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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Stopping Breastfeeding Cold Turkey

For a variety of reasons, you may find yourself in a position where stopping breastfeeding cold turkey is your only option. I have been in this position, and while nothing can quite exactly prepare you for it, there are tips on how to make the pain and engorgement manageable.

When stopping breastfeeding cold turkey, how do you manage pain and engorgement?

After the birth of my firstborn, I found that breastfeeding was going well, but my daughter also took a bottle so I was not exclusively using the breast. I was feeling pretty good over all, until around 4 weeks postpartum when I had a terrible IC flare up. (If you have not heard of IC, here is a short description: Interstitial cystitis is a painful bladder condition. It causes pain, spasms, urgency, and loss of control. It is much like a UTI that never goes away.)

As I was lying in bed with uncontrollable bladder spasms, I thought to myself, “Well here I am, barely a month postpartum and my bladder is failing me now, I can’t believe this!” There’s nothing quite like being upset with your own body for not being there for you.

After two more weeks of suffering, looking through tons of IC support groups online, and going to my urologist, I decided I had to stop breastfeeding so that I could take medication to control my IC. I was devastated but knew I had to be at my best to be there for my daughter.

Being a mother is full of a lot of difficult decisions. This was my first tough decision.

Because the medication would make my breast milk unsafe to drink, I just wanted it gone. I didn’t want to pump, I didn’t want to take the time to wean my body. I just wanted it gone because I didn’t want to prolong my feelings of guilt.

I had no advice, only the internet, to guide me. None of my friends had children yet, so I was pretty much out there on my own. Below are the techniques I tried out.

Tips for Stopping Breastfeeding Cold Turkey:

  • Cabbage Leaves- Chill them in the fridge and place in your bra. It does help with the pain, and supposedly can draw out some moisture.
  • Sports Bra- I wore a sports bra with the encouragement of the internet. This tip is one that I would not recommend. It was incredibly painful.
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen- For pain/swelling
  • Avoid the Shower Spray- It can be really painful; avoid it if you can.
  • Self-Express- I would only do this a very little bit for relief when necessary.

After about a week, the pain began to go away, and the engorgement started to go down. I do not recommend stopping breastfeeding cold turkey because it is incredibly painful, but understand that sometimes you just have to make that choice.

One final note: Going cold turkey can make you susceptible to mastitis and infection, so I would suggest you speak to your OB about a strategy for stopping your breast milk.

Good luck momma, you’re doing great!


Erinn is a mother to two daring daughters who provide big belly-laughs daily. She loves to focus on health, but admits to having coffee and doughnut fueled days here and there. She has a passion for helping others, and hopes that she can help you find solace in your journey.


  1. I appreciate your help! Thank you for posting this.

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