Infertility and Breastfeeding
One of the biggest concerns of new moms is “will I make enough milk?” Most of the time this concern is unfounded because our bodies are beautifully designed to feed our babies. When I work with a mom who truly does not have enough milk to feed her baby, I always ask her if she had any trouble getting pregnant. There are often underlying hormonal issues that can explain the difficulties with milk production.
Luteal phase defect is a common cause of miscarriages. Women with luteal phase defect do not have enough progesterone in the second half of their menstrual cycle. Studies have shown that higher progesterone levels in pregancy result in greater milk production. There is some evidence that progesterone supplementation during pregnancy may help women produce more milk postpartum.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with infertility. It can cause low progesterone and higher levels of testosterone, estrogen and insulin. These women may also have less glandular tissue in the breast—therefore have difficulty producing enough milk. The good news is that these mothers often can increase milk production with the help of herbs or medications. If you have PCOS, meet with a lactation consultant soon after the birth of your baby to get support.
If you experience infertility or other conditions that involve hormones, talk to your health care provider about your desire to breastfeed. Lactation support soon after the birth of your baby will help maximize milk production. And remember that any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial to you and your baby!
Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com