Milk production is tricky business. For some women, beginning breastfeeding can be challenging. At some point, the mother might have had to google tutorial after tutorial on how to increase breastmilk supply or how to get a proper latch. With enough time and patience, most women may be able to find just the right methods to get the milk flowing.
However, it seems that breastfeeding is one of those things that once the mother starts she just can’t stop. Or, at least, it’s not that easy to stop. This can be problematic at times. After all, there are many reasons why a mother might want to stop. She might be going back to work or school. She might need to stop for medical reasons. Or perhaps she figures that it’s time to wean the little one off mom’s milk.
The trouble with this is that once the milk production is on a roll, stopping can equate to lots of breast pain. Chances are that the mother might get a plugged duct during the process. In the worst of cases, she might get painful mastitis. This can make stopping breastmilk a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.
Fortunately, however, there are plenty of tricks to help ease out the milk supply. We’ve listed fifteen of these milk-halting tricks to help you out. We’d love to know which of these tricks are most effective for mothers, so do leave us a comment! If mothers have any other effective tricks to stop milk supply, please do also share.
15 The Slow Stop
While a mother might think that the milk supply will go down naturally, after all, this may not be the case. Sometimes a woman has to make a deliberate effort to wean the little one of the breast. For most women, the best option is to do the slow stop. This method is the best to ensure that the baby has time to adjust to the weaning process, and so that the woman has a lesser chance of getting mastitis and other problems as well.
Doing this is pretty simple: just have a time frame and then decrease both the duration and gap between feeding times in small increments. It can help to create a rough feeding schedule that’s based on your baby’s current feeding patterns. If, for instance she’s used to feeding every three hours for roughly thirty minutes, try feeding roughly every three and a half hours for twenty-five minutes in the first week and gradually decrease feedings until you’re almost to zero.
14 Tiny Pumps
If a mother runs into painful complications like plugged ducts or mastitis but she still wants to go on weaning, she’ll still want to pump just a little bit to help relieve the pain. This may be difficult as pumping can stimulate milk production but, at the same time, not pumping can make the pain worse. The best thing you can do in this situation is to just pump occasionally, but taking out just as little milk as possible. The amount of milk should be enough to slightly relieve the pressure but not so much that your breasts are triggered to make more of it. This is a great method to use if the baby is already used to drinking out of a bottle when you’re away.
In this case, it may be more effective to get a hand pump rather than an electric one so that to get as little as possible. Alternatively, if the mastitis is particularly bad or painful, the mother might want to reduce pumping times as she would wean the little one off breastfeeding.
One alternative to pumping is hand expression. This allows to take out just a little bit of milk from the breast without the extreme stimulation of pumps or a baby’s mouth. This can be messy, however, so be sure to have a small towel handy to catch any milk that comes out. Again, this is a good option if the baby has already begun bottle feeding.
This can be done by positioning the fingers in a C-shape over the nipple, with the thumb forming the top part of the C and the rest of your fingers forming the bottom part, tucked under your breast. Without causing any friction, push your thumbs and fingers back against your breast and then squeeze forward to milk. Do this a few times, just to make sure that the mother don’t get too engorged. The milk may continue flowing out for a while, even when the mother wants it to stop. In this case, just keep the towel handy to catch the milk but avoid stimulating the breast further.
12 Go Cold Turkey
To ensure an immediate milk stop, some moms opt to go cold turkey. This is often done by taking a short vacation, sometimes a weekend, away from the baby. The abrupt stop in feeding results in a quick drying up of milk. However, this is an approach that is seldom recommended. This can be a reasonable option if a mother needs to stop breastfeeding immediately, perhaps due to going back to work or a medical condition. Still, it’s important to understand the risks so that it can be minimized.
First of all, the mother is more likely to get mastitis this way, especially if she doesn’t intend to even pump during this time. It may help to avoid tight-fitting bras and tops. When trying to sleep, it might help to sleep on the back or on the side to avoid constricting your breasts. Also, ensure the baby is still getting enough love and attention as abrupt weaning can be hard on her.
11 Give Baby More Solid Food
Another surprising method to help decrease your milk supply is to offer the little one more solid food! Of course, this only applies to babies who are at least four months old, although the best time to begin is six months. This is because the fuller the little one is, the less milk she’s likely to drink. And as long as she’s getting adequate nutrition from both breastmilk and food, she’s not likely to get hungrier any sooner.
The trick is to offer the little one solids before offering the breast. It might help to mix breastmilk into the mash or baby food. This is because the baby is attracted to the smell of your breastmilk. She’ll therefore be more responsive to food that smells like it. As the little one eats more and more solids, the mother might find that the milk gradually dries out in the process as well!
10 Take the Pill
One way to bring down the milk supply and to get birth control to boot is to take the pill. Make sure, however, that the mini pill not contains progesterone only, as this is not as effective in suppressing milk production. This is because estrogen, a hormone that is contained in the regular pill can suppress milk production. Granted, progesterone can also help reduce milk production but not to the extent that it can when combined with estrogen.
In fact, it is the drop in these two hormones that triggers milk production after childbirth. It is still important, of course, to take the pills as directed for birth control, even when to so primarily to stop lactation. Start the first pill on the first day of your period, and then do try to take it at the same time each day.
9 Ice, Ice, Baby
When controlling the pain of breast engorgement, moms are usually advised to place heat packs on their breast. However, heat can stimulate the production of milk by dilating blood vessels in the area. One way to work around this is to, instead, put ice packs on the breast. Cold can help relieve breast pain, but it can also cause blood vessels to constrict, reducing milk flow. Make sure to wrap the ice packs in a towel, however, and not to leave them on for more than thirty minutes at a time.
However, it is advisable to avoid ice packs if the mother have a condition known as Raynaud’s of the nipple. This is a condition where the blood vessels of the nipple undergo spasms, causing them to turn white or blue. Exposing the nipples to cold can exacerbate this condition.
8 Sage Tea
One milk-reduction method that many moms swear by is the salvia officinalis or the sage herb. Dried sage is best for this purpose, although fresh leaves can also be used. It can be mixed up in sandwiches and pasta, if desired. Sage is also great with salad and pickles, and is a common addition in meats and sausages as well. However, the most effective way to ensure you’re getting that adequate milk-reduction dosage is sage tea.
Simply steep the dried sage in boiling water for about five to ten minutes. It is advisable to have a cup of this tea for up to six times a day, although someone can have less if the person not in a hurry or if the body responds very well to the tea. This is because sage has tiny amounts of natural estrogen, the very same hormone that can be found in pills. (Although it’s important to note that it’s probably not an effective method of birth control in itself.)
7 Minty Fresh
Yet another herb that can reduce your milk supply is peppermint or menta piperita. Just like sage, peppermint has high levels of plant estrogens and can therefore help dry the breasts out gradually. Some moms keep a tin of peppermint candies close to suck on for milk supply reduction, but the actual amount of herb in these candies is quite small. If you really want to decrease your milk supply significantly, peppermint tea is the way to go.
In this case, it may be worth keeping a peppermint plant if possible. Tea brewed from fresh peppermint leaves is sweet and refreshing, and a great way to help perk you up early in the morning. If this is not doable, however, tea made from dried leaves will do. Peppermint tea is usually safe even when you consume a lot of it. However, if you have heartburn, you might want to go slow on it as peppermint can exacerbate it.
6 Put Jasmine In Your Breast Pads
Jasmine flowers are used in traditional medicine to suppress milk production. However, more studies need to be conducted to confirm their benefits, as well as the components that confer these benefits. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try it out. If anything, it can make the user smell of the sweet, calming fragrance of jasmine in the process too!
Proponents recommend crushing the jasmine flowers and then applying them to the breasts. Mothers can also place the crushed flowers on a breast pad and stick this into the bra for easier cleaning. And since jasmine is generally safe, except for those who are allergic to it, users can go ahead and treat themselves with relaxing jasmine tea as well. Jasmine tea is known to have a mildly sedative effect which can be very calming for those who deal with anxiety. Some studies also show that it can help lower blood cholesterol as well.
5 Cabbage Compress
One strange but surprising trick to decrease milk supply is the cabbage compress. Mothers can do this by placing cabbage leaves in the fridge until they’re cool, and then place some of the leaves in the bra to help relieve engorgement and to decrease milk supply. Studies seem to show that this is mostly because of the cooling effect of the cabbage rather than chemicals in the cabbage itself. This method has an advantage over ice packs, however, in that it won’t cool your breasts abruptly.
One unstudied mechanism that might help with weaning is that using these cabbage compresses can often result in a cooked cabbage-y smell on the breasts. This can be off-putting to some babies and will result in them not being as attracted to the smell as before. If, however, the user gets a rash on the area it has been applied, it might be best to stop it for a bit. It is possible, although very rare, to have a cabbage allergy.
4 Like A B-6
There are a few studies that show that vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine supplementation can help reduce milk supply or, at least, keep the breasts from feeling fuller than usual. This needs to be confirmed by further research. However, it certainly won’t hurt to take a supplement when a mother is trying to wean the baby off the breast. Make sure, however, not to overdo it as it can be neurotoxic in high amounts, causing numbness, mood changes and weakness.
If a mother rather not risk it, it’s useful to know that it’s virtually impossible to overdose on this vitamin when taking it through dietary sources! There are many real treats that are rich in this vitamin. For instance, you might want to bring along a mix of shelled sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, raisins and dried prunes. All the ingredients in this trail mix have plenty of natural vitamin B-6. If you’d rather a main course, choose tuna, turkey or chicken, the meats which have the highest amount of the vitamin.
3 Wear a Sports Bra
Applying a bit of compression over the breasts may help prevent them from overfilling. Some women resort to binding their breasts to do this. However, this is not recommended as increases the risk of mastitis. Binding can also compress the breasts so much that you might significantly reduce blood circulation. A gentler route is wearing a sports bra, which can compress the breasts just enough but won’t completely block out blood supply.
For the initial run, a mother might want to pump her breasts until they’re about halfway empty. She may then put on the sports bra, which should provide a snug but not uncomfortable compression over your boobs. For succeeding pumps, she might then want to pump just enough to make sure she is still comfortable. When combined with a gradual decrease in feedings, the user might be able to go down a cup size or two within a month or so.
2 Antihistamine, Please
If a mother tried everything else but the breasts seem to be just as happy producing milk as they were before, she might want to bring out the big guns! Its advisable to talk to the doctor for a milk-reducing prescription. This is typically an antihistamine, which is a group of medications commonly given to people with allergies. If someone has ever tried an antihistamine before, the person will know that one common side effect is a really dry mouth.
These pills work pretty much the same with yje breasts. Only, they significantly reduce the supply of fluid to your milk-producing glands, which in turn reduce the production of milk. Antihistamines are typically taken once a day. You might want to take the pill at around bedtime, however. This is because antihistamines also often have the side-effect of making you sleepy, or at least a little bit drowsy. Taking one during the day may therefore cause you to lose focus, which is not good when at work or school and downright dangerous when driving.
1 Timing the Halt
While doing the slow stop, a mom might be wondering when she is ready to completely cease breastfeeding or pumping. One guideline is that when the breasts feel soft for more than a day with minimal pumping, it’s time to stop completely. After this point, many women will stop producing milk completely. If, however, the breast fills up again to the point of engorgement, it's best to pump just a little bit more to prevent mastitis.
Of course, by this time, it’s important to make sure that the little one is getting enough nutrition through solid food and, perhaps, formula. Just as important is ensuring that she’s emotionally ready to separate from the breast as well. A gradual wean makes this easier. However, it’s important to know that if your little goes through a stressful situation such as illness, she may regress for a bit and seek the comfort of breastfeeding temporarily.