This is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to cure, treat or diagnose any illness or disease. See a qualified Health Practitioner or IBCLC for your specific issues.
Drying up a milk supply is done for many reasons. Weaning should be done gradually over time, but for some who are nursing this may not be the case. For most this is a delicate time and can be frustrating, sad and even painful physically and emotionally. For those this Simply Herbal empathizes with you and your family. It is completely fine to cry, mourn and be angry. There is no shame in these feelings.
Some parents chose not to breastfeed for whatever their reasons. This Blog is not about those various reasons. Remember a child can be bottle-fed skin to skin, wear baby and do other things as if you were breastfeeding.
Things to remember: Do drink fluids. Unless there is a valid medical reason, fluid restriction is not recommended.
Do Not, Bind your breasts. It is uncomfortable, can contribute to plugged ducts, mastitis that is more painful and milk may leak anyway. Do wear a good fitting well supportive bra free of underwires, and extra tight bands. You may need a little cup room for some cabbage leaves or a breast pad.
Most folks do well drying up a milk supply. You only pump or express enough milk off for comfort to relieve pressure and minimize any tissue damage. They drink 2-4 cups of sage tea a day or using tincture 1-3 droppersful per day. Homeopathic Lac Caninum 30 c also helps. The majority place cold/ cool cabbage leaves in their bra and change the leaves as they wilt and put fresh ones in for 24-48 hours. For most this works well.
Herbs that are known to dry up a milk supply are Parsley (cilantro), Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Mints, Cabbage. Some commercial brands of antihistamines are also dry up milk. Hormonal birth control is also known to dry or minimize supply as well.
The parents I usually see have waited until milk has come in and they are bursting and in pain and may not have or been able to reach out for help. In these cases I have used a somewhat unconventional way of drying up the supply while being able to safely save some early colostrum or milk to feed to infant in case of illness or formula intolerance. ( We freeze it) This is my route and always asking the patients permission to assess and touch breast area, I will take a bit of olive or jojoba oil and rub into my hands. I massage the breast using a reverse pressure softening, massage. I make sure that I show mom how to do this and to get under the breast and up into the underarm area. I try to express a little off the nipple and areola into a cup. I then use a hospital grade or other good breast pump and allow the mom to pump both sides until the breast is very soft, almost dry. I then do the cabbage leaves in the bra for about 30 minutes, until wilted. I also have mom take my dry up formula or sage tea every 4-6 hours during day. Usually we have to pump off only 1 or two more times, replacing the cabbage leaves as they wilt. After the 3rd a partial pumping we do not pump or express any more. Basically the first pump or two is to get the breast empty and dry as possible. and allow the cabbage to do its magic with less interference. Does this consultation take a bit longer? Yes, but many are grateful. I usually pick up the pump in 24 hours as after that it is not needed.
Interesting story. I had a mom who about accidentally dried up her supply over a day or two of eating several servings of Tabouli. A dish made with cilantro and parsley. She did recover her supply by using the Milk In formula and her pump she had for work. She continued to nurse for several months.
These are just suggestions to aid families that choose to or cannot breastfeed. Hope this helps.