Can Medicine Stop Breast Milk Production?

by Sara Ipatenco

    If you're a breastfeeding mom, you know that certain things, such as illness, can have an impact on how much milk you're able to produce. Taking some medications can also cause a shortage of breast milk, according to MayoClinic.com. If you need to take medication, knowing which ones could potentially decrease your milk supply is important. If you want your breast milk to dry up, there are medications for that as well -- but you may have trouble getting a prescription.

    Medication and Your Milk

    Your body is quite adept at producing the amount of milk your baby needs for nourishment and sustenance. Certain lifestyle habits can influence how much milk your body is able to produce, however. Chemicals and ingredients in certain medications can interfere with your hormones, which may cause a decrease in milk production. Medications that are designed to dry up bodily fluids, such as nasal discharge, can also decrease your milk supply, according to the Coastal Bend Breastfeeding Coalition.

    Medications That Can Stop Production

    One major culprit of a lactation decrease is birth control pills. Most birth control pills contain estrogen, which can cause your milk supply to dwindle, according to the Coastal Bend Breastfeeding Coalition. Medications that contain pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used as a nasal decongestant, can diminish your milk supply as well, according to MayoClinic.com. Certain diuretics and medications that treat high blood pressure might also cause your milk supply to decrease, BabyCenter.com notes.

    Popping Those Pills

    Before you stop taking any medication that you've been prescribed, talk to your doctor. In many cases, the benefits of the medication may outweigh the risks they pose to your milk supply, according to MayoClinic.com. Speak with your doctor about the safety of over-the-counter medications as well, before taking anything. Keep in mind, too, that medications can pass into your breast milk. Talk with your doctor about when you should take your medication to reduce the risk to your baby. For example, you might take the medication immediately after a breastfeeding session so that the concentration in your milk is lower by the next time your baby feeds.

    Stopping Your Milk On Purpose

    If you don't want to breastfeed or want to stop for any reason, there are certain medications that will halt your milk supply. This can decrease your discomfort and help your milk dry up faster. In most cases, however, doctors are hesitant to prescribe the medications, points out MayoClinic.com. Most doctors recommend that you let your milk dry up naturally to avoid the potential side effects of these medications. Estrogen shots have been used to dry up milk in the past, but they come with a blood clot risk. Bromocriptine, another medication used in the past, can cause high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, MayoClinic.com notes.

    About the Author

    Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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