Miscarriage: Why Am I Still Producing Milk?

I recently had a miscarriage at 13 weeks. My body is producing milk which is both physically and emotionally painful. How can I dry up quickly and how long will this process take? Any tips for the pain?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. In preparation, your breasts had already started to produce milk. Milk production typically begins around the fourth month of pregnancy -- sometimes even earlier.

Following a miscarriage, the sadness of losing your baby can be intensified by breasts that are filled with milk. And the pain you experience is not only physical, but emotional.

Several days following your miscarriage you may have noticed that your breasts suddenly became full and uncomfortable. To prevent severe engorgement and the accompanying pain, I would recommend using cold cabbage leaf compresses as soon as possible. These should help to provide some physical relief from pain and fullness. Many women also report that cabbage compresses dramatically reduce their milk supply. The time that it takes for your milk to "dry-up" varies considerably from one woman to another.

To prepare cabbage compresses, wash several cabbage leaves, and allow to dry. Place in a zip-lock style bag and store in your fridge til needed. When ready to use, slightly crumple a chilled leaf in your hand. Place one or more leaves on your breast, covering all areas. Use your bra to hold in place. Change about even two hours, or as the leaves wilt, until your flow is reduced.

While your breasts are still full, you will probably feel most comfortable wearing a sports bra, since it is very supportive. Do not bind your breasts. This is an outdated practice that should no longer be recommended.

If your breasts become very uncomfortable, you can hand-express just enough milk for comfort. This small amount will not increase your milk supply, will help to make you more comfortable, and will help to prevent a breast infection.

You may also find that applying ice packs to your breasts three or four times a day, will help to reduce any pain and inflammation you may be experiencing.

As you heal, wishing you and your family my very best!

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