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Thread: High pre-pregnancy prolactin cause problems with BFing?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default High pre-pregnancy prolactin cause problems with BFing?

    My sister has just had a baby yesterday. Apparently her doctor has told her that her high pre-pregnancy prolactin levels could mean that she has problems with supply and her milk may never come in. I can't find anything on google or pubmed about this. Could he just mean that her pituitary might be buggered in some general way, or is there some recognised issue?

    The delivery was quite quick, drug free, vaginal. The baby is tiny, not quite six pounds, he's already had some formula (because of his size, I think, I didn't ask why they didn't get colostrum from her for him), and spent the night in the nursery because she'd lost a lot of blood. She says he's latching painlessly but is very sleepy. She has four days in the hospital to get BFing established. They're having lots of cuddle time, but I forgot to mention skin to skin for helping the hormones. She has colostrum.

    I told her to pump after feeding as often as she can, or to hand express if the pump's not getting much, to feed him as often as she can, and to talk to her doc about domperidone if she gets to ten days and still no milk. If they're having issues at day 4 I'll get her to take a hospital grade pump home with her. I forgot to tell her to get them to supplement with a dripper or cup rather than a bottle, but I'll tell her tomorrow.

    I also tried to emphasise that both I and our other sister brought our milk in with pumps because of non-latching babies and had excellent supplies, but the voice of doom from her doctor has her half convinced she'll never get any milk.

    Any suggestions?
    Last edited by Dahlia; June 22nd, 2007 at 05:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: High pre-pregnancy prolactin cause problems with BFing?

    Hopefully someone with more experience and knowledge will pop along but just to say that it's my understanding that high prolactin levels pre-pregnancy can be caused by so many different things. Obviously it is ultimately pituitary as that is where the hormone originates but the pituitary gland doesn't have to be the cause of the initial imbalance. It sounds like her doctor is being a bit vague. Whatever the cause is will have different effects.

    However I know that PCOS can be one cause of high prolactin levels and this is what kellymom says on the subject of PCOS:
    "Many moms with PCOS have no problems with breastfeeding, but recent research is showing that mothers with PCOS are at greater risk for insufficient milk supply. On the other hand, about one-third of women with PCOS report problems with oversupply (perhaps this is connected with the hyperprolactinemia - elevated prolactin levels - that occurs in about 20% of moms with PCOS)."

    So if those mothers with elevated prolactin levels are the ones who experience oversupply it doesn't sound as though she has been given the correct information.

    I also know that adoptive mothers who wish to nurse often begin by taking medications designed to increase prolactin levels (like drugs which block dopamine which normally inhibits prolactin).

    I also know that my pre-pregnancy prolactin levels are high as I was breastfeeding up to the moment I fell pregnant and afterwards.

    I would also finish by saying that breastfeeding success is so much about confidence. If she believes that she will not succeed that is going to make life tough so I think it's great that you are seeking to refute this. Perhaps try and chat to another doctor?

    I found this on the condition:
    Can I breast feed?

    Yes as long as you are not taking prolactin lowering medicines as these will be present in your milk.
    Last edited by sam'smum; June 23rd, 2007 at 02:23 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: High pre-pregnancy prolactin cause problems with BFing?

    a few weeks ago somebody sent in this link with all kinds of clips you can watch. there is one showing spoonfeeding and hand expression and how to do that for a sleepy baby.

    Also just calling her local LLL leader might help, give her somebody to talk too.
    Most doctors know very little about breastfeeding and how to get it off to a good start.

    heres the early start links form the web site


  4. #4

    Default Re: High pre-pregnancy prolactin cause problems with BFing?

    Hi there
    Does she know the cause of her hight prolactin levels? That should definitely be investigated.

    According to Breastfeeding: A guide for the medical profession (Lawrence & Lawrence, 6th ed., page 571), "If a woman has achieved pregnancy with hyperprolactinemia, postpartum lactation is possible."

    That was all the info I could find, but hopefully that will help to encourage your sister!
    "Mothers are designed to be available to their babies--to help them make the transition into this big, wide world. To teach them to trust, and love, and feel good about being alive."
    --Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq., So I Nursed Him Every 45 Minutes

    Click here to find your local LLL Group
    How to tell if your breastfed baby is getting enough milk!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: High pre-pregnancy prolactin cause problems with BFing?

    Thanks for your replies. I'm talking to her again today so I'll see how much I can pass on without being pushy. Let's hope her milk is in and it's a moot point.

    She definitely doesn't have PCOS, but that's very interesting that it's the PCOSers with high prolactin who have oversupply. I'll definitely mention that to her to boost her confidence.

    Thanks, Jen. I will definitely pass that bit on. She acheived pregnancy, but it was with the help of bromocriptene and a frozen transfer, so who knows. they don't know why she's got high prolactin, maybe stress, but nothing sinister like a prolactinoma.

    Thanks again, hopefully I can update that all is going perfectly now

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007

    Default Re: High pre-pregnancy prolactin cause problems with BFing?

    How lucky she is to have a sister like you. It must be so discouraging for her to have the doctor being so negative. In my experience it takes one little comment like this from a doctor to make us doubt ourselves, even if there are ten BF mothers telling us we can do it just fine. Hope all goes well, give us an update when you can...
    Karli, Besotted mother of Ashley,8lb 9oz - 9th May 2007 and Fae 8lb 11oz 17th Feb 2010, both born at home, naturally.

    Nappy-free @ 18 months EC'ing rocks!
    Just leave it alone.

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