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Breastmilk after the loss of your baby: Care instructions

Breastmilk After the Loss of Your Baby

Care instructions

Your first days at home without your baby will likely be very difficult. Your healthcare team is available to help you during your time of grief.

During this time, your body will keep making hormones to make breastmilk. These hormones can sometimes cause you to feel more relaxed.

You have 2 choices about what you do with your breastmilk. You may choose to:

  • pump and donate your milk
  • stop your breasts from making milk

There is no right or wrong choice. Do what feels right for you.

If you choose to pump and donate your milk

You may already have a steady milk supply. Keep pumping so that you can donate your milk. When you’re ready to stop pumping, see the information below.

If you choose to stop your milk production

It's important to lower your milk supply slowly as your body begins to adjust. Milk may continue to be produced for a time, but it shouldn't be painful. It will slowly be reabsorbed. You may notice occasional drops of milk for several months.

Medicines to dry up your milk are not safe and can have serious side effects.

How to keep yourself comfortable

  • If you’ve been using a breast pump, only pump enough milk to relieve the pressure in your breasts. Gradually pump for a shorter time and less often.
  • Gently hand express just enough milk to ease the discomfort.
  • Put cool compresses or cool cabbage leaves on your breasts to help with the swelling.
  • If you have lumps in your armpits, place cool compresses on the area. Don’t massage these lumps.
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to help with discomfort. Follow the directions on the package.

When should I go to see a doctor?

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

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

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Related to Breastmilk after the loss of your baby

To learn more about pregnancy and infant loss

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

Current as of: April 9, 2021

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

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.