Breastfeeding is a popular way to feed an infant, but it’s not the only way. Some mothers who return to work may choose to stop breastfeeding because it’s more convenient to formula-feed. Other mothers find it too painful or difficult to breastfeed. Regardless of the reason mothers don’t nurse, their bodies continue to produce milk to nourish their babies. If this milk isn’t necessary, there are natural ways to stop its production.
Why to Stop Milk Production
If a woman’s breasts fill with milk and she’s not breastfeeding or otherwise expressing milk, it can be very uncomfortable. As her breasts engorge, they become hard and painful. The fuller they get, the more difficult it is to relieve the pressure. The skin of the breast stretches, and as it does so, the nipple flattens, which makes it harder to express milk.
For decades, green cabbage leaves have been used safely and effectively to stop the production of milk. To use this method, place cold, fresh cabbage leaves in your bra, making sure the leaves are flat against the surface of the breast. When they begin to wilt, replace them with fresh leaves. The chill of the cabbage leaves acts as a cold compress on your breasts, helping to constrict blood vessels and stop milk production. Continue to replace the wilted leaves with fresh leaves until your breasts no longer hurt.
Sage is also a safe, effective and natural remedy that can stop the production of breast milk. It contains estrogen, which helps reduce your milk supply. It’s available in a tea as well as a tincture. Drink a cup of sage tea three times a day for best results. Taking two droppersful of sage tincture will yield the same results as one cup of tea. You should experience a decrease in milk production within 24 to 48 hours.
Milk production is a function of supply and demand. If a baby nurses frequently, or if milk is expressed often, the body makes more to keep up with demand. If a you stop nursing, or never start, and your breasts are engorged, you can relieve some of the pressure by expressing a little milk by hand. Squeeze the breast until a small amount of milk is visible on the nipple, taking note of your pain relief. Express only enough to make you comfortable. If you express too much, this may signal the body to produce more.
Don’t use cabbage leaves if you are allergic to cabbage or sulfa. This can cause a rash. Don’t use on cracked skin. It’s important to take steps to decrease your milk supply gradually. If you decrease your production too abruptly, it can lead to mastitis, a painful breast infection that can be caused by pressure on the milk ducts.