When weaning is abrupt

I breastfed for two weeks. I'm trying to stop now. The nurses taught me to use cabbage compresses but my breasts still hurt. I was given bromocriptine during my visit to the doctor and then realized that it's a hormone tablet with shocking side effects. What should I do to stop the milk flow?

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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

Abrupt weaning can be painful. Usually application of cold cabbage leaves works very well to help reduce a milk supply. Recommended use is to take a large outer leaf of green cabbage, crush slightly in your hand, or score with a knife. Apply one or more cold leaves for each breast, securing inside of your bra. Cabbage leaves usually wilt in about two hours. Then it's time to remove the wilted leaves and put in fresh ones. When attempting to totally suppress lactation, as you are, it is important to wear the leaves 24 hours a day, changing them as needed.

If your breasts are very full and uncomfortable, express just enough milk for comfort in the early days of weaning. I am talking about drops, not ounces. Too much stimulation will keep the milk coming, and be counterproductive.

Don't bind your breasts as is sometimes still recommended. Instead, wear a good, supportive and comfortable bra (possibly a sports bra).

Ice packs can be used on your breasts, for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time to help relieve swelling and pain. Repeat at least four to five times each day, until you are no longer uncomfortable. Over-the-counter pain relief medication, such as Ibuprofen, should also help you as your milk supply diminishes. Usually you will begin to feel much more comfortable within about three to four days after you stop nursing. Best wishes.

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