Rebecca Taylor, an American mom of two, was breastfeeding her baby boy. She had successfully breastfed her daughter for 18 months and nursing wasn't a new experience for her. Suddenly though, the mommy noticed something was wrong.
Her Baby Almost Died While Breastfeeding
The baby boy was feeding from his mother's breast. But suddenly, he started having difficulty with breathing and couldn't catch his breath properly. In a matter of minutes, he went limp and started to turn blue!
The mommy rushed to the hospital where her poor baby had to be put on an oxygen mask. “Watching my teeny tiny new baby get hooked up to an oxygen mask with all sorts of tubes and codes being called out is one of the worst things a parent could ever witness! They're just so small & helpless, but most importantly irreplaceable.”
Thankfully though, the baby had received medical help just in time. At the hospital, he got a chest X-Ray done and is also being monitored for aspiration pneumonia. It will be a long while though before the mommy can recover from the scary accident which could have been, God forbid, much worse. "He turned blue & I really thought I was going to lose him. I had no idea this was possible, I mean I understand how, I just can't believe it. I breastfed my daughter for 18 months & nothing like his ever happened to us. Scariest day of my life by far! I'm so thankful to God & wonderful paramedics that he's okay & home where he belongs."
So What Exactly Happened Here?
As per lactation consultants, Rebecca has a strong "let-down reflex" and an oversupply of breastmilk. This is what triggered the 'freak' accident which can potentially happen to many nursing mothers.
The let-down reflex is simply the release of milk from the breast that happens in response to your baby's sucking. While this reflex ensures that your baby gets enough milk, it can sometimes become a risk like in Rebecca's case.
As per doctors, it is possible that her let-down reflex was perhaps too forceful during this feeding. This means, her breasts expressed milk all too suddenly, causing her baby to gag on the milk that was suddenly squirted into his mouth quicker than he could swallow it. It is also possible that the amount of milk expressed was too much
Too Much Breast Milk – Is There Such a Thing?
Short answer – Yes.
Medically, this condition is called hyperlactation
While you cannot quantify 'too much breast milk', if the amount of breast milk a woman is able to produce is in excess of her baby's needs, it leads to a lot of practical and health problems:
- Heavy, painful and sore breasts, called mastitis
- Leaking accidents
- Plugged ducts
Other Problems Arising from Hyperlactation
While the above are mommy-problems, there are a lot of things that can happen to your baby too because of an overabundant supply of breastmilk.
Overfeeding – Babies like to breastfeed because the act of suckling is physically comforting. However, with a hyperlactating mom, babies may end up overfeeding. Such babies may gain weight faster than others - and not necessarily in a healthy manner.
Colicky Baby – Hyperlactating moms will tend to offer both breasts in a single feeding (since they are lactating so much!), for a few minutes each. As a result your baby gets more of foremilk (from both breasts), and very little hind milk. This can make babies colicky.
Gassy Baby – The proportion of fore- to hind-milk in hyperlactating moms may be a bit off. This causes the baby to ingest more of foremilk even if you nurse him long enough and on one breast only, because mommy is simply producing too much foremilk. Foremilk is sweeter and has more lactose, which can make your baby gassy.
In short – you have a baby that’s fussy, cranky, colicky, and not really comfortable, in spite of breastfeeding him enough!
6 Breastfeeding Lessons We Must Learn From This Incident
Rebecca's experience has 6 critical lessons for every hyperlactating mother on how she can keep her child safe and healthy:
Offer One Breast During One Feed
For the reasons explained before, always offer your baby only one breast during one feed. If he takes a break between the feeding, offer him the same breast later too.
Switch Breasts Only After 15-20 Minutes
Make sure your baby feeds on one breast for at least 15 to 20 minutes, before switching breasts.
Burp Your Baby Often
Babies with hyperlactating mothers tend to feed faster, and in the process swallow more air than usual. Burping will ease and comfort the baby.
Try Different Feeding Positions
If you lean back, it might allow you to control your let-down reflex.
Express Initial Milk
Express the initial milk into a cup or bottle – save it for a later feed. Once the initial let-down reflex is gone, and your milk starts to pour in a steady drip, you can feed your baby.
Be Careful While Comfort Nursing
If your baby likes to nurse for comfort (as many babies do), offer him the same breast from which you fed him; that way the he will neither overfeed, nor gag from the spurting milk. Alternately, you may try using a pacifier.
Finally, always get expert answers from your trusted gynaecologist, lactation expert or paediatricians for all your questions. Remember, no question is too trivial or silly to ask when it's your baby's safety that's at stake.
Via Breastfeeding Mama Talk