How to Handle Your Decreasing Milk Supply (Emotionally and Physically)
By Jacqueline Harris
If you are feeling tired, teary or sad during the weaning process, then don’t worry. Those feelings are perfectly natural and are most often short lived. In fact, millions of women just like you that are attempting to wean their children feel the exact same way. But, what is causing this surge of emotions? There is no easy answer to this question. However, many researchers believe that these feelings are caused by hormonal changes that are taking place in your body during the weaning process caused by a drop in prolactin levels during the weaning process. On the other hand, many believe that these feelings are caused by the feelings of loss at giving up that closeness between mother and child. The key to handling this situation is to realize that you can and will get through this. Here are some additional tips to dealing with your feelings as well as the physical discomforts of weaning.
1. Take your time and don’t rush the weaning process. If you wean too quickly, the more acute your hormone level shift will be and this will cause feelings of acute sadness and/or depression. By taking your time, you can make sure that you and baby are able to adequately adjust to the weaning process.
2. Work through your feelings and don’t feel guilty. You know what it best for you and your child and you have made the decision that is right for the best of you. Instead of feeling guilty, discuss your feelings with someone you trust or write them in a private journal.
Now, we’ll discuss how to deal with the physical aspects of weaning.
Although it is an age-old practice, it is not a good idea to bind your breast to help reduce your milk supply. It is known to cause breast infection, breast abscesses and plugged ducts.
It is perfectly acceptable to express milk in small quantities; just enough to relieve the discomfort. However, remember to only pump or hand express milk for a few short minutes. The less milk you express, the quicker your body will get the message that it doesn’t need to produce as much milk.
Another trick that works for many women is to take a hot shower, which will relieve the fullness and make you feel more comfortable during this process.
If you are feeling a lot of discomfort, ibuprofen will help, as will cabbage leaf compresses, which are outlined below.
Sage tea is an excellent herbal and natural choice for decreasing milk supply. Simply add 1 tablespoon of dried sage in 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 15 minutes and enjoy. For best results, drink 2-6 cups each day. If you only have sage tincture, use 30-60 drops in the same amount of boiling water.
Green cabbage leave compresses are excellent for decreasing milk supply. The cabbage leaves should be chilled (refrigerated) and used topically on the breasts in the bra cups. Once again, be careful if you are using this process during the weaning process.
Another excellent treatment to decrease milk flow is to apply fresh, crushed jasmine flowers to the breasts. There have been studies conducted that confirm that fresh jasmine works well to decreased milk flow.
Other herbs that work in varying degrees to decrease milk supply are peppermint, yarrow, lemon balm, oregano and sorrel. These seem to work with varying success in different women, so try it and see what works best for you.
Sudafed, which is an over the counter decongestant will drastically reduce milk production by up to 20%. However, this should only be used in extreme situations.