Weaning: 5 tips to help stop your milk production

I recently gave birth and with the hard labor, pain killers and no help from the nurses nursing just didn't work out. I began pumping my milk and now I'm in complete agony. I can't understand why pumping was so painful. Now, I just want to stop altogether. What can I do to stop producing milk?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

I'm sorry that breastfeeding didn't work out for you with your new baby.

If you are still expressing in place of each of your baby's feeds, and want to stop, it is best to go gradually, just as you would when weaning your baby from your breast. This is much easier on your body. Your breasts will stay more comfortable, you will be less prone to getting a breast infection and you won't experience the abrupt hormonal shift you would with the "cold turkey" style of weaning, which leaves some moms feeling sad and depressed.
 

5 Tips to Help You Feel Better
(And Reduce Your Milk Supply)

1. Eliminate one pumping session each three to four days. Express only enough milk as needed for comfort. This gradual weaning from the pump gives your body a chance to adjust to the decrease in stimulation.

2. Apply cold cabbage compresses. Placing "compresses" inside each cup of your bra will also help to make you more comfortable. Reapply refrigerated cabbage leaves about every two hours, or as they wilt, until your milk supply slows. This is a good treatment for severe engorgement. Often moms feel relief in as little as two hours (Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession, Ruth Lawrence, MD, 1994). You can continue this treatment as needed.

3. Do not bind your breasts. This is an outdated practice, can be very uncomfortable and may lead to a plugged duct or even a breast infection. Wear a comfortable, but supportive all-cotton bra that won't restrict your circulation. A sports bra may be perfect for you at this time, but be sure it isn't uncomfortably snug.

4. Take something for the pain. Try a pain reliever that is compatible with nursing. Get the okay from your care provider before using acetominophen or ibuprofen.

5. Try ice. Ice can help to reduce swelling and may help you to remain more comfortable as your milk supply is decreasing. A bag of frozen peas for each breast works well (but don't eat the peas, since you will be defrosting and refreezing.) Ice your breasts for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, at least four times each day, or as needed for comfort.

Next: Find out why pumping might have been so painful, and how to avoid this situation the next time around

 

Expressing your milk shouldn't hurt if you are using a good breastpump.

Breast tissue can be injured by use of a bicycle-horn style pump, a continuous suction pump or by using a suction that is too strong.

If I were recommending a pump for a mom who will be expressing for every feed, I would advise renting a hospital-grade electric breastpump with a double-pump kit.

Start expressing, using one of the lowest settings, always keeping it within your comfort range. When expressing in place of each feed, you will need to pump a minimum of eight times a day.

Maybe you were expressing infrequently. This could be the reason you have been so uncomfortable. Your breasts may very well be engorged much of the time. The constant engorgement will reduce your milk supply, because it is the "emptying" of the breasts that encourages milk production. When milk is not removed, your body gets the message that it is producing too much and cuts back. 

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