Stillbirth and Miscarriage

Stillbirth or Death of the Baby 

When Lactating

Support to families who have lost a baby. Telephone helplines and online support forums. (United Kingdom) (Australia) (New Zealand)

How to Handle Lactation After the Loss of a Baby

You have two choices:

1.    Continue to lactate and donate the milk to other babies, who may need it. 

2.    Stop milk production as comfortably as possible. 

If you decide to Continue to Lactate

You may decide to provide the milk to a friend or family member who has a baby that is sick or who could drink breast milk instead of formula.

You  could do this just until her own milk supply has dried up, or you may decide to do this for a couple of years. You could find a neighbour or family member's child to nurse, this is not always socially acceptable, but this will greatly benefit the baby who is receiving the breast milk. 

You can donate your milk to a human milk bank. At these banks, they screen the milk, kill the bacteria, freeze it and send it to mothers who cannot breastfeed or to premature or ill babies around the world. A woman may feel that she is honoring the short life of her baby, by giving another child a better start to life. 

If you Decided to Stop Lactation

It is important that you use methods to reduce engorgement while trying to stop lactation; this will ensure that you do not develop mastitis

If you are engorged, you can pump 5 minutes every 5 hours on the first day, then 5 minutes every 6 hours on the second day and then the last few days, pump just enough for comfort. A warm shower can also be used to reduce engorgement. 

Some Helpful Methods to Stop Lactation

  • Wear a supportive bra, this will provide comfort.
  • Take herbs (internally) such as parsley, sage, mint and stinging nettle to decrease supply. 
  • Jasmine flowers can be crushed and applied to the breast and are very effective at reducing milk production and engorgement. 
  • Ice packs can be placed on the breast to reduce engorgement every 20 minutes if needed.
  • Read more about lactation suppressants.

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Stillbirth Stories

Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)

Reference: Course information through Childbirth International on the physiology of breastfeeding and stillbirth and miscarriage.

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