9 Sure Ways to Dry up your Milk Supply Without Getting Mastitis!

When your breastfeeding journey is over, find out how to dry up your milk supply fast!

As wonderful as breastfeeding is, there sometimes comes a day when you know your journey is done, regardless of whether you have milk left, and need to figure out how to dry up your milk supply!

I know a lot of breastfeeding advocates will say otherwise or mention how their baby self weaned, but some of us don’t have an option to continue!

It can be an immense relief to be done breastfeeding, and can sometimes help you be a better mother!

Some risks of stopping breastfeeding without a plan (Doing it slow, cold turkey, etc) include clogged ducts and mastitis which can be super painful and very dangerous!

While this won’t happen to everyone, it’s just good to know what to expect and how to prepare for this new chapter!

I wanted to also let you know that I am an Amazon Affiliate and will get a small commission from any purchase made through my links (at no extra cost to you!)

What reasons would someone have to need to stop breastfeeding and dry up?

I’ve always believed that someone should breastfeed as long as they want, as long as both mother and baby are benefiting and happy with it!

However, some circumstances may justify ending the journey such as

  • A high-risk pregnancy such as a multiples pregnancy or one where pre term labor is a concern. It’s thought that nipple stimulation can bring on contractions and labor, and many OBs will recommend quitting by a certain point. (I was asked to wean my toddler by 18 weeks for my twin pregnancy)
  • Not enough time to keep up milk supply – If you work, or have alot of other responsibilities, having time to keep up with the marathon nursing sessions and additional pumping should you miss a session can be alot! And the stress with the lack of breastfeeding opportunities can sometimes really lower your supply! 
  • Sickness – Though not common, some major sicknesses such as cancer can most definitely warrant drying up! Whether it’s just not possible due to meds or tiredness, many moms have had to make this difficult decision!
  • Medication needs – Some medications are not compatibile with breastfeeding, so moms need to wean and dry up! A happy mom is the best mom, so if you are deciding between important medications and trying to keep breastfeeding, I’d always go with being happy and healthy by taking my meds!
  • Loss of the baby or adoption – Your breasts will lactate after birth whether or not there is a baby who needs them!
  • Immense Stress over production– Some mamas don’t have enough milk, and have ridiculous amounts of stress trying to provide enough for their baby. This could in fact make the relationship between the mother and child worse! A stressed mom = stressed baby!

I wanted to note that some people have breastfed through their pregnancy – my friend is currently breastfeeding her three year old and one year old, she’s freaking amazing! However, for other people that isn’t an option.

Babies and toddlers don’t often understand why there’s less milk as time goes on – this can lead to marathon nursing sessions, biting (in my case!) or just general crankiness in your kiddo! And if you have more than one kid, or just a busy life, it can be beneficial to end it!

I know my toddler was a much happier guy once I was able to be done with the hour long, VERY unpleasant and painful nursing sessions with two angry babies!

An overview of how to dry up your milk supply without getting mastitis

P.S. If you don’t know what mastitis is, how to treat it, and why you’d want to avoid it, Mom Loves Best has a great guide (with videos) here!

  • If possible, start slow and drop one nursing/pumping session every other day
  • Drink Sage Tea (“No More Milk” tea is best!)
  • Put Cabbage leaves in your bra, on your breasts (or even better, Cabocream!)
  • Use Sudafed (Not recommended, but many women do this successfully
  • Wear a supportive bra and loose shirt!
  • Ask your doctor about anti lactation drugs – I will list a few below

Find out how to wean a stubborn toddler here!

Just know that if they REFUSE to drop the boob, THIS magic in a tube made them not want to nurse anymore after just a couple of attempts!! (I’m talking when vinegar, hot sauce etc doesn’t work!)

What are the signs of my milk drying up vs supply leveling out or growth spurts?

I know you’re here for the tips on drying up, but I wanted to mention this first because alot of moms I know decide to just wean and force drying up, because they think it’s already happening! Let’s go over the differences below!

Signs of milk drying up and supply loss that need to be addressed

These are the only two concrete reasons that would indicate a problem. As always, you can check with your local lactation consultant to weight your baby before and after a feeding to see what is happening! 

  • Small amount of wet diapers – Less than 6 wet diapers a day
  • Baby is losing weight – Most doctors offices will allow you to come in and weigh your baby on their very precise scales for no charge!

The following are perfectly normal breastfeeding occurances, and often DO NOT INDICATE that your milk is decreasing!

  • Your breasts don’t leak anymore – it’s fairly uncommon after the first month or two as your body starts to learn how much milk it actually needs to make!)
  • Your breasts don’t feel full anymore – If this is your first breastfeeding journey, you might be used to pretty firm breasts. This is normal at the start before your milk production levels even out! Once they do though, your breasts will feel much softer or “empty”. But don’t worry, there is still milk there!
  • Your baby doesn’t seem satisfied after nursing – Within reason, this tends to be a growth spurt! Your baby is doing alot of growing, and needs more milk, however it can take your body a couple of days to respond and up the milk production! (I’m not talking about newborns… you should definitely see a lactation consultant if your newborn is constantly unhappy and crying… you may have a real supply issue!)  

I also wanted to say that if you are going through a growth spurt or just trying to build up your freezer stash, there are a couple of options (lactation cookies, power pumping, supplementing etc)  you could try to boost it back up again if that is what you want to do!

Start slow, and drop one session at a time over a couple of days

This is definitely the easiest route to drying up, for both baby and mama! Start with the easiest ones, which tend to be daytime feedings. Try to offer another liquid instead, or if they are really fighting it, distract them by doing something fun!

It’s really common for the night feed to be the hardest – offer comfort through holding or singing!

It sometimes might be necessary to have your partner help, if available. My son did NOT want to wean, and my husband had to come in at night to calm him because if my son even smelled me, he wouldn’t calm unless I nursed him!

If you have been nursing for a while, and don’t have much supply left anyways, this could only take a couple of days!

However, if you still have a bit it could take up to a month to COMPLETELY dry up. Don’t worry!

Keep some of these pills on hand to reduce the chances of clogged ducts, and just ride it out!

Drink “No More Milk Tea”

Sage contains a natural form of estrogen which can aid in lessening or drying up breastmilk. You can choose to buy just plain ol’ sage tea, that although can be bitter, can be sweetened with honey or the like.

You could also buy pre made tea that has some sage as well as other milk decreasing herbs in it that will really accelerate the process such as Earth Mama’s No More Milk Tea! Within 5 days, most mothers had completely dried up after drinking it 3 times a day! (And it actually taste good!)

no more milk tea

Sleeping with Cold Cabbage Leavess in your Bra!

This is kind of one everyone has heard of! Surprisingly, there’s no hard evidence or reason why this works! It has been used for 100’s of years, so had a proven track record, and many women still use it today!

To dry up using cabbage leaves, use the greenest of the leaves and wrap them around your breasts while avoiding your nipple. Change them out once they get wilty!

As an alternative (because who has the time or space to keep like 10 cabbages in their fridge!) there is a kick butt cream that has all the suppressing qualities of cabbage, but with a much more pleasant smell as well as coming in a convenient tube!

Cabocreme (LOL!) is an easy to use cream that you apply to your breasts every 3 to 4 hours, and performs the same or better than traditional cabbage leaves!

cabo creme

Sudafed to dry up milk

This one is not “recommended” by some doctors, however, MANY women have had success with it! Make sure to get the one with Pseudoephedrine, which is typically sold behind the counter. You may see some sudafed or other similar products with Phenylephrine which does not work the same when it comes to milk suppression!

Ask about prescription “Anti Lactation Drugs”

I want to preface this by saying I am NOT a doctor, and only found this information by researching different studies online. 

If you feel like none of these methods are working, you can look into the following prescription drugs that claim to help with over producing as well as drying up.

Some of them have some crazy possible side effects, so definitely ask what those are so you know what you are getting into!

Here is what I found, along with the studies about them

Dostinex (Cabergoline) and breastfeeding effects

This quote from the following study summarizes what to expect from taking this drug 

“However, limited experience from clinical trials indicates that a single oral dose of 1 mg of cabergoline causes fewer side effects (usually headache, dizziness and nausea) than 14 days of bromocriptine and is at least as effective when used to suppress unwanted lactation.  A treatment scheme has been reported for mothers with hypergalactia that uses low doses of cabergoline to decrease milk supply.”

It was a pretty big block of information, so I tried to slim it down for you. It seems this drug has different uses, and women were still able to breastfeed  after dostinex.

This is especially helpful if you have an oversupply, and just want to decrease your milk a bit instead of fully drying up. 

AGAIN, I am no doctor! Please ask yours for more information about this option!

Parlodel (Bromocriptine) and breastfeeding

Parlodel is used for a variety of things – prevention or suppression of milk production, various hormone treatments and even to assist with symptoms of Parkinsons Disease!

Definitely ask your doctor about the side effects – they can apparantly be much more severe than Dostinex, and many doctors prefer to prescribe the medication listed above.

Here is some information that stuck out in my research – 

” Prevention/suppression of breast milk production (lactation) in women who cannot /do not breastfeed for medical reasons. If breast milk production has already begun, your doctor can advise you about other methods of stopping lactation.”

“Do not use Parlodel if you are breastfeeding. Women who have taken Parlodel after childbirth or abortion have experienced some rare, serious side effects. These include fits, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and mental disorders.” (See Source)

That means you cannot breastfeed while taking parlodel! It is only an option if you choose to / cannot breastfeed from the get go!

A supportive bra but a loose shirt to support engorged breasts

Ladies, expect your breasts to become like ROCKS on your chest in this process! It’s important to have a good sports bra for the added support needed as your breasts fill with tons of unused milk.

Please note – do not bind your breasts! This was once recommended, but it can actually lead to clogged ducts and mastitis which are both very painful, with mastitis being deadly!

A loose shirt is also important to reduce the amount of stimulation your nipples get. When you’re super engorged, ANYTHING can trigger let down!

Being uncomfortable is normal, just make sure to be aware of the signs of mastitis!

Drying up milk supply cold turkey

If at all possible, don’t do it! You leave yourself at massive risk for mastitis, and the transtion can be pretty rough emotionally and physically!

With that being said, there are sometimes no choices, or perhaps none of the above have worked for you and you’re just over it!

Here’s how to dry up milk supply cold turkey if you absolutely need to

  • Take ibuprofen to help with the pain every 4 to 6 hours the first couple of days
  • Taking certain medications such as sudafed can help the process happen faster (Most report feeling back to “normal” and dried up after a week
  • Make sure to have cabbage leaves or cabbocream on hand to help in drying up
  • Get a cold compress to reduce pain from swelling in breasts
  • Avoid hot showers – the stimulation and warmth can cause let down 
  • You will most likely leak some breastmilk in the process- have some disposable breast pads ready! 
  • Feel free to express a tiny amount to relieve discomfort – just enough to take off the edge!

Disposable Breast Pads for Leaks

What is mastitis anyways?

In case you were wondering what it actually is, mastitis is when your breast tissue becomes inflamed and infected.

This typically happens from either a clogged milk duct or bacteria getting into your breasts from a wound (cracked nipples, biting etc).

Here are the signs of mastitis:

  • A lump or hard, tender spot in your breast
  • Fever over 101
  • Intense burning while breastfeeding from affected breast
  • Skin redness
  • Generally feeling really awful

See your doctor right away should you be experiencing any of this, or if you have any other concerns!

Don’t forget to schedule an appointment with your lactation consultant to discuss why you got mastitis, and ways to help prevent it in the future!

Mayoclinic (a breastfeeding authority!) does recommend that you breastfeed through mastitis as it will help clear the infection out – it is safe to breastfeed while taking the antibiotics that treat mastitis!

Quick tip to prevent clogged ducts while weaning and drying up your milk supply

Something that really helped me avoid clogged ducts was taking Sunflower Lecithen!

My OB recommended taking one pill daily, and 3 every couple hours should I get one. It is REALLY effective, and has no bad side effects (according to my OB anyways!)

I took two of these pills  every day while I dried up my supply to ensure I wouldn’t get a clogged duct and have to worry about mastitis!

how to prevent mastitis while drying up supply using sunflower lecithin
Taking one of these pills a day prevented me from getting clogged ducts (which could lead to mastitis!) while I was drying up my milk supply!

What are the side effects of stopping breastfeeding?

These are all related to the hormonal shift your body must go through to stop milk production, and each person will be different. However, here are some common side effects to expect after stopping breastfeeding

  • Increase in Fertility – Breastfeeding suprress hormones that have to do with ovulation, so expect a period (if you haven’t already gotten it!) within 6 weeks!)
  • Depression – Since breastfeeding releases the hormone prolactin (which creates happiness in mom after nursing) stopping breastfeeding will reduce the amount of prolactin, and there may be a tough adjustment period to get used to the new levels!
  • Feelings of not being able to bond with baby – With less “bonding” times during breastfeeding and less oxytocin, it can feel much harder for a ex breastfeeding mom to connect and care for her baby! 
  • Diet change – Your body will likely process food differently, or not need as much since you’re not breastfeeding!
  • Extreme tiredness – Again, with all your hormones trying to rebalance, this can cause you to become extremely tired and might even cause sleeplessness at night!

With all that being said, most people won’t experience ALL those things. With my son I experience some bonding issues, and with my girls I experienced some mood swings for a week or two.

It was well worth it, however, to dry up when I knew my breastfeeding journey was done!

How ending my breastfeeding journey helped me

I have now weaned three children – my toddler when he was 18 months due to my twin pregnancy, and I just finished weaning my twins because my supply was almost gone anyways and they got frustrated and bit.

I know that, according to every breastfeeding advocate everywhere, I should have continued to nurse through what happened below (See bloodied shirt with an even bloodier bra underneath).

But, for me, I knew trying even harder than I already was to find a solution to make more milk, stop the biting and everything else was just more stress than I could handle.

I grew resentful when it came to nursing, and sometimes didn’t even want to nurse them as a way to show my anger if they were being extremely needy or rough that day (which I know was my problem, not theirs. Teething happens!)

That was my hint that it was time to just be done.

After I quit, I was immediately more patient with the twins. I didn’t feel like I was being beaten up all day, and some of my energy returned since my body wasn’t busy trying to make milk all day!

This may not be the case for everyone, (Like I said, I only weaned my son at 18 months because I had to for health reasons!) but I know that I became a much better mom after I made the conscious decision to wean.

Being a year old, my journe may be a little easier than yours will.

However, it’s been really great that other people can now comfort them, instead of me being the ONLY person who can help them during fussy times.

how to dry up your milk after getting bit
 Guys, THIS was my breaking point! I was almost dry anyways, and this really just sealed the deal. After 14 months, it was time, and I honestly felt alot of relief!

Do you have any good tips to help dry up your milk?

The above mentioned and just being patient are the best ways I know of to dry up, but let me know if there’s some cool way you discovered!

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