Every breastfeeding mother comes to a point where she is faced with having to wean her baby. It’s often a bittersweet moment. One filled with joy of being able to eat, drink whatever, and go wherever you want…but also one of sadness as you may be mourning the loss of those quiet special moments between you and your baby, and that special time of closeness and bonding you shared. Alas, all things come to an end. For some women this will be an easy decision, for others a hard one, and for even some a decision they medically didn’t have a say in. Whatever the reason, breastfeeding is an accomplishment you should be proud of no matter the length of time, whether it was 1 week or 2 years. You did a wonderful thing for you and your baby. So now that the time has come let me walk you through how to dry up your milk supply. The process seems odd, but it works.
I never recommend going cold turkey. Your breasts and your baby wont be happy! I would try, if possible, to start cutting out a feeding session and replacing it with a bottle of either expressed breast milk, formula, or cows milk if over 12 months. This will allow your cellular breast tissue to gradually realize what’s happening and avoid you become severely engorged. However, If the gradual weaning process isn’t right for you, and you want to quit cold turkey, then here are the steps to follow:
- During the drying up stage, very important to NOT stimulate your breasts with a pump or massage. This will only make the breasts think it needs to produce more
- Buy a head of green cabbage and keep it in the refrigerator to keep it cold and fresh. Peel off 2 leaves, crush them with a rolling pin to break up the enzymes, then place one leaf on each breast, inside a well fitting bra. (I know that sounds really weird….but cabbage when placed topically secretes enzymes that dry up the production of milk. It works)
- Replace the cabbage leaves when they become wilted with fresh ones from the fridge. Be sure to do this for 24-48 hours.
- Wear a tight fitting bra such as a sports bra
- Use ice packs to bring down the swelling of the breast tissue if you become severely engorged
- Peppermint essential oil capsules. Some whole food stores also sell peppermint oil capsules, but any essential oil from a respected company is the best. Ingest a pellet/capsule every hour. Or you can buy some peppermint Altoids, and eat one Altoids every hour (you don’t have to wear those!) The strong peppermint will lower the milk supply. Peppermint tea works nicely as well.
- Sage tea will also help in drying up your milk, or eating parsley salads.
- In severe cases, decongestants such as sudafed or anti-histamines such as Benedryl may be helpful, but this should be done under the care of your physician. Breasts are mucus membranes and will respond to the “drying out” method these drugs produce.
If for some reason these steps are not working, then contact a Lactation Consultant, such as myself for further guidance. You may smell like peppermint coslaw for a few days, but in the end your breasts will be happier that you chose not to just abandon them through this process. Best of luck!
Copyright© 2011 Danielle Gauss – JustBreastFeeding.com. All Rights Reserved.
I just launched my new Breastfeeding Video Series and book, The Booby Fairy's Guide To Breastfeeding. If you enjoyed this post, then I predict you will love the book and the video series. Please check them out.