Breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful experience in any mother’s life. Your young one is entirely dependent on you for nutrients and immunity against illnesses. Furthermore, it is a period of bonding and growth in which the mother is both a spectator and facilitator.
Whether you’re using a pump or feeding your child straight from the source, that milk is a true gift. However, what happens when it’s time to close and dry out this fountain of life? What are you supposed to do? We’ll answer all these questions and give you a few extra tips to smoothen out the process.
Reasons for lactation suppression
Women go through a lot during this phase of their child’s life. There are times when stopping the production of mother’s milk is what’s best for her and her baby. Here are a few of the common reasons for this:
- There might be medical or personal reasons that prompt the mother to wean quicker than average. On most occasions, work is the most common suspect.
- You might have thought you’re done with your breastfeeding phase to wake up several days later with full breasts
- Your baby might have passed away during the pregnancy or birth
- Or your breastfed baby may have passed away
The time it takes for breast milk to dry up
There’s no straightforward answer here. This is because the feeding circumstances vary from woman to woman. Simply put, the more a woman breastfeeds, the more milk they produce, and thus the longer it takes for the supply to dry up. Therefore, it is easier for women who’ve lost their child at birth or those who don’t want to breastfeed to halt the lactating process than those moms who’ve been lactating for a while.
The whole lactation suppression process is uncomfortable and, for some women, very painful. The reason for this is, milk collects in ducts, and if they’re not emptied, engorgement happens. If this progress remains unchecked, it could, later on, develop into mastitis. Mastitis presents a significant health risk, and thus for healthy breastfeeding cessation, one should consult with a lactation specialist or doctor.
Healthy methods for drying up breast milk
The healthiest thing you can do when it comes to lactation suppression is talking to a doctor, lactation specialist, or midwife before anything. Here are some of the most common ways to halt breast milk formation that you can run by them.
The cold turkey method
Mother Nature knows best, and this is why letting things take their natural course is the first course of action before any alternative methods are employed. Milk production dwindles when a woman stops expressing milk or breastfeeding.
It can be a particularly uncomfortable experience as going cold turkey can lead to breast engorgement. It is, therefore, best to stop in stages if you’re not planning on giving your baby milk. Pump out the milk a few times a day, but not all of it.
Birth control method
This lactation suppression method has been known for some time. If you’re a keen lactating mom, you might have noticed that the doctor singularly prescribes progestin-only contraceptives. This carefulness is because estrogen curbs milk production.
While it takes a matter of days or weeks for the milk to dry up completely, estrogen-use should be done with a lot of caution due to its side effects.
Sage tea method
No one can deny the impact modern medicine has had in our lives; however, traditional treatments are by no means irrelevant. Take sage tea, for instance. It’s a known source of natural estrogen. As we’ve seen in the birth control method, this hormone is known to suppress milk production. It is both safe for consumption and offers the guarantee of reduced milk supply if consistently taken.
You can make this tea at home. Just add 1 tablespoon of either dried or fresh sage to a hot cup of lemon water. Lemon makes the drink more palatable. You could also add honey or sugar in this regard. You can also use sage as a spice when preparing meals, to the same effect. Some other herbs that help with milk suppression include parsley, jasmine, oregano, thyme, and peppermint.
This is one of the older methods used to dry up breast milk. It’s been well-loved because cabbage leaves have been known to dry as well as provide breast relief. Cold cabbage reduces engorgement and reduces the pain associated with the milk ducts and glands drying up.
You will first need to acquire a green cabbage’s leaves, wash them, put them in a container, and then refrigerate them. When these leaves are sufficiently chilled, place a leaf on your breast. Let the leaf stay there for two hours. Replace the leaf and repeat.
If you’ve ever taken decongestants for the flu, you know how effective these meds are in controlling body fluids. For a cold, they open up passages and then move on to dry these unwanted body secretions. The same principle applies when drying up breast milk.
Using decongestants causes milk production to go down, eventually drying up altogether. While using over-the-counter decongestants on occasion is okay, excessive use can stir up side effects such as high blood pressure and quickened heartbeats.
If you haven’t yet begun breastfeeding, then the family of B vitamins, that is, vitamins B1, B6, and B12, aid in the rapid suppression of milk production. How effective these vitamins are in curbing production once nursing has begun is unknown.
It is imperative to keep in mind that even vitamins, when taken beyond the recommended amount, will lead to side effects. Before taking any sizable vitamin dosages, it is best to first consult with your child’s pediatrician or a lactation expert.
Getting that milk to stop flowing can be challenging. The tips highlighted will help you transition well from lactation to feeding your child alternative baby foods. This will do wonders for the entire family as a happy mom equals a happy baby and equals a happy family.