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Q&A: When will my breast milk dry up?

Q: How long does it take for my milk to really dry up?

A: The length of time it takes for you to stop producing milk can really vary from woman to woman. It could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Some women can even notice milk longer than that.

When you are ready to stop breastfeeding, it is best to try to do it gradually and wean your baby. Weaningis a process of slowly eliminating feeds from your baby’s feeding schedule. Some tips for making this process easier are:

  • Wear a supportive bra (a sports bra is your best bet).
  • Avoid stimulating your breasts (i.e., pumping or letting water hit them in shower).
  • Use ice packs.
  • Drink two to three cups of sage tea each day.
  • Use chilled cabbage leaves to help with engorgement. Many women will place them against the skin inside their bra. (Do not use cabbage if you are allergic to sulfa medications.)
  • If you have extreme discomfort, pumping or hand expressing a bit of milk is OK to relieve yourself.
  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed by your doctor to help with discomfort.
  • Watch for plugged ducts or mastitis.
  • Talk with a lactation consultant for more advice and guidance.

Also, be gentle with yourself emotionally. Even when you think you are ready, ending this relationship with your baby can trigger a feeling of sadness for many women. As your baby moves into a new phase of independence, she will be less reliant on you—but you should still feel proud of all you have done to provide such
wonderful nutrition for your child.

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