PCOS And Breastfeeding: Effects On Milk Production And Measures To Take

Written by Sreoshi Sengupta • 
Image: Shutterstock

PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can lead to many complications, especially for 30+ women who are trying to conceive. When PCOS-afflicted have children, and finally begin to breastfeed, the problems persist.

In such a scenario, a lack of complete awareness about the issue and absence of timely medical intervention can further complicate the situation. It could even hamper the nursing child’s and your health. So, you need to know all there is to know about PCOS and how it affects breastfeeding. We at MomJunction decided to compile some information for you to do just that. Read on to find out more.

What Is PCOS?

PCOS is a condition, which occurs due to a hormonal imbalance in a woman’s body. PCOS is fairly common and usually affects 10-15% of the female population, and leads to fertility issues and associated problems. The effect of the condition varies for every case, and PCOS affects many people from a varied range of age groups starting from teenagers to the women in their thirties or forties.

The symptoms vary greatly, and predicting the symptoms of the condition isn’t easy. But, some commonly occurring symptoms found in women with PCOS include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Late Onset of Menarche in teenagers
  • Fertility Issues
  • Frequent cases of miscarriages
  • Presence of excessive body and facial hair
  • Hair fall and Signs of Baldness
  • Acne and Pimple Prone Skin
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Blood Lipid Abnormalities
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Adult-Onset Diabetes

Several case studies on PCOS-afflicted women conclude that such women are at a greater risk of contracting heart disease, because of the insulin balance, caused by PCOS. Although the signs of the condition can be noticed as early as the early onset of puberty, in many cases, women developed the condition as late as their mid-twenties or early thirties.

[ Read: Menstruation And Breastfeeding ]

Effect Of PCOS On Milk Production:

PCOS affects the milk production in lactating mothers in several ways. Women with PCOS face several discomforts, but a lack of knowledge ensures that such women remain clueless about the reasons for the discomfort. PCOS can affect milk production in women because of various reasons such as:

  • Hormonal imbalance in the body during teenage years, in turn leading to the poor development of mammary glands and surrounding tissues, can all make breastfeeding difficult for you later in life. The irregular production of estrogen in the body can result in underdeveloped breast muscles and associated problems after childbirth.
  • The high levels of androgen hormone in the body of women with PCOS interfere with the proper production of prolactin and oxytocin which can result in the poor production of milk while the mother is lactating.
  • Lack of prolactin receptors during and after pregnancy also limits the scope of lactation in mothers. It can severely affect the production of milk in the mammary glands and often cause underproduction of milk.
  • Insulin resistance also affects the growth of breast tissues in the women and also inhibits milk synthesis. Since Insulin is also responsible for lactation along with the presence of prolactin and cortisol, the imbalance of the hormone also results in the unusual production of milk.

Measures To Regulate Milk Production In Women With PCOS:

About one-third of the women suffering from PCOS do not face any severe issues related to breastfeeding after childbirth. There can be symptoms of breast tenderness and swell, but the symptoms subside by themselves in a matter of few days without any medical help.

But around one-third of women with PCOS have problems such as under production of milk, and one-third of them suffer from overproduction, causing pain and excessive tenderness in the breasts, leaking of breast milk and discomfort. Only one ninth of the women with PCOS finds it impossible to lactate and produce any milk after childbirth.

[ Read: First Period After Cesarean ]

Under Production:

To treat under production of milk in lactating mothers, a consultation with her gynecologist is required to discuss the case elaborately and deal with situation symptomatically.

1. Factors Contributing To Low Milk Supply

Imbalance of sugar levels in the blood leads to the irregular production of insulin in the body that hampers the production of milk in sufficient supply.

Stress is also a major contributing factor in the under production of milk in a lactating mother. It gain interferes with the blood pressure and leads to a huge impact on the sufficient production of milk in the body. Lactating mothers with PCOS will have to take proper measures to control the stress levels to create a balance in the body and regulate hormone production.

The urgent need to reduce the weight that mothers put on during the pregnancy can also result in the insufficient supply of milk.

2. How Can I Improve My Milk Supply?

To manage blood sugar levels, the mother can start by controlling her sugar cravings, eating a regular and healthy diet every two to three hours in a day, and drink plenty of water and liquids to keep the blood sugar levels steady.

To lower stress in the body, you can indulge in healthy practices such as yoga and meditation. Calming herbs such as chamomile tea or aloe juices can reduce stress levels and are healthy options.

Even though it is necessary to gain a healthy body weight to remain fit and carry out the daily activities without feeling stressed, you can be a little relaxed about losing weight until you wean your baby. Yoga, brisk walks, and light exercise are sufficient during the lactation time to keep you fit and active.

[ Read: Foods To Increase Breast Milk ]

Over Production Of Milk:

The issues with over production of milk are as disturbing and frustrating as are the issues with under production. Problems such as excessively enlarged breasts, extreme tenderness, milk leakage and other associated pain and discomfort also bother lactating mothers.

To manage the situation, you can adopt the same measures and advice as in the case of under production and have some patience as the situation improves leading to a regular production of milk in just a few weeks.

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