During pregnancy, the body starts preparing to make breast milk early – that’s why your breasts might have been tender or sore. After all that preparation, when your baby was ready to enter the world, your breasts were ready to feed them. When your breasts are ready to stop making milk is a different question, and the answer depends on how you choose to feed your little one.
If you exclusively breastfeed
Breastfeeding regularly sends a signal to your body to keep creating more milk. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you might not stop making milk until you stop breastfeeding. However, it’s possible that if you breastfeed for a long time, your supply could decrease on its own.
When you do stop breastfeeding, it will likely take several weeks for your milk to dry up completely. If you’ve been nursing for a short amount of time, it might only take a few days to a week. The longer you nurse, the longer it takes for your body to stop producing milk, and it’s possible that it could take months until production stops completely.
If you breastfeed and bottle feed
Your body doesn’t know what a baby is eating in their free time, so your milk production doesn’t depend on how often you use the bottle, but rather how often you nurse.
If you’re breastfeeding with a little bit of bottle feeding, your body will keep making milk until you taper off. If you’re bottle feeding with a little bit of breastfeeding, it’s possible that your supply might decrease or stop before you’re planning to stop breastfeeding.
If you exclusively bottle feed
If it was love at first sight for your baby and the bottle, it will likely take 7 to 10 days for your milk to dry up. If you’re not planning on breastfeeding at all, you might have a desire to stop your milk production as soon as you can. Cold washcloths or ice packs can make you more comfortable, and a supportive bra or even a compress of cabbage leaves might help stop milk production.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Labor and delivery, postpartum care.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. March 24, 2015. Web.
“Breast engorgement in the first week postpartum.” Sutter Health. Palo Alto Medical Foundation. 2015. Web.
Walker, Marsha. “Breastfeeding and engorgement.” Breastfeeding Abstracts. La Leche League International. November 2000. Web.