Breast Milk 101: How Long Does it Take for Breast Milk to Dry Up?Anna
Every mother’s journey with breastfeeding is unique. However, there always comes a point when baby begins weaning and your breast milk starts to dry up. This is a significant milestone that marks the end of a cherished chapter.
Weaning, and the eventual milk cessation, are often driven by necessity, choice, or a mix of both. But regardless of the why, it’s important to understand how long it takes for breast milk to dry up and what the transition entails.
Today, we are going to answer all your questions about breast milk drying up. We’ll explore signs and causes of a decrease in milk supply in addition to providing tips for comfort and self-care during this milestone.
When Does Breast Milk Dry Up?
Lactation is a beautiful process that provides baby with essential nutrients they need to grow and thrive. The quiet moments spent breastfeeding are also great for bonding with baby.
But like with every journey, breastfeeding also eventually comes to an end. Whether you are following baby-led weaning or have decided not to breastfeed, your body will begin to stop producing breast milk.
Lactation is often driven by supply and demand. The amount of milk will decrease if there is no demand for it.
So, how long does it take for breast milk to dry up? As Healthline explains, it can take several weeks for breast milk to dry up. However, for some people, this process only takes days, while for others it can take months to reduce your milk supply.
Factors Affecting the Drying Up of Breast Milk
As you can see, there’s no one answer to how long for breast milk to dry up. It depends on many factors, including your baby’s age and how much milk your body makes.
Here are some of the factors that can impact when breast milk dries up:
Weaning your baby is one process that naturally contributes to your breast milk drying up. When you’ve decided to stop breastfeeding, it’s best to wean baby gradually. As La Leche League explains, if you wean abruptly, there is a risk that your breasts will become painfully engorged, and you might develop a breast infection.
Gradually weaning is the best way to reduce your milk supply over weeks. If you do experience pain or discomfort, try hand expressing or pumping a small amount.
Frequency of Breastfeeding or Pumping
As we said before, how much breast milk you produce is about supply and demand. By reducing your breastfeeding or pumping sessions (which is a part of the weaning process) your breast milk supply will gradually dry up.
Baby’s Age and Needs
As baby grows and their diet becomes more varied, they may naturally require less breastmilk. A breastfeeding session may be shorter when baby is older since they are eating other foods.
Stress & Environment
Verywell Health explains that physical, emotional, and psychological stress can reduce your supply of breast milk. If you’re exhausted and under a lot of stress, it can begin affecting your milk supply.
The good news is, you can begin increasing your supply again with some lifestyle changes. By creating a relaxing environment and reducing stress levels you can begin to produce more milk again. Also, consider stimulating your breasts more to help the process.
Signs That Your Milk Supply Is Decreasing
Whether you’re intentionally weaning or gradually reducing the frequency of breastfeeding, it’s important to listen to your body. Let’s explore some of the signs of a gradual decrease in milk production:
- Changes in the breast’s physical appearance: As your milk supply drys up, your breasts will feel and look less full. This is a normal part of the process.
- Baby’s behavior and feeding patterns: As your milk supply drys up naturally, baby will have shorter feeding sessions.
- Less milk production: Of course, you may also notice your milk supply reducing if you pump.
The signs your milk supply is drying up can be bittersweet. It can be equal parts relief and also sad that this chapter is coming to a close. Being a part of a breastfeeding support group can help you navigate these feelings.
Can Breast Milk Come Back After Drying Out?
Yes! There are many reasons why you may have stopped breastfeeding long enough for your supply to dry out. Maybe you had a medical procedure or had to take time away from baby. No matter the case, it’s possible for breast milk to come back after drying out in a process called re-lactation.
La Leche League outlines the best strategy for re-lactation. It includes more breast stimulation throughout the day and supplementing your baby’s diet with infant formula and bottle feeding as needed.
How to Dry Up Breast Milk Supply
If you’re seeking to dry up your breast milk supply, there are some steps you can take to help the process happen naturally. Here are some ways to help your breast milk dry up.
As we said before, weaning is one of the best things you can do to begin drying up your breast milk supply. Gradually decreasing feeding sessions encourages your breasts to produce less milk while also avoiding any discomfort that can come from engorgement or clogged ducts.
Don’t Go Cold-Turkey
It’s best to not stop breastfeeding abruptly. However, even during a gradual let-down, you may still feel some discomfort. Make sure to wear a supportive bra and use ice packs and pain medication to help with any discomfort. Hand expressing in very small quantities can also help with engorgement.
Avoid Nipple Stimulation
Verywell Health recommends avoiding any nipple stimulation as you try to dry your milk supply. While it can be tempting to check if breast milk is still being made, it’s best to avoid hand expressing or pumping during this process.
Did you know certain herbs can help dry up your milk supply? According to Healthline, herbs that have the potential to dry up breast milk include:
Herbal teas can help you gradually reduce your supply.
Timeline to Dry Up Your Milk Supply
So, how long does it take for breast milk to dry up? It depends!
Choosing to stop breastfeeding is a personal choice that is sometimes made out of necessity. As this final chapter in breastfeeding comes to a close, you can commemorate your journey with custom breastmilk jewelry from KeepsakeMom.
Shop our selection of sentimental breastmilk jewelry today.