Breastfeeding Weaning when your baby dies (1397)

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Weaning when your baby dies

The Lactation Management Services shares our deepest sympathies with you at this sad time.  As you start to deal with all of your feelings, your body is also having physical and hormonal changes.  We want to help you be as comfortable as you can while you wean from nursing or pumping. 

Your breasts have been prepared to nurse. As long as your breasts sense a need for milk, they will keep making it.  If there is no need, they will slowly stop making milk.  We know this is a very hard time for you and your family.  Please call us with any questions you have. You can call us at (414) 266-1757.

How do I wean? 

Weaning can be done as quickly or as slowly as you want. 

To wean quickly:  
Only express, or massage out, a small amount of milk when you feel full. 
Pump or express only as often as you need to for comfort.

To wean more slowly:
This may be better if you were pumping or breastfeeding 8 to 10 times a day.  You may want to slowly wean from your pumping and feeding routine over a number of days.  
You will not pump at two sessions each day.  Skip one in the morning and one in the evening.  Then skip 1 or 2 more sessions each day or so, until you are no longer pumping at all. 
Start by using warm compresses on each breast for 5 to 10 minutes.  This will help soften the breasts.  Next, pump just enough milk to provide comfort.  Expressing after a warm shower or bath helps you to relax.
Pump as often as needed for comfort.
It is normal to have some milk for weeks, months, or even longer after weaning.

How can I be more comfortable and limit the fullness? 

You may have discomfort for a few days from the pressure of the milk that is still in your breasts.  This is called engorgement.  Do not be afraid to express your milk.  Expressing even a few drops will help you feel more comfortable.  You want to get just enough out to feel less full.  Do not empty your breasts completely. This would just tell your body to make more milk.

These things will also help:

Wear a comfortable bra that gives support, but is not too tight.
Ice your breasts for 10 to 20 minutes. Use bags of crushed ice, a bag of frozen peas or corn, or ice packs.  This will reduce swelling and give you relief.  Do not eat the frozen vegetables once they have been thawed. 
Use a pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Pseudo ephedrine (Sudafed®) may help decrease your milk supply.  
If you are leaking, use nursing pads to soak up the milk and keep you dry.
Salt can cause the body to retain fluids.  It may help to limit salt in your diet.
Do not limit your fluids.  Drink when you are thirsty.
If your breasts are full at any time, it is good to express some milk until you feel comfortable.
Putting crushed cabbage leaves on your breasts may comfort and decrease the supply.  Replace once leaves are wilted and continue as needed.

What if I am not yet ready to wean?  

If you are not ready to wean, you may continue to pump.  You can give the milk to a sibling or a human milk bank. Some mothers find that donating their breast milk brings some emotional healing and gives a further purpose to their baby’s life.  When you are ready to 
wean, you may follow the steps listed earlier on this sheet.

What do I do with my baby’s stored breast milk?

If you have breast milk stored at the hospital, a member of the Lactation Management Service will talk with you in the next few days to help you.  Depending on how much milk you have stored, there are a few options for what to do with the milk.  You could:
Share a part of your baby’s life by donating your milk to others in need through a mother’s milk bank.
Give this gift of milk to a sibling.
Use your baby’s milk in a symbolic way, such as to give life to a new tree or plant in your baby’s memory.
Ask hospital staff to dispose of the milk.

How do I donate to a human milk bank?

Donating to a human milk bank is not hard.  There is a short phone call for a health screening.   Blood work and a release form are needed.  The form needs to be signed by you and your healthcare provider. You may call the The Milk Bank at 847-262-5134 or email them at with your name, phone number, and a good time to call you back. You may also call the Lactation Management Service any time for help.


Call your doctor, nurse, or Lactation Management Service (414) 266-1757 if you have any questions or concerns. 
Call your primary health care provider if you have signs of a possible breast infection called mastitis.  Signs include:
Chills and/or fever.
Body aches, breast pain or tenderness.
Flu like symptoms.
Tenderness, redness or warmth in the breasts.