Whoever said, “Don’t cry over spilled milk” obviously never breastfed.
Our milk is gold, providing everything our little one’s need to grow. But what happens when this amazing, natural process isn’t as intuitive as you thought it would be?
As complicated as it is beautiful, and as soon as you think you got the hang of nursing, you wake up one day with sore, engorged breasts and more milk than you know what to do with.
How did I end up with too much milk?
There are a few usual reasons you may be looking to dry up your breast milk.
One possible reason is if you’ve decided it is time to wean your child off nursing and you want a gentle way to help your body drop nursing sessions.
A different reason, usually happening earlier in your breastfeeding adventure, is if your milk has not regulated to your child’s needs and you are producing too much milk, causing painful engorgement or clogged ducts.
Depending on your situation, you may use different methods to reduce your milk supply, but regardless, it is important to discuss the process with your doctor or lactation consultant before trying any of the strategies.
You may see results quickly so closely watch your supply to make sure you don’t end up on the other side and have too little milk to satisfy your little one.
Below are a few ways to help dry up your supply fairly quickly.
Herbs are your friends.
There are a variety of natural remedies that you can use to get quick results.
Be sure to keep a journal and closely document your use and the changes in your milk, especially if you only want to slightly reduce your supply, as you can see results rather quickly.
- Sage can be eaten whole, pressed into an oil or made into a tea by placing a teaspoon of dried sage steeped in a cup of boiling water. The tea will prove to be slightly less effective, so you can drink up to 6 cups per day. Sage is best used when weaning and will help to minimize engorgement as you begin to reduce the number of feedings per day.
- Other helpful herbs include peppermint, spearmint, thyme, parsley, chickweed, black walnut, oregano, and lemon balm, to name a few. Choose which taste is most appealing to you and increase your consumption.
- If you are only trying to reduce your supply minimally, you may find that cough drops containing these herbs can help. Otherwise, eating the herb whole or drinking it as a tea are effective approaches.
- Cabbage, although not an herb, is an additional, all-natural remedy that can help reduce painful engorgement. Place chilled, clean green cabbage leaves on breasts between feedings to help reduce milk supply. Again, pay close attention to how your breasts feel and changes in quantity of milk to avoid overdoing it and decreasing too quickly.
The pump is your friend too.
If you have access to a pump you have another option for reducing your milk supply.
This is often the approach used when your body hasn’t regulated to the needs of your baby and your producing far too much milk for your baby to drink.
Some signs that you may have too much milk include…
- Excessive leakage between nursing sessions
- Milk spraying out during nursing
- Painfully engorged breasts, especially quickly after a nursing session
- Baby changing to a shallow latch (he or she may be trying to regulate the fire hydrant spray), pulling away or whining and crying during nursing
One way to utilize the pump to decrease your milk supply is to follow these 4 quick steps recommended by Baby Center:
- Using the pump, drain both breasts before nursing.
- Allow your little one to nurse as frequently as he or she likes, but always use the same breast for the next few sessions.
- You will need to express a tiny bit of milk from the other breast to reduce any engorgement until several nursing sessions have passed and you can switch to this side.
- By only using one breast for several sessions you are signaling to your body that you need less milk. Most likely you should see results in a couple of days.
*Also, if you’ve been pumping to create a backup supply of milk, stop until your supply is what you want it to be! Pumping signals to your body that the baby needs more milk and you will continue to over produce.
If you find these strategies aren’t working, the next step may be to speak with your doctor about a moderate use of Sudafed or a short birth control prescription, both of which have proven to reduce milk supply.
And don’t forget…
The most important part of regulating your milk supply is to remember that just like everything else with your baby, this too is just a phase.
Before you know it your herb tea or the staggered nursing sessions will help you meet your baby’s needs and you will have again figured out another step in the process of raising a beautiful baby.