A prolactinoma is a very small, nonmalignant tumor in the pituitary gland that produces the hormone prolactin, an important hormone for lactation.
Many women with a history of a prolactinoma can nurse without problems. Others may have difficulty producing enough milk. We think this happens for the following reasons:
- For years women with prolactinoma have had higher than normal prolactin levels.
- The breasts “realize” that the body is not pregnant and “hide” their prolactin receptors so as not to react to prolactin and make milk.
- The problem occurs when they have actually gone through a pregnancy and it is truly time to make milk. The receptors to prolactin are “still” hidden and they do not make milk.
What can you do to increase milk?
Get your prolactin level checked in the the first weeks after delivery. For many of the women with prolactinomas whom I’ve treated, the post-partum prolactin levels are very low, perhaps even lower than before they were pregnant.
If prolactin is low, speak with your doctor about taking a medication that increases prolactin (domperidone or metoclopromide). These have helped increase milk for mothers with prolactinomas.