Stop Lactation – 5 Ways to Reduce Milk Supply
Most women may dread the word weaning, but they get scared more often at the thought that they have to stop lactating for them to stop breastfeeding. It follows the natural order of things – when baby weans, he will take to breast milk less; hence, your breast milk would stop production.
Reducing your milk supply however, allows your body to have certain changes take place. To stop breastfeeding or even milk expressing cold turkey is not a wise idea. Gradual stopping is recommended. This will make your body adapt easier, you are less likely to develop mastitis (inflammation of the breast due to calcified dried-up milk in the milk ducts), and you won’t experience a drastic hormonal change which may lead to mood changes (including depression), and in rare cases, PPD (or post-partum depression).
Here are 5 tips to help make your stop-lactating program successful and pain-free:
Do not bind your breasts. This was practiced by our grandmothers in their time – one that is very outdated and medically speaking, very unsafe. This may lead to a plugged milk duct, or worse, breast infection. Always wear a comfortable, all-cotton bra with support but not too constricting so as to let your breasts “breathe”.
Gradually eliminate one breastfeeding/pumping session at a time. It’s just like when you are weaning your child from breastfeeding – if he has 5 to 6 feedings in a day, eliminate one at a time, starting with the least favorite feed of the day, until you are left with morning and evening feeds. Then the day will come that you will be left with no more breastfeeding sessions, and your child has been successfully weaned off of breastfeeding. Stopping breast milk supply is parallel to that too. If you have excessive milk at times, express only when necessary and do not empty the breast– you need the body to figure out that breast milk demand is lesser now so the supply should decrease as well. Don’t worry; eventually your body will take the hint and start producing less milk.
If you cannot take the pain, take something for it. There are medicine pain relievers that are safe to take while you are nursing, such as acetominophen and ibuprofen. However, it would still be a good idea to ask your health care provider or doctor about it, especially if you tend to develop allergic reactions to medicine.
Cold compresses, also to help relieve pain. Some women claim that ice packs applied directly on the breast can help relieve pain. A bag of frozen peas does the same thing too. But most women are now turning to their greens – cold cabbage leaf compresses is a good treatment for moderate to severe engorgement of the breasts and is used to effectively (and eventually) stop milk production. It is also said (although no further studies have been made to repudiate or acknowledge the claim) that there are enzymes in the cabbage leaf that contribute to the stoppage of milk. Whatever you use, these cold compresses can be applied either at least four times a day or as needed.
Take some tea. Some herbs are responsible for safely reducing breast milk production and can be taken a couple of times a day. Sage, spearmint and/or peppermint tea should be taken a cup each for about 5 to 6 times a day. Chickweed, lemon balm, sorrel, yarrow and oregano have essential oils that can be used as massage oils for the breast to relieve pain and discomforts.
Mothers are often afraid of the consequences of stopping breast milk. As long as you do it gradually and safely, then there is absolutely no reason to fear.