My main function is peddling in the art of How to START Breastfeeding, but on occasion, I help people to stop breastfeeding. Sacre bleu! It’s true. Sometimes we want to stop making the milk for a Variety of Reasons. And really, it’s not my business to justify why you want to stop so you don’t need to tell me about that. Your body and your life and your mature decision making skills. One caveat – if you are deep down in a hole of despair and it’s not working and you just want to give up then slow your roll, don’t read anymore and reach out and make an appointment and if you don’t need fancy one-on-one care then reach out to La Leche League or to one of your breastfeeding friends. Sometimes, you just need a simple solution that you haven’t thought of because remember you are down in the Pit of Despair – and no one has any sense when they are dwelling there. If that’s not you, then read on.
Who wants to dry up their breastmilk?
You are done breastfeeding your baby – so I won’t even begin to attach dates, times, parameters to this. You might want to dry up your milk when you are finished breastfeeding. Hopefully this is at your own will and you have mutually agreed with the kid that you two are ready to close this chapter of your relationship.
Examples of reasons people think they have to stop their milk supply, but really don’t
Painful feedings (call an IBCLC like me or breastfeeding counselor in your area)
There’s not enough so why bother (see first response – call for help)
It’s day 3, 4, 5 and my breasts are hard as rocks and nothing is coming out (honey, you are engorged) Ali Wong has a great joke about this on her (definitely inappropriate and to me super hilarious) Netflix special Hard Knock Wife. Here's a dive into the internet about what she thinks is a lactation consultant. Please come back and finish reading... after you watch her special
I am taking medications. Usually you can ask for something that is compatible with breastfeeding. Those wonderful science people at Infant Risk Center have an amazing plethora of info on Medications and Mother's Milk. Or for you truly science-minded breastfeeders who like to read the research, go check out LactMed, the NIH Drugs and Lactation Database. Infant Risk Hotline is a better bet if you just like being told what to do, talking on the phone and/or don't want to read while you are sleep deprived. For Over the Counter medications - check out Kelly Bonyata's dope list of helpful tips for Cold and Allergy Remedies.
I am vomiting or have the flu. Sorry, that sucks big time, but you can still breastfeed. Just imagine Oprah at this point shouting out to all the lactating people - You get to breastfeed. You get to breastfeed. You get to breastfeed. You get to breastfeed. Just make sure to stay hydrated and rest and contact medical help as needed. Check out my other post on amazing benefits of breastmilk on why you are making antibodies to the very thing that is making you unwell so you are actually protecting baby by breastfeeding. Mother Nature is cray-cray sometimes.
My baby is X months old. Yeah, so? WHO - you know those super global public health people at the World Health Organization - they recommend breastfeeding as the *main* source of nutrition for the FIRST year (that's 12 months, people) and then to continue to breastfeed until 2 years or beyond.
Going back to work. You know the law protects your right to pump at work, right? Ok, I know I said I am realist so sometimes you are a smart doctor, hardworking brilliant nurse or teacher or maybe you just can't deal with it all then we can still figure out a way to do hybrid feeding. You do not have to stop just because you can't do it all the time, but you can if you want to.
What other reason? Drop me an email and tell it to me straight and I'll add them to this blog post.
Some hard truths coming at you today. But you got to do you and be true to yourself and listen to your gut and be happy so if you need to stop read on.
Sensitivity alert – 1 in 5 women lose a baby before that bundle of absolute gorgeousness is born and sometimes it’s a late term loss so that human is going to have some milk that they might want to dry up. 1 in 5 women- stop and do the math – either you know it’s common because you are 1 of the 1s or you didn’t know and now you do and you can re-enter the world with a lot more sensitivity for what some People have been Through.
HOW TO DRY UP YOUR BREASTMILK
First you need to be careful about infection so look for red streaking on the breast, pain, lumps or fever. Cold is the enemy of breastmilk and is now your friend so you want to use cold compresses in your bra. You can use cold/gel packs or cold compresses (especially after doing warm water activities like a shower).
Make sure that comfortable bra is firmly holding you in day and night, but not tight (we don't want to see impressions from the bra on your skin).
It sounds like an old wive's tale, but it's not - get yourself a cabbage. Take the nice big leaves that fit over your breasts and before you place them on yourself - wash the leaves, pat them dry then use rolling pin to break up the large bumpy veins to release the cabbage juiciness that is your ally in drying up milk. Keep these little wonder leaves in the fridge so they are cold (double bonus on drying activity) and replace them as they get wilted in your bra. Continue this until you stop feeling full of milk and never look at coleslaw the same way - you will have some leftover so you could make some coleslaw.
I can't recommend drugs, but if you can normal take things like Advil or Motrin then you can also take it now to help relieve swelling
You don't need to dehydrate yourself - just drink when you are thirsty.
If you are pumping then you take away one pumping session every 3-5 days and be very mindful of your breasts feeling overly full or any of those warning signs above. Once you get rid of one pumping session, you can start removing the next until you have the number of sessions you want. Slow and steady is the name of the game. Of course, you could just hire me and I would sherpa you through this period.
If baby is of advanced age and doesn't want to quit, La Leche League has a great comforting article about how to deal with weaning. Scroll to the bottom to check out their wise tips.
This blog does NOT replace a proper evaluation and management by a trained professional, but is offered instead as education. You can hire me and then we have all that HIPPA and compliance and privacy stuff sorted out and I can help you in the high quality fashion that you deserve.
CATHERINE BELONOGOFF IBCLC @ Montclair Wellness Studios 92 Church Street Montclair NJ Essex County 07042 CONTACT INFO
This practice appreciates the diversity of human beings and does not discriminate based on race, age, religion, ability, marital status, sexual orientation, sex or gender identity. I strive to promote equity and diversity across all spectrums and to meet every person and family where they are. I welcome you and your baby as you embark on your breastfeeding, chestfeeding or bodyfeeding journey.