Mum’s warning as baby chokes on breastmilk

While there's no need to panic, it's worth being aware of the issue and what you can do to prevent it

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Goodness, we can’t say we have ever really considered the possibility of this happening – have you? But one new mum has definitely made us think about it with her heartfelt post on a Facebook breastfeeding page.

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The mum – who hasn’t revealed her name – went public with her story so that other parents would be aware of the (albeit very rare) risk of a little one choking when on the breast.

Describing it as the ‘scariest day of her life’, the mum wrote the following post:

“Did you know that babies could choke on breastmilk? Like, seriously ‘can’t catch their breath, call an ambulance, trip to the emergency room’ choke? Well, I definitely did not.

“Watching my teeny-tiny new baby get hooked up to an oxygen mask with all sorts of tubes and codes being called out is one of the worst things a parent could ever witness. They’re just so small and helpless, but most importantly, irreplaceable.

“The point is, apparently this ‘freak’ accident can actually happen to babies, and it’s more common than I thought – especially when you have an over-active let-down and produce too much milk. Sure wish I would have known that and been more prepared for something so insanely scary.”

It sounds an absolutely terrifying experience, doesn’t it?

The mum said she had been told by her midwives that she had an over-supply of milk, and a strong let-down reflex, but hadn’t really understood what it meant.

She said it had also been suggested to her to breastfeed lying down, but no one had told her why.

Responses

The post received almost 300 comments – a number from people who had been through the same experience.

“The only way to try to control it is when you feel your let down, pull your breast out and let it drain for a moment or two into a towel or your breast pad so little man doesn’t get the big rush,” said one mum.

“I had to do it with my youngest, and yes, at first he will scream but its better than the alternative.

“Eventually my daughter knew she was getting it back and didn’t fuss as bad, an before you know it he will be old enough to handle it. Stay strong momma, he is ok.”

And another wrote: “For over-active let down, try hand expressing first, to get the forceful let down out of the way (into a cup or bottle or towel) then once it slows down, lean back while first latching him.

“For over-supply, look into block feedings. I’ve had to deal with and correct both these issues as well. I’m so happy your precious baby is ok!”

So what is forceful let down?

In a nutshell, it is when breast milk flows very quickly from the nipple, and could cause the baby to take in too much and choke or splutter, or bring it all back up.

What can I do to stop it happening?

The La Leche League suggests nursing more often, adjusting your feeding position, and making sure your baby finishes feeding fully from one breast before swapping to the other. 

Should I be worried?

More aware than worried. But if you have any concerns about your milk flow, or your baby’s latch or feeding, chat to your health visitor to put your mind at rest. NHS Choices recommend asking your HV to watch you feed so they can see if they can spot any reasons why issues are occurring.

Since the post went up on Facebook, the mum who wrote it has received many messages of thanks for sharing her story. And we’re glad she did too – no matter how tiny the chances are of this happening, forewarned is forearmed, right?

Pics: Breastfeeding Mama Talk/Facebook

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