Eventually, you will need to dry up breast milk after breastfeeding your baby for some time. In some countries like Singapore, most doctors will not prescribe medicine to stop breast from producing milk as available medicine usually have some undesirable side effects. Many nursing mothers, therefore, learn to suppress the breast milk production naturally.
Dry up breast milk - wean gradually
Whenever possible, try to wean gradually. The process may be painful if you wean suddenly. Weaning suddenly can also put mothers at risk for breast engorgement and mastitis.
Dry up breast milk - express for comfort
Each time, just pump or express sufficient milk to prevent pain or from feeling swollen. When there is some milk in the breast, your body will react naturally by slowing down the milk synthesis. Gradually, you should reduce the number of times of pumping/breastfeeding and duration of each session.
Dry up breast milk - wear cold cabbage leaves in your bra
Although no scientific evidence has been provided, cabbage leaves have been used by women in many cultures to relieve engorgement and suppress breast milk production.
Wash, dry and cool the leaves in the fridge before placing the leaves inside your bra. Change the leaves every couple of hours and continue to use them until your breasts stop feeling full.
Dry up breast milk - use cold packs for pain relief
Ice packs, gel pack, cold compresses or a frozen bag of peas can help to relieve pain and reduce any swelling or engorgement.
Dry up breast milk - food that can help to decrease breast milk
According to Dr. Sears, parsley is a diuretic, it decreases the amount of breast milk produced by decreasing the amount of water in your body.
Reported on La Leche League, food like peppermint may also help to reduce milk production.
Dry up breast milk - outdated practice to be avoided
Do not bind your breast. This old-folks practice may, in fact, increase your pain and does not help to stop the milk production.
It makes mothers very uncomfortable and could increase the risk of blocked ducts or mastitis.
How long will it take for the breast milk to dry up?
Different mothers will different experience in drying up their breast milk. Many needs weeks to stop the breast milk production. Some may be lucky and just take a few days for the breast to stop producing milk. The following can affect the duration of this process:
(a)Age of your baby
(b)Amount of milk you are making now. The more you are making now, in general, the longer it will take.
Dry up breast milk - watch out for engorgement, blocked milk duct or mastitis
Breast engorgement is a condition in which the nursing mother’s breasts are painfully overfull with breast milk.
Australian Breastfeeding Association suggest you express all the milk in the breasts just once with an electric breast pump when engorgement occurs.
Blocked milk duct occurs when the flow of breast milk is obstructed. The obstruction may be in nipple pore or further back in the ductal system. A blocked duct usually comes on gradually and affects only one breast.
Breast milk secreted will continue to build up behind the blockage. As a result, a lump will form and your breast begins to feel sore. Your breast may become engorged in one area and might also look red.
If left untreated, a blocked duct can evolve into mastitis which is a more serious problem during breastfeeding.
Symptoms of blocked milk duct include the following:
1. a hard lump or wedge-shaped area of engorgement that's sore to the touch or a very tender spot in your breast
3. a hot sensation or swelling that may feel better after nursing.
When to see doctor for help?
Consult your doctor straight away if you have a fever, feeling unwell, or if you cannot clear a blocked duct within 12 hours or the swelling becomes very serious.