Breastfeeding: Decreasing or stopping your breastmilk production

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Learn how to care for yourself when weaning your baby from breastfeeding and/or pumping. This page includes suggestions on how to remain as comfortable as possible while gradually reducing your milk production to the desired amount.

Key points

  • It is important to wean gradually to avoid breast complications.
  • Hand express or pump a little milk until your breasts are comfortable.
  • Cold compresses, anti-inflammatory medication and a firmly supportive bra can help increase comfort while weaning.

The terms 'mother' and 'breastfeeding' are used throughout our documents; we recognize and respect that individuals and families may use other preferred terminology.

You may wean your baby for various reasons, including the need to return to work, illness, oversupply, or other personal reasons. You may just want to reduce the number of breastfeeds or pump sessions per day, but not wean your baby completely. It is important that you wean slowly to prevent breast complications.

How to reduce or stop your milk supply

Milk production relies on a demand and supply concept. The amount of milk removed will determine how much milk your body will then produce. The length of time it will take for your milk to decrease or stop varies individually and by your previous milk supply.

  • If you are breastfeeding: Drop one breastfeed every 3-4 days, as it will take your breasts this long to downregulate your supply. Replace this feed with pumped breast milk or formula. You may find that your breasts become uncomfortably full before the next feed.
  • If you are pumping: Aim to increase the amount of time between each pumping session. For example, if you are pumping every 3 hours, stretch the time between pumps on the first day to every 4 hours (or longer if not full). Reduce the number of times you pump by at least one every 2-3 days as tolerated – this will decrease milk production gradually.

In either case, if your breasts become very hard or tender (engorgement) between breastfeeds or pump sessions, pump or hand express only enough milk to make your breasts comfortable and only when you are very full.


These suggestions can also be used to decrease your supply when you have too much milk; however, you should make sure to decrease your supply very gradually to prevent plugged milk ducts and/or mastitis. Before trying to decrease an oversupply, please seek guidance or support from an experienced lactation consultant to ensure you maintain an adequate milk supply to meet your baby’s growing needs.

Comfort measures while weaning

  • Wear a firmly supportive bra with absorbent pads. The bra should not feel tight, and it is not recommended to bind your breasts. Your breasts will likely fill with milk and leak, even if you do not provide breast milk to your baby. Some women find chilled cabbage leaves on the breasts help, but the evidence for this has not been confirmed.
  • Gently massaging your breasts when they are painful, especially in a warm shower, can remove a small amount of milk and provide relief.
  • Intermittent ice packs to your breasts can reduce your discomfort.
  • Medications like ibuprofen can be used for breast soreness.

If your breasts become red, sore or warm, or you develop lumpy areas that do not go away with massage, please refer to Breast changes and conditions. This may indicate that you are weaning too quickly.

Milk donation

If you are interested in donating your milk to babies in need, the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank may accept donations of your pumped milk (minimum of 5L required). For more information about milk donation visit:

Last updated: October 16th 2020