What is Domperidone and how does it help with milk production?
Domperidone was originally created to treat individuals with gastric reflux and severe nausea, however it has a beneficial side effect for those looking to induce lactation or produce more milk. Domperidone increases prolactin levels, the hormone that increases milk production.
This side effect is beneficial for those struggling with low milk supply or those looking to induce lactation.
How can I buy Domperidone in the US?
Although Domperidone is legal in most 1st world countries, it’s not FDA approved. This means a bit of extra work is required to obtain it.
Option 1: International pharmacies that do not require a prescription
There are many international pharmacies that don’t require a prescription. The following two are pharmacies that I have personally ordered from and trust.
UPDATE: I’ve been asked a few questions about buying from In House Pharmacy. Here’s some more helpful info:
- What manufacturer do you order from? I order Motilium from the Janssen Cilag manufacturer that is a part of Johnson & Johnson (more info here and here).
- Is bitcoin safe and secure? For the most part, yes. Here you can find more information about what is bitcoin, how to get setup and understanding the risks associated with using it.
Option 2: Get a prescription for a gastrointestinal problem
There are some professions that can write a prescription for Domperidone in the US (including acupuncturist). If you have a LC or IBCLC who has worked with women who have induced lactation they may know someone who can write a RX for you. This is technically not legal, however many women have done it.
Once you do get a Rx, here are the pharmacies that can provide the Domperidone for you:
Why Isn’t Domperidone FDA Approved?
The answer doesn’t seem to be very straightforward… and instead of a question of safety seems to be more a questions of money and power. Getting a drug FDA approved is a lengthy and costly process, and the makers of Motilium (the generic form of Domperidone) don’t seem to want to play ball. The frustrating part is Domperidone is approved in almost every 1st world country, and is considered very safe. Here are two articles that shed some additional light of the FDA + Domperidone situation:
Before you make a decision whether or not to take Domperidone – talk to your doctor!
It goes without saying that you should definitely talk to your doctor before you start any new medication. Even though it’s not FDA approved, they should be familiar with the drug and the (typically small) risks of taking it. If you don’t have a supportive OBGYN or IBCLC you can find a list of LGBT-friendly medical professionals who (although won’t be able to prescribe you the drug) should be able to have realistic conversations and recommendations around what is best for you
Additional Information on Domperidone, Milk Supply and Induced Lactation
Domperidone (Motilium™) is a drug that has, as a side effect, the increase of milk production, probably by increasing prolactin production by the pituitary gland. Prolactin is the hormone that stimulates the cells in the mother’s breast to produce milk. Domperidone increases prolactin secretion indirectly, by interfering with the action of dopamine, whose action is to decrease the secretion of prolactin by the pituitary gland. Domperidone is generally used for disorders of the gastrointestinal tract (gut) and has not been released in Canada for use as a stimulant for milk production. This does not mean that it cannot be prescribed for this reason, but rather that the manufacturer does not back its use for increasing milk production. However, there are several studies that show that it works to increase milk production and that it is a relatively safe drug. It has been used, for several years, in small infants who spit up and lose weight, but was replaced until a few years ago by cisapride (Prepulsid™) (cisapride has since been taken off the market because it can cause serious cardiac problems). Domperidone is not in the same family of medication as cisapride. Another, related, but older medication, metoclopramide (Maxeran™, Reglan™), is also known to increase milk production, but it has frequent side effects which have made its use for many breastfeeding mothers unacceptable (fatigue, irritability, depression). Domperidone has many fewer side effects because it does not enter the brain tissue in significant amounts (does not pass the blood-brain barrier).
In June of 2004, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in the US put out a warning against using domperidone because of possible cardiac side effects. This unfortunate step was taken without considering the fact that the cardiac side effects occurred only when the drug was given intravenously to otherwise very sick patients. In all the years I have used domperidone in so many mothers, I have not yet heard of any significant cardiac side effects that could be definitely attributed to domperidone. Incidentally, the Federal Drug Administration has no authority outside the US, and even in the US, compounding pharmacies, which are not regulated by the FDA, are continuing to provide patients with domperidone. See the information sheet On the FDA and Domperidone.
When is it appropriate to use domperidone?
Domperidone must never be used as the first approach to correcting breastfeeding difficulties. Domperidone is not a cure for all things. It should be used only in conjunction with fixing all other factors that may result in insufficient milk supply. (See the information sheet Protocol for Managing Breastmilk Intake as well as the video clips). What can be done?
- Do as much skin to skin as possible with the baby, during and in between feedings. See information sheet: The Importance of Skin to Skin Contact.
- Correct the baby’s latch so that the baby can best obtain the milk the mother has available. Correcting the latch may be all that is necessary to change a situation of “not enough milk” to one of “plenty of milk” (Also see the video clips on our website).
- Use breast compressions to increase the intake of milk (See information sheet Breast Compression).
- If you are breastfeeding exclusively, try expressing your milk after the feedings. A few minutes of hand expression after the feedings may be very effective to increase the milk supply. Some mothers may wish to use a hospital grade pump for 10-15 minutes after feedings—this may be very effective for some and not at all for others. Do what you can. A mother exhausted from pumping is probably no further ahead with milk production. And yes, it is not necessary to express your milk if this is a burden and makes you want to stop altogether.
- Correct sucking problems, stopping the use of artificial nipples (See information sheet Lactation Aid, and Finger and Cup Feeding).
Using Domperidone for Increasing Milk Production:
Domperidone works particularly well to increase milk production under the following circumstances:
- It has frequently been noted that a mother who is pumping milk for a sick or premature baby in hospital has a decrease in the amount she pumps around four or five weeks after the baby is born. The reasons for this decrease are likely many (not putting the baby to the breast early enough, no true kangaroo mother care, etc), but domperidone generally brings the amount of milk pumped back to where it was or even to higher levels.
- When a mother has a decrease in milk supply, often associated with the use of birth control pills. Avoid estrogen containing, or even progesterone only birth control pills or progesterone releasing intrauterine devices (Mirena) while breastfeeding. See the information sheet, Slow Weight Gain Following Early Good Weight Gain for other reasons milk supply might decrease and fix what can be fixed.
Domperidone still works, but often less dramatically when:
- The person is pumping for a sick or premature baby but has not managed to develop a full milk supply.
- The person is trying to develop a full milk supply while breastfeeding an adopted baby.
- The person is trying to wean the baby from supplements.
Side Effects of Domperidone:
- As with all medications, side effects are possible, and many have been reported with domperidone (textbooks often list any side effect ever reported, but symptoms reported are not necessarily due to the drug a person is taking). There is no such thing as a 100% safe drug. However, our clinical experience has been that side effects in the mother are extremely uncommon, except for increasing milk supply. Some side effects which mothers we have treated have reported (very uncommonly, incidentally):headache which disappeared after a few days or when the dose was reduced (probably the most common side effect)
- abdominal cramps
- dry mouth
- alteration of menstrual periods, usually stopping them, but also breakthrough bleeding is possible. It is usual when breastfeeding not to have menstrual periods for many months
- a very few mothers who have taken domperidone for many months, usually more than a year, have reported feelings of anxiety, sleeplessness, loss of appetite and other symptoms when they stopped the domperidone “cold turkey”.
The amount that gets into the milk is so tiny that side effects in the baby should not be expected. Mothers have not reported any to us, in many years of use, at least not symptoms that can be attributed definitely to the domperidone. Certainly the amount the baby gets through the milk is a tiny percentage of what babies would get if being treated for spitting up. Remember, this is a medication often given to babies forreflux.
Are There Long Term Concerns About The Use of Domperidone?
The manufacturer states in its literature that chronic treatment with domperidone in rodents has resulted in increased numbers of breast tumours in the rodents. The literature goes on to state that this has never been documented in humans. Note that toxicity studies of medication usually require treatment with huge doses over periods of time involving most or all of the animal’s lifetime. Note also that notbreastfeeding increases the risk of breast cancer, and breast cancer risk decreases the longer you breastfeed. Also note, in Canada we have used Domperidone as a ‘milk-making’ medication for over 20 years
Generally, we now start domperidone at 30 mg (three 10 mg tablets) 3 times a day. In some situations we go as high as 40 mg 4 times a day. Printouts from the pharmacy often suggest taking domperidone 30 minutes before eating, but that is because of its use for digestive intolerance. It is true, though, that absorption of domperidone is greater on an empty stomach. You can take the domperidone about every 8 hours, when it is convenient (there is no need to wake up to keep to an 8 hour schedule—it does not make a real difference). Many mothers take the domperidone for 3 to 8 weeks, but sometimes it is needed longer than that, and sometimes it is impossible for mothers to maintain their milk supply without staying on domperidone. Mothers who are breastfeeding adopted babies may have to take the drug much longer. People taking domperidone for stomach disorders often have been taking it for many years.
After starting domperidone, it may take three or four days before you notice any effect, though sometimes mothers notice an effect within 24 hours. It appears to take two to three weeks to get a maximum effect, but some mothers have noted positive effects only after 4 or more weeks. It is reasonable to give domperidone a trial of at least four, and better, six weeks before saying it doesn’t work.
Questions? First look at the website nbci.ca or drjacknewman.com. Information is also available in Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding (called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers in the USA); and/or our DVD, Dr. Jack Newman’s Visual Guide to Breastfeeding (available in French or with subtitles in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian); and/or The Latch Book and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success; and/or L-eat Latch and Transfer Tool; and/or the GamePlan for Protecting and Supporting Breastfeeding in the First 24 Hours of Life and Beyond.