Postpartum: Can postpartum hemorrhage cause low milk supply?

With the birth of my baby, I experienced a placental abruption and lost a lot of blood. I couldn't nurse my baby for 18 hours and she was given formula in the nursery. My milk supply is now low and I've tried everything -- hot compresses, pumping, taken Fenugreek, drank Guiness beer, but still don't feel that my milk has ever "come in". Is the milk not coming in associated with my blood loss. If there is still a chance I can fully breastfeed, I'd still like to keep trying.


Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Large blood losses can be very scary. They can also affect a mother's milk supply. When a mother has a severe postpartum hemorrhage she may find her milk doesn't seem to be plentiful When hemoglobin levels are low, milk production may not be adequate. Large blood losses also dramatically affect your energy level and your ability to fight off infection. It is very important to take good care of yourself . Eat nutritious, iron-rich foods in combination with Vitamin C rich foods to aid in absorption, and cook in cast iron pans. Get as much rest as you possibly can, even if this means letting things go around the house for the time being.

It is very important to keep working on increasing your supply as you build your hemoglobin levels back up. If your baby is not feeding well at your breasts, I would recommend renting a hospital-grade electric breastpump and expressing your milk for about 15 minutes for each feed missed. Newborns need to nurse (or you need to express) 10 to 12 times a day. Your breasts are probably fullest at the early morning feeds. This would be a good time to nurse without offering any supplement. Your might want to make it your immediate goal to exclusively breastfeed at least 2 or 3 times a day, even if the feeds need to be fairly close to one another, so that your baby is getting enough milk. As your milk supply is increasing, gradually reduce supplementation, and keep a close eye on your baby's output and pattern of weight gain.

Remember that even if you are not producing all the milk your baby needs at this time, your baby will greatly benefit from any breastmilk that you provide. With continued breast drainage, rest, plenty of good, nutritious food, and some help around the house, hopefully you will see your milk supply begin to increase within a few weeks. Very best wishes for a speedy recovery

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