What Is Domperidone, Anyway?

In the past few weeks, we’ve been blogging about mothers who have induced lactation and used Domperdione to help do so (see here and here). Other mothers we’ve been in contact with have used Domperidone to help boost their own milk supply, while still others have been asking us what the heck this Domperidone is all about.

So, in a nutshell, Domperidone is a medication designed to relieve nausea and help empty the stomach. It has the side effect of increasing prolactin levels in women, which can often lead to increased supply of breastmilk.

Prolactin is the hormone that stimulates cells in a woman’s breasts to create milk.

Domperidone is not FDA-approved for use as a stimulant for breastmilk production. This does not mean it can’t be prescribed for this purpose, just that the manufacturer does not back its use in this way. Dr. Jack Newman of Canada’s International Breastfeeding Centre has written extensively about Domperidone as a safe galactogogue (substance that increases milk production).

In recent years, the FDA issued a warning that Domperidone might lead to cardiac arrest in patients, but Newman and his colleagues counter that the FDA used a study showing Domperidone given intravenously in much higher doses than physicians would ever prescribe for inducing or supporting lactation. His conclusion was that, “Domperidone has a three-decade track record of use as a galactogogue to support breastfeeding mother/baby dyads.”

There are other studies (see here and here, for instance) that discuss Domperidone as a safe medication for increasing milk production. But, unfortunately, in the United States, women often cannot get their insurance companies to pay for Domperidone and end up paying out of pocket, which can be about $45 per month before shipping costs.

When a physician prescribes Domperidone to a mother, she needs to find a compounding pharmacy to obtain the medication. This is a type of pharmacy that makes medications from scratch–mixing individual ingredients together in the exact strength/dosage required by the patient. This method allows the pharmacist to work with the patient and the doctor to create a customized medication to meet each patient’s specific needs.

These types of pharmacies are not readily available to all mothers, and some have to travel long distances once they obtain a prescription or order online.

In short, Domperidone has been extremely helpful for mothers looking to increase milk production. Unfortunately, it’s complicated to obtain and can be cost-prohibitive. Dr. Newman and other researchers studying lactation have called for further research in this area. Hopefully it will one day be easier for mothers to get such medications!

Have you used Domperidone? Leave us a comment to share your experiences. 

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