Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's Not ALWAYS a Dairy Allergy

Since I'm allergic to milk, and a childbirth professional, I get questions from friends all the time about how they can eliminate milk from their diet because they think their nursling might have a milk allergy. Most of the time that is, in fact, the problem.  I don't want to discourage people from eliminating dairy, because it's often the cause of gasiness, spitting up, skin irritations/eczema, and overall discomfort for babies.

Sometimes, however, it's overactive letdown.  There are some key things I listen for when a mom is describing what's going on with her baby.
  • She spits up right after eating
  • He gulps in air and pulls away when nursing
  • He keeps refusing the breast, and I'm SO engorged!
I always ask if the mom finds that she's squirting baby in the face, or if that initial flow is really fast, if she notices big gulps.

If you think about how you would drink something, it makes sense.  If you were ready to drink a cup of water, but instead had the top of a gallon jug put into your mouth, you would turn away, you would gulp up as much as you could (but end up swallowing a lot of air too), and probably throw up if you drank it all.

What can you do if you have overactive let-down?  Here are some suggestions from Le Leche League
  • Lay on your back so the milk has to travel "uphill" to get to baby
  • If the milk is flowing too quickly at first, let the spray go into a clean cloth and then latch baby back on when you feel the hindmilk begin to come in
  • Once the milk supply is established, other methods can be tried
If your milk supply is well-established and you are still having over-active letdown and engorgement, you can talk to your doctor, herbalist, and/or certified lactation consultant about adding some peppermint essential oil to your breast, diluted, to lessen your supply.  This is a method to approach with care and caution and to discuss with your care provider first.

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