Last year, 2017, I found about the World Breastfeeding Week. As the breastfeeding week was going on, the Internet was flooded with beautiful tips, advantages, and colorful experiences. I found a few really inspiring stories and help for low milk supply. But another topic is quite left out, it’s overabundant milk supply or hyperlactation.
My story of hyperlactation
My initial months of breastfeeding story was a zig-zag road. I must confess many times I thought to stop breastfeeding. During every feed, I kept pushing the stop of lactation period to 6 months mark. By the time my Penguin was 6th months old, I pushed the mark till 1 year. Now, it’s 2 years at least and self-wean from the breast. Even WHO recommends it till 2 years.
My penguin was born 2.3 kilos. He was a bag of bones. Upon that my milk didn’t come out immediately and the baby was formula-fed. Adding to it, he rejected the top feed and puked badly. I was feeling so bad at that moment. Guilty with motherhood kicked in. Along came suggestions saying eat this or that to increase supply. I was confused. It was overwhelming. Colostrum made its way a few hours later.
It is a common practice to have boiled veggies and lots of milk enhancing food in the early postpartum period. I was no different. I ate garlic, palak (spinach), unripe papaya, fenugreek seeds, carrots, oatmeal, fennel seeds. You name it, I ate it. I was desperate to feed my baby. But nothing changed. My son cried a lot and elders were convinced he was wailing out of hunger and I was not producing enough. I was frantic. Even though the doctor wasn’t sure of low supply, still she prescribed galactagogues upon my pleading. And I had it religiously for weeks. I thought mothers either have a good supply or a scary low supply.
Meanwhile starting from 3rd day, my breast was engorged and painful. The baby struggled to suck and was restless. I was suggested to use hot compress (not warm, but hot). And I burned myself. Followed by a trip to the hospital and I was introduced to a new term – hand express. I was that ignorant. It was painful and I had already burned myself. It was bad, but I was happy that now my baby would be well fed. But the horror had just begun.
In less than an hour, after a feed session, I was engorged again. So, I decided to keep feeding the baby until I get relief. And marathon feed foundation was laid, my baby’s demand feed happened later. The next couple of months passed with my Maa and me figuring out what happened. I consulted doctors in gynecology, medicine, and surgery. But nothing worked. Before the end of the 1st month, I stopped eating the home remedies to increase milk supply. Yet by 2nd month painful bouts with every feeding sessions started. I was so exhausted that I planned to stop breastfeeding. But once my baby was hungry and started crying I would ditch the plan and nurse him. It was so depressing, I used to cry with pain yet feed him. My parents used to cry in the next room. That’s parenting.
Even after stopping every kind of galactagogues I was in pain. I was scared to breastfeed. And after every feeding session, I prayed to let the baby stay happy for the longest period. The vicious circle of warm compress- feed- warm compress was tiring. I was exhausted physically and emotionally. I used to have a low-grade fever for days together. My breasts used to be swollen and tender most of the time. While pumping my milk was grain-like or string-like, or too fat and creamy. I was scared to pump when a few days later the milk turned pinkish with blood mixed.
It was new for my family to see a new mother with pain before -during -after breastfeeding. Old grannies and aunts got a new case study in me. And by then, I was clueless yet determined to breastfeed at least till 6 months.
As if the sore nipples, fever, fatigue and painful feeds were not enough to experience, I had lumps around breast and armpits. Finally, I stumbled across homeopath and it worked. I was relieved and more determined.
It was a case of hyperlactation. Earlier appearances of fever, swollen breasts, inflammation were from plugged ducts, mastitis and abscess. It took me 4 months to enjoy breastfeed my miracle baby.
So, are you wondering, what is hyperlactation? How to read the symptoms? What are the reason and the solution? I can read your thoughts. Read on more about it in next post.