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There are many reasons why you should not have breast milk. Lactation suppression is the process of drying up breast milk.

Whatever the case, weaning slowly and without stress is best for both you and your baby. The ideal time to wean is when both the lactating parent and the infant are ready.

Sometimes, you have to discontinue breastfeeding more quickly than you wish. Several factors will affect how long it takes for your milk to dry up, including your baby’s age and how much milk your body’s making.

Some people may stop producing over just a few days. For others, it may take several weeks for their milk to dry up completely. It’s also possible to experience let-down sensations or leaking for months after suppressing lactation.

Weaning gradually is recommended, but it may not always be feasible. That said, abrupt weaning may be uncomfortable and lead to infection or other medical issues. Speak with your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant about your options before trying any of these methods.

“If you don’t breast feed, your milk can slow down. It may take a while if you have been breastfeeding for a long time.”

When trying this method, keep these tips in mind.

Try it: Shop for ice packs and anti-inflammatory medications.

Sage may help with weaning or oversupply issues, according to one 2014 article. However, there are no studies that examine sage’s specific effect on excess milk production.

If your baby consumes your breast milk after you have eaten sage, there is not much information about the safety of using it.

You should start with a small amount of the herb. There are herbal teas with the herb sage. You could easily add more to the amount until you find the right amount.

Other herbs have the potential to dry up breast milk, according to the article.

Some herbs can be dangerous to a baby, but little is known about their effects. You should talk with your healthcare provider or lactation consultant if you are using herbal substances.

Try it: Shop for sage tea (including ones intended for use during weaning), chasteberry tea, and parsley.

Also shop for “It’s peppermint.” oil and jasmine flowers, which can both be applied topically.

Cabbage leaves may suppress lactation when used for long periods of time, though more studies are needed.

To use: cabbage.

  • Take apart the cabbage and wash it.
  • Put the leaves in a container and chill them in the refrigerator.
  • Before putting on a bra, place one leaf over each breast.
  • Change leaves once they are wilted.

As your milk supply decreases, the leaves may help to reduce swelling. They are used to reduce the symptoms of engorgement in early breastfeeding.

Try it: Shop for cabbage.

Progestin-only birth control doesn’t necessarily impact supply. Contraceptive pills that contain the hormone estrogen, on the other hand, may work well for suppressing lactation.

Milk supply is well-established and these effects are notable.

Many will experience these suppressive effects. When you are pregnant, your medical provider may recommend starting a pill containing estrogen.

Birth control isn’t approved for this use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but it may be prescribed in certain situations. This is known as off-label drug use.

Off-label drug use

“Drug use that isn’t approved by the FDA for one purpose is considered off-label. A doctor can still use the drug for that purpose. The FDA regulates the testing and approval of drugs, but not how doctors use them. Your doctor can prescribe a drug if they think it’s best for you.”

In a small study in 2003 of 8 lactating women, a single 60-milligram (mg) dose of the cold medicine pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) was shown to significantly reduce milk production.

“Taking the daily maximum dose of this medication didn’t affect babies who continued breastfeeding as their milk was being suppressed The maximum dose is up to 120mg in a 24 hour period.”

Talk to your healthcare professional before taking any OTC medication. It is possible to cause an upset in breastfed infants by using sudafed.

Try it: Shop for Sudafed.

If you haven’t breastfed your infant yet, high doses of vitamins B-1 (thiamine), B-6 (pyridoxine), and B-12 (cobalamin) may work to suppress lactation.

A study from the 1970s showed that high doses B-6, B-1, and B-12 suppressed lactation for 96 percent of the participants, with no unpleasant side effects.

More recent studies, including ones from a 2017 literature review, have presented conflicting information regarding the effectiveness of this option.

The study participants received a B6 dose of 450 to 600 in five to seven days. Two of the studies found that vitamins B6 and B6 were effective in suppressing lactation.

There’s not much known about the negative effects of taking too much vitamin B-1 or B-12, or how long it’s safe to take elevated doses.

It is possible to lose feeling in the arms and legs at high levels of B6 at the same time. This effect can become permanent in some cases.

Before starting a new supplement, you should talk with your healthcare provider.

Try it: Shop for vitamin B-1, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 supplements.

Cabergoline can be used for milk suppression. It works by stopping the body’s production of prolactin.

This drug is not approved by the FDA for this use. Your doctor can explain the risks and benefits.

Some people see their milk dry up after just one dose of medication. Others may need additional doses.

There is no known information about the safety of cabergoline for breastfeeding infants. You should talk to your healthcare provider about it.

Some milk-suppressing medications you may have heard of — such as bromocriptine — are no longer recommended for this use because of long-term side effects.

Women also used to get a shot of high-dose estrogen to stop milk production. This practice has stopped due to blood clotting risks.

Some methods you may have heard about are not proven or dangerous.

1. Binding

The breasts are wrapped tightly with binding. Breast binding is a method of stopping the production of breast milk.

In a 2003 study on non-breastfeeding, postpartum women, the effects of binding were compared to those of wearing a support bra.

“The binding group experienced more pain and leakage than the other group over the first 10 days. Researchers don’t recommend binding”

A supportive bra or a gentle binding helps better support the tender breasts when moving and can reduce the discomfort.

2. Restricting fluids

Breastfeeding parents are often told to stay hydrated to maintain their milk supplies. You may wonder if restricting fluid intake may have the opposite effect. This method isn’t well studied.

Researchers have discovered that increasing fluids may not actually increase supply. Without clear evidence that drinking more increases (or decreases) supply, it’s best to stay hydrated regardless.

3. Pregnancy

If you become pregnant while breastfeeding, your milk supply or the taste of your milk may change. Breastfeeding advocacy group La Leche League explains that it’s common to see a drop in supply between the fourth and fifth months of pregnancy.

“Since the changes vary by individual, pregnancy isn’t a reliable method for drying up breast milk. Many people successfully breastfeed their babies.”

Gradual weaning is the safest plan.

How long it takes for milk to dry up depends on how long you have been breastfeeding. It may take a few days or a few weeks depending on your method of suppression and your current supply.

You can still produce some milk for months after you wean. If your breast milk comes back in, you should talk to your medical team.

The risk of engorgement and the potential for blocked milk ducts are associated with abrupt breastfeeding cessation.

You may need to give milk to relieve the feeling of engorgement. The longer it takes to dry up, the more milk you express.

Lactation suppression can be uncomfortable at times, but if you experience pain or other symptoms, call your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant.

Sometimes a plugged duct will cause breast pain. massage the area while breastfeeding

Contact a medical professional if you can’t unblock a milk duct within 12 hours or if you have a fever. A fever is a symptom of a breast infection such as mastitis.

Other symptoms of a breast infection include:

Sometimes, oral antibiotics are recommended to help treat this condition.

You can also speak to a certified lactation consultant. These professionals are trained in all things breastfeeding and can help you with any issues you have.

Sometimes it is necessary to dry up your milk supply.

If you’re weaning due to a medical condition (or other reasons), but still want to provide breast milk for a baby, there are milk banks across the United States and Canada. You can find one through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).

The breast milk is tested and pasteurized so it’s safe for consumption. These organizations also take donations from parents who’ve either lost a child or otherwise wish to donate their milk.