Is my spontaneous lactation a medical concern?
September 7, 2012 10:54 PM   Subscribe

How long does non-pregnancy lactation need to last before it becomes a concern?

YANMD, TINMA. I held my newborn niece (6 days old) this past Sunday, and I've been lactating slightly ever since. Slightly=noticeable drops of milk if I squeeze my breasts/nipples, nothing otherwise. I just got a pregnancy test today to confirm I'm not pregnant. I'm on many medications, but haven't added any in the last three months, though I have gone off Wellbutrin. How long does lactation need to last before it becomes a "go see a doctor" concern? I have insurance, but we're too broke for co-pays currently, so if this is a natural reaction to holding an infant, I'd rather not spend $25 I don't have.
posted by epj to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've had this for years. The three doctors I've had in that time frame haven't been concerned. I get my hormone levels checked every year to make sure it's nothing serious, though.
posted by third word on a random page at 11:38 PM on September 7, 2012

I have this occasionally, as well, and no one's ever been concerned. I wouldn't worry too much about it.
posted by MeghanC at 12:11 AM on September 8, 2012

I can't tell you anything about how serious it is or not, but I do suggest that you avoid nipple stimulation as much as possible, including pinching them/checking for milk, wearing a shirt without a bra, putting them under running water in the shower for prolonged periods of time, etc.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:25 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Galactorrhea (lactation unrelated to nursing) may occur in up to a third of all women*, and the root cause is never established in half the cases. It's usually benign. SSRIs are sometimes indicative, and even though Wellbutrin is not strictly an SSRI, a doctor would be interested to see that you had been taking it and then stopped. Stress can also be a cause. It's not exactly a normal reaction to holding an infant, but that could have triggered it if other stimuli were present. If you don't encourage it by further stimulation, it should go away after a while. If it persists or becomes a nuisance, you should have it checked out, because it could be a sign of pituitary problems.

*The uncertainty stems from different definitions of what galactorrhea is.
posted by ubiquity at 4:34 AM on September 8, 2012

Oh, and seconding the young rope-rider, if you want it to go away, don't stimulate them. Especially don't keep squeezing them to see if they're still lactating.
posted by ubiquity at 4:39 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I found these Lansinoh disposable nursing pads really useful for bra and skin protection, but if you're not leaking you might not need them. There are also reusable/washable brands out there but I haven't tried any of them.

Good luck!
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:58 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think it's lasting this long primarily because you're poking at them to see what'll happen. I wouldn't worry, but I'd also keep my hands off for a while, as it were.
posted by SMPA at 7:33 AM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

You should, to be safe, have your prolactin levels checked with some lab work. While usually benign, lactation unrelated to nursing might indicate other things.
posted by dchrssyr at 11:00 AM on September 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

2nding having your prolactin levels checked. I had a scare with this symptom plus my periods stopped, thought it was BCP-related. But I had high prolactin, which, in my case, indicated a benign tumor growing in my pituitary (this is quite common). Got meds, take them, now I'm normal (and feel better).
posted by agregoli at 6:11 PM on September 10, 2012

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