Breastfeeding

How to Get Rid of Breast Milk if Not Breastfeeding

Women have several reasons why they want to get rid of breast milk. Some do it for convenience, others do it out of sheer necessity.

Drying up your breast milk, sometimes called lactation suppression could also be a result of weaning. Other women may want to discontinue breastfeeding because of another pregnancy, and so on.

Regardless of the reason behind your decision to close off breast milk supply, your mind is made up. What you need is a proven set of solutions to get that milk dried up in record time. Through this post, you get all the information you need and much more.

Breast Milk 101: How Lactation Works

Prolactin is a hormone responsible for the production of breast milk.

Mothers nursing their babies, stimulating their nipples, or using breast pumps produce more prolactin over time. More prolactin production translates to more milk, which could lead to engorgement if not addressed.

However, mothers that do not breastfeed or stimulate their nipples will secrete lesser prolactin over time. The prolactin-inhibiting factor helps dry breast milk when no stimulation takes place.

Generally, it takes about one to two weeks postpartum (after delivery) to stop secreting prolactin. But this timeline can only work for women who haven’t breastfed at all. In most of these women, engorged breasts will be common for most of the hormone-balancing period. 

Lactation  Suppression – What Determines When Your Breast Milk Supply Will End?

Numerous factors will determine the time it takes your breast milk to stop flowing. Time is a major element, but other factors like your baby’s age, your milk production potential, etc. influence your effort.

If you don’t want to breastfeed your baby at all (even if it isn’t advisable), going cold turkey is best. Within a few days, your milk flow may cease, but you may experience some engorgement first.

It may take some moms several weeks or up to two months to stop breast milk flow. Other moms may ‘leak’ milk for months, even after suppressing lactation.

What Could Happen to Nursing Mothers Who Plan to Stop Their Breast Milk Flow without a Solid Solution?

Clogged ducts

One or multiple transporting ducts could become clogged during lactation. When clogging happens, a lump (or more than one lump) forms. Since there is no passage, pain could easily develop along with intense soreness.

Rather than try unproven lactation suppression methods, take professional advice to heart and read relevant medically reviewed publications.

Engorgement

Using unproven methods to reduce lactation has more effects on your breasts more than any other body part. Engorgement is a common symptom of breastfeeding among nursing mothers. But intense engorgement could be a result of stifling your milk flow the wrong way.

Mastitis

Nursing mothers who plan to decrease their flow of milk could engage in crude methods, like binding for example. Harsh treatment of your breasts could cause an infection called mastitis.

Mastitis results in intense breast inflammation, which could in turn cause more severe health issues.

Avoid any procedures that won’t put care for your breasts first. Your body might react unexpectedly, and there’s a high chance of intense pain developing too. 

Let-down

Milk let-down is a common occurrence when nursing mothers do something wrong about their lactating flow. Two of the most common events that can cause let-down are super-engorgement and a hot bath.

A super-engorgement means mothers allow the milk build-up in their breasts to continue unabated. When the milk fills up to a particular level, it has to let out some excess to give room for more.

One of the easiest ways to handle a super-engorgement is with breast pumps. Also, it is advised to wear a firm bra when you feel super-engorged.

If you plan to adopt quick lactation, taking a hot bath could be a catalyst. But in some mothers, a hot bath could trigger excess flow.

Moms need to consider how using wrong methods might impact their health.

Common Reasons Why Moms May Want to Cut Off Their Breast Milk Supply

Surrogacy

If you had a baby for someone and don’t plan to nurse the baby, lactating has to end, and fast!

Medical reasons

Nursing mothers with severe health challenges and on medications may be advised to abstain from breastfeeding.

Illness

Sick babies may benefit from breastfeeding, but not in every case. Sometimes, teething and other infant conditions may make it difficult for babies to consume breast milk.

Underproduction

Not having enough milk could cause discomfort in some nursing mothers. When your baby cannot get nutrition from your breasts, even after medical advice, it becomes easier to consider stopping lactation.

Extensive workload

Busy mothers may not fancy breastfeeding for long, or at all for that matter. Moms with such a ginormous workload are more prone to initiate lactation suppression.

Career moms, especially women in large organizations, may not find maintain a work-life balance easy. So, many moms resort to cutting off lactating altogether, using a nurse or supplemental feeding instead.

Stress

Moms stressed out by their busy schedule, whether career or home moms, may cut off breastfeeding. If babies begin having a go at your nipples for fun, for example, it may be unbearable to continue.

Life-threatening pregnancies

Some moms with serious health conditions while pregnant may be advised by medical practitioners to discontinue breastfeeding.

Best Ways to Dry Up Breast Milk

1. Cabbage leaves

Regular use of cabbage leaves could help suppress the breasts ability to produce milk. Even if cabbage leaves don’t have comprehensive scientific research backing, long-term use may prove effective in reducing excess flow.

Besides being an ideal fix to help dry breast milk, cabbage leaves are effective against engorgement. Some mothers prefer using cabbage leaves after washing. But best cabbage leaves results are served cold.

Follow the steps below to use cabbage leaves for more effective breast milk reduction:

  • Wash green cabbage leaves after taking them apart
  • Refrigerate leaves for about 3 – 8hrs, or as you prefer if you can regulate your refrigerator to chill only
  • Take one leaf each, placing across your breasts before putting a bra on
  • After leaves begin to wilt, swap as desired

Early breastfeeding, particularly in the first few weeks could be painful when the milk ‘comes in’. Cabbage leaves could help ease engorgement issues and reduce swelling after giving birth.

2. Herbal solutions

When it’s time for weaning, herbs like sage could be effective against breast milk flow. Even with limited research, several moms keep trying herbs like sage peppermint, parsley, and jasmine to help dry milk flow. 

Most herbs with milk reduction potential could sell as a tea or tincture. Herbal pills are also common. Before trying any herbal medications, consult a health care practitioner. Herbs are considered medications for treating several health issues and may have side effects.

Before trying any herbal medication, health information from qualified individuals helps drive your decision.

3. Birth control medication

Medically reviewed research backs some birth control pills to discontinue breast milk flow.

4. Vitamin B

Women who have not breastfed their baby yet can stifle lactating flow with increased thiamine (Vitamin B-1), cobalamin (Vitamin B-12), and pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6).

According to a study, mothers will likely experience no side effects. It is important to seek information from a healthcare professional before consuming high vitamin B doses. 

5. Cold Turkey

Going cold turkey is a proven method to reduce the flow of breast milk from lactating mothers. But for this method to yield desired results, you need to add some extra stuff. Everything you need to do for a quick cold turkey is explained below:

Ice packs

Even if there are no medically reviewed articles on ice packs alone, several moms have used it to great effect. Most women use ice packs together with medications to prevent inflammation and pain. Engorgement and prolactin secretion will reduce over time with the regular use of ice.

Breast pumps

Mothers experiencing engorgement will benefit from a breast pump. When you plan to stop your milk flow, draining a small amount with a breast pump could prove effective.

Besides being effective against engorgement, pumping a small amount could help dry milk from the breasts in time.

Be careful when engaging this method, as your body could misinterpret the express aid and still keep pumping milk. Periodic pumping of the milk is advised. In most cases, medical health professionals will advise you to use these pumps only when necessary.

6.     Sudafed

Commonly sold as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug, pseudoephedrine, or Sudafed helps reduce secretions.

If you’re trying to reduce your breast milk flow, Sudafed medications could do the trick.  The drug was created as a cold symptom alleviator. But its high action against secretions gave it a choice status among moms keen to suppress lactations.

Some studies have shown Sudafed could reduce breast fluid flows by a quarter.

Even with such attendant benefits, Sudafed could still come with side effects. It is legal in some states and banned in others. Consider contacting your doctor if Sudafed is legal for suppressing lactations and if you can buy it OTC.

7.     Supportive bra

Whether you choose cabbage leaves, cold turkey, or any other way, a firm bra is king. A firm bra provides better support against lactations, particularly when you’re dealing with engorged breasts.

Ways to NOT Dry Up Breast Milk

Some of these proven methods have led women to deprive themselves of pleasures, punish themselves, and even give birth without planning! Check them out below:

  • Restricting fluid intake

Not taking water has nothing to do with stopping your breasts from flowing. Consider taking your regular amount of fluids each day and use proven methods instead.

  • Pregnancy

Multiple unproven theories about pregnancy stifling lactating hormones in mothers have proven untrue.

So, if you’re planning to stop that flow by having another baby, know that it’s not going to work. Getting pregnant may change the taste of your flow, but it doesn’t go farther than that.

  • Breasts binding

Anyone who tells you to bind your breasts to dry milk as quickly as possible doesn’t like you. Many mothers have used the binding method for years, and some still see it as an express milk dry solution.

But in reality, it is NOT the way to go.

Besides a real chance of pain and swelling, binding your breasts could lead to a breast infection. Other effects from using the technique involve a high chance of breast engorgement and significant, sometimes long-term pain.

Binding your breasts may also cause let-down.

How to Treat Blocked Ducts at Home

Step 1: Warmth

When you notice any of your lactating ducts are blocked, warmth is an effective way to clear the blockage. Taking a warm bath with your breasts facing the showerhead for about 5 – 10 minutes is a good start.

After the warm bath, dip a piece of cloth in warm water, pressing it onto areas where lumps may be. If there is no lactating flow after these, progress to the next step

Step 2: Express

Pumping your flow by hand may take longer, especially if pain is an issue at the moment. Breast pumps are ideal fixes, helping to avoid pain while aiding faster drying. Try using breast pumps for as long as you can to express more flow from your body.

To avoid doing it too much, it could help to seek medical guidance on how much pumping you can take.

However, if no flow is observed at this stage, the next option reveals the correct steps to take.

Step 3: Light massages

Besides aiding a better flow, light massages help reduce pain and may help against clogged ducts on their own.

Gently massage your breasts, working from the sides while trying to avoid your nipples, especially if they hurt.

Use cold packs as supports if there is a sign of inflation across your breasts. You can also use anti-inflammatory medication based on a doctor’s prescription only.

Are There Any Side Effects to Stopping Breast Milk Supply?

It’s not all roses when you plan to dry up your milk. Besides significant, sometimes painful hormonal imbalances, other side effects accompany stifling milk production. The most common side effects are:

Bumps in fertility

Ovulation is less likely to happen among breastfeeding mothers. While breastfeeding supports the production of certain hormones, like prolactin, for instance, it suppresses others.

Most hormones that encourage ovulation are likely to return within six weeks after breast milk supply dries up.

Mothers planning to have another baby soon after they dry up breast milk may not consider this a side effect.

Depression-inducing inhibitions

Prolactin is a by-product of breast milk production. Ideal amounts of this hormone make breastfeeding manageable. Some reports also tag prolactin as a proponent of increased relaxation in breastfeeding mothers.

Oxytocin deficiencies are common in most moms that opt to stop their milk supply prematurely. Stopping breast milk may come with some tough adjustments, as bonding with your newborn may be harder going forward.

Reduction of diet

Most moms tend to eat more during lactation – food is important to keep up with feeding your baby. Lactation suppression methods are likely to hurt your diet and milk supply at the same time. 

Fatigue

Hormone re-balancing could cause moms that just stopped breastfeeding to feel fatigued frequently. As we’ve seen above, at least two hormones accompany breast milk production.

Moms are more likely to find previously easy tasks quite hard to finish for up to 5 days or more, depending on the mom. Soon after, when balancing rounds off its cycle, you’ll start feeling much better as you dry up your milk.

Considerable pain could accompany cutting off breast milk supply.

Some women might encounter one or more of the side effects above. But if you have a strong resolve to dry up breast milk, these effects may be comfier to navigate.

However, if side effects you’re feeling don’t seem to be letting up, think about seeing a lactation consultant/doctor.

When Should You Consider Seeing a Doctor?

Non-decline in milk flow for several days

Mothers planning to dry up breast milk may experience several adverse effects, based on their chosen lactation suppression method.

In some cases, breastfeeding mothers may not see a decline in breast milk supply for several days. When the milk supply keeps flowing as normal, think about visiting a lactation consultant.

Consider visiting a lactation consultant or doctor if no results are evident within 10 – 14 days. 

Mastitis development

Several medically reviewed publications outline multiple dangers mastitis pose to lactating mothers.

Talk to your doctor if you start feeling any mastitis symptoms. Most mastitis symptoms are easy to spot as they occur on the breasts often.

Even if you don’t know what those symptoms are, it’s important to contact a doctor if you feel awful.  Some mastitis infections begin with negligible symptoms like hard breast lumps or a fever. Before it leads to a nasty breast infection, get medical advice ASAP!

Reactions to treatments

As expected, mothers have different bodies that may react in very different ways to breast milk reduction treatments.

Some mothers could experience a quicker milk reduction than expected. In some cases, a mother’s milk supply may cease within a day or two. If you’re wary of any effects to future lactation, consult a doctor.

Besides rapid cessation of breast milk supply, some mothers could get nasty rashes from medication. Others could come down hard with a fever, feel dizzy, have several nausea bouts, or vomit regularly.

If you begin noticing any adverse symptoms from engaging drugs to control milk supply, visit a doctor.

Self-harm thoughts

Medically reviewed publications show a stark drop in hormonal balances when women stifle breastfeeding in an instant.

Using pharmaceutical means to stop milk may have a harsher effect on some mothers. In other cases, the reverse could happen. Nursing mothers who do not get the results they seek may resort to self-harm.

See a doctor immediately if you begin getting frustrated over how the milk reduction process is going.

FAQs

How long does it take for milk to dry up if not breastfeeding?

The time it takes for milk to dry up will vary from mother to mother. Several factors like a baby’s age, parity status (how many children a woman has), etc. affect breast milk-production timelines.

How do you dry up your breast milk?

  • Reducing breast stimulation,
  • Limiting the use of breast pumps,
  • Stopping breastfeeding (plain cold-turkey or assisted lactation suppression)
  • Using estrogen-laced birth control pills (after advice from a qualified health practitioner)
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Vitamin B (mostly for women who haven’t breastfed at all)

Can you still produce milk if you are not breastfeeding?

It is possible for mothers to produce milk, even when they are not breastfeeding. Abstinence from breastfeeding and non-stimulation of nipples are regarded as quick ways to stop milk production. Medically reviewed publications also advise breast pumps, painkillers, and other aids along with cold turkey milk-reduction methods.

Takeaways

Correct medical advice is important to avoid issues when you plan to stop nursing your baby. The right medical advice provides correct information and helps decrease lactating flow as you desire.

Before getting professional advice, some considerations are very important. Your baby may not react well to your cutting his/her milk supply. A higher amount of nutrition supplemental feeding may not provide everything breast milk contains.

Also, it may be difficult for your baby to adjust to the new status right away. Try methods that help reduce the milk flow when it’s close to weaning if you can. After weaning, you could try easier methods to reduce the flow, since you’re no longer nursing

If you currently experience pain during breastfeeding and don’t feel comfortable, drying your milk supply is best for everyone. If you’re not happy, there’s no way your baby will be. 

Pain and discomfort from breastfeeding could make a smooth weaning process impossible. Bonding between baby and mother could happen over time, even if nursing isn’t involved.

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