Lactation Suppression: How to Stop Breast Milk Production Safely?

If possible every mothers would want to breastfeed their babies as long as they could but sometime certain circumstance force you to stop. It’s often a mixture of bittersweet and dilemma moment. While at one hand filled with joy of being able to enjoy all kind of foods and drinks, and go any place you want but on the other hand you are sad by losing those bonding moments between you and your little girl while you’re breast feeding her. Nevertheless, as much as we love it, all has come to an end. For many this can be a straightforward decision, while for others is a tough decision to make.

No matter what's the reason, breastfeeding is undoubtedly an accomplishment you ought to be proud of regardless of the length of time, whether or not it has been a week or a couple of years. It is the most beautiful gifts you have ever gave to your baby. Now let's us look into how to stop breast milk production is a stress-free way.

How Did Your Body Produce Milk?

To know how to stop breast milk production, first we must understand how our body produces milk. Every mother will produce milk for their newborn babies and milk production starts right after conception. Once you delivered your baby and the placenta sheds, your body will start to adjust to this new environment and begins to produce milk to feed your baby. This is made possible because your body produces a hormone known as, prolactin and it's this hormone that helps your body to produce milk.

The more frequently you nurse the more prolactin is release and your body will continue to produce more milk. If you're not breastfeeding or pumping your milk frequently, your body will start to readjust and release another hormone known as ‘prolactin inhibiting factor’ or PIF. This hormone will inform your body you won’t be needing breast milk and it will “dry up" your milk supplies at some point. As long as you has demand for the milk, your body will continue to supply.

How Long Does It Need For Breast Milk to Dry Out?

Should you keep from nursing your little one or pumping your milk, the body system usually requires 7 to 10 days following your baby is born to be able to balance the hormone levels back to pre-pregnancy state, however, it may take a month or more for it all to be gone. The first couple of weeks you may feel very uncomfortable especially when your breast is full and sometime engorge. So, some occasional mood swing is expected.

This can be painful and you may want to pump out the milk. It's important to do this carefully or otherwise you might stimulate for more milk production. As each pregnancy is different, while some can stop milk production within a short time period and others can be a drag. So make sure to discuss with your love ones so that they can understand what you are going through and support you in this challenging time.

How to Stop Breast Milk Production Safely?

Once you have established your milk supplies, it's never a good idea to abruptly wean your milk productions as it can cause great discomfort to your body. Your breasts will keep on produce milk for some time, and if some of the milk isn’t pumped out, you could become engorged, and possible lead to mastitis. While the less you demand for your breast milk, you will experience a sudden drop in prolactin levels, which can make your mood to swing and depression as well.

Knowing how to stop breast milk production is important but doing it right is the key to suppress lactation stress-free. Do not rush for it and take one step at a time. Here are a few tips that can help you to relieve your discomforts, and prevent potential complications while you working your way to stop breast milk production.

Don’t Bind Your Breasts

Breast binding is really an outdated approach that is certainly no longer encouraged as it will make you very uncomfortable. Some cases can lead to plugged milk ducts and mastitis. Instead, wear a supportive sport bra will do a better job. If you have leaking milk, use breast pads to soak up the leaking and change them once they are wet.

Never Wean Abruptly

Gradually reduce the feeding time daily (Eg: from 2 to 1). This gradual reduction will give your body to slowly adept to the new environment and gradually reduce the breast milk production. Never put a hard stop to breast milk production as it can cause a lot of stress to you physically and mentally.

The following is a recommended schedule for weaning from feedings or pumping:

  • Day One: pump for 5min every 2-3 hours
  • Day Two: pump for 5min every 4-5 hours
  • Day Three to Seven: pump just long enough to ease the discomfort; pump less than 5min.

Use Cold Cabbage

Cabbage inside bra

It may sound funny but raw cabbage leaves are naturally great for easing the soreness as well as inflammation of engorgement. This home remedy was used for many years for the pain alleviation of engorged breasts and is famous home remedy among the Chinese community.

To use it, refrigerated the cabbage until it is cool. Then carefully tear the cabbage and place each flap inside the bra cup. If the cabbage is small, place a few flaps so it can cover majority of your breast. If the cabbage veins make you uncomfortable, be sure to remove them. Replace the cabbage once they wilt. However, if you've a sulfa or cabbage allergy do not use this method.

Drink Sage Tea

It's said that sage tea will helps in stopping milk production. Sage tea contain a natural form of estrogen that can help to reduce your milk supply. You may want to try sage tea in one of these two types:

Sage Tea - You can buy sage tea at any natural and health food stores. Brew it according to instructions which usually can be found along the packaging. If you cannot stand the bitterness of sage tea then add some honey and milk for flavor.

Sage Tincture - If you do not take tea, then you can buy sage tincture at natural and health grocery stores. Get the type which is sage oil mixed in a base of alcohol. People say that sage tincture works more effectively for breast milk drying than just drinking the sage tea.

So, go ahead and try both types and see which one works for you. Also, remember to drink whenever you feel thirsty as taking less fluid will not going to help in reducing your milk supply.

Use Cold Compresses

Cold pack for breast

While cold cabbage leaves make great cold compresses but you can also use a soft gel cool packs to help with breast swelling too. Place the cool gel pack on your breast area for approximately 20min. Apply the cold pack whenever necessary throughout the day.

You should not apply the cold pack directly to your breast though. Wrap it up with a tower to avoid ice burn on the skin. While some people might recommend you to use heat, but a hot pack will not help to relieve discomfort. Instead, heat may cause milk ‘to let’ down and squirt from the nipples, further increasing your milk supply.

Take Some Pain Reliever

If you’re experiencing great discomfort from breast swelling, you can take some pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with the pain.

While some mothers claimed that vitamin B6 helps your body to stop producing plasma prolactin, this is what causes mothers to produce breast milk. However, there are no relevant medical data to support such claim though. So, go ahead any try with vitamin B6. But if it doesn't help, don't worry as vitamin B6 is important for healthy hair, skin, liver, and eyes too.

Seek Out For Medical Help

In severe cases, speak to your gynecology about estrogen injections. However such treatment have fallen out of favor as such treatment can cause side effect like cancer.

For mothers that consistently having problem with lactation suppression, speak to your doctor about taking medications like bromocriptine (Parlodel). However, it's very unlikely for doctor to recommend taking Parlodel due to this medicine can increase the possibility of hypertension, stroke, and heart attack. In short, only use medication as a last resort when all above failed.

More Tips

  • When your breast is full, pump out some of the milk to relieve discomfort is fine. Just make sure you do not over stimulate, otherwise it will lead to increase milk production. Also, when you take hot shower, make sure not to direct the hot shower onto your breast as this will make you milk ‘let down’ and increase milk production too.
  • Do not stimulate the area around your nipple as it may trigger your hormones to keep producing milk. So, if you are having some sexy time with your husband, just let him know that your breast is temporary off limit.

I'm Not Nursing. Will My Breast Milk Dry Out by Itself?

Yes, but it'll require a 7 to 10 days before your body to get the message and start to slow down the milk production and eventually stop. As mammals, women are biologically designed to produce milk for his or her offspring. This process begins right after your pregnancy. You've probably noticed your breasts starting to secrete colostrum (early breast milk) from sixteen weeks of being pregnant onward. You will start producing breast milk once you delivered the baby as the placenta will send a message to your body to initiate this process.

So, whether you plan on nursing or not, your body will definitely produce breast milk. So, if you're not breastfeeding or pumping, it normally take about 7 to 10 days right after delivery to go back to a non-pregnant/non-lactating hormonal level.

Where to Donate Breast Milk?

If you have lost a baby and would like to donate the milk you express during this period, or any of you might have extra, you're welcome to contact one of the milk banks around the country. These non-profit organizations provide milk for sick or premature infants whose mothers find it difficult to provide milk for the children.

All donors are based on volunteer basis. However, the milk bank will pay for run test to ensure that the donor’s milk is safe to be taken by infants as well as the processing and shipping of the milk to the milk bank.

Currently there are 20 milk banks in the US, so not all mothers will have access to this option. Before you can buy any human milk from the milk bank, you need to see a doctor to get a prescription before the purchase. Your doctor will need to verify if you are eligible to buy milk from the milk bank. The price is approximately $5/ounce, inclusive shipping fees and your insurance might cover for this cost. Do check out with them.

For more information, visit the website for the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) for a list of milk banks in your area.

Other than milk bank, there are also other community setup websites to discuss on human milk sharing. For more information, do visit Eats On Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies.

Social platform like Facebook offer a supportive community for mothers who have lost their babies due to unfortunate events. Two of the best are Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss, and Compassionate Friends.

Let’s Work Together and ‘Pay it Forward’

Now you know a ton of information on how to stop breast milk production safely. And if you found any of the information in this article, helpful, please share it out with others that might be interested to learn about this too. It’s only by sharing and caring that we can create a better mother’s community and help each other out. Let me know if I miss out any other information that you think I should include in this article. Until then, see you and as always, stay AWESOME mommies!

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