Lactation Suppression: Drying Up The Breast Milk In Your Breasts

12 Tips For Drying Up When You Aren't Going To Breastfeed

12 Tips For Lactation Suppression. Drying Up The Breast Milk In Your Breasts When Your Aren't Going To Breastfeed
How can you dry up the breast milk in your breasts?. Stockbyte/Getty Images

Pregnancy, The Production Of Breast Milk, And Lactation Suppression

When you go through a pregnancy and delivery, your body is designed to produce breast milk. If you decide not to breastfeed, you give your child up for adoption, or you experience the loss of your child, you will still make breast milk. There is not a way to prevent milk production, but there are some steps that you can take to suppress lactation and dry up the breast milk in your breasts.

Your breast milk will come in at approximately the 3rd day postpartum, and you will most likely continue to make milk for a few weeks. You will not be in pain the entire time that you're drying up. However, there may be a few days of very painful breast engorgement during the first or second week postpartum.

During this time you may experience:

12 Tips To Get Through Drying Up (Lactation Suppression)

  1. The lack of nursing at your breasts will signal your body to stop making breast milk. Your body produces breast milk when your child nurses at the breast or in response to pumping. If you do not remove the breast milk from your breasts, you will not continue to produce more.
  2. If you are in extreme pain, it may be necessary to remove a little bit of the breast milk from your breasts for comfort reasons. If you do this, only express enough breast milk to relieve the pain and pressure. Do not empty the breast. Removing a good deal of breast milk or emptying the breast will signal your body to make more.
  1. Talk to your doctor about using a pain reliever such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen) to help you deal with the pain and pressure of the engorgement phase.
  2. Wear a supportive bra that fits you properly.
  3. Do not bind your breasts or wear an excessively tight bra. Tightly wrapping your breasts will not help you to dry up more quickly, but it could put unnecessary pressure on your breast tissue causing other problems such as plugged milk ducts or mastitis.
  1. If you place cold compresses or cabbage leaves onto your breasts, it can help to reduce any swelling and decrease the pain.
  2. Avoid hot showers or the use of warm compresses on your breasts. Warm or hot water can stimulate breast milk production.
  3. Wear nursing pads inside of your bra to soak up unexpected leaks.
  4. Do not squeeze your nipples to check if you are still making breast milk. Stimulating your breasts or nipples while you're drying up could lead to the continued production of a small amount of breast milk.
  5. Parsley, sage, and peppermint are herbs that are believed to help decrease the supply of breast milk. Using these herbs may help you to dry up more quickly.
  6. Medications such as antihistamines and birth control pills can also help you to dry up. Talk to your doctor about whether or not these medications are right for you and your situation.
  7. Medications that have been used in the past to help dry up the breasts such as Parlodel (bromocriptine) and high dose estrogens are no longer used due to serious side effects.


    American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

    Cole, M. Lactation after Perinatal, Neonatal, or Infant Loss. Clinical Lactation. 2012. 3(3): 94-100.

    Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

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