Can medication help suppress lactation after childbirth?
Answers from Elizabeth LaFleur, R.N.
Yes — but the simplest and safest way to suppress lactation is to let milk production stop on its own.
Injections of high doses of estrogen were once used to stop milk production. Estrogen injections aren't used today, however, due to a possible 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 heart attack and stroke. The drug cabergoline has proved safer and might be used for lactation suppression in certain situations, although it isn't approved for this use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
To let milk production diminish naturally, don't breast-feed, stimulate your breasts or express milk. To relieve breast engorgement and pain, you might:
- Wear a supportive bra
- Apply ice packs to your breasts
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers
Elizabeth LaFleur, R.N.
Nov. 25, 2015
- 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 Oct. 27, 2015.
- Papadakis MA, et al., eds. Obstetrics and obstetric disorders. In: Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2015. 54th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Oct. 27, 2015.
- DeCherney AH, et al. The normal puerperium. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrics & Gynecology. 11th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Oct. 27, 2015.
- Wambach K, et al. Drug therapy and breastfeeding. In: Breastfeeding and Human Lactation. 5th ed. Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2015.