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Breastmilk After the Loss of Your Baby

Breastmilk After the Loss of Your Baby

Your first days at home without your baby will likely be extremely difficult. Your healthcare team shares your sadness for the loss of your baby and wants to support you during your time of grief.

During this time your body will keep making hormones to make breastmilk. These hormones can sometimes help you to feel relaxed, and this may help you emotionally. You have a couple of options about how you deal with your milk supply. You may choose to pump and donate your milk, or you may want to stop your milk supply.

How do I manage my breast changes?

Your breasts may start to feel heavy and tender. Try these comfort measures to help you feel better.

  • Wear a comfortable and supportive bra. Be careful not to bind your breasts.
  • Hand express your breasts to relieve pressure and soften them if you need to.
  • Wear nursing pads in your bra as your breasts may leak milk.
  • Use cool compresses or cabbage leaves on your breasts to help with
    • the swelling and discomfort
    • slowing and stopping milk production
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to help with any pain. Use as directed on the package.
  • You may feel full or have lumps in your breasts for days, weeks, and even months. This is normal. You can relieve the fullness or lumps by expressing a little bit of milk by hand.
  • If you have lumps under your armpits, put on a cold compresses. Don’t massage these lumps.
  • Medicines to dry up the milk are not safe and can have serious side effects.

How do I manage my milk supply if I was breastfeeding or pumping more than 6 times a day?

  1. You may want to continue pumping for a while and donate your milk. To find out more about how to donate your milk to NorthernStar Mother’s Milk Bank go to
  2. You may want to stop your milk supply. Follow the comfort measures above and keep these points in mind as well.
    • It’s important to decrease your milk supply slowly as your body begins to adjust.
    • Pump only enough milk to relieve the pressure in your breasts.
    • Gradually decrease the number of times and how long you pump.
    • Drink water or other fluids like normal to keep hydrated.

When should I go to see a doctor?

If you have any of the following symptoms, call your doctor or midwife.

  • discomfort, hard lumps, redness or pain in your breasts even after trying the comfort measures
  • a fever (temperature over 38.5 C or 101.3 F)

For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: October 25, 2018

Author: Child and Women's Health, Alberta Health Services