Monthly Archives: April 2013

Postpartum Hemorrhage And Breastfeeding

What It Means For Breast Milk Production

Postpartum Hemorrhage happened to me with the birth of my first child. I delivered him at a birth center surrounded by two experienced midwives and their midwife in training. The birth was fast and furious and afterwards I wouldn’t stop bleeding. It was a Postpartum Hemorrhage. They gave me an injection of pitocin. Then another one. Then another one. I kept right on bleeding and was starting to get dizzy and lightheaded. They were prepping my transfer to the hospital when they tried some sort of suppository – I don’t even know what it was – I was that out of it. But whatever it was, I finally stopped bleeding and avoided a trip to the hospital and a blood transfusion.

That was the good news. What I didn’t know was that I was in for a world of trouble with breastfeeding. My body focused on healing and making blood rather then on making milk. My supply was never established and my little boy didn’t get back to his birth weight for over a month. Increasing my milk supply was a long and difficult battle that lasted four months.

And I had it easy.

More severe Postpartum Hemorrhage blood loss can damage the pituitary gland which creates prolactin, the milk-making hormone. Without adequate prolactin, milk supply will suffer and may never recover. In these cases, breastfeeding is doomed before it even has a chance to be established.

Unfortunately having had a postpartum hemorrhage once puts you at greater risk for hemorrhaging with subsequent births – to help avoid hemorrhaging with your next baby take vitamin K the last 3 weeks of your pregnancy, as well as Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, (Please use common sense, and always speak with your health care provider before taking anything during pregnancy). You should also speak with your health care provider about Active Management which is a strategy for controlling Postpartum hemorrhaging immediately after you give birth.

If you’ve hemorrhage and are now experiencing difficulties breastfeeding because of low milk supply be sure to drink a lot of water – I’m talking between half a gallon and one gallon per day. Your body will need that extra water for making blood, making milk and normal postpartum functions.

Eat foods that are high in iron like spinach, broccoli, dark green leafy veggies, and red meats, and take an iron supplement. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, so be sure to also get extra vitamin C. Vitamin B12 can also help, as well as Stinging Nettle taken in an herbal supplement, tincture or tea.

If you experienced severe blood loss, see your doctor and have your baseline prolactin levels checked. If your baseline is lower than 35ng/ml ask your doctor about medical treatments for low milk supply and see our article on the 11 Ways To Increase Milk Supply.

Postpartum hemorrhage and breastfeeding is a frightening combination but with the right treatment milk supply can be recovered and you can have the breastfeeding relationship you envisioned. 

Breastfeeding and Illness

What Does Breastfeeding During An Illness
Mean For Your Milk Supply?

breastfeeding and illness

If you are a breastfeeding mother who has recently become sick with an illness, it is certainly possible that that can be the cause of an abrupt drop in milk supply. In fact, this is a common side effect when a breastfeeding mother becomes ill.

It happens for many reasons, including:

  • You might not have the energy to feed baby as often as usual and less frequent feedings usually results in lower milk production. (Your supply tries to meet the lowered demand.)
  • You might not breastfeed as often during an illness because you don’t want to expose your baby to the virus.
  • You might not breastfeed as often during an illness because you are sleeping more often.
  • Your body will prioritize your health and well being over that of your baby. And your body will divert energy away from breastfeeding and put that into helping you recover.
  • You may not be drinking as much water during an illness if it hurts to swallow. Being dehydrated can lower milk production.

What Do When Illness Strikes While Breastfeeding?

It’s pretty simple. Just focus on getting better as fast as you can. Rest, drink clear fluids, and eat well. Be sure to avoid certain medications that can lower milk supply. Also be sure you are pumping or breastfeeding as often as possible to keep you milk production up. As long as you focus on these things your milk supply should return to normal levels as your health improves. If it does not, see our article on the 11 ways to increase milk supply 

Foods That Decrease Breast Milk

Mint: A food that decreases milk supply

Mint is one of the foods that can decrease milk supply. (Image courtesy of Foto76 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

There are several foods, herbs and substances that decrease breast milk supply. Have you had a significant amount of one or more of these recently? If so, stop and watch your milk supply return.

  • Sage – more than 1 tbsp. per day.
  • Parsley – more than ½ cup per day.
  • Mint (particularly peppermint) – Frequent brushing with toothpaste containing real mint oil; more than 2 strong mints like Altoids per day, more than 1 regular-size candy cane per day.
  • Fish Oil – some women have found that this may affect milk supply; more than 1 capsule per day. Test switching to Flaxseed Oil as your Omega 3 supplement.
  • Excessive Water – more than ½ gallon per day. Too much water will throw off your electrolytes which can affect milk production. Drink periodically throughout the day and whenever you are thirsty and keep your pee light yellow in color.
  • Alcohol – more than 1 drink per day.
  • Smoking – any amount. Smoking lowers your Prolactin (milk-making hormone) levels. Moreover it, reduces the amount of fat content in your milk – so baby doesn’t gain as much weight as he normally would.
  • Medication – Pseudoephedrine which is found in most allergy or cold medications, such as Sudafed. Buproprion which is found in Wellbutrin and Zyban.
  • Caffeine – affects women and their babies differently. Experiment to see if it is affecting your milk supply.

These foods that decrease breast milk should be avoided above the quantities shown. 

Baby Will Take a Bottle After Breastfeeding

Does It Mean You Have Low Milk Supply?

bottle after breastfeeding

The fact that your baby will take a bottle after breastfeeding does not necessarily mean you have low milk supply.

For instance, imagine a baby who just finished breastfeeding, he wailed and acted frustrated so the mother concluded that he’s still hungry. To test her theory, she makes a 4 ounce bottle of formula and he drinks it all then blissfully falls asleep. The mother’s worst fears are confirmed. Her baby is not getting enough milk at the breast and she may have to switch to bottle feeding.

Meanwhile what really happened was that the baby experienced gas pain after he finished nursing and flailed in frustration because he wanted to comfort suck until the pain went away. The bottle was put in his mouth and he happily sucked, which is what he wanted, but then the formula was suddenly flowing. So he swallowed and swallowed and swallowed becoming so overstuffed that he simply passed out from the overfeeding.

Poor little guy.

Poor mother too. She’s making perfectly reasonable conclusions about what’s going on. Unfortunately she’s utterly wrong.

You see, all babies love to have things in their mouth – it’s how they eat, it’s comforting to them, it helps with teething, it’s how they explore and learn about their world. Getting things in their mouth and sucking on them is what babies do.

So if you give a bottle to your baby, he’s as likely to suck on the nipple out of fun, comfort or a sense of exploration as he is because he’s hungry. And if he sucks, fluid will flow and he has to either swallow it or choke. This will go on as long as there’s fluid in the bottle or until baby feels so overstuffed that the discomfort of drinking any more outweighs his desire to continue his favorite activity.

The moral of the story is that just because a baby will take a bottle after breastfeeding it is not a good indicator of low milk supply. 

Breastfeeding and Stress

Can Stress Affect Breastfeeding?

stress and breastfeeding

Stress affects everyone in different ways. I’ve known a woman who was stressed because it was her eldest child’s first day of kindergarten and her milk supply crashed because of the stress of the day. As you can imagine, her eight month old complained bitterly about the situation.

Stress can certainly affect breastfeeding and it is something to consider if you milk supply was good and has taken a downward turn.

Is there anything going on in your life that is causing you stress? Remember it doesn’t have to be something negative like a family member going to the hospital it a positive event like your sister’s wedding can also be a source of stress.

If you can identify a new source of stress that coincides with your milk supply dropping, you may have found the cause of your supply issue. Try to work through the stress with relaxation or exercise or however you usually deal with stress. Consider getting a book on stress reduction from a book seller or your local library.

As for breastfeeding and stress, try to relax while nursing. Breathe deeply and don’t think about the thing that is causing you stress by thinking about something that brings joy or peace to you. Perhaps it was a memorable vacation or special accomplishment in your life. Focus on that.

If the stress is caused by something in your home, try to breastfeed in a different area. If the piles of laundry in your living room is making you stressed, try breastfeeding in a different room.

Once the stressful situation passes or you find a way to manage the stress, your milk supply should return to normal, but in the meantime it’s good insurance to practice some of the 11 ways to increase milk supply.

Don’t let stress harm your breastfeeding relationship! 

Breastfeeding And Exercise

Mother exercising with breastfed baby

Does breastfeeding and exercise go together?

Many moms feel called to exercise and get their pre-pregnancy body back. And, generally speaking, that is a terrific goal that will give you more energy and better health. However if you are breastfeeding, you have to approach exercise in a smart way, otherwise you could see a backlash in your milk production. Here are the rules of the breastfeeding and exercise:

Breastfeeding and Exercise Rule #1: Medical Clearance

Get clearance from your doctor or other health care professional before beginning any exercise routine. Delivering a baby is an incredible physical stress on your body, similar to breaking your arm or leg. Your body needs sufficient chance to heal and recover. Organs need to shift to where they belong. And like a broken bone mending, this process takes time and is a bit different for every woman. Even if you are not breastfeeding, be sure to get medical clearance before exercising.

Breastfeeding and Exercise Rule #2: Avoid Overexertion

After “borrowing” our bodies to the baby during pregnancy and waiting six to eight weeks or more to get medical clearance a lot of moms want to dive right in with a rigorous exercise routine. It’s tempting but overexertion can cause your body to cut milk production. When push comes to shove your body values your life more than the life of your baby and if the exertion of your exercise routine is too much for your body to handle, it will cut milk production to conserve energy.

And speaking of overexertion, it doesn’t have to be exercise in the conventional sense. Even seemingly little things like cleaning the house before company arrives can cause a reduction in your milk supply.

To avoid overexertion, ease into your exercise routine. To start with keep your heart rate at 120 bpm or lower during exercise. If that goes well, increase to 130 bpm in two weeks and to 140 bpm two weeks after that. This will allow your body to get used to the demand of exercise without penalizing your milk production.

Breastfeeding and Exercise Rule #3: Diet smart

Almost all exercise programs include a diet component, however drastic dieting, calorie cutting and weight loss can cause your body to go into “starvation mode.” This survival that helped our species survive famines works by cutting out all nonessential functions including milk production.

Making breast milk is a calorie intensive process, so be sure you are getting enough high quality calories.

Final thoughts on Breastfeeding and Exercise

In general dieting and exercise are terrific means to better health, more energy and feeling good about how we look. However breastfeeding moms need to take a balanced approach to diet and exercise. Get the okay from your doctor, ease into an exercise routine, and make smart choices about your diet. If you do these things, you can continue breastfeeding and reach your fitness and body goals! 

Baby Fussy At Night

A baby fussy at nightIt is common for a baby to be fussy at night, especially breastfed babies. After having been tapped all day, mom’s milk supply will be naturally lower in the evening. Unfortunately that’s the time when baby is getting ready for sleep and wants to cluster together several feedings in preparation for (hopefully!) a long sleep cycle. He may be frustrated that the milk is not flowing as fast as he’d like. When the breasts are full of milk there’s more internal pressure and the flow will often be faster than when the breasts are less full, such as in the evenings. This slower flow can make even the most patient of babies be fussy at night.

You can imagine it this way: think of a hot summer day. You’ve become thirsty from playing with the kids and want a drink of water, but rather than go in the house, you throw caution to the wind and turn on the watering hose to get a drink. You drink more than you normally would because that cool, fresh water tastes so great and because you’re really thirsty.

Now imagine instead of producing a good flow, the hose is kinked and the water is flowing really slowly. It’s faster than a drip, but it takes a full minute to get a mouth full. You get really frustrated at how slow the water is flowing because you’re really thirsty and it tastes so good.

That’s a lot like how babies feel in the evening. They’re really hungry and want to bank up a lot of calories for night time, but the milk is flowing frustratingly slow. It is flowing, but baby is drinking the milk as it’s being made. It’s a slow process and a demanding or impatient baby will become very fussy at night.

Add to this the possibility that baby may be tired from a long day and feeling overstimulated and you can easily understand why he may be fussy at night. Here’s what you can do to fend off the fussiness:

  • Continue to breastfeed baby as often as he indicates. He may have just finished breastfeeding 30 seconds ago. That’s ok. Just put him back on. All this extra stimulation will tell your body that it needs to pick up the production of milk.
  • Switch breasts each time he gets fussy. This one trick may make nighttime fussiness a thing of the past.
  • Resist the urge to give a bottle. If you give a bottle and don’t pump that same amount of milk near the same time when you give the bottle, your body will not know that it is not producing enough milk. Without that “knowledge” your body will not make more milk for the next evening and you will be in the same situation, only a little worse. To keep your milk supply strong, don’t give bottles unless you’ve been directed to do so by a health care professional because of baby health problems such as baby not gaining weight.

Work on increasing your milk supply in the evenings and soon baby will not be fussy at night. 

Event Driven Decreases In Milk Supply

If your well-established milk supply has recently decreased one of the things you should consider is if there has been a big or small change in your routine. Have you recently returned to work or school, if even in a limited capacity? Are you away from baby for longer than usual? Are you involved in a new project or event?

Whenever anything interrupts your baby’s breastfeeding routine the backlash usually occurs in your milk supply. A simple change of you being away from baby an extra hour a day can show up in your milk supply as production decreases. If some event has changed the way baby breastfeeds, look for ways to increase breastfeeding sessions or add an extra pumping session. You can also try some of the 11 ways to increase breast milk supply.

Bottle Breastfeeding

Done Incorrectly, Giving A Bottle Will Harm Your Breastfeeding

bottle breastfeeding baby

Did you know that one of the surest ways to lose your milk supply is to give your baby a bottle? Here’s why:

Like all humans, babies like instant gratification. And with a bottle they get that – milk flows at the first suck, it flows at a constant rate and doesn’t stop until the bottle is empty.

It’s amazing!

It’s addictive!

And once they have a taste of it, it’s all the baby wants!

A baby who becomes hooked on the flow of a bottle, will become increasingly frustrated during breastfeeding. He doesn’t understand why at the breast there’s no milk flowing at the beginning then there’s flow, but then that slows down for a while, then more flow. It’s frustrating compared to Bottle Easy Street! Baby will be fussy and cry at the breast and can quickly train his mother to give him a bottle after he “puts in his time” at the breast.

This begins the cycle that will tear down your milk supply. But this doesn’t have to happen to you if you use the bottle breastfeeding system.

The Bottle Breastfeeding System

You probably need to give a bottle because to one of two reasons:

  1. You’ve been directed to supplement by a health care professional because of a weight gain issue.
  2. Or you have to be away from baby and bottle needs to be given in your absence.

If you’re in the first camp, you’re really better off using a SNS System which prevents the nipple confusion and flow preference problems that come from using a bottle incorrectly. If you need to use a bottle until you can get an SNS or you have to be away from your baby when the bottle is given, here’s the rules of the bottle breastfeeding system:

Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #1. Use the slowest flowing nipples you can find. Sometimes they’re marked as a 0 (zero) or labeled “newborn.”

Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #2. Pick a bottle nipple that’s most shaped (length and width) like your nipple. (This may help with nipple preference and nipple confusion.)

Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #3. Latch baby on to the bottle much like you latch baby to the breast – get the nipple back in the mouth so that his lips are around the base of the nipple. When you look at baby’s mouth while latched on to the bottle, it should look much the same as when baby is latched on to the breast. If you will not be the one giving the bottle, you’ll need to educate your caregiver(s) on exactly what the looks like. Be sure to show them what the right way as well as the wrong way look like. Print this out and give it to them.

Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #4. Sit baby up and hold the bottle level with the floor to reduce the flow. (This Bottle Breastfeeding Rule is used to prevent flow preference.) Pretend as though the bottle is a breast that has letdowns. After latching baby, let him suck a bit without much (or any) milk in the nipple. Don’t’ worry about baby sucking air – they swallow air all the time and it will just come back up as a burp. After he’s sucked for a little time, gently lift the bottle to fill the nipple with milk (this is the letdown). Let him suck for a minute or two then drain the milk out of the nipple again. Repeat for the entire bottle. Again educate your caregiver if you will not be the one giving the bottle.

Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #5. Is only if you are giving the bottle for supplement reasons (not if you’ll be away from baby). The rule is: use less supplement. If baby needs 1 ounce of supplement per feeding, only give about three quarters then put baby on the breast. Once he gets fussy, switch sides. The goal is for him to end, satisfied and happy with the breast and to associate those good feelings of being full and content with the breast. If after nursing on both sides, he is still fussy, you can finish with the bottle.

Bottle Breastfeeding Rule #6. is only for moms who will be away from baby while the bottle is given. To maintain your milk supply you need to pump the same amount of milk that is given in the bottle at about the same that the bottle is given.

Final Thoughts On Bottle Breastfeeding

There are many dangers to a mom’s milk supply when giving a bottle, so if you need to give a bottle be sure you follow the simple bottle breastfeeding rules above to keep the risks to a minimum. 

Study: Lactiful & Breast Milk Production

The first study about Lactiful Supply Max and breast milk production was published today! This 7 month study followed lactating women before they started Lactiful Supply Max and while they were taking it and measured the changes in each woman’s breast milk production.

The results were terrific with 67% showing an increase in breast milk production by the end of the final production pump test and 75% of women showing an increase in breast milk production at some point while taking Lactiful Supply Max versus a control pump test.

Maybe more impressive than how many women it help is by how much milk supplies increased while taking Supply Max. Those women who saw an increase gained an average of nearly 15 more ounces of breast milk produced each day!

This is all the more impressive because the research study attracted a majority – almost 70% – of subjects who had tried another ingestible (either prescription drug or herbal remedy) and found that it didn’t not work at all or did not work well enough. These more difficult milk supply cases made up 7 out of ever 10 women in the study.

Read the whole published study here: The Effects of Lactiful Supply Max on Breast Milk Production