How To Stop Breastfeeding Cold Turkey?

Every mother wants what is best for their baby, however, sometimes what is recommended as “best” just isn’t possible—such as breastfeeding. You may have found yourself in a situation, as I was, and had to learn about stopping breastfeeding cold turkey due to medical reasons. You may need to stop immediately for personal reasons or to head back to work. Whatever your specific case, this helpful guide will walk you through stopping breastfeeding cold turkey without too much worry and a happy, well-fed baby.

Go for Comfort First

While in a short while you will be able to put on that lacy bra you got for your birthday, right now when stopping breastfeeding cold turkey you will want to make comfort a number one priority. Get yourself a comfortable yet very supportive sports bra. This will help keep your breasts supported without making them feel like they are on lock-down as they become engorged in the first few days. The sports bra should have comfortable shoulder bands and elastic around the rib cage to ensure there is a little bit of flexibility while moving. You will have to wear this even to bed for the first week, at least.

Hit the Produce Section

Many nurses, midwives and lactation consultants recommend using cabbage leaves to relieve the pain of engorgement. After having the cabbage sit in the fridge for a little while, simply place a cabbage leaf on each breast, between your skin and sports bra. The cool feel of the cabbage helps to soothe the pain and discomfort that comes with stopping breastfeeding cold turkey and helps to not feel so full. Experts are not sure if there are actual healing properties in the cabbage leaves, or if it is the cool compress they provide, but they do in fact work wonders for many moms who must stop breastfeeding right away.

Pain Relievers are Your Friend

For the first two or three days after stopping breastfeeding cold turkey, you will likely experience pain from the engorgement of your breasts. They will hurt just to touch even in the slightest way. It is absolutely fine to go ahead and use ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve this pain. It will help you get through your day, especially if you are at work, and even more importantly, it will help you sleep with less pain.

Reduce Friction

This may seem like a no brainer, because let’s face it, you won’t want to feel ANY kind of friction on your breast but you have to reduce the friction against your nipples especially. Even slight rubbing against your sports bra can stimulate your nipple and that will trigger your body to naturally make milk. This is counter-productive to drying up as quickly as possible so it is best to make sure your sports bra is snug against the nipple, or you use a product like NipGuards which are designed for runners but would work wonders in keeping your nipples friction-free.

Tea Time

It is said that drinking sage tea will help in drying up your milk faster. If you drink anywhere from two to five cups of warm sage brewed or steeped tea, you will help to dry up your milk supply in about a week’s time. If you don’t like drinking tea or just hate the taste, you can try adding dried sage to your food such as in your mashed potatoes or added to some vegetable juice for combined nutritional value.

Cool them Down

Something as simple as a bag of frozen vegetables can become your new best friend. Just like hot water will stimulate milk production (so avoid those hot, steamy showers!) a cold compress can decrease the milk supply and production, making stopping breastfeeding cold turkey a little easier. This means that when you are in the shower, don’t let the hot water hit your breasts directly and avoid staying in the shower for prolonged periods. Instead you have to use cold, as uncomfortable as that might be, which will help relieve pain but also prevent infections of milk ducts or mastitis.


Seek Medical Help

If your attempt at stopping breastfeeding cold turkey is far too painful on your own, or if you feel frustrated at the time it is taking for your milk production to cease, you can see your doctor for a prescribed medication. This will give you a chance to speak to a professional who also knows your complete medical history and can advise you on something that will work specifically for your case.



There is no need to panic if you find yourself in a situation where stopping breasting feeding cold turkey is your only option. By following these suggestions and tips, you will get through the hardest parts with a little more ease and comfort. The keys to stopping breastfeeding cold turkey are:

  • Wearing a very supportive, yet comfortable sports bra until your milk dries up
  • Lining your sports bra with cold, clean cabbage leaves to relieve engorgement
  • Take over the counter pain relievers to ease your discomfort and pain
  • Ensure your nipples aren’t being rubbed up against and you can protect them with products such as Nipguards designed for runners
  • Drink sage tea or incorporate dried sage leaves into your foods
  • Apply cold compresses whenever you have a chance, to help with engorgement and to avoid infection from setting in
  • If you are experiencing difficulty, talk to your doctor about a prescription
Jennifer Shackelford

Hi, I’m Jennifer, the founder and editor of TheMamaNeeds.com. On The Mama Needs, I write about experience with pregnancy, raising kids, and nutrition for both kids and expectant moms.. I love that blogging brings parents together and lets our readers know they’re not the only ones going through these experiences. I love seeing comments on my posts that say “I thought it was just me! I’m so glad it’s not!” Being a parent is hard, but friends and blogs really help.

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