Breast milk is meant to help a mother feed her child. The milk you produce will go through stages, providing your baby with the nutrients she needs to grow strong and healthy. Many women swear that breastmilk is better for their baby and makes them much healthier. If you want to know how to dry up breast milk fast, you want to make sure that you’re done giving your child breast milk.
Once you figure out how to dry up your milk supply, there’s no going back without severe hormone therapy. First and foremost, you need to make sure that this is the right choice for you. A few questions you’ll want to ask yourself before you dive into stopping your breast milk supply are:
- Are you sure you don’t want to breastfeed? If you dry up your milk supply, this is a no-going-back situation. Even with hormone therapy, you might lose those vital formative weeks and months when breast milk is very beneficial.
- Is there a reason not to breastfeed? Some women can’t breastfeed. The issue may be that they have cysts, a medical condition or another valid reason for not breastfeeding. If you simply think formula is easier, discuss your options with your physician.
Breastfeeding can also be carried out for the first year or so of the child’s life before you decide to figure out how to stop breast milk. If you were to pump routinely or allow your child to continue feeding, there’s a chance that you’ll just continue producing milk almost indefinitely. Moms are all different.
There are moms who breastfeed:
- For a few months
- For 2 years
If you plan to breastfeed for longer, the easiest way to stop producing breast milk is to not breastfeed.
Table of Contents
How to Stop Producing Breast Milk Fast
If you want to stop the production of breast milk, there are a lot of things you can do to speed up the process. The problem is that every person’s body needs to have a slow-down, so it’s up to your body to adjust to stop producing milk. You can’t just turn off a switch and hope the breast milk will stop.(Recommended: How to Store Breast Milk)
But you can do the following things to help speed up your breast milk drying:
1. Slow Down and Relax
This may not be a tip to help you dry your milk, but it’s the most important thing you can do: take it slow. If you rush too much, you’ll find that you’ll be overworked and may end up sick or with an immune system that can’t catch up.
Pregnancy takes an immense toll on the body. You’ll want to take things a little slower. If you push your body too much, it won’t do any good. A breast infection can occur, too, which is no fun.
You’ll want to:
- Slowly stop producing milk via less feeding.
- Gradually feed or pump less.
- Express milk less often every day.
I can confidently tell you that if you rush the process, you’ll be in for a lot of unnecessary pain. Woman who have enlarged breasts, due to breastfeeding, will start to have pain in their breasts as they begin to transition to the non-production cycle.
Never stop breastfeeding without trying to do it slowly. I recommend starting very slowly. A good trick I learned was to cut back by one feeding for 2 – 3 days and then continue the cycle. A good example of this would be a mother that feeds her child 4 times per day via breastfeeding.
Well if you stop abruptly, this gives the body little-to-no time to adjust. It’s just a bad idea.
So following the criteria above, I would recommend:
- 3 expressions per day for 3 days
- 2 expressions per day for 3 days
- 1 expression per day for 3 days
If you were to follow the guidelines above, you’ll be giving your body some time to adapt and change. Of course, it isn’t as simple as I have written it. You may still experience some pain, and if you do, you might want to express one more time to make sure that your body gets time to adapt.
There are also other methods that can help you overcome the pain.
2. Ease the Pain to Stay on Track
How long does it take breast milk to dry up? You’ll find that the average time is 7 – 10 days for the milk to dry completely, and this is rather standard. There’s little you can do to stop breast milk production tomorrow. But you can follow the guidelines above to slowly get your body to stop producing milk.
If you find that you’re in too much pain, you’ll often go right back to your normal routine because no one wants to be in pain. The pain is the main reason for many women not being able to stop breastfeeding. Your breasts are engorged, and this is very uncomfortable to begin with.
So if you want to be able to follow any of the advice written about stopping milk production, you need to know how to ease the pain. But there is a warning that goes along with pain relief.
Medicine will make its way into your milk. If you were to take an aspirin today, you will start to produce milk with some trace of aspirin in it. If you take NSAIDS or any medicine that is prescribed to reduce pain, you may pass it on to your child. If the child is no longer drinking breast milk, then you can discard it and not worry about the child receiving the medicine.
Natural pain relievers that are proven to work well when trying to stop producing breast milk are:
- Cabbage Leaves
Women have been applying cabbage leaves to their breasts for centuries, and while it may seem a little odd at first, it works very well. This traditional home remedy is used to soothe breasts that are engorged. And it’s so simple to do.
- Place the cabbage leaves in the refrigerator.
- Allow the leaves to cool.
- Pull off the leaves and place them in your bra.
- Use as many leaves as needed to cover the breasts.
Feel free to arrange them in a way that’s comfortable for you, and do your best to avoid using the harder bottom portion. Simply use the soft leaves and arrange them in such a way that it provides you with a comfortable fit – you’ll need to keep wearing your bra, after all. The bra works to keep the cabbage leaves in place.
Cabbage is often put on swollen feet or limbs because it does such a good job at helping to relieve the swelling. Swelling is caused by water retention, and the leaves will draw out the water, helping to relieve the swelling of the breasts. You’ll need to keep the cabbage leaves on for an hour or more for best results.
Cabbage leaves will work well on any swollen or sore area of the body. You just need to make sure that the leaves are cool as a cold compress, which can also help alleviate much of the swelling and pain, too. If you try this and it works, you’ll be hooked on the cabbage leaf trick for all of your aches and pains.
- Apply Cold Packs
Cold packs work much in the same way as cabbage leaves, and they will be able to reduce swelling and provide rapid comfort, too. A cold pack can be a lot of things:
- Crushed ice in a bag.
- Ice pack.
- Frozen peas.
Anything cold will work well. If you want to apply directly on to the skin, be prepared for a cold shock – it happens to every mom. The cold isn’t the most comfortable feeling, so a lot of women will wrap their cold pack in a towel or cloth for the utmost in comfort. But if you do apply cold packs to the area, make sure to keep it on for 10 – 15 minutes and then remove it to give your breasts a break from the cold.
- Wear the Proper Bra and Clothing
The proper bra and clothing will help you find relief from the breast pain you’ll experience. There are a lot of options here, but a good rule of thumb is to:
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Avoid wearing bras that are too tight.
You really need a properly-fitting bra to be able to alleviate much of the discomfort you’re feeling. Some women will even wear a nursing bra to help alleviate the discomfort and pain. A nursing bra will be very supportive, and since you probably have one already, pull it out and wear it.
Even though you’re not nursing, these bras can help a lot.
3. Sage Tea
If you want to know how to dry up breast milk fast without aches or pains, you need to start drinking sage tea. Sage is a great healer, and when you drink sage tea, it will help the body dry up your breast milk, too.
How? The sage will help balance your hormones due to the herb having a high content of estrogen in it. If you want the body to stop producing milk, you need to reverse the chemical changes that happen in the body. One of those changes deals with estrogen.
- Add 1 teaspoon of sage to a hot cup of water
- Allow the sage to steep for 15 minutes
- Add in a teaspoon of honey
You can add in any sweetener you wish to help you get over the bitter taste of the sage. In reality, it’s not all that important to add a sweetener, but it will taste better. Once you reach this point, drink your cup and then drink a cup every 6 – 8 hours.
Sage tea will begin to dry up the milk, and use a few cabbage leaves at this time, too, to help alleviate some of the aches and pains you’ll feel in your breasts. It’s a great method to help speed up milk drying, but you need to drink the sage tea often. If possible, drink one cup every 6 hours. Of course, you’ll also want to consult with your doctor if you find any side effects from drinking your tea. Unless you’re allergic to the sage, this shouldn’t be much of an issue.
4. Stop Pumping and Touching
If you continue using a breast pump, the body will continue to produce milk. Even touching your breasts too often to stimulate them can cause the body to continue producing milk. You’ll even be surprised to know that if you allow your breasts to hang using improperly-fitting clothes, the breasts will continue to make milk, too. It’s a complicated topic, but it’s something that you can only fix if you truly understand that any stimulation is bad for your breast milk drying up.
Milk “let-down” is a signal sent out from the body to start producing milk. When this signal is sent, the body continues to produce breastmilk so that you can continue to supply your baby with an adequate food source. It’s all about the baby.
A few of the things you’ll need to stop doing to ensure that the body isn’t signaled to produce breast milk are:
- Avoid touching or stimulating the breasts
- Avoid allowing your child to feed
- Avoid using a breast pump
- Avoid even hot water hitting the breasts
Something as silly and simple as hot water hitting the breasts while in a shower can cause the breasts to produce milk. You’ll want to turn your back towards the water to ensure that the breasts don’t get stimulated at this time.
If you feel the need to express the breasts, try to fight the urge in an effort to put a stop to the milk production. This can be a very tedious process, so you’ll need to take it slowly as we mentioned before. A single expression or two in the beginning of your trying to dry up the milk is normal and will alleviate some pain, too. But if you continue to express daily, you’ll find that the body will delay your drying of the milk.
5. Ask the Doctor for Medication
When in doubt, there are drugs that can help your milk dry up faster. The problem is that many of these medicines either aren’t recommended any longer, or they cause side effects. A lot of women seem to do fine on these medications, but a lot of others will have problems.
And you need to ask yourself if the risk of being sidelined from being a mom outweighs the pain of engorgement.
Side effects can include:
- Stomach pain
It’s a horrible feeling, and these are just three of dozens of side effects you may encounter, depending on the medication that you’re given. Doctors will often prescribe a hormonal pill that will help trick the body into not producing milk.
After all, milk is only produced because of chemical reactions in the body. Medications can reverse this process.
In fact, some women never undergo the right chemical reactions to begin producing breast milk. A woman can force the body to start producing milk whenever she wants through the usage of hormonal therapy, and this works very well for a lot of women.
There are even stories of women undergoing hormonal therapy who adopt babies and start producing milk for the child. It works very well. But again, the medication you’re given may not work well for you. Ask your doctor what he or she recommends so that you can be given a medication that doesn’t have harsh side effects.
There are a few additional precautions you’ll want to consider at this time to ensure that your breasts stop producing milk and you can return to a less painful and engorged life. The precautions you’ll want to follow are:
- Hold your baby differently. If you hold your baby the same as you did when feeding, you’ll often find that the baby will try feeding again. Many mothers let in to their baby’s demands, causing them to prolong their milk production and start from the beginning again.
- Keep your baby engaged and continue to spend time with her. Just because you will need to be careful with your baby not trying to feed doesn’t mean you should ignore your baby. She will need the same love and attention as always.
- Fertility will return within one to two months after you’ve stopped producing milk. The recurrence of fertility means that you can get pregnant again, so be careful during intercourse.
- You can restore your body’s natural breast milk production for nearly 6 weeks after production has stopped. If your baby is having a hard time switching to normal food and you need to return to breastfeeding, you need to act swiftly to reengage the production cycle.
Breast milk is filled with immune system boosting substances that can make a baby grow strong and healthy. If you know it’s time to put an end to your breast milk production and need it to dry up, the guidelines above will help you dry up your milk fast.