Struggling to Produce Breastmilk? There Is a Controversial Pill for That

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Your due date is just around the corner, and you're getting everything ready — you've got the baby's room ready, you've got the house all clean (but not too clean), you've got a name picked out (one boy name and one girl name, just in case the doctor was wrong about the sex), and you've started lactating like crazy. Your boobs have just magically become the fountains for youth, and you need a little mouth to feed.

It's actually not all that easy for some moms — the breast milk part, I mean. 

{ MORE: Increasing Your Milk Supply }

So what do you do when you thought you were going to be able to breastfeed your baby but your body just isn't cooperating? Well, there is a pill that could help you out a little bit, but it does have a little baggage attached to it.

Let me explain.

In Canada, many women who are struggling with producing milk are being prescribed a pill called domperidone. The pill has nothing to do with treating dried-up milk wells — it's a dopamine-receptor blocker. It's a pill that is supposed to help people with gastrointestinal-tract disorders deal with nausea and vomiting.

One of the side effects, however, is the production of breast milk.

But once the Food and Drug Administration found out that people were using this pill for somewhat odd reasons, they decided to put their foot down and say, “This stuff has the potential of causing ‘cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac arrest and sudden death,' which is not cool, so we suggest you quit using domperidone.” That, of course, was paraphrased.

People have continued to get the drug shipped to them from Canadian pharmacies and many enjoy plentiful amounts of breast milk. I mean, I read through a lot of these testimonials, if you will, and it looks like it's quite the pill.

There have been some problems that have accompanied the ingestion of the pill like headaches, weight gain, a singular noted case of myoclonic, “which [causes the] limbs to jerk uncontrollably.” And, of course, as with any anything that claims to do something, there were some cases of absolutely no results.

{ MORE: So, You Want to Breastfeed? 15 Tips and Products to Try }

Medical experts are surprisingly split on their feelings about the pill. Some say that domperidone's claim of breast milk production is a bunch of malarky, while other experts say that it does a fine job at helping with the breast milk production. As to the risks suggested by the FDA,  Diana West, an international board-certified lactation coach, is quoted as saying, “The one study that got the public worried was done on 30 men who took the drug for gastro issues and developed heart arrhythmia. For nursing women, it’s had an excellent track record for 30 years.”

Pretty much what that says is stay away from this stuff if you are a male and you plan to breastfeed. As a male.

So there you have it — a pill that will bring your baby the meal. If you're willing to go outside the US to get it. 

What do you think? Worth the risk, or does formula feeding seem to be the best choice when a production problem occurs? Let us know!

What do you think?

Struggling to Produce Breastmilk? There Is a Controversial Pill for That

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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17 comments

  1. alicia says:

    I don’t like the tone of the article. Taking Domperidone is not a lighthearted decision only men need to worry about. The issue is treated comically when women with low supply are desperate for real answers. The facts need to be checked. Canada is not the only source.

  2. Erin says:

    This is upsetting to see such irresponsible reporting. When you are going to discuss thigs like illegal drugs, you really should be clear about the fact that there is very real research as very real reasons when this pill is illegal and not make light of it. Low supply and being a new mom is a very vulnerable time and I don’t appreciate the Jace’s light heartedness and lack or regard for the fact that this pill can cause heart failure. Ladies, yes breast is best, but maybe we can encourage natural research based strategies rather then resorting to an illegal substance. Really dissapointd in everyday family for running with a head like of “Low Milk Supply?” and playing on the emotion of moms who are really struggling.

  3. Timswaller says:

    Do you need a prescription if you’re getting it from Canada? I’ve stopped seeing my LC, so I don’t know how else I could get it.

  4. Amber says:

    I’ve used Domperidone for my last four babies and have more coming for the new baby. I have a true low milk supply because of physical and hormonal issues. I’ve tried every alternative including reglan. Regular has horrible mental side effects that Dom does not.
    For most women this isn’t a need, they just need a small boost, but for those of us who truly need the big guns, this medicine is amazing.
    I don’t buy it from Canada, mine’s from another place, and the pills I buy there actually work better than the compounded medicine I used to get here in the states.

  5. Stacy says:

    I’m in the US and my doc prescribed the generic of Reglan, which is used for the same thing (cancer patients). The generic name is metoclopramide. I got it for 4.00 at Kroger. It worked for a while, but then I got immune to the low dose (10 mg), and now I just have to supplement with formula. No weird side effects for me.

  6. Callie says:

    For me, this a tiff was the miracle I needed to continue breastfeeding my daughter. My LC recommended it, but because of cost and risk, I only wanted it as a last resort. When my daughter was 4 months old and I was ready to completely give up, I ordered domperidone online from a Canadian pharmacy. I went very quickly from the painful routine of nurse, pump, supplement, repeat, to being able to breastfeed exclusively with milk to spare. My daughter is 4, now, and I have recommended domperidone to several friends who were struggling, with no bad results. One note on the price: it is expensive, but remember to take into account that you will save money by not buying formula and also, that once your milk production is high, you are supposed to taper off the drug to get down to a lower (less expensive) dose.

  7. messymommy says:

    I was unable to produce enough milk 13 years ago for my son and then again with our daughter (now 1 year old). With my son I was unaware of anything available to help with my supply or lack of supply. With my daughter, I was first recommended fenugreek and blessed thistle, motherlove supplements, and lastly, the domperidone which I had to get from a compounding pharmacy and paid $70 for a 1 month supply. I took it as directed and my 1 1/2 oz per pump (at that point we had already lost our latch due to formula supplementing) up to 2oz per pump. My early day pumps were of course higher and had gone from nearly 2oz up to 3 oz. For the cost to purchase this local and the possible side effects it can cause, I found it didn’t work for me. The domperidone caused me frequent mild headaches, excessive weight gain (gained back every pound plus 8 of the babyweight I had already lost!), and it left an odd taste in my mouth the entire time I took it. I took this medication for 60 days and the listed increases was at the peak of production while medicated. I pumped and supplemented until my baby was 7 months old and I am still proud of that accomplishment considering I was a full time college student at the same time.

  8. Member says:

    Wow, does this article leave out a lot of information about domperidone. It’s pretty darn easy to obtain via the internet, actually. The cardiac side effects occur mostly in patients over 60 who already have heart conditions, which is not your typical nursing mother. Many side effects were also affiliated with IV use, not oral. I pay around 10 cents per 10mg pill from a non-US source. The foreign drug manufacturers I am sourcing mine from are much more tightly regulated than the US supplement market, and I haven’t seen results from the typical recommended supplements, anyway.

    • C says:

      Was the non-US source Inhousepharmacy? I’ve researched it and am trying to find people who use it successfully before I try it.

      • Member says:

        The mods are on vacation for the holidays, but if you’re on Facebook, request to join the IGT and Low Supply Support Group. There are documents in the group with info on dom and legit places from which to order. Inhousepharm is a good source, but not the cheapest. (.com requires an Rx, but .vu does not.)

  9. Martha says:

    You can get it in the US. Only it’s not approved by the FDA. Only certain places in states produce it and you have to go pick it up yourself. I have problems with my supply and it was recommended to me by a LC. I talked with a friend who also struggled with supply and she said she had to pay $100 per month out of pocket for it. Something that is not approved by the FDA and costs so much out of pocket? Oh, and there is not guarantee that your supply will actually increase, just like trying with natural ways. So not worth the trouble. The first LC recommended it, but seemed understanding that it was my decision to try it or not. The nurse at my OBs office is also a LC and seemed almost offended when I told her I wasn’t willing to try it for those reasons.

  10. Paige says:

    It sounds really great considering I am trying anything and everything to get my supply up. But to far out of reach to go get.

  11. Sarah says:

    There are a ton of natural ways to produce more milk…I don’t think a pill is the way to go. Especially if the pill can cross through into the milk supply and affect the baby. Nope nope nope.

    • Amber says:

      You must not have struggled and been desperate to produce more. Supplements and herbs aren’t FDA regulated either and yet they are freely available at any drugstore, and they aren’t always safe for mom and baby. Fenugreek is the most commonly recommended yet it often causes gas in both mom and baby leading to hours of screaming, and I personally couldn’t take fenugreek because with my diabetes, it caused my blood sugar to drop to unsafe levels and left me shaking and weak and unable to so much as pick my child up until I could get my sugar stabilized. And the normal herbs and supplements don’t always work for everyone. Be thankful you never had to resort to taking pills, some of us aren’t so blessed.

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