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How to dry up breast milk: The do’s and don’ts to know

Tips for getting through this stage and moving on to the next chapter of parenting

A mother holding her newborn baby with her partner looking on
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Moms, you did it. You breastfed your child for as long as you could, and it’s time to wean that baby off and take your body back. Or, you’re just over it and can’t do it anymore. Whether you are mentally, emotionally, or physically over breastfeeding, when you decide to stop, it takes more than just closing up shop.

You didn’t start breastfeeding overnight, and it won’t be that quick to stop, either. How to dry up breast milk is a process, and here’s how to get through it so you can enjoy the next stage of parenthood.

Mom watching sleeping baby.
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Before you start to dry up your supply

Let’s get the initial inquiries out of the way.

How long it will take

All moms want to know how long something takes. You won’t like the answer, but this is one of those it’s different for every person kind of deals. Some women find it takes days up to a week for their supply to dry up, while others need a couple of weeks. It depends on factors like your diet, the amount of milk you produce, and how often you nurse or pump if you are weaning.

It might hurt

Will it be painful? Yes, it could be. Maybe not quite as painful as those first few days of learning how to breastfeed, but it could get really uncomfortable. Just keep looking at that sweet little face you created to make it feel better.

It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother

Whatever your reasons for wanting to dry up your breast milk, it’s the right decision. Don’t let anyone guilt you into trying to keep going if you don’t want to or can’t.

Mom holding her baby up to her face.
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Ways to dry up your supply

No more breastfeeding

Stopping breastfeeding is the biggest (and most obvious) way to dry up your supply. We say from experience when you decide to stop breastfeeding, slow and steady wins the race. Slowly reduce the number of feedings, shorten the time spent pumping, and skip pumping sessions over some time. 

Going cold turkey will lead to discomfort and pain, and you experienced enough of that birthing a baby and then learning how to breastfeed. Being engorged or developing mastitis is not the way. Don’t do that to yourself.

Stop eating all of those milk-producing foods

Scale back on the extra protein, leafy greens, teas, grains, and other foods and drinks you’ve been using to help boost your supply.

Try home remedies

If it worked for moms hundreds and thousands of years ago, it could work for you. Sage and jasmine in tea will lower prolactin levels, which is the hormone that produces milk. Parsley does the same, so add it to as many of your meals as possible. 

Peppermint oil rubbed directly on the skin will help with the pain from engorgement while reducing your supply. But you shouldn’t use it if you still do skin-to-skin with your little one or are still nursing.


If nothing else is working, or you want a faster way to dry up the milk bank, talk to your doctor about taking medications like birth control or decongestants. Talk to your doctor first to make sure the dosage is correct and to monitor side effects. You should only go the medication route if you are completely done with nursing, so keep that in mind.

A mom and her baby in bed.
Kevin Liang / Unsplash

What not to do while decreasing your supply

Don’t worry about a timeline

Everyone’s breastfeeding journey is different. Whether you went a week, a month, or a year nursing your baby, whenever you decide to stop is your business. Don’t worry about how long anyone else fed their baby or how long it took them to stop.

Don’t ignore certain symptoms

If you have a fever, if it takes longer than a few weeks to dry up, if you feel extremely sad or anxious, if you notice a sudden rash, or if you feel nauseous, see your doctor. It’s better to be safe and make sure you’re OK to continue caring for your baby.

Don’t try to bind your breasts

Don’t do it. Binding your chest will only lead to more pain and possible engorgement.

Don’t be a hero

If you’re in pain or experiencing engorgement or mastitis, don’t tough it out or wait to see if things get better on their own. If you are struggling, see your doctor or a lactation consultant.

From start to finish, breastfeeding is a commitment, so when you are ready to end things and put a little distance between your body and your baby, knowing how to dry up your supply is key. If you are on the breastfeeding train and want to jump off, know the best way to dry up breast milk with the least amount of discomfort possible. Just in time to learn all about how a toddler will make you question your sanity.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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