If you’ve been breastfeeding for the past year, it will take anywhere from three days to one week for your breast milk to dry up. However, this can vary depending on the person.
Those that produce less breast milk will find that they are on the shorter end of the spectrum. Some mothers also discover that it’s already been a week and they are still producing breast milk.
If you start making an effort to dry up your breast milk as soon as you are done breastfeeding, it will dry up much sooner. These tried and proven methods will help keep you on the shorter end of the spectrum.
In this article
- How Long Will It Take To Dry Up My Breast Milk?
- Proven Methods To Dry Up Breast Milk
- Use A Combination Of Methods
- Things To Avoid When Drying Up Breast Milk
- Things That Can Give You Relief While Your Milk Dries Up
- Cuddle More As You Decrease Breastfeeding Sessions
- Wean Before Stopping To Prevent Engorgement
- Slowly Supplement
- Final Word
How Long Will It Take To Dry Up My Breast Milk?
If you’re wondering how long does it takes to dry up breast milk, you’re not alone. It’s something that every woman wonders when they’re ready to stop breastfeeding. It could take a week, but it could take months.
If you wean your baby and follow methods that will teach you how to dry up breast milk, you can trust that it won’t take months. If you let it happen naturally, it could.
That’s why we recommend following at least a few of these methods that will teach you how to dry up breast milk fast.
Proven Methods To Dry Up Breast Milk
Every mom that has breastfed has their go-to option for drying up milk. Remember that what works for one mom might not work for another one.
If you try one method and find it’s not working, go on to the next. These proven methods will help you reach your end goal a lot faster than letting your milk dry up on its own.
1. Birth Control With Estrogen
If you’re ready to start the pill and are done with breastfeeding, this one is an awesome idea. Studies have revealed that women who take a birth control pill that has estrogen in it have experienced a drastic decrease in their milk supply.
If you’re already producing less milk, this will go a long way into getting you out of the woods a lot faster.
It’s important to note that this is considered off label drug usage. This means that birth control is not intended to be used to dry up breast milk, but it will have this effect when taken.
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If you produce a large amount of milk that is not showing a sign of slowing down although you already stopped breastfeeding cold turkey, birth control may help.
It’s important to note that birth control has to have estrogen for it to have this impact. Speak with your health care provider to make sure that you’re not taking progestin-only birth control.
You also need to keep in mind that taking birth control high in estrogen can cause several side effects. It is often not recommended for women that are experiencing postpartum depression.
Sudafed is another way to use a medication to help dry up breast milk. If you’re wondering how to dry up breast milk fast, this could be a great solution. Sudafed will reduce your milk supply almost instantly.
In small studies, it was found to reduce lactation within one day.
This will not dry up milk instantly, but it will help reduce milk supply while your milk dries up naturally. Do not take more than the recommended dose of Sudafed.
Make sure to ask your health care provider before taking or stopping any medication. Sudafed is not intended to provide assistance with breast milk and has not been approved by the FDA for this purpose, so it’s important to remember that.
3.Various Spices And Over-The-Counter Products
While there are no studies to prove that these will dry up your milk supply, there is plenty to suggest that they decrease your milk supply.
It won’t be enough to dry up your supply completely, but these will definitely do their part in helping you get there faster.
Skip adding peppermint as a spice and pick up a large bag of peppermint candies instead. Simply suck on them throughout the day to help slowly reduce your milk supply.
Menthol Cough Drops
If you’re still breastfeeding, speak with your doctor before using menthol cough drops to decrease your milk supply. Mothers that are already done breastfeeding can suck on menthol cough drops throughout the day to dry up your breast milk fast.
Jasmine, oregano, parsley, and yarrow are known for decreasing your milk supply. It’s advised to avoid them if you’re breastfeeding, but you should enjoy a lot more of them if you’re trying to dry up your breast milk fast.
Avoid Specific Spices
Alfalfa, ginger, garlic, and fennel are known for increasing your milk supply. Avoid these while you’re trying to dry it up.
4. Sage And Peppermint Can Help Dry Up Breast Milk Faster
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Sage is a nice alternative to estrogen birth control for drying up breast milk. While it won’t dry up your breast milk overnight, you can trust that it will help it dry up quicker than it would on its own.
Sage tea is a popular method for including sage in your diet. While it doesn’t have the best taste, a spoonful of sugar or honey can add the perfect amount of sweetness to make it taste delicious.
Drink a couple of eight-ounce cups of sage tea per day to naturally boost your estrogen levels and help your breast milk dry up a little bit faster.
If you can’t deal with the taste of sage tea, opt for peppermint instead. Suck on peppermint candies throughout the day, or enjoy a refreshing cup of peppermint tea in the morning.
Not only will this help reduce your milk supply, but it will also give you a jolt in the morning just like a cup of coffee.
5. Wear A Sports Bra
Wearing a snug sports bra can work wonders! When combined with other methods, this small amount of compression will help your breast milk dry up quicker. Make sure that your bra fits comfortably snug, though.
If it is too tight, it can drastically increase your chances of developing mastitis, an infection in the breast. It should be snug enough that you feel the compression, not pain.
If your breasts are engorged, you might feel a bit more discomfort than you would if they weren’t.
If a sports bra is a bit too much, opt for an adjustable bra and make it a tiny bit tighter than you normally would. This will give you the same compression without the uncomfortable feeling that you can get from a sports bra.
6. Cabbage Leaves
There is no scientific evidence to support that cabbage leaves help relieve engorgement or speed up the process of drying up your milk, but there are plenty of moms that say it works!
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To try this method, wash and dry the cabbage leaves. Cut out the large veins that these leaves are known for. Then, put them on the inside of your bra. Replace them every three hours.
7. Express The Least Amount Possible
If you’re forced to suddenly stop breastfeeding, you’ll feel the urge to pump because your breasts are so engorged, and you’re simply used to breastfeeding.
It’s important to only pump or express milk if you absolutely have to because you cannot deal with the discomfort. The longer that you continue to pump, the longer it will take for your milk to dry up. If possible, avoid it altogether.
Use A Combination Of Methods
If you want to know how to dry up breast milk fast, the secret is to use more than one method. Suck on peppermints throughout the day, and enjoy that cup of sage tea in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, don’t pump if you can avoid it, and keep cabbage leaves in your bra. The more you do to dry up your breast milk fast, the faster it will dry up.
Things To Avoid When Drying Up Breast Milk
As you search the internet in an effort to dry up breast milk, you will come across quite a few ideas. Some of these are great, but some of them are outdated.
They can be dangerous if you do try them, such as the idea to bind your breasts to dry up milk quicker. Avoid these things when you’re trying to dry up breast milk fast.
The belief behind this is that if you do not have as many fluids in your body, it will not be able to produce milk. While this might be true to an extent, the dangerous levels of dehydration required to reach this goal are extremely unsafe.
Mild dehydration can quickly result in you feeling fatigued, sick, and weak. This won’t go well as you attempt to care for a child. Further dehydration can result in fainting and damage to internal organs.
Years ago, it was believed that women who would bind their breasts tightly would stop producing milk faster than those that did not. However, studies have revealed that this will greatly increase your risk of contracting mastitis and of getting a blocked duct.
This can also make already engorged breasts feel more tender and uncomfortable than they already do. Instead, pick up a sports bra or an adjustable bra for a little bit of extra support without overdoing it.
Any Type Of Stimulation
It can feel comforting to massage your breasts when they are feeling uncomfortable, but this any type of stimulation to your breasts or nipples can increase milk production.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable, try using other methods to find the relief that you desperately need. This will help you resist the urge to massage your breasts.
Things That Can Give You Relief While Your Milk Dries Up
As you attempt to dry up your milk, you will experience quite a bit of discomfort. Your breasts will be tender and swollen. They may hurt or feel engorged.
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There are a lot of different things that you can try to help relieve discomfort without pumping your milk or breastfeeding.
Ice packs provide nearly instant relief. They can also have a numbing effect on your nipples that you’ll appreciate if they are particularly sore.
Pick up some flexible ice packs from the store that are intended for sports injuries. These fit easier inside of your bra than other ice packs will.
In lieu of ice packs, some moms put pads in the freezer. Once they are cool, they put them inside their bras. This will provide the same instant relief.
While maxi pads are more flexible than ice packs, they do not stay cold as long. Instead, they will need to be changed every hour or so for continuous relief.
Other options that will work as an ice pack include:
- Frozen vegetables (most people prefer peas or corn because these bags are a bit more flexible)
- Baggies of crushed ice
- A washcloth placed in the freezer
Most women find that the alternative options are more comfortable because they fit around the breast easier, something that cannot be said about the standard, block style ice packs.
If you do go for an ice pack, opt for a gel one. Don’t forget to pick up an extra so that you can alternate by placing some in the freezer while you’re using the other ones.
OTC Pain Reliever
Over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol and Ibuprofen can help provide some relief from the pain. This will not make the swelling go down but can make the tenderness a bit more bearable.
Most women that recently quit breastfeeding choose to use over-the-counter medications in a combination with other methods to provide relief for all of their symptoms.
For example, you can take Tylenol to help with pain and also use an ice pack to help with swelling.
Cabbage leaves are known for helping dry up breast milk, and they also provide soothing comfort. After washing them, put them in the fridge before putting them inside your bra.
It will have the same chilling impact that a cold pad or ice pack will have while simultaneously help to dry up your breast milk. Don’t forget to crush or cut open the large veins. You can easily crush them by rolling a rolling pin over them.
It’s important to note that this method is said to help your milk dry up quickly. If you’re still nursing but looking for relief, don’t use this method. It can result in a decreased supply of milk.
Short, Hot Showers
Hot showers will feel amazing on swollen breasts. If you’re in the shower for too long, it can make your breasts leak a little bit which will encourage them to make more milk, though.
Because of this, it’s important to take short hot showers so that you get the relief that you need without accidentally encouraging your body to produce more milk.
Cuddle More As You Decrease Breastfeeding Sessions
Breastfeeding can help you and your baby bond. As you stop breastfeeding, you might begin to feel a gap between you and your baby.
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Your little one might be fussier because they miss you or used breastfeeding for comfort. You might become depressed, which is common after you quit breastfeeding.
Cuddling with your baby or holding them more can help ensure that you still feel close during the transition.
Wean Before Stopping To Prevent Engorgement
While there are plenty of blogs that recommend stopping cold turkey for those that are wondering how to dry up breast milk fast, it’s important to note that this can cause a great deal of pain and engorgement.
It can also result in a severe leaking issue. Your breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis. This means that the more your little one drinks, which will increase as they get older, the more you will produce.
At the same time, this means that the less they drink, the less breast milk you will produce. This method does take longer to dry up breast milk, but it is a proven method to get your body to stop producing it.
Weaning a baby slowly will get your body to slowly stop producing milk on its own.
Instead of stopping cold turkey, slowly start to switch your little one to formula if they are under a year old, and milk if they are over a year old.
To do this, start by switching one feeding to the bottle or cuddle time with a sippy cup. Continue to do this with the same feeding time for three to five days. Then, add another feeding into the rotation.
Avoid switching out two feedings back to back as this can make a baby a bit too fussy if they are not happy with the transition. Instead, space them out.
For example, supplement a mid-morning feeding first. Then, add a mid-afternoon feeding to it. Most moms prefer to supplement comfort feedings, such as the one before bedtime, for last. These are usually the hardest for moms and babies alike.
If you can wean your baby slowly off the breast, it will be easier on both your baby and your breasts. If you have to stop breastfeeding suddenly, these methods will teach you how to dry up breast milk.
When you’re trying to learn how to dry up breast milk fast, you need results that will work. Trying multiple methods listed above after slowly weaning your baby off the breast will help you dry up your breast milk sooner instead of later.