Can medication help suppress lactation after childbirth?
Answers from Elizabeth LaFleur, R.N.
Yes — but medication for lactation suppression generally isn't recommended.
Injections of high doses of estrogen were once used to stop milk production. Estrogen injections aren't used today, however, due to a risk of potentially dangerous blood clots.
Similarly, bromocriptine (Parlodel) — a drug that was once used for lactation suppression — is no longer recommended. The drug has been associated with high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, especially for women who developed high blood pressure during pregnancy.
If breast-feeding isn't possible, it's safest to let milk production diminish naturally. In the meantime, don't stimulate your breasts or express milk.
To relieve breast engorgement and pain — which typically peaks during the first week after delivery — you might:
- Wear a supportive bra
- Apply ice packs to your breasts
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers
Elizabeth LaFleur, R.N.
Jan. 16, 2013
- Oladapo OT, et al. Treatments for suppression of lactation (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005937.pub3/abstract. Accessed Nov. 6, 2012.
- Papadakis MA, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2013. 52nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=1. Accessed Nov. 6, 2012.
- DeCherney AH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrics & Gynecology. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2007. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=9. Accessed Nov. 6, 2012.