Say what?! yes you heard correctly, this post is going to discuss how to suppress your breast milk after breastfeeding
I frequently see posts on how to increase your breast milk supply and what to do if you are running low but that doesn’t always apply to everyone and it certainly didn’t for me. With my first, he basically drank me dry but with my second it’s quality of milk that is the issue even though I am filling up as I should. I’ve found that she is constantly hungry and with two children, a home and work to juggle I am feeling more pressured and stressed than ever which is impacting my milk (and my sanity) so with this in mind, I decided at 4 months old it was time to switch to a bottle.
Now, I am a believer in the breast is best but also in doing what is right for your family, which means that it is the end of the breastfeeding road for us! Am I a little bit sad? Yes, but I am proud that I managed to experience breastfeeding for both of my children, albeit for a shorter amount of time than I would like but this has meant I have encountered a problem. How do I suppress breast milk? My body hasn’t quite caught up with the memo that we are stopping and anyone who has breastfed will know the discomfort of a small boob so I have been dealing with having to tell the ta-tas to take it down a notch.
It’s not just me, many women have an over-eager supply or encounter an array of reasons that they need to suppress supply so I figured I would create a handy guide on what has helped me take them down a notch and suppress my breast milk, post-baby.
How To Suppress Breast Milk Supply:
- Hand Expressing
- Cold Flannels
- Supportive Bras
- Multiple Layers (away from baby)
1. Hand Expressing
If you are a little uncomfortable and just looking to stop the painful, full feeling, you can hand express to suppress breast milk. I found it was best to deal with it with my morning shower if I would wake up with full breasts.
2. Cold Flannels
The key thing to remember is that warmth encourages milk, cold does not. So using cold to literally calm them down really worked for me. Some people suggested ice packs or frozen peas but I didn’t need to go that extreme and instead settled for cold flannels which not only suppressed the breast milk but also helped with inflammation and the pain.
On a couple of occasions, I found that my breasts were sore, even after expressing and letting them down a little so it was recommended that I take ibuprofen and other mild anti-inflammatories. I could have probably gotten by without them but was very uncomfortable and since I am not using the milk anymore I didn’t have to worry about contaminating the supply with medication.
It is important to note that unless you have a medical condition it is highly unlikely a doctor will prescribe you anything that will suppress your supply, unfortunately, ladies we just have to ride it out. Plus, there are very few options for this anyway with varying amounts of success.
4. Supportive Bra
Not only does a decent, supportive bra give you comfort, the constriction helps to discourage milk production. Just make sure you aren’t constricting too much as this can clog ducts and lead to mastitis.
5. Multiple Layers
This is more to help your bond with the baby than suppressing your supply but I found that I didn’t want to confuse her when changing from breast to bottle. I made sure that while I was still producing some milk that I wore plenty of layers e.g. t-shirts and jumpers when feeding so that she didn’t try to go hunting and it seemed to work.
This is one that I didn’t really do but it was recommended to me quite a lot so I thought I would include it. Some of the women I spoke to said that completely pumping their breasts until they were empty (only when completely full and for comfort) helped to suppress breast milk quicker.
How Long Does It Take For Breast Milk To Dry Up?
If you’ve stopped feeding altogether and you are avoiding pumping then it can take several weeks to completely dry up but after 7-10 days you will notice most of your milk is gone. The first week can be the most uncomfortable but it should ease over time, it’s just a matter of your body balancing out the hormones.
Tips To Deal With Leaky Breasts
In the meantime while you suppress breast milk you will probably be dealing with leaky breasts (I know I did) so here are some practical things you can do that might help!
- Stay Hydrated – Keep drinking water because at the end of the day you are still creating milk and losing fluid. Drinking less won’t equate to less milk, it just means you will be dehydrated and you’re more likely to feel tired.
- Wear Breast Pads – Breast pads are a godsend and I am still wearing them now to avoid leakages until my supply is completely gone. They can be expensive but they are discreet and do the job, plus they have the best capacity compared to other things I have tried.
- Extra Clothing – I carried around an extra top for a long time (just in case) and since I am lugging around all the baby items, one top didn’t take up too much room in the baby bag and gave me peace of mind when I went out in case of any leakages.
If you are dealing with hyperlactation which is an overproduction of milk, more than your baby needs some of these techniques may also work but you should avoid taking medicine as this will appear in the milk.
Where To Donate Your Breast Milk
If you are dealing with too much of a supply, you could consider donating it to babies in need! It’s a great way to support other babies and mothers as well as avoiding wasting your own breast milk. To donate breast milk in the UK check out UKAMB or for the US visit The Milk Bank
*It is important to pay attention to your breasts so that they don’t become blocked or infected, particularly if you quickly stop feeding so always speak to your health visitor or doctor if you have painful or swollen breasts for more than a week after you stop feeding.
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