January 20, 2020
Keeping the Breasts Comfortable During Weaning
When the breasts feel uncomfortably full, mom should either manually express or pump just to comfort. Leaving the breasts somewhat full sends feedback to the lactocytes to reduce milk production.
Cold compresses can help to reduce engorgement and a hot shower can help to release extra milk when feeling too full. Some medications can reduce the milk supply. One dose of pseudoephedrine 60mg has been shown to reduce milk supply by 24%1. The birth control with 35mg of ethinyl estradiol will decrease the milk supply, often within the first week.
Natural substances can also reduce the supply2. Peppermint is one option, such as strong lozenges or peppermint tea. The herb sage also can reduce the supply. Sage can be purchased as an extract, tea, or as a fresh or dried herb which can be added to food.
After weaning, mothers are often able to express drops of milk for several months, and sometimes years. Periodic manual expression of the breasts to check for milk drops will drive the prolactin level up and sustain or increase milk production.
- Aljazaf K, Hale TW, Ilett KF, et al. Pseudoephedrine: Effects on milk production in women and estimation of infant exposure via breastmilk. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2003;56:18–24
- Lactmed National Institutes of Health Drug and Lactation Database https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK501922/ (accessed 12/14/19)