Mommy Tips for Drying up Breast Milk

By JustMommies staff

A woman bottle-feeding a baby.

If you’re having a baby and not planning to breastfeed, you may be interested in knowing the quickest ways to dry up your breast milk. Your milk will dry up on its own within a week or so if you do not nurse. You may, however, experience engorgement after your milk comes in, but there are some things you can do to help relieve the discomfort of being engorged. If you have not made up your mind about breastfeeding, you may want to pump your breast milk until you do decide. If you’re sure that you do not want to breastfeed or if you know that you can’t breastfeed, here are our best tips for drying up.

Take an Anti-Inflammatory Medication

To relieve discomfort, use an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprophen, as needed.

Use a Cold Compress Instead of Hot

Use ice packs or frozen vegetables as compresses for 20 minutes a few times a day. Do not put ice or frozen veggies directly on your skin. Use a towel between the ice and skin. You may have used heat before to relieve discomfort, but this is not advised for engorgement. Warm compresses may encourage your milk to let down and increase milk production.

Support Your Breasts With Proper Undergarments

Wear a snug fitting bra to support your breasts. If they don’t have support, the pain of engorgement will be more acute.

A woman wearing a pink bra.

Resist the Urge to Pump

Do not pump. Pumping will signal your body to make more milk. Your body works on supply and demand. If you empty your breast, your body will think that it needs to refill it. Conversely, when your breast becomes full, it signals your body to make less milk. If you are very engorged, hand expressing breastmilk is fine, but just empty enough to relieve discomfort; there is no point in being miserable while you are drying out.

Avoid Nipple Stimulation

If you’re trying to dry up your milk supply, do not stimulate the nipples unless you are hand expressing some breastmilk to relieve some pain.

Drink Sage Tea

A cup of tea.

Drink a few cups of sage tea daily. Sage has properties in it that inhibit milk production.

Stay Hydrated

Do not restrict water intake. Some moms try to dry out milk by drinking less fluids. Restricting your fluids will not reduce your engorgement and may instead lead to dehydration, which is another problem altogether.

Use Cabbage Leaves to Reduce Swelling

Place refrigerated cabbage leaves inside your bra for a couple of hours or until they wilt. Cabbage leaves have been used for years to help relieve engorgement. We do not know exactly why cabbage leaves help, but some researchers believe there are substances in the cabbage that reduce swelling and inflammation. Break up the cabbage leaves so that there are no hard veins in them. Arrange them in your bra so that they are comfortable and there are no hard spots pressing against your breast. Do not use cabbage leaves if you are allergic to cabbage or sulfa, a compound found in green cabbage.