Breast Milk

Have you considered donating your breast milk?  Here are some local services to consider:

Suppression of Breast Milk

Do you need advice on how to suppress and stop your milk flow?  Here are some tips:

Women choose to stop producing milk for different reasons, and these will influence the drying up processes.  The easiest situation is when a mother is nursing a toddler who is ready to wean; the most difficult is when there is a loss of a child.  In any case, the basic principles remain the same.

Just as frequent emptying and stimulation of the breast increase milk supply, emptying your breast less often and preventing breast stimulation will decrease milk supply.

When your breast feels very full, use your breast pump or hand express.  Do not wait until breasts are rock hard.  Express enough milk to relieve the tension and pressure in the breast, but leave some milk in the breast.  Milk left in the breast tells the body to slow down (and eventually stop) production.

  • After pumping or hand expression, cool the breast with an ice pack.  This will bring the swelling down. Put a cloth between the ice and the skin, so the ice doesn’t freeze the skin.  Keep the ice on the breast, not the nipple.
  • Warming the breast will increase swelling and should be avoided.  However, it is okay to use warmth briefly before pumping to help with let-down.
  • Some mothers have reported that wearing cool fresh cabbage leaves next to the skin helps relieve engorgement. You may try this if you have no allergy to cabbage.
  • Wearing a sports bra to keep clothes from brushing against and stimulating the nipple may be helpful. However, binding the breast is not recommended as it decreases circulation and may cause plugged ducts.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to decrease pain and swelling throughout the first week. Adding antihistamine such as Benadryl, may be helpful in decreasing breast milk production. Note that antihistamines often cause sleepiness.
  • Drink plenty of water and eat food with high water content, such as soup, milk, fruit, vegetables, salad greens, and juice smoothies. Do not restrict fluids.

If you are currently producing a lot of milk, suddenly stopping and not pumping or expressing it all (“going cold turkey”) will cause severe pain and engorgement and possibly breast infection. We do not recommend it.

No one can tell exactly how long it will take your body to stop making milk.  Every woman is different.  Do not keep squeezing the breast just to check whether milk is still there, as this makes more milk.  You wont know exactly when you stop.

If you need more help contact the lactation office and discuss with a lactation specialist.