I’ve never had a miscarriage, a stillborn child, or lost an infant so it’s a difficult subject for me to broach. If you have experienced a loss, I grieve with you. I’ve read a few stories from bloggers about how they’ve chosen to handle loosing a child. One lady spoke about getting paint to repaint the nursery after a still birth. She explained how the experience caused her to start crying and lactating in her car. Another lady decided to turn a loss into something positive. Instead of allowing her milk to dry up, she decided to pump and save milk so that others could use it. She’s a brave woman. For some woman, pumping is too much of a reminder of the pain they already feel so they’d rather stop lactating.
There is also another kind of loss. When one discovers that she cannot breastfeed her child, she feels a sense of loss too. It’s different than loosing a child, but some women feel less than a good mother because of the circumstance. I hope that you know that you are not a bad mother if you cannot breastfeed your child. As they say, these things happen and it’s not your fault.
Whatever the reason to stop breastfeeding, I have a few tips to help grieving mothers naturally stop milk production.
Engorgement is a common complaint. Simply express enough milk to relieve the pain, but do not express too much as this can cause milk production to rise. Use ice packs to help with any pain and to slow milk production. Using heat or taking hot showers can cause engorgement. Taking 200 mg of B6 daily also helps. It’s important to take precautions as engorgement can lead to mastitis and clogged milk ducts.
Cold cabbage leaves also seems to help with pain, and some women say cabbage stops milk production. Many women suggest washing and drying green cabbage leaves and then refrigerating them. Then tuck them into a sports bra, and make sure that the leaves are applied directly to your breasts.
I’ve also read that binding ones breasts helps slow and eventually stop milk production. You want to wear a tight sports bra, but not so tight that you are uncomfortable. You also want to wear the bra at night, and if you like, you can sleep on your stomach.
Sage has a natural form of estrogen which can also help stop milk production. You can drink it daily in tea form or rub sage oil directly on your breasts.
Milk production stops on its own usually about 1-4 weeks depending on how long you were breastfeeding or if you have breastfed in the past. Some women say using the above tips stopped milk production within three days. If you want to stop lactating, speak to your physician or a lactation consultant for any additional guidance.
A word of caution: some hospitals can provide women with shots or pills to stop milk production. Unfortunately these chemically laden methods have inherent problems. In a Swedish study, 22 percent of women given Bromocriptine, also proscribed to treat pituitary tumors and Parkinson’s disease, experienced adverse side affects including vomiting, head aches, and worsening of liver problems. Our bodies naturally stop lactating so it’s advisable to do so without any chemical interference.
My heart goes out to you and I wish you all the best for the future.
Article by Laura Weirich
Laura Weirich has been married for four years and has two sons. She's been breastfeeding for nearly two years and currently tandem nurses her toddler and infant. A big proponent of breastfeeding, she's been educating her friends and family about the benefits of breastfeeding and helping other women along the way. When she's not nursing, she chases a toddler all day, washes cloth diapers, tries to catch a few zs and reads up on the latest research about children.
Laura has written 33 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.
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