Blush: Lactation pre-birth

Any lactation that starts before the birth of the child is made up of colostrum, the nutrient-rich, high antibody early milk.

I noticed that I’ve been producing it for a while now, but I’m not sure when it started, as mine doesn’t really interfere with daily living. My nursing pads aren’t even wet.

I talked with another person who had nursed their first-born for 3 months, and he said that he had also started lactating early while pregnant with his second.

It is nice to know that it’s normal, although I was fairly certain that it was, especially given that I had nursed my toddler until Christmas (end of first trimester).

Anyways, I thought I’d take a look into the actual facts about lactating before giving birth and see what the professionals say.

I am very glad that I did.

Apparently, it is recommended that people who have gestational diabetes (GDM) express some of this early milk and freeze it in anticipation of the baby’s birth, because the baby will have a drop in blood sugar after birth (hypoglycemia) and the extra colostrum will help regulate the blood sugar levels much faster.

Umm…okay… I didn’t know that! Good thing I received some milk storage bags from Baby Box University. And I guess I know what I’m doing sooner rather than later. (I’m 37 weeks and 5 days as of the writing of this post.)

This is the pump that I have. I loved it with Dragon – hopefully I’ll still love it for Pegasus! Image from walmart.ca.

The other option, of course, is formula feeding.

But if I’m already producing a slight amount of colostrum, I’m definitely going to try to collect it!

And hey, if the only danger in doing so is inducing labour, at my stage of pregnancy, I’m REALLY not going to complain.

Please note: there are other risk factors in expressing milk early, including to people who are supposed to receive a caesarean, if there is excess weight gain, if the baby is too small, or if there is too much fluid in the womb. Expressing milk might also reduce blood flow to the womb.

If you are considering expressing milk pre-delivery, please talk to your healthcare professional before doing so.

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

References

theconversation.com
nhs.uk

Blush: GDM

GDM, or Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, has taken over my life.

In week 24, most OB’s/midwives recommend a blood sugar screening. You go in, drink an orange drink (I’ve heard there are other flavours, but the place I went to only had the one) that tastes like flat Orange Crush with 50 sugar packets added to it, wait an hour, and get your blood taken. They are testing your blood sugar level (at a higher accuracy than a diabetes monitor would be able to).

My results from that test came back at 8.4. The upper limit (to not have GDM) is 7.8.

So my OB had me go and do the whole thing again, but the two hour test this time.

The two hour test is slightly different. It must be a fasting test. They take your blood when you arrive before you drink, one hour in, and at the end of the two hours.

This time, one hour in, my blood sugar was at 12.2.

I had GDM.

Dammit.

Sugar cubes. Image from nytimes.com.

I was told this on April 5th. My appointment at the hospital with the nurse and nutritionist was on April 18th. I was given no further information.

Not wanting to endanger our unborn child more than necessary, we started doing research into how to control my blood sugar, and found the low GI diet.

Fortunately, not only was this very easy to follow (especially since I love veggies) but it ended up being the recommended diet to follow by the nutritionist that I saw two weeks later.

At the meeting with the nurse and nutritionist, I was given a diabetic monitor, test strips, and needles. (and a prescription for more of the latter two – thank goodness for insurance!) I was to prick my finger when I woke up and one hour after every meal (not snack).

Dragon insists on watching me do it and has started “pricking” her finger with a crayon and saying a random number.

I’m seeing the doctor at the hospital today, two weeks after the meeting with the nurse and nutritionist. She will hopefully say that my numbers are okay and I don’t need to go on insulin. We shall see. I’ve had a couple pretty weird readings.

On top of watching my blood sugars and eating a mildly strict diet, I also get to have more ultrasounds. One a month for the next two months, and then one a week until the baby arrives. These are to monitor his growth, to make sure he doesn’t get too big.

One of the biggest risk factors with GDM is the baby growing too large. Another is the risk of the pregnant parent developing type 2 diabetes in the future (ugh, fun).

I’m sure there will be more appointments that I’m not yet aware of. For someone with a toddler who sleeps until 11am and doesn’t have a car (but has awesome parents who give me access to theirs or drives me to the appointments, yes I know I’m very lucky), these extra appointments are very trying.

Let’s hope I don’t need insulin on top of the rest of this.


References

Diabetes Canada
Glycemic Index