Marie Davis RN IBCLC

Drying Up Breastmilk When You Choose To Bottle Feed Your Newborn

If you have been breastfeeding your baby for several weeks or months: see information on weaning (drying up milk after a period of breastfeeding).

Why don't they give medicine to dry up milk anymore?
The shots and pills once used to prevent milk in the non nursing mother are no longer used because they had serious side effects including strokes and cancer.  When medical providers stopped using drugs for drying up milk, lactation consultants went back into old medical texts to learn what was used before medication became available.  Below are some tips to help you stop milk production safely and comfortably.

Bras Are For Support
If you are more comfortable, wear a good fitting, supportive bra.  It should be tight enough to provide support but not so tight that it leaves marks or dents in breast tissue.  A lacy sleep bra or a snug T-shirt can provide just the right amount of support. Do NOT bind your breasts.  Breast binding can cause breast damage, interferes with your ability to breathe and is very painful.

General Comfort:
Avoid breast stimulation.  When you shower, turn your back to the spray.
Apply ice packs for 10-20 minutes several times per day.
Take a pain reliever such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen) as directed for the discomfort.
If the milk leaks, try bending forward with your bra off and let the milk leak out on its own.  This may help relieve some of the pressure.
 Call your medical provider if your temperature goes above 100.4 º F

 My breasts are huge, hard and  painful. What do I do now?

Cabbage Compresses
Published studies and anecdotal reports recommend using the leaves from the common cabbage, as a compress to reduce swelling and milk production.  References to cabbage for drying milk date back to the late 1800ís.  The natural ingredients in cabbage decrease tissue congestion by improving the blood flow in the area. Herbalists believe that cabbage has both antibiotic and anti irritant properties.

Instructions for use:  Cabbage Cure

The common kitchen herb, Sage, when used as a tea, is a powerful agent for drying milk.
  Instructions for use:
  You can purchase sage tea at a health food store or make your own from powdered sage purchased at any grocery store:   Use 1/8 or 1/2 teaspoon of powdered Sage in 1 cup of hot water.
  Sage has a very strong flavor.  You may want to sweeten the tea to hide the taste (or add something like Tang flavored drink mix).
  Drink one of these teas every 4 or 6 hours.  Usually 3 or 4 cups is enough to dry milk completely.  Don't use this method if you are allergic to Sage.

Copyright Marie Davis, RN, IBCLC 1999 
Revised: Sunday, May 17, 2015



Last Reviewed: Sunday, May 17, 2015