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: Ending Milk Supply :

Lactation Suppression

Once your milk supply is established, stopping abruptly causes certain physical changes. Your breasts will continue to produce milk for a while, and if some isn't removed, you may become engorged, and possibly develop mastitis. You will also experience a sudden drop in prolaction levels, which often add to your feelings of depression.

Here are some suggestions that may minimize your discomfort, and avoid potential problems.

How often you express should be determined by your comfort level. Always go as long as you can before pumping (or hand expressing) and take out as little milk as possible. If you have been pumping every 3 hours, start out by pumping every 4 hours, then every 6, then every 8, then every 12, etc. If you have been pumping 6 ounces at each session, pump 4 ounces, then 3, then 2, etc. By gradually expressing less milk less and less often your supply will decrease without causing physical problems for you.M

The amount of time it takes for your milk to dry up depends on how full a supply you have built up. If you have very little milk when you wean, it may be possible to quit cold turkey with a minimum of discomfort. For most mothers, a more gradual approach is recommended. If you have a full supply when you wean, and you taper off gradually, you should be able to stop expressing completely within 2-3 weeks, and often sooner. It is normal for you to be able to express a few drops of milk or have a little leaking for weeks or months after you stop nursing.

If you have lost a baby, and would like to donate the milk you express during this time, or any you might have frozen, you can contact me or one of the milk banks around the country. They provide milk for sick or premature infants whose mothers are unable to provide milk for them. Check the website for the Human Milk Banking Association of North America for a list of milk banks in your area www.hmbana.org.

These are organizations that will do everything they can to make it easy to donate your milk. Or see the breastmilk donation page here at SNBS. For more information on Lacation Suppression.

There are also books and support organizations for mothers who have experienced the loss of a child. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart : Surviving the Death of Your Baby is one of the best. Support organizations include SHARE (618-234-2415) and Compassionate Friends (312-990-00100).

A grieving mother once wrote: "I have lost my child and a hole has been ripped in the universe. Neither I, nor the universe can be the same. We shall mourn our losses together." This will be the most devastating thing you will ever experience. I encourage you to seek support from others who have experienced the same loss.

Please contact me if there is any way I can help during the difficult process of weaning after the loss of your child or medical weaning.

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Websites that offer support to families after the loss of a child: