Lactation suppression, or the use of interventions to prevent or decrease milk production, is a consideration for new mothers in numerous cases.
Lactation is the
process of milk production and secretion by the mammary glands of the breast,
usually with the intention of breastfeeding a newborn or an infant.
Reasons to Suppress
While breast milk is
the ideal form of nutrition for an infant, lactation suppression, or the use of
interventions to prevent or decrease milk production, is a consideration in
numerous cases, some of which are described below:
The mother does not want to breastfeed– In such cases, as
production is still continuing, breast milk will accumulate and cause
discomfort and pain.
The mother wants to wean off breastfeeding– there comes a time
when mothers want to move their child from breast milk to formula or baby food.
In such cases, the accumulation of breast milk, which is no longer being
consumed by the child, can be considerably uncomfortable and painful.
The mother is not capable of breastfeeding– there are situations
in which a mother who wishes to breastfeed simply cannot do so. This may occur
due to conditions such as Acute Mastitis or cracked nipples, which make the act
of breastfeeding extremely painful.
The mother cannot stop milk secretions even after her child has
been weaned– Often, milk
secretion continues even after a baby has been successfully moved from breast
milk to formula and/or baby food. In such cases, the mother may consider lactation
suppression to stop production and the subsequent discomfort caused by
accumulation (due to diminished consumption).
The child cannot tolerate breast milk– Sometimes, a newborn
or infant may not tolerate breast milk well. In fact, breast milk consumption
may lead to stomach problems such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, etc. In
such cases, a mother may choose to stop breastfeeding and utilize lactation
The woman does not have a child to breastfeed– A woman who has
either lost her child or given him/her up for adoption will typically not need
to breastfeed and may, therefore, consider lactation suppression.
Top 10 Techniques to Suppress
Some of the numerous
methods to suppress lactation are described below. Other methods may also exist.
1. Stop Suckling
the baby ceases suckling, breast milk production will diminish and, ultimately
cease. This method works because suckling is the act that ultimately initiates
milk formation and secretion. To utilize this method,
start gradually weaning your child off breast milk and introducing formula
and/or baby food.
2. Distract Yourself
Mothers aiming to
suppress lactation should attempt to distract themselves by listening to music,
reading books, et cetera and let their babies entertain themselves.
method is effective because it moves the mother’s focus away from the child’s
every discomfort and reduces the child’s crying, which naturally induces
lactation in the mother.
3. Stop Pumping
While some erroneously
believe that pumping will lead to the drying of milk, the reality is that it is
the opposite: stopping breast pump use, that can reduce or stop lactation by
decreasing nipple stimulation. In fact, decrease in any kind of nipple
stimulation (i.e. stroking, caressing, et cetera) can aid in lactation
of an appropriately-sized bra can be very helpful in decreasing or stopping
lactation. The well-fitting and supportive bra decreases lactation via
compression of the engorged breasts.
5. Breast Pads
breast or nursing pads, which are typically intended to absorb leaking breast
milk, can aid in lactation suppression via compression of the milk ducts.
Application of cold sponges or gel packs can not only sooth painful conditions,
but can also reduce milk production through the reduction of nipple
7. Cabbage Leaf
The application of
cool cabbage leaves to one (i.e. the breast that you do not wish to use to
breastfeed) or both breasts can also decrease lactation and leaking via
compression of the milk ducts.
method has also been found to be soothing and to aid in decreasing discomfort.
Lastly, when using cabbage leaves, be sure to change the leaf every two hours.
8. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6, which
usually helps in the transmission of nerve signals, brain development, and the
production of mood-influencing hormones such as serotonin, has also been found
to cease milk production in a few cases. However, there is no scientific data
that supports this finding.
mothers should consult with their healthcare provider prior to ingesting a high
amount of vitamin B6 to avoid any adverse effects.
9. Sage Tea
Sage tea, which is
available in tea, tablet, infusion, and oil forms can be used in addition to
cabbage leaf for lactation suppression. Using sage tea also has the benefits of
relieving sore throats as well as improving mood and perception.
tea is best used after a child has been weaned from breast milk and should not
be used while breastfeeding.
that can lead to rapid lactation suppression do exist. Among these are the dopamine
agonist Bromocriptine, various birth control pills, and Clomiphene Citrate.
These function via reducing release of Prolactin, the milk-forming hormone, and
by stimulating the Prolactin Inhibiting Factor, which stops milk production.
Furthermore, anti-inflammatory pain
killers, which can relieve breast pain, may also help in lactation suppression.
is also important to note that drinking ample water does not hinder lactation
suppression and, thus, water restriction should not be used as a method to
decrease milk output. On the other hand, relieving breast load via pumping or
squeezing your breasts, which may be employed for temporary relief, does hinder
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