HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Have you suffered from HELLP syndrome or had a pregnancy complicated by an underlying disorder? Discuss your concerns here
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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby sezza » Sun Mar 25, 638942 4:55 am

I had class 1 hellp and had my baby at 32 weeks and i was able to breast feed exclusively for 8 months and then kept feeding for 16 months.
i think the biggest thing in my corner was that to get home we had to be exclusively breast feeding and for my girl to be having weight gains. the nurses were SO supportive and we had an independent midwife who would come and see us everyday and help with any issues. It did take time for my milk to come in in that i never got a big gush but we got there in the end, and my girl was a big feeder!!!
I looked a lot a diet to make sure that it was high in protein, took spirilina and got acupuncture and had a pretty grueling pumping schedule. I also put my baby to the breast ALL the time. Cannot believe that women here had to sneak or were only allowed a short time with the baby on the breast. we got told the more the baby could go on the better.
good luck for breast feeding for your next baby.

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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby nborrayo » Wed Mar 14, 638942 1:51 pm

I know this topic was from a long time ago, but I just wanted to tell my experience and what i am going through now, in the hope that it may help someone.
I had HELLP with my first pregnancy in December of 2003. My platelets were 47k at the low end, and I couldn't see for a couple of days after surgery. I thought it was from the Mag. Sulf.
Since Claire was 37 weeks, and was not in the NICU, we tried breastfeeding. I produced nothing at first, and a tiny bit of colostrum after 4 days. The lactation consultants - and everyone else - kept pushing me to pump and get her to latch on correctly and told me that my milk would come in. I have never been so manhandled by so many people in my life! She was given formula in the hospital and we had to give it to her at home too, along with the little I was able to produce.
I pumped for 3 months, 8 times a day (and night of course). I tried everything there is out there - supplements, feeding her with my finger and a tiny syringe so she wouldn't get used to a bottle, special bottles after we gave up the syringes, prescription galactogogs, teas, accupuncture, and had my thyroid tested - came back normal. I had severe PPD and finally went on a low dose of Zoloft. I was seriously a mess.
Anyway, i wondered if I would be able to breastfeed my next baby. I prepared myself for either way andhad all my supplements and my hospital-grade pump ready. He was born in Sept of 2003 via a VBAC,with no HELLP or high BP. He was put to breast immediately. He latched on well, and we went home the next day. I noticed that he never seemed really satisfied when he nursed, I never heard those wet noises, and he nursed really really often. At his checkup, he was slightly dehydrated and had lost more weight than we were comfortable with so we started supplementing him too. I made the exact same amount of milk for each child - 8 oz max in 24 hours.
I nursed Steven for over a year, and gave him a bottle afterwards each time.
What I really want to say for those of you struggling with milk supply issues after HELLP, is that you should have your pituitary tested after the pregnancy hormones mellow out (I read at least 3 months pp). I believe I had damage to my pituitary as Catherine described in her post, and have been complaining to doctors about various symptoms ever since having my first child. The only time i have felt truly well in all this time was while i was pregnant with my 2nd child. Doctors told me I had fibremyalgia, depression, that I was a problem patient, that my symptoms were all in my head. Finally I moved to oregon and started seeing a naturopath. They immediately tested my hormone levels. I was low in DHEA, Cortisol, Estrogen,and Progesterone. Since then my thyroid has begun to fail as well, and i am anemic. They are now testing for pituitary damage which I am pretty confident they will find.
What I would hope is that if someone is going through any of this, that they would not have to go SOOOOOO long before getting some real help. Dr.s should be following up with us after HELLP, and not just saying "Well you should be happy you are alive," or "you should be happy you have a healthy baby. " Also, the hormones that the pituitary help to produce/regulate are vital for much more than breastfeeding.
This is not the answer to everyone's milk supply issues - but I hope it helps someone. I felt really isolated and guilty when i had these issues and would have been so relieved to find someone else was there with me.

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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby poppapig » Fri May 14, 638315 7:23 pm

I believe the impacts of HELLP on milk production is dependent on the physiology of the individual, severity of the disease, and the medications administered throughout the process.

In the case of my wife, I believe her challenges stemmed from the administration of dopamine and diurectics prior to and post delivery. Couple that with severe enemia ect and lactation was down for the count.

Milk production is triggered by the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. Prolactin is the "On" switch. The release of prolactin is supressed by Dopamine, therefore keeping the switch in the off position.. Many mothers look to domperidone as a solution to stimulate or increase milk production. This is because Domperidone stimulates the production and prolactin. In my wife's case she was tag teamed and didnt have a chance between the disease and the drugs.

I would be interested in mothers who had trouble producing who also had dopamin adminstered (this can be found in the med history).

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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby annegarrett » Tue Mar 30, 638315 1:03 pm

Maybe this is helpful--though you've heard from a lot of good people and I can't improve on that. I have four and nursed all four but to varying degrees of success. My first was so rough and I quit after six weeks. I think I was supplementing well before then. My second was easy going and would have kept going well past 13 months when I drew the line. My third I had HELLP and I also nursed but it was not easy and I struggled so much recovering. I was going to add--you're anemic with HELLP and so your body is already depleted way down to the line, nursing requires so much--healthy food, loads of fluid, loads of rest, a supportive partner, a willing body, and of course your best efforts. You did all you could and it was tough because your body had just been through a train wreck. I defy anyone to ride a bicycle after HELLP, work a day on your feet, mow a lawn, etc...fatigue and trauma impact your body, especially your ability to go above and beyond and I think everyone here would agree--nursing, whether it's a breeze or a trial--is above and beyond. So my point is--all four have been different. The last one was four weeks early and a planned C-section. nursing was so-so but we hung in there for six months. I think a lot depends on your experience, your support system, and your baby. Hopefully that's helpful. I wouldn't presume one tough experience would prevent your nursing successfully another time.

Take care!

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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby shadow2356 » Sun Mar 07, 638315 4:24 am

I had class 1 HELLP and hemmhoraged after delivery, I never really made much milk. I pumped and pumped and got an ounce or two a day. That's it. Everyone told me how it was all my fault and I should have tried harder. I pumped her about one bottle worth per day up to 4 months. Its not size, I have a D cup regulary.

I don't know why people think its ok to comment on it.

My heart goes out to everyone who lost their precious child. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby catherine » Thu Feb 11, 638315 2:05 pm

I recently attended a research presentation by a pediatrician who is studying the premature gut and studying NEC. It turns out that the inflammatory response of the cells that line the intestines of baby mice at that gestational age are hyper-responsive to some of the microbes that naturally colonise them (and us) causing rapid tissue damage. As the mouse babies reach term, this response goes way down and doesn't come back up until they are weaned from their mothers. Obviously, human babies aren't mice, but I think that this is a very interesting model to explain why preemies are so sensitive to developing NEC, it's not just infection that hurts their guts, their own, immature, response to infection makes the situation much worse. Hopefully, in time, they'll figure out some interventions that may help such early babies avoid this life-threatening problem.

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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby brianned5 » Thu Feb 11, 638315 1:15 pm

I had the most severe form of hellp syndrome and had to get an emergency c-section at 25 weeks. I was pumped full of magnesium. My baby was 1 pound 6 ounces. I signed the consent form for donor breast milk because that was the absolute best thing for Kylie and they didn't think I'd get any milk because I was so sick and so early and had a c-section. I was told to pump only 10-15 minutes every two to four hours. At my second pumping I began to get milk. And after a day I was pumping so much my loving husband called me Bessie the milk cow, (he got away with it because he was helping me pump and arranging my nipples just right in the suction) The NICU nurses were ecstatic. However, my baby was fed about 4 days after birth and after that she got really sick with an infection. I don't know for sure if the feeding she had caused her infection but I wonder if she'd still be here if she hadn't been fed so soon. Anyway, I was so early and so sick, but even with all that I did get quite a milk supply!

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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby catherine » Wed Feb 10, 638315 4:17 pm

Breast growth is no measure of milk potential... if this were true my three would have starved because I'm a A at the best of times, barely a C immediately post partum and rapidly a B. I have visual proof in my avatar.. that chubby baby was dining exclusively on the unimpressive rack beside her head.

HELLP and preeclampsia can certainly impact milk production. One reasonably well understood mechanism is via brain swelling which presses on the pituitary gland. This little spot in your brain is responsible for the production of prolactin which is the milk-signaling hormone. If this gets disrupted, well, it is logical that your ability to produce milk will be diminished. When I had HELLP I certainly experienced some degree of hypertensive changes in my head because I experienced cortical blindness which is what happens when the optic nerve is squeezed by swelling. It took almost 9 days for my milk to "come in" and my OB told me that she would have bet against that ever happening the way things were looking. Subsequently, things settled down and we ended up nursing for about 16 months.

When this happened, I had the benefit of having previously nursed a baby and was reasonably familiar with both breast feeding and pumping. If it had been my first time, I'd have just let it go. Figuring out how to feed a baby with boobs is right up there with learning to drive a stick shift or writing a dissertation. Intensive, a rapid learning curve, a grumpy demanding instructor/partner.......

Don't assume that you are doomed in the lactation department. Every pregnancy, delivery and recovery is different. That said, things may not work out next time either for a bunch of unrelated reasons. It's a wonderful enhancement of the mother-child relationship when all participating are happy and satisfied, but it's not essential in our modern world where we are fortunate to have safe and healthy alternatives to use if necessary or desired. I don't understand why people would ever chose to use the way we feed our children as a stick to beat us with, that's simply insane.

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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby dohertyab » Wed Feb 10, 638315 1:00 pm

I had HELLP, but no C-section and was lucky about pumping, it worked very well for me, so it is possible even if not the norm. I thought there was some link to low milk and mag sulfate though. I think as with PE and HELLP, every pregnancy is different, every child is different and so you can make yourself informed about options and then you have to muddle your way through by trial and error. Good luck

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Re : HELLP and problems breastfeeding?

Postby fiona » Sun Jan 31, 638315 8:58 am

Ruth - momofdylan - I think that was an unconscionable thing for anyone to have said. Not only hateful and insensitive, but without doubt, completely untrue.

I could not breastfeed my 30 weeker - I pumped during his ten week NICU stay, but by the time he was gearing up for proper-sized feeds, my supply had dwindled to nothing. I had no problems bfing my 36-weeker for nine months.

I think every pregnancy is different and we do the best we can under whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

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