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Breast Feeding

Breast milk

12/11/2006

Question:

I just stopped nursing my daughter which I was only nursing for about a week. My breasts are getting really painful and starting to itch. How long will this continue? How long will it take my breast milk to totally dry up? And is there anything that I can do?

Answer:

Weaning, as the word implies is best done very gradually.

At one week, prolactin levels are very high, and breast milk is being produced at an accelerating rate.

The most comfortable way to stop breast milk production and breast pain would be to breast feed or pump your breasts until almost "empty", and to start giving formula to the baby after each breastfeeding session. Then your milk will "dry up" slowly and without any pain or risk of mastitis.

The itching could be due to the overfilled breasts, or due to a yeast infection, although this seems a bit early (only one week post partum) for that, unless you are really prone to yeast and/or had antibiotics at delivery.

Crushed, cold cabbage leaves help to reduce the inflammation and swelling while waiting for the milk supply diminish.

You can also get some Cabocreme at www.cabocreme.com which is made of the active ingredient in cabbage leaves.

Taking Sudafed has helped some people as well.

However, for the acute pain, draining the breasts will give you the most immediate relief.

For more information:

Go to the Breast Feeding health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM
Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati