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.