Q: Good day Dr Ketch. Please, it’s exactly 2 weeks today I put to bed. I was hypertensive during pregnancy. I’m still on BP drugs. I bled after delivery. Up till now my breast milk still drops in trickles. My baby feeds more on formula and water. Please, is there any kind of food or supplements you can recommend for me? This is my second baby. Please, your advice will be greatly appreciated.
A: Congratulations on your new baby! May he/she bring you joy and fulfill destiny!
Breast milk is the best food for baby, generally speaking. The supply of breast milk is based on its demand. And so, if demand for it is high, supply will be high and vice versa. The more efficiently milk is removed from the breast, the more milk production is stimulated. And so, you need to make a conscious effort to get baby to suck more.
If your baby sucks, the let-down reflex ensures that your breast fills up with breast milk. Flat nipples can appear to be a challenge for breast feeding, especially for first time mothers but remember that babies are supposed to latch on to the areola (the black area surrounding the nipples) and not on to the nipples. Press on the areola with your thumb on top and fingers underneath and push back against your chest wall while pressing in with your thumb and fingers. This helps elongate the areola and so, provided you position the baby properly on the areola, breast feeding can go on with no issues.
Here are other tips that could help increase milk supply:
- Be sure that baby is attached properly and get him to suckle on the breast very often. Remember that breast milk production is a function of the breast milk let down reflex which is activated when baby sucks.
- Increase the number of feeds per day. You could work with a timetable of a feed every 2 to 3 hours. In your case, as many times as is possible when you get back from the office.
- Switch breasts during a meal time. Let the first breast ‘empty’ before switching baby to the other breast. This can be repeated several times during a feed.
- Massage your breast and stroke towards the baby
- Perhaps over the weekend, room in with your baby and get him to feed as much as possible. The let-down reflex will be greatly stimulated and so, you could even pump some for when you will be at work and freeze.
Personally, I found that using my hands to ‘milk’ my breasts produced sufficient amounts of breast milk for my always-hungry-can’t-seem-to-get-enough-food-baby. You may want to try that.
What should you be eating? You definitely need to be hydrated 😀 If you plan to really breastfeed that child, you need to stock up on fluid requirements for yourself! Then you need the regulars: fruits and veggies, carbs (especially complex carbs like whole wheat bread, beans, local/wild/brown rice, proteins (eggs, fish etc). Drugs and foods that encourage milk production are called galactogogues. A number of local foods have been touted to help eg Pap (akamu, ogi), green leafy veggies like spinach, oats, garlic and ginger, nuts like almonds etc Go ahead and try out what works for you.
Blood pressure readings are interpreted as same, pregnancy or no pregnancy. Any level more than 140/90mmHg is seen as hypertensive. A woman may already be hypertensive before pregnancy and on medication. She may be found to be hypertensive before 20th week of pregnancy in which case it is believed she had previously undetected high blood pressure or she may be discovered to have high blood pressure after the 20th week, in which case it is believed that this high blood pressure is pregnancy-induced (Pregnancy Induced Hypertension: PIH). This would usually resolve within 6 weeks of having a baby. You are just 2 weeks post-baby, so you’re doing good. Ensuring that risk factors are reduced by reducing weight, eating and living healthy are also helpful strategies in dealing with this. Be sure to ensure you are taking your prescribed medications too.
Relax, enjoy your baby and be sure that you’re getting all the help that you need. Don’t ry to be super-mum and do it all 😀
Loads of hugs coming your way…
Have a great night, folks 😀