Thursday, June 28, 2007

To the woman who, at 3 in the morning, was looking for how to stop lactation after stillbirth...

If you are still here, I am so, so sorry.

And the answer is: very tight bra, cabbage leaves therein, another binding mechanism over the bra with ability to put cold compresses in (I recommend bendable ice packs they sell for sports injury or frozen vegetables), and sage tea. You can get sage tea and Whole Foods, for example. It wouldn't be with the regular teas, but rather with the herbal teas in the natural remedies isle. It's not as stinky as you would think. After the first couple of sips it's even sort of pleasant. Oh, and I know it's something you really want to do, but please don't let the hot water in the shower get directly on your breasts-- it will stimulate more milk production. They won't tell you how long it will take to stop lactation, and it's different for everyone, but it took me three weeks.

I know it doesn't begin to cover things, but I am so very sorry...

Edited to add: There is now a much expanded article on stopping lactation after stillbirth or neonatal death (including information on the drug for lactation suppression, separate tips for mothers who have already started to pump or breastfeed, and some information on milk donation) at our group blog, Glow in the Woods.


S. said...

Specialized knowledge I wish you didn't have. I'm so sorry, too.

Catherine said...

There is also medication. Ask your doctor. I used it after Travis and I would say it was a much better/easier way to go (having previously done the natural thing after Alex).

Sara said...

Oh, it hurts when you see searches like that found your page. I hope she found some comfort.

Anonymous said...

Been there. It feels like your breasts are crying out for your babe. Frozen pease and tensor bandage help with the physical stuff.


Julia said...

Thanks, all...

Catherine, I asked about the medication, especially since I knew I was prone to making a lot of milk. But my practice doesn't prescribe it anymore because they believe it has too many side effects and complications... So I ended up sweating it out on my own... Fun memories... Yeah.

kate said...

Julia, this is a little bit of BS about the meds and it pisses me off to no end. (i had them after Nicolas). If the side effects are so grave, then why is the med still on the market for Parkinson's patients? Because the benefits for them outweigh the risks, the doc will tell you. And for a grieving mom, then, can the benefits possibly outweigh the risks? (which do exist but if you look at the numbers they are fairly small). I had this EXACT conversation with my Dr. when i was pg with Chloe and got him to admit -- 'yes, in case of IUFD i will prescribe them to you but you can't tell anyone because every woman in the city who just doesn't want to breastfeed will beat a path to my door'. Uh-huh.

Yes, natural is less risky & probably better for your body but jeez.

kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
delphi said...

If you really need to relieve engorgement, like in a full tub of hot water and allow your breasts to drain passively (no nipple stimulation). Don't do this too often, since it could promote more milk to come it. But if you are desperate, it can help relieve that exploding feeling.

I wish I didn't know this stuff.

delphi said...

oops. *lie in a full tub of hot water*, not "like"

Lori said...

I swear I have somehow forgotten what I did... blocked it out rather. I know it lasted for weeks though. Completely sucks.

Anonymous said...

God that sucks. All that emotional pain topped off with all that physical pain. No one should have to endure that.

niobe said...

I feel terrible for that poor woman. And, in fact, for all of you.

This didn't happen to me at all. And I mean at all. I wonder why. It was as if my body knew that there were no babies.

slouching mom said...

Oh. Damn.

That is just too much on top of too much.

missing_one said...

Sage leaf tea and cabbage leaves worked for me.
My doctor was the same about the medication. Side effects plus it's been shown to not even work at all for some.
I remember sending DH out at 10pm because I ran out of the stinkin' (and yes it stuck) cabbage leaves.
My son thought it was funny that I had cabbage in my bra so he put his plastic lettuce leaves in his shirt to be like mommy.

Eve said...

Oh, God, I remember this too well. Your arms are empty, your womb is empty ... and your breasts are so uselessly FULL. I am so sorry.
Cabbage really does work, but it will be impossible for you to ever eat it again; the smell will permeate your memories. I lost my baby right before St. Patrick's Day, so all of the green cabbage was sold out and I had to use the purple. My breasts were stained bright red for days. My thoughts are with her. Thank you, Julia, for such a kind and thorough answer.

wannabe mom said...

I remember waking up one morning having leaked a big wet circle on my sheets. My breasts were up to my collarbones. As much pain as I was in, it hurt more when it stopped 4 weeks later.

You are so thoughtful to give this advice.

Julia said...

Thank you, all...

Kate, I know I could've probably gotten it if I really pushed, but I didn't expect it to be that bad (even though I knew I made a lot of milk with Monkey-- go figure this logic), and I was frankly afraid to take a risk on side-effects myself.

Missing_One, I actually used to remember how many heads of cabbage I killed over those three weeks... I think 8 or 9... Can't be sure anymore. Monkey thought it was weird that I had food in my bra, and uncool that it stunk.

Eve, geez... puprle boobs to boot? I am sorry.. And welcome.

Wannabe Mom, you know, I had very few bad dreams/nightmares after A died. The one I still remember was the night when I knew the milk was ending, the one I fully expected to be the last one I would need cabbage for (I was right too). It made it clear to me just how sad I was that even my body was leaving my son behind.

Anonymous said...

The medician is called Parlidill. Check around some doctors will perscribe it.

I am so sorry that you are going through this. Binding yourself with ice packs that are place on the sides of your breast and curve around the front also work well.

When this happened to me the nurse filled latx glove and tied them off putting the hand part on the side of the my breast with the fingers heading towards the nipples. This also help releaved the pain. Doing this, by three days I had stopped laxtating.

Sara said...

I just used ice packs and cried a lot.

Olive Lucy Kawecki said...

It sucks to know this information 1st hand. My milk came in the night before my daughters funeral and i refused to wear cabbage to the services and cemetery. because in my opinion my daughter gave me very beautiful breast. I digress...the next day i began using cabbage. I used cabbage very cold in fact frozen cabbage leaves. I smelled like cabbage soup. in a VERy tight front closing sports bra with. i also used frozen wash cloths, because they were cold but also the "molded" to my breast after a few moments. It took my milk a few weeks to stop letting down. when my engorgement passed i ace bandaged the heck out of my breast. I wore cabbage until i had made my way through whole head of it. To any mother reading these comments now i am sorry for your loss. it doesn't seem like it but it does get easier.

AlmostAMommy said...

I found this site because one year and five months later my breasts still leak a little whenever I think of my son and so I am still looking for solutions. I've tried all the remedies suggested here (except the pills) plus extra (including letting a few drops of milk fall into fire - my mom's die hard solution she used after having 3 children all of whom refused to nurse). I've recently done all the relevant blood tests and am now awaiting on a response from my GP in addition to working on a grief counselling program (something I never thought I needed) at the behest of my doctor. Nevertheless, reading stories like these helps me not to feel so alone in dealing with my own loss. I just hope and pray that the day will soon come when it won't hurt so much anymore for anyone of us. My whole being goes out to those who have experienced or are experiencing the same or similar thing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for discussing what to do about lactation after miscarriage. My OBGYN is too busy to talk to me. I've had three miscarriages in 14 months. This is the first time I lactated with a miscarriage. It feels like almost noone in the world can understand the emotional pain. It's true - my breasts want a baby. It's so bad that I feel like I don't want to be around young children until my breasts dry up. The biggest indignity of miscarriage for me, is that once the big event is over, the medical aftermath is still there. Seemingly endless blood tests, retained tissue, and lactation. Now that it's three miscarriages, I really have the attention of my PCP, OBGYN, and maybe even my reproductive endocrinologist - so I'll be having many more tests and procedures to try to fix this problem before my biological clock just stops ticking. I'll be 41 in a few months. After the hormones from this last pregnancy fade away, I'll be able to look at my beautiful two-year-old a little more clearly. I really am a blessed woman, after all.

aksvlpstl said...

I guess I am pretty lucky as my painful engorgement eased after maybe 3-4 days. The point I want to add is about breast massage.
6 weeks after I lost my baby (at 39 weeks), I went to a new family doctor. She recommends breast massage for all women. I hadn't touched my breasts and nor had my husband yet at this point. He followed the massage directions and I couldn't believe how much they hurt! I must have been ignoring it. I was all full of lumps and they were very painful, especially in the corners near my armpits.
Basically, this massage is to clean the fluids out of you breasts and to help prevent breast cancer. Maybe there are directions available on the web, but I had NEVER heard of this!
Briefly, you want to "activate" your lymph nodes by rubbing down the sides of your neck into the space between your collarbone. Then activate the lymph under your armpits by rubbing with the palm of your hand. Then massage your breasts toward your armpits.
The day after we first did this, my armpits were swollen! There was so much fluid left in my breasts even after the initial engorgement had dissipated. And my breasts certainly hurt less and felt smaller after this massage. And my husband REALLY didn't mind doing this!!
Best of healing to you all.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I lost our little Kylie just 3 days ago and I've woken up this AM desperate for all this knowledge, for reasons you all can painfully relate to. I can't stop crying over all your comments, but want to thank you so much for sharing them.
Being so wrought with grief and shock in the hospital I didn't think to ask about what to expect in the following days, weeks, lifetime. I send my love to you all this morning. Thank you for your strength.

Anonymous said...

I lost my little boy Liam at 39 weeks, just 3 days ago.It was a totally normal pregnancy, and within a day he had stopped moving due to a fetal/maternal hemorrage.The doctors don't know what caused it, as the umbilical cord was intaact, and the placenta wasn't ruptured. My milk started coming in yesterday, and today, my breast are enormous,leaking, and painful. Its like my breasts are weeping for my little baby. Thank you for all the tips on here..I am sorry that we have to search information like this out, but I don't feel quite so alone now. Strength and love to you all

Madeleine said...

I was searching for help in ending my lactation for medical reasons. I am so sorry for all your losses-- my thoughts are with you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all so much for posting your experiences of what is a heartbraking and desperate issue. I found out I had lost my baby a week ago and delivered my baby 4 days ago. My breasts became engorged yesterday and are so very painful. I have been trying cabbage leaves and found hot water felt soothing and stimulated a little leaking. I was not prepared at all for this happening and as many of you have also experienced, was not told before I left the hospital. All your messages have touched me and hit home that this has really happened to me, for a reason unknown at the moment and maybe never known.

Anonymous said...

I miscarried last was so painful...most traumatic thing I have ever experienced. I havent been strong enough to tell my boyfriend about it yet...i've just cried and cried and the lactating doesnt help the situation one bit...but these tips are helpful and your stories are more comforting than I thought they would be. Thank you all so much.

Anonymous said...

I lost my beautiful baby boy 3 days ago at 23 weeks, he was perfectly healthy and growing strong until my waters broke at 22 weeks for no apparent reason. I thought i knew what would happen next as i had a miscarriage at 8 weeks 9 months ago. Now my breasts are now huge and very painful which wasnt expecting but reading all these comments are both helpful and comforting. Thank you all and i sympathise with all of you. Its a very hard time xxx

Anonymous said...

This post and all of your comments are giving me some comfort because I see I am not alone. I gave birth to my stillborn son five days ago during my 30th week of pregnancy. The pain I feel in my heart is almost unbearable and now my milk is coming in tonight.

MW said...

Thank GOD for your blog. Here I am at 3am actually reading it. I have been up since 1am worrying that my breast are big because I may have breast cancer or something - but lactation - that did not occur to me until just an hour ago. I feel better and worse knowing that I need to actually get dressed and go buy some cabbage and put cold compresses on my breasts. I am cold thinking about it. I can not thank you enough for sharing this. We just had surgery after our m/c after 18 weeks. I did not expect this, nor did anyone mention it to me at all and I saw three different doctors. I am going to tell two of them that they should warn their patients of this so we know what to expect really.

SJM said...

My heart goes out to all of you who have had to go throught this experience. My husband and I lost our son two weeks ago today at 19 weeks. I went into premature labour, it was our first child. It never crossed my mind that I would lactate and the first time I did it broke my heart all over again. It just isn't right that our bodies are producing for a baby that is no longer here. Thank you all for sharing and helping me to know that I am not alone. My prayers go out to all of you.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I recently miscarried my twins at 19 weeks. I never thought milk would come in even though a very kind nurse warned me, but sure enough, three days after the miscarriage my breasts were 2-3 times their normal size, hard as rocks and so so sore. I am using cabbage leaves out of the fridge and it seems to be working in conjunction with alternating ib profin and tylenol. I also went to the health food store and picked up some sage caplets. It is supposed to help reduce lactation and excessive sweating. I am hoping it will do both as my night sweats are just as bad as the nightmares that visit me about the horrible delivery. Good luck everyone and I am so sorry any of us have to visit this site at all. -A.G. in B.C.

Anonymous said...

I lost my baby girl at 22 weeks, in September, I lactated for a brief time, but now, as her due date is approaching, I get a little now and then. I don't mind it how I did, but it is still so difficult, and only makes me think of her even more.

I wish the best in the future to all of you, and luck to those trying to stop lactation.

Anonymous said...

To all you ladies...I'm so sorry for your loss. I know how it feels. I lost my son between 17th and 18th and delivered him on the 19th Jan. His due date was Feb 4th and I'm now having the pains in the breasts. Just wish we hadn't this physical pain to deal with on top of our emotional pain.Reading your comments help me realise i'm not alone in this.Do keep the faith.Best of luck to all of you.

Anonymous said...

I lost my twins 2 weeks ago at 19 weeks to premature labour as well...obe was a girl and the other was a boy... It was my 3rd miscarriage and one of the hardest...I cry til this at night or when no one is really looking or around...I pretend to be ok but deep down I feel so empty and I am reading you're comments I know now I am not alone and ia not the only one who has nightmares every night about those for my milk I keep producing and still in pain I tried everything but still nothing is working...guess my body is going to have to deal with it.. I'm sorry for all your losses and thank you all for my post!

Chiriswa said...

Hey Angel Mamas. Am so sorry 4 all ur losses. It has to be the single most painful thing 2 happen 2 anyone. And for it 2 occur multiple times, that is beyond my comprehension.
My heart goes out 2 all u who'v lost ur precious jewels.
I kno exactly what it means to wish my baby was here so I could kiss him goodnyt.
My milk had come in by my 7th month. Much as it was a nuisance at times, I got excited whenever I thot I'd hav plenty of milk 4 my baby.
Went thru nonprogressive labour for 2days. Got induced, lasted another 22hrs in excruciating labour before havn a c.s done. (am from a 3rd world nation n healthcare here isnt all it should be)
After all the hell I endured, I ended up with a still birth on 19th May 2011.
Perfect little boy. 8pounds 2ounces. After bein in distress for hours, he must'v endured enough pain for a lifetime and somehow, I thank God He took him back.
Mothers around me were trying everythn 2 get their milk to come in, and there I was. Full breasts and no milk.
I was on meds 4 a few weeks. My Dr. kept tryn diffrnt ones bt nothing workd.
For the next 3 months, am not sure what I spilt more; tears or milk. It seemd as tho they flowd at the same rate!
With time the flow of milk (and tears..) lessend.
Its now 10mnths since. Av tryd everythn under the sun, my breasts still leak on and off.
It has been really hard on me, my husband too, bt we finaly decided to just let my breasts be. We thnk of it as my body's way of remindin me that am a mother, albeit 2 an angel baby :-)...
I hope n pray that u'l all get respite. But jst in case u find urself in a situation like mine, take heart, dnt let that leaking get u down.
We hav had time to mourn the passing of our son. My body has had time to heal. We are nw ttc, so thos of u with baby dust 2 spare, please blow it my way ;-)?
Thanks 2 all of u 4 sharing ur pain. It's made it easier 4 some of us, knowing we aint alone.
Its also reminds me, that my baby has plenty playmates in heaven.
Hugs n Prayers 4 all.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for all of you who have lost your angels.
I was 28 weeks pregnant with Sam, my beautiful baby boy when he left me for Heaven. I was hoping that my milk wouldn't come, partly to help me get through some of this pain. But as some of you agree, it's nice to know that our bodies know what to do, and one day, we will have babies that need to be fed. I noticed this morning that my breasts were engorged, sore, and very tight. When I started leaking, I cried. Trying cold compress, will try cabbage leaves in the morning. Begging for some relief. This is so hard. I am only 23 years old and I has to pick out my sons urn before I could even set up his crib. Love and luck to you all.

Anonymous said...

My darling angel was lost on 2/20/2012. I know that every woman is so different, but I want to post what I have done so far, because it seems to be working, and I hope it can help someone else. I want to add that doing the following below I never had any severe pain. I had tenderness and pain if my breasts touched something, but no pain when just moving about normally. So I have no advice on what to do if engorgement occurs, but hopefully with the tips below you can avoid engorgement. My breasts did leak a little bit, and I used nursing pads.

1. Avoid all stimulation to your breasts. Try not to touch them at all. This includes no hugs, no hot water(face the other way in the shower), sleep on your side or back. Wear a sports bra. Be careful putting it on so as to minimize touching your breasts.
2. I drank a sage tincture every six hours. I used one teaspoon of water mixed with one teaspoon of the sage. I have read you can use sage tea, but apparently tinctures are much better. Plus if sage tea is anything like the tincture I think it is easier to quickly drink the tsp of tincture rather than having to drink a whole cup of tea. I recommend having water and a piece of candy to chase down the tincture. It tastes bad, but again it is only a small amount. I bought the tincture at Henry’s/Sprouts, and I think most whole food stores will carry it.
3. Pray that your milk goes away and against engorgement and infection.

I haven’t used cabbage leaves yet or any ice, etc, because what I have been doing has been working so I would recommend if you don’t have too much pain to avoid that because it will limit the stimulation to the breasts, but again if you have severe pain you may want to look into what to do in those cases. I hope this helps. It just seems so unfair to have to deal with this on top of everything else. I really hope this method helps others out there.

Does anyone know how long it takes for milk production to stop if you are not breastfeeding? I’m not sure how long to keep this regimen up for. Although, my breasts are definitely less tender and smaller now.

Anonymous said...

I lost my tiny Maximilian just 7 days ago, I wasn't prepared like no woman ever can be for this.

My breasts started lactating last night. When I realized what was happening my whole being filled up with pain and numbness as I sank into the bath tub.

Some "Mums" mentioned that their breast are crying out for their bubbas, yes I totally agree, just as we feel like that, our bodies synchronize.

I'm so glad I found this site, I feel like I can't speak to anyone about this and no one really quite understands except my partner who has found the whole thing a bit too much and has left me.

I now grieve the loss of our baby(Max), and the loss of my support and conqueror, my Michael.

Times are tough ladies but as women we can get through.

"Experience is not what happens to a woman, it is what she does with what happens to her"

Love and protection to you all.

Anonymous said...

i am so sorry so many of us had to experience losing our babies, it happened to me twice, 8yrs. ago we lost lost our dd at 8mths pregnant, and just 6 days ago our son was born preterm at 22wks.My breast hurts so much, a very painful reminder,the first time i had to undergo surgery on my right breast due to an abcess, this time around i want to ensure that never happens again. will try some of your suggestions, again thanks for having the courage to openly share your experience.May God keep, and comfort you all.

M. said...

Just want to let you know that your original post is still helpful after all this time. We lost our son this week at 21 weeks due a viral infection (CMV). I am engorged but was using ibuprofen and Tylenol at first. The physical pain is lessening and I thought that might mean I was going to be quickly in the clear, but this evening I noticed that I had leaked milk through my sports bra and my t-shirt was wet. There are really no words. But this post and the comments are important still. Thank you...

Sarah j said...

"Angel mamas" I like that. This post and all the reposes have helped tremendously. Thank you all for sharing it means so much to know I'm not alone. We lost our first child Hazel between weeks 24 & 25. She was perfect, a very little, perfect baby that was gone too soon. I'm thankful to have had her as long as I did because she made me instantaneously feel love and joy. It's been 3 days since I delivered her and my breast are rock solid. I've been doing cabbage and frozen peas to no immediate relief.... I'm going to try a
tighter bra and sage tea I think and see if that works. For me personally I take solace in having a task to do. Knowing I have to get my lactating boobs under control makes me feel useful and I will be one step closer to coming to terms that Hazel is in heaven. Thank you everyone for sharing. I read every single reply and it brought a little peace to my heart knowing I am not alone. I have the most awesome husband/ best
Friend anyone could ever ask for. Having some one to be strong when you are weak and vise versa is making things so much easier. May God bless you all and all your little children.

Alecia Madonado said...

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Those are the things he does, You can simply contact the spiritualist Dr Abalaka on ( to get his Herbal Medication to cure your disease and put yourself on a motherhood side of life..