A lot of mothers do not know that their babies can choke while breastfeeding even though you might have seen your baby cough or have difficulty breathing while breastfeeding. According to New Kids Center, if your baby chokes while breastfeeding, your let-down may be overactive or you may have an oversupply of breast milk.
On Breastfeeding Mama Talk Facebook page, a mother Rebecca described the harrowing experience of her infant son turning blue after choking on breast milk.
"Scariest day of my life by far. 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. Thankfully he's okay now, but for a brief while he wasn't and I've never felt more panicked or lost in my entire life”, Rebecca said.
So the answer to the question is Yes. The irony is a lot of women complain of low supply of breast milk while those that have overactive letdown or oversupply of breastmilk have to be careful when breastfeeding to prevent their baby from choking.
There are some factors to observe while breastfeeding that would make you know your letdown may be overactive or oversupply of breast milk such as:
- gagging, choking, strangling, gulping, coughing, or gasping while nursing
- pulling off your breast often
- clamping down on your nipple to slow down flow of breast milk at let-down
- making a clicking sound while nursing
- spitting up often
- sometimes refusing to nurse
- refusing comfort nursing
As reported by Kelly Mom, there are essentially two ways you can go about remedying a forceful let-down, help baby deal with the fast flow and take measures to adjust your milk supply down to baby’s needs. The most effective positions are those where baby’s head and throat are above the level of your nipple. Some nursing positions to try:
- Cradle hold, but with mom leaning back (a lots of pillows helps)
- Football hold, but with mom leaning back
- Baby sitting up and facing mom to nurse instead of lying down (good for nursing in public).
- Side lying position – this allows baby to dribble the extra milk out of her/him mouth when it’s coming too fast
- Laid back positioning- in this position, mom is reclining comfortably and baby is on top (facing down), tummy to tummy with mom.
- Burp baby frequently if he/she is swallowing a lot of air.
- Nurse more frequently. This will reduce the amount of milk that accumulates between feedings, so feedings are more manageable for baby.
- Nurse when baby is sleepy and relaxed. Baby will suck more gently at this time, and the milk flow will be slower.
- Pump or hand express until the flow of milk slows down, and then put baby to the breast. Use this only if nothing else is working, as it stimulates additional milk production. If you do this, try to express a little less milk each time until you are no longer expressing before nursing.
- One method for decreasing milk supply without limiting baby’s feeds is called block feeding.
Most moms can feel their milk preparing to come down their milk ducts. A great way to ease your baby's discomfort with an overactive letdown is take him/her off the breast and catch the forceful milk in a towel, burp cloth or breast milk bag. Once letdown is complete, re-latch baby and let him/her nurse.
Kelly Moms advises that you should avoid trying to reduce milk supply during the first 4-6 weeks. This is a time period when your milk supply should be increasing rapidly, and it’s not unusual for a small baby to have temporary issues with even a normal supply or letdown in the early weeks.