It is common for mothers who experience loss to want to dry up milk fast. Even though, others may want to stop breastfeeding for medical and cosmetic reasons.
Whichever the case, it is important that you choose safe and gradual methods to dry up breast milk, without harming your health in the course.
How soon can I dry my breast milk?
How long does it take to dry breast milk completely? Milk production is a process, and once it is well established, it may take time to stop.
After birth your breasts quickly fill with milk, you may feel a lot of discomfort and pain in case you choose not to breastfeed.
Each woman’s body is unique, but one sure thing is that for you to dry up milk, you may need to take it slow so that your body adjusts well to stop producing milk.
Unless you are forced by circumstances you should aim at breastfeeding your child for the following reasons:
- Breast milk contains all essential nutrients for your baby’s growth and development.
- Breast milk contains antibodies which help your baby develop a healthy immunity against diseases.
- Breastfeeding time is always time for mother-child bonding.
How to dry up milk the right way
There are several ways to dry up breast milk. However, some of the methods may pose a risk to your health. It is important to follow tested and recommended ways to dry up your breast milk.
1. Take time to wean off completely
You should not wake up one day and decide you will not be breastfeeding. Weaning should be a gradual process.
This way the body is introduced to milk suppression mode, hence helping you dry breast milk without any related pain.
The best way to wean gradually is as follows:
First and second day:
Breastfeed twice in a day and pump out milk for 5 minutes four hourly.
Breastfeed once and pump out breast milk after every 3 hours.
Second to the seventh day
Pump whenever you feel breast fullness and pain.
2 Use Cabbage
Cabbage is an ancient remedy known for soothing engorged breasts. Breast engorgement occurs when the breast tissue is filled with milk, which eventually causes pain and discomfort.
Here is how to use cabbage leaves as a natural way of relieving inflammation in the course of drying breast milk.
- Clean 2-4 leaves of cabbage with plenty of clean water
- Dry the leaves or wipe them
- Place the leaves in the refrigerator for around 30 minutes
- Remove the hard outer vein from each leaf and pound
- Wrap the leaf around the breast excluding the areolar and the nipple
- Change the leaves after every half an hour or as soon as you the leaves wilt.
- Repeat the above procedure twice daily to dry breast milk quickly.
2. Sage tea
Sage tea is another natural way to reduce and dry up breast milk fast. It contains estrogens that help decrease and deplete milk supply completely.
Sage tea can be found at the spice store at an affordable price. Here is how to use sage tea to dry up milk fast:
- Boil a glass of water
- Add one tablespoon of sage into the boiled water
- Cover the mixture until warm
- You may consider adding honey because it is quite bitter
- Drink this remedy three times daily for about one week to dry up breast milk.
3. Ice packs
Just like cabbage leaves, ice packs help soothe irritated breast tissue hence relieving the pain. Ice packs help numb the milk ducts, therefore, reducing the volume of milk being stimulated.
Do as follows in order to suppress milk production:
- Prepare a clean, dry cotton towel
- Wrap 2-3 medium-sized ice cubes
- Apply the ice packs of each breast alternatively, keeping the ice pack each breast at least 10-20 minutes
- Repeat the procedure twice daily to help suppress milk production.
Are there medications to dry up breast milk?
Earlier on there were plenty of medications for drying up breast milk. However, due to the side effects related to such drugs, they are no longer recommended.
It is important that you visit your doctor to discuss on using the oral contraceptive pill which is sometimes prescribed to dry up milk. Therefore, do not take any medication for this purpose before visiting or consulting your doctor
Other tips to help you dry up breast milk
Besides the remedies above, here are other valuable tips to help you suppress milk:
- Consult your doctor about taking vitamin B6. It helps with breast engorgement
- Reduce salt intake. Salt can retain water, therefore making your breasts more edematous.
- Do not bind your breasts. Breast binding is likely to increase your risk of developing mastitis (breast infection) and duct blockage.
- Wear supportive bras, to help reduce the mobility of your breasts hence reduce the pain.
- Wear fitting bras. Tight bras stimulate milk production and encourage engorgement.
- Try anti-inflammatory drugs to help ease the pain as a result of pumping or engorgement. However, always consult with your doctor before taking any medication.
The process of drying milk might lead to undesirable results. For this reason, it is important to know when to call or visit your doctor. Here is what to watch out for:
Mastitis is a term used to refer to inflammation of breast tissue as a result of an infection. The common symptoms include:
- Breast swelling
- Chills and fevers
- Mild to severe pain in the breast
- Breast tenderness
Mastitis is a serious condition that often is as a result of bacterial entry into the breast tissue through the nipple cracks. To prevent such, pump as indicated to help reduce breast milk stasis.
2. Blocked ducts
Clogged ducts occur when you are not emptying the breasts properly. Sudden weaning is the leading cause of duct blockage.
Similarly, a duct may get blocked as a result of an ill-fitting bra, which often compresses it. Blocked ducts often lead to mastitis.
Milk may take up to some weeks before drying up completely. However here is what you need to know:
- Your baby will try breastfeeding if you happen to hold him/her against the breasts. Try and hold your baby differently. Do not give in to your baby’s demands, try to create as many distractors a possible
- Expect to return to fertility 8 weeks after your breast milk dries up. It simply means that you could be pregnant again. Therefore it is advisable to use a contraceptive until your baby is fully grown
- Spend enough time with your baby to continue creating a bond. Do not ignore the baby just because you are not breastfeeding anymore.
SOURCES AND REFERENCES:
- Weaning; tips for breastfeeding mothers (June 2014): http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/weaning/art-20048440
- Labor and delivery, post-partum care (May 2015): http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/expert-answers/lactation-suppression/faq-20058016
- Breastfeeding; First 3 weeks: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/breastfeeding-the-first-weeks