Wean gradually, whenever possible. Start replacing one or two feedings a day, and work your way to completely stopping. This is the safest, and most painless way as your body will slowly stop producing milk.
Breasts that are not weaned gradually, but suddenly, can become painful, engorged, and even put mothers at significant risk for developing mastitis.
If you have been pumping and wish to stop, here is a typical schedule that will wean you off your pump slowly but surely:
Day 1: pump for 5 minutes every 2-3 hours
Day 2: pump for 5 minutes every 4-5 hours
Day 3-7: pump just long enough to relieve discomfort
Take a pain reliever containing ibuprofen or acetaminophen. This should reduce your discomfort and some swelling.
Avoid nipple stimulation, as this will trigger milk production. Wear a supportive, but not-too-tight bra. Opt for clothing that is loose and less likely to show milk spots; consider wearing nursing pads to absorb leaking milk.
Taking a warm shower, although it inevitably involves some stimulation, may help to relieve pressure in the breast and soothe discomfort. Avoid direct stimulation from the water whenever possible.
Avoid pumping your milk as it signals to your body that it needs to produce more. If you start to become engorged, hand pump just enough to reduce your discomfort.
Drink lots of water. If you become dehydrated, you will actually start producing more milk, and your discomfort will increase.
In severe cases, talk to your doctor about estrogen injections.
Estrogen injections have fallen out of favor, although they were once used to promote estrogen suppression. Some forms of estrogen injections contain known carcinogens.
If you have consistent trouble with lactation suppression, ask your doctor about taking medications like bromocriptine (Parlodel). Doctors usually don't recommend taking Parlodel because of increased likelihood of hypertension, stroke, and heart attack.
Prepare emotionally. Hormone levels will change drastically as your milk production slows, which will trigger mood swings. Many women feel guilty, inadequate and sad. Getting through these emotions may be the hardest part of the whole process, but having a good support system will help.
Unverified Home Remedies
- Drink sage tea. Sage contains a natural estrogen that is reputed to dry up your milk supply. You can find sage in one of two forms:
- As a tea: buy sage tea at your local specialty health store, and brew it along with some milk and honey.
- As a tincture: buy a sage tincture, which is mixed with a little bit of alcohol, at a health food store. This tincture is reputed to be a bit more efficient than sage tea at drying up your milk supply.
Apply cold compresses or cabbage to your breasts. Cabbage leaves work great as they are cool, and there is a component to them that naturally dries up your milk. Apply them to your entire breast and replace them when they wilt.
- Take vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is reputed to stop the body's production of plasma prolactin, which is what causes mothers to produce breast milk. Several studies, however, found no statistically relevant data to suggest that vitamin B6 actually helped women suppress lactation.
Use cheap maxi pads to help soak up leaking milk. I know it sounds strange but it works with keeping your clothes dry. Just cut in half and stick to your bra. Don't cut into fourths, thirds etc because you'll end up with a fluffy white mess.
For the first few nights you may leak significantly. Try rolling up a towel and securing it across your breasts using a fitted shirt. This will soak up the milk without creating a mess. The extra padding may also help you find a comfortable sleeping position.
Also consider first weaning your baby from the breast by slowly reducing the number of times you nurse until it is zero. Then pump in place of nursing, say from 4 times a day, until it is 0, by taking away one pumping session every 3-7days. This allows you to slowly reduce your milk supply without the pain and engorged breasts. Understand that the hardest sessions to take away are the nighttime feedings (before bedtime or overnight) so, be ready to show some tough love or let your partner take the wheel at these times for a few days until your baby adjusts to the new scenario.
Do not use heat on engorged breasts. This will increase the pain and may trigger milk production.
Do not bind your breasts.