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Can stress and anxiety affect breastfeeding?

(17 Posts)
welshmum Mon 14-Mar-05 09:34:12

Would be grateful for any thoughts.
I am expecting number 2 and keen to bf again. Although it went well in some ways last time - no probs with latch and I did enjoy it but I didn't seem to have a great deal of milk and ended up including more more formula feeds than I really wanted to and sooner than I wanted to(I was advised by a maternity nurse to express and see how much milk was actually available - not much and this really dented my confidence - I thought dd was hungry and I couldn't supply her adequately)
But we did have a real rocky start with dd, she went back to neo natal at 5 days and had benign fits for the first 3 months of her life. This made me very, very anxious - so back to my question - does stress affect the supply of breast milk?

flamesparrow Mon 14-Mar-05 09:36:39

I don't know for definate, but I would think so - stress effects the body in so many ways, it seems logical it would effect b/feeding too.


rickman Mon 14-Mar-05 09:39:12

Message withdrawn

bubble99 Mon 14-Mar-05 10:08:53

I think the answer, unfortunately, has to be yes. As you know Elijah's birth was incredibly traumatic and I was in shock for days afterwards. He was initialy having IV glucose, then donated breast milk via a, NG tube and when my milk came in I started to feed him myself. He lost a lot of weight during his first and second weeks. Week one was expected but the second week was probably due to the quality and quantity of milk I was producing. I'm happy to report that he gained 5oz in the first week we were home, I was feeling more settled and eating properly.

Easy to say I know, but try to relax about the whole BF thing. I know your DD needed time in the neonatal unit. Is there any reason to suspect that your next baby will?

welshmum Mon 14-Mar-05 10:17:14

Hello bubble - thanks for taking the time to respond, I do appreciate it. Am v glad to hear that Elijah is doing well - and I hope that you are getting stronger too.
I hope I will be more relaxed this time round and am trying to stop anticipating a return to hospital - although there could be a genetic predispostion to the sort of fitting dd had - it's too rare for there to be enough research. I suspect including more formula feeds was as much to do with the people who were advising me as stress

tiktok Mon 14-Mar-05 10:22:19

Shame you got crappy advice from the nurse, welshmum....the good news is that even constant stress and anxiety don't seem to affect milk quantity, except in certain extremely stressful acutely frightening situations, like a sudden bereavement, or a car crash, when let down (in some women) seems to 'cut out' temporarily. I think there was a thread on here fairly recently when someone had experienced something really horrible and felt her milk was just not available to her baby....but it did correct itself.

I understand that this is something to do with the surge of adrenalin that happens with fear or shock, which interferes, biochemically, with oxytocin.

I suppose a good analogy is breathing. You can breathe perfectly well whatever you're worried about - and like breathing, breastfeeding is a normal, physiologial process - but extreme and acute fear or shock can in some people bring on a panic attack and prevent comfortable breathing.

debs26 Mon 14-Mar-05 10:26:32

dont know about the stress thing but i just wanted to say i exclusively bf for 4 months and ds was fine - even tho i couldnt ever express more than 1oz. midwife told me many mums cant express but feed their babies perfectly well so dont let that upset you, its probably just that the maternal feelings you get to let you feed your baby arent there when you try to express to a breast pump. totally understandable in my mind!

welshmum Mon 14-Mar-05 10:26:45

Apologies for cluelessness tiktok but is the nurse wrong then? the amount of milk you can express is different from the amount the baby can take from you itself? I was always worried at the pitiful amount I could express.

fruitful Mon 14-Mar-05 10:27:09

Welshmum - can't help you on the stress front.

But I do know that the amount that you can express doesn't have much relation to the amount the baby can get out. Your baby is much much better at it than a pump is. And you will letdown milk for your baby even when you're anxious. But when you're sat there with a pump stressing about lack of milk, sometimes your milk won't come out.

Also, you make what your baby needs. The more your baby drinks, the more you make. (Presumably there is a bit of a time lag on this??). Anyway, if you give a formula bottle, your body will think you don't need as much milk, and will make a bit less.

I think, from my very limited knowledge! I'm sure the people who really know what they're talking about will be on here soon!

welshmum Mon 14-Mar-05 10:27:43

Sorry posts crossed Debs - thanks for that, I'm starting to feel better about it all now.

tiktok Mon 14-Mar-05 10:31:28

The nurse was very wrong....this is actually a give away piece of advice: if someone says 'express and we'll see how much your baby is getting' they are showing they do not understand about bf.

Fruitful gives some of the reason: the pump may get out less than the baby. The other reason is that the pump may get out more, than a baby who is not very good at feeding. Either way, you are misled. The 'thing' about bf is not how much you make, but how much the baby takes. With the way bf works, the two do, in time, come together....the more the baby removes, the more you make. But in the short term, a few pumpings of milk may tell you absolutely zero about what the baby is getting.

You'd think someone who's job it is to support new mothers would know all this, wouldn't you? : (

debs26 Mon 14-Mar-05 10:33:27

i only managed to bf 3rd baby. was very worked up about 1st 2 (must bf, must bf). with ds3 i thought 'it will be nice if i do, but not the end of the world if i dont'. bought bottles, steriliser and a few cartons of ready made up milk so my mind was more at ease. maybe its coincidence that it worked that time! hope everything works out for you, try not to stress too much, is better to be bottlefeeding and happy than bf and miserable

welshmum Mon 14-Mar-05 10:44:21

Thanks tiktok that is really helpful - and makes me feel better even nearly 3 years down the line.
I think this time around I'll also know for more about where to go for advice and be more confident about sticking with my instincts.
Debs - my problem was that I was bfing and anxious and bottlefeeding and anxious all revolving around my poor little baby's health.

Katemum Mon 14-Mar-05 10:49:49

I am another one that managed to breastfeed perfectly well but had no luck at all expressing. My dd could give herself a really good feed in under 10 minutes but after half an hour expressing I would have managed an ounce!

debs26 Mon 14-Mar-05 10:52:46

sorry i couldnt be more help welshmum, hope you feel better about expressing probelms tho. good luck, hope things are better this time

kama Mon 14-Mar-05 11:08:02

Message withdrawn

tiktok Mon 14-Mar-05 11:09:49

Good example, kama - it's typical of the temporary cessation of let down that can happen with massive fear, fright or shock.

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