast abscesses. If possible, any abrupt weaning should be avoided, and knowing how to stop breast milk production gradually is the key to a relatively painless transition.

How to Stop Breast Milk Production

1. Stop It Gradually
The most painless and safest way to wean your body from producing milk is to replace one or two feedings daily. Your body will begin to slowly stop producing milk until it stops altogether. It’s important to remember that abrupt weaning can be uncomfortable, as well as traumatic for the baby, and puts mothers at risk for developing breast related medical issues.

If you’ve been breast pumping and want to stop, try this daily schedule that will help you wean off your pump gradually:

  • On the first day: pump for five minutes every two to three hours.
  • On the second day: pump for five minutes every four to five hours.
  • On the third day: pump only long enough to relieve the discomfort, and continue daily until your body stops producing milk.

2. Wear A Supportive Bra
Transitioning from a nursing bra to a high impact sports bra will help by compressing your breasts, and slowing down the production of milk. However, you’ll need to be mindful to choose one that’s not too tight, and make sure they are wireless to avoid any plugged ducts, a very painful condition. It’s best to use one with elastic around the bust for extra support, and unlined cups can offer compression support.

3. Apply Cabbage Leaves
Chilled cabbage leaves are a great if you want to know how to stop breast milk production, and soothe your engorged breasts. Cabbage leaves secretes enzymes that naturally drys up the production of milk. Try placing fresh green cabbage leaves, chilled from the fridge, on your breasts to draw out the excess fluid. Begin by peeling off two leaves, and crush them with a rolling pin to break up the enzymes, then place a leaf on each breast inside a well-fitting bra, and replace with fresh leaves when they feel wilted. Continue this treatment for one or two days.

4. Drink Sage Tea
Sage, a household spice, contains a natural form of estrogen, and can be made into an herbal tea to help with lactation suppression. Simply brew a cup by using a teaspoon of sage steeped in a cup of hot water for 5 to 15 minutes, and adding milk or honey will help offset the bitter taste. Typically, a cup every six hours is usually enough to quickly dry up milk production. The tea works even better if used in conjunction with the cold cabbage leaves compression. An alternative to the sage tea could include a sage alcohol tincture from a local health food store. The sage tincture is less bitter, more readily absorbed, and may be more efficient at reducing your production of milk. As little as 3 to 4 ml every 6 hours is usually all that is needed.

5. Try Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint has long been a tradition amongst nursing mothers to help with the suppression of milk production when weaning. You can accomplish this by purchasing peppermint essential oil from any reputable company, and ingesting a pellet/capsule every hour to help stop milk production gradually. Alternatives can include peppermint tea, or a strong peppermint candy consumed throughout the day.

6. Take Some Medicine

  • Birth Control: Consider taking the combined estrogen and progestin birth control pill as a contraceptive. The estrogen in the combination pill has a negative effect on a woman’s milk production. There are many studies that report women who have used the combination pill, results in their milk production drying up.
  • Over-the-Counter Medication: If you want to know how to stop breast milk production try pseudoephedrine. Studies have shown that a dose of pseudoephedrine will significantly reduce milk production because it depresses prolactin secretion, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen can reduce any swelling and discomfort.
  • Vitamin B6: has been reported to suppress the body's production of plasma prolactin. However, several studies found that there is no statistically relevant information that suggests vitamin B6 actually helps women suppress milk production.
  • Ask Help from Your Doctor: Recommended drug treatments in severe cases for treating lactation suppression include oestrogens and bromocriptine, which lowers prolactin levels. However, increased risks of thromboembolism, hypertension, stroke, and heart attack have been reported with their use.

7. Things You Should Avoid

  • Avoid Breast Binding: Because breast binding has been linked to an increased risk for plugged ducts and mastitis, it is no longer recommended as a treatment.
  • Do not Stimulate Nipple: You’ll want to avoid stimulating your nipples. Any type of touch in the nipple area may stimulate your body into producing milk, mistaking it for your baby’s feeding. You’ll also want to wear loose fitting clothing, and consider nursing pads to help absorb any leakage.
  • Never Dehydrated: Some people have claimed that drinking less will help to suppress lactation. They’re wrong, not only is it not a good way in how to stop breast milk production, it could lead to dehydration resulting in an increased risk for breast infection.
  • No Hot Shower: It’s important to understand that when showering, avoid using hot water. Use lukewarm water and shower facing away from the showerhead. This is because hot water may cause your milk to let down, and produce more milk, and facing away from the shower prevents the water from beating down on your breasts.

How Long Will It Take?

Every woman’s body is different, however, generally speaking, it could take anywhere from days to weeks to stop production altogether, and the longer you have been nursing will affect the time it takes to cease producing. In some cases, women have reported lactating small amounts of fluid long after the nursing has stopped. Hopefully, some of the aforementioned remedies can help you with lactation cessation, and some of the discomfort associated with the process.

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