Are you wondering whether there exists a correlation between PCOS and breastfeeding? Does PCOS affect breastfeeding? The exact correlation between PCOS and breastfeeding is not yet confirmed. Mothers with PCOS are at a greater risk of producing an insufficient milk supply. On the other hand, some women with PCOS report problems with the oversupply of the milk which can be correlated with the high Prolactin levels, while some mothers with PCOS have no problem with milk supply and breastfeed successfully.
Which Hormones Are Affecting The Breastfeeding?
Women with PCOD tend to have an insulin resistance, high levels of androgen and estrogen, and low levels of progesterone and this affects the lactation and milk production by the mammary gland.
Prolactin and oxytocin play an important role in lactation. High levels of androgen inhibit with prolactin reaching the receptors. Due to the less number of prolactin receptors, the milk secretion happens to be limited. There is inhibition of lactation due to the high estrogen levels because of which the contraceptive pill is not recommended for breastfeeding women. During the pregnancy phase the combination of progesterone and estrogen, which happens to circulate in the blood, are effective in inhibiting the secretion of milk by effectively blocking the prolactin’s release from the pituitary gland, and, at the same time, affecting the mammary gland cells to turn less responsive to the pituitary hormone. At the end of the pregnancy, after the placenta’s expulsion and the loss of its hormone supply, and due to the reduced production of hormone by the ovaries with enough estrogen maintained in circulation to help prolactin secretion by the pituitary gland, this blockade is removed and the lactation is promoted. So, the levels of progesterone, estrogen, and prolactin are effective in regulating the breastfeeding significantly.
Insulin Resistance And Less Milk Supply:
Medical studies reveal that women who are obese, who are at the advanced maternal age, or whose baby is having large birth weight take time to secrete the milk showing the co-relation between insulin resistance in the mammary gland. The new research shows how the mammary gland becomes sensitive to insulin during lactation. The growth of the breast and milk synthesis in the breastfeeding mothers are adversely affected by the insulin resistance. Insulin is known for being a crucial factor in managing lactation in conjunction with cortisol and prolactin. Insulin plays an important role during breastfeeding. A recent medical study discovered that when a mother is insulin resistant, a specific gene is expressed more markedly than in insulin-sensitive people. This shows a correlation between the insulin resistance and deficiency of milk supply. As women with PCOS can be insulin resistant, the risk for low milk supply due to insulin dysregulation increases in the breastfeeding women with PCOS.
How To Regulate Milk Production In Women With PCOS?
By following certain tips, the milk production in women with PCOS can be regulated easily. These helpful tips are mentioned below.
1) Do Light Exercise Regularly:
Exercise is key to treat any illness. Exercises have been observed to help in reducing the levels of stress hormones in the body. So, it is important to practice exercises daily. 30 minutes of light workout or gentle walking can improve the insulin sensitivity and may improve milk secretion. Strenuous exercise should be done after 7-8 weeks post-delivery. Gentle walking is fine and beneficial in the early weeks. You can take your baby out for a walk. Enjoy dancing slowly to the tunes of your favorite music. Perform a bit of low-strenuous exercise.
2) Manage Your Stress Levels:
The stress levels can have a real impact on your milk production. Try yoga, meditation. Relax with your family members. Talk to your friends. Enjoy watching TV with a warm drink. Take a warm bath. Read a good book or magazine.
3) Avoid Excessive Intake Of Sugars:
It is observed that women with PCOS have an excessive craving for sweets. Insulin resistance in PCOS plays a vital role in experiencing the cravings for sweets. So, it is advisable to avoid sugary foods. Breastfeeding women can beat their desire to eat sugary foods and maintain steady blood sugar levels by having snacks every 2-3 hours and by eating other healthy foods. Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee, cola, and chocolate), as the stress hormone adrenaline is stimulated by caffeine.
Role Of Homeopathy In PCOS:
Homeopathic medicines are completely safe to have during pregnancy and post-delivery, and they are free from any side-effect. Homeopathic medicines correct the hormonal imbalance at the root level & neutralize its negative effects. Once the hormonal imbalance is corrected, the possible ill-effects on the milk secretion can also be improved.
-Written by Dr. Mithila K, Associate to Dr. Rajesh Shah