How to Dry Up Your Breast Milk Supply

Breastfeeding and breast pumping comes to an end for all of us. Sometimes it fades away on its own as your baby weans, or as you decrease pumping frequency over time. But other times, you may be looking to dry up your milk supply at a quicker pace.

If you're in that place right now, you likely have lots of questions. You might want to know the best way to decrease supply without risking engorgement or mastitis. You might also want to know how to ensure that your baby is happy and well-fed as less breast milk becomes available to them. You might also want to know if there are any safe medications or herbs you can take to speed things along.

If you are looking for answers to these questions and more, you've come to the right place. We teamed up with experts who answered parents' most pressing questions about how to dry up breast milk supply.

Why Would Someone Want to Dry Up Their Breast Milk Supply?

In short, a person might want to dry up their breast milk supply when they are ready to end their breastfeeding, chestfeeding, or pumping journeys as a child ages. Perhaps they are ready to wean their child, and are looking to taper off their milk supply to support this parenting transition.

However, there are are many additional reasons why a parent might choose to dry up their breast milk that goes beyond weaining, says Nicole Peluso, IBCLC, lactation consultant and manager of lactation services and education at Aeroflow Breastpumps. These may include:

Simply not enjoying the experience Having a mental health issue that may be negatively affected by breastfeeding Having a history of sexual abuse that makes breastfeeding or pumping uncomfortable or triggering Feeling that breastfeeding isn't working, because of an ongoing breastfeeding challenge or lack of support for continuing

Some parents need to dry up their milk supply because they've experienced a stillbirth or other pregnancy loss, says Lina Bublys, RN, IBCLC, lactation consultant at Phoenix Children's Hospital. "When you are pregnant and give birth, your milk supply comes in whether you want it or not," she explains. "Therefore, if you are choosing an alternate feeding method or if your baby has passed, you may choose to dry up your milk as you do not need to produce it."

Other parents may choose to wean because of a health condition or medication they're taking that's not compatible with breastfeeding, Peluso notes. According to the CDC, most medications are compatible with breastfeeding, but there are certainly exceptions, and you should discuss any medications you are taking with a health care provider.

Although most health conditions don't require weaning, there are some that the CDC lists as incompatible with breastfeeding, including:

Having an infant with galactosemia (a rare metabolic disorder) Being a breastfeeding parent who has an active case of HIV that is not suppressed by antivirals Infection with human T-cell lymphotropic virus, type I or type II Infection with Ebola virus  Taking illicit drugs, such as opioids, cocaine, or PCP

Weaning from breastfeeding or drying up milk can come with a lot of conflicting emotions—and let's face it, feelings of guilt and even shame. It's okay to feel whatever you feel, but you don't need to justify your reasons for wanting to dry up your supply. Anyone who wants or needs to stop breastfeeding or pumping should feel validated and supported in doing so, period.

news flash