One of the most challenging times for many bereaved mothers is the arrival of their breast milk. The birth of your baby stimulates hormones that tell your body to make milk. Milk will usually come around 3-5 days after delivery. Your breast may feel fuller and may leak milk. Stimulating your breast will tell your body to keep making milk. Your milk supply will go away if your body does not receive those signals from stimulation.
Some bereaved mothers find the breast milk to be upsetting and want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Some mothers find the milk to be a comforting reminder of their body’s ability to care for the baby they so love and had wished to care for. There is no right or wrong way to feel. It is your choice to follow whatever path feels best for you. Your grief and body changes can be overwhelming, and we hope you will be kind to yourself as you begin to heal.
Suggestions to Help your Body Stop Producing Milk
- If your breasts are soft and you have just a little colostrum/milk, do not stimulate the breast tissue and nipple areas.
- When standing in the shower, have your back to the shower head and let the water run over your shoulders. Do not let the stream of water directly hit the breasts.
- Wear a well-fitting and supportive bra at all times over the next few days.
- Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen if your breasts feel heavy or uncomfortable. Take Benadryl as directed on the package. This will help to dry you up (it may make you sleepy).
- For swelling in the breast area, use an ice pack or put ice in a plastic bag to make an ice pack. Place a thin cloth between the ice pack and your breasts, such as a dishcloth or pillowcase. An alternative to ice is cabbage leaves. Wash fresh cabbage and refrigerate. Separate the leaves and lay them over your breasts, one leaf at a time. Leave in place until the leaves become soft. You can continue to use cabbage leaves until the breasts are no longer full.
- If you plan to resume birth control pills, speak to your doctor. The estrogen in the combination type pills will rapidly decrease your milk supply.
- A natural form of estrogen is fresh sage tea. It will also decrease the milk. You can usually obtain fresh sage leaves from the produce section in the grocery store. Pour boiling water over about a teaspoon of sage leaves, strain out the leaves and drink the liquid when cool enough. Drink a cup 3 to 4 times a day for 2 to 3 days. You may go to a natural foods store to obtain an extract of sage. Follow the directions on the bottle for diluting.
- Remember that your colostrum/milk will go away and that it may take a few days. Be patient.
If you are interested in milk donation, you can find more information through Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas.
For Questions or Concerns
For further guidance, you may contact: UAMS Lactation Services at (501) 526-3558 or ANGELS Call Center at (501) 526-7425.