My baby is choking on breast milk!

Holly - posted on 12/05/2009 ( 15 moms have responded )

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It seems that every time I breast feed my 3 week old daughter she chokes on the breast milk. She ends up gagging, coughing & gasping for air. She can still breath & her lips don't change color or anything. But she looks startled by it and it scares me!



I guess what I'm wondering is if this is normal & if there is anything I can do to prevent it?



Thank you for any advice you have!

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Jennifer - posted on 12/09/2009

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My son is 11.5 weeks old and he still chokes on my breastmilk:(

Just when I think he has outgrown it he chokes again. Sometimes it is so bad that he will refuse the breast and not finish his feed and throw his head back and cry. Normally if this happens I cuddle him until he is calm and try again. I found my baby feeds better when he is relaxed or sleepy. Here are a few tips that worked for me when he was younger:

1*Press one finger on either side of your nipple while you feed(like you are pressing scissors). This helps to slow down the flow a bit but you can't really ease off your pressure until the breast has been drained for a few minutes otherwise your baby will get a 'rush' of milk. If you have really full/ engorged breasts and you press too hard you will actually make the milk come out quicker.

2* Hand express 20-30mls or a few good squirts to take off a bit of the pressure. Be sure not to over pump or your body will produce more milk than you need. I used an electric pump for a bit and ended up with way too much milk. Now if my son sleeps 9 or 10 hours between feeds I will be really 'full' so i hand express a bit otherwise the next feed will be a bad (choking) one. It also helps them to latch on easier when your breast is not like a rock and your nipple is a bit softer.

3* Double check that your baby's body is far enough to either side of you that her chin is 'sticking out' not tucked in to her chest. As my son grew bigger and longer I kept holding him the same but did not realize his little chin was pressing towards his chest- this causes a fast let-down to swirl around in the baby's mouth instead of going to the back of their throat to trigger the 'swallow' reflex. I could hear my son gulping and struggling through his nose-sad.



Good luck:)

Minnie - posted on 12/05/2009

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You have an overactive letdown. Try a position change: nurse lying on your back with her on her tummy over you. Prop her up to a sitting position in your lap. Nurse in the side-lying position. All three positions require your milk to go against gravity and may help her better handle the flow.

You can also latch her on, let her nurse until you feel your letdown, and then unlatch her and let your milk flow into a cloth. When it slows down you can latch her on again.

If you have oversupply block feeding can help regulate your supply. Read these two articles- they may help:

http://www.llli.org/FAQ/oversupply.html
http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/LV/LVSep...

The good news is that probably by four months your daughter should be able to handle your fast flow just fine.

Ilona - posted on 12/09/2009

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i say express a little just before u feed her, so like this the pressure is not so high, she probably cannot drink fast enough yet with the high pressure of milk at the beginning, when your breasts are very full :), this will pass however, when the milk supply will get more established and the baby grows a bit more

Rebecca - posted on 12/05/2009

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It is startling but don't worry it happens. Just watch baby while breastfeeding. It's easy to turn the TV on or become distracted but in the early stage I think it's important to watch baby drink. I learned this while watching TV once, baby became really quiet and looked down and he was going blue in the face. He was 'choking' on the milk but wasn't detaching -- after that always watched him and would notice when he started doing that I'd immediately unlatch him. I would also turn him (by supporting his chin/head) on his stomach with head lower than body (part of CPR training) because this can help. I think it is important not to panic though -- trust the baby -- if coughing he's working it out. It is scary though but hang in there, they get better.

Vanessa - posted on 12/08/2009

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LOL i thought i was the only one whose baby was choking on breast milk!! i feel so bad for my daughter..i've had so much fun with this whole breast feeding thing ;) i feel like it's a full time job..(but, worth it) for me I always try to pump just a little first just enough that my breasts aren't going to gag her about 4min max..then I nurse her and it works out just fine..also, too I give her a bottle of breast milk as well as nurse..so, that might be a good option too.

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Makara - posted on 06/19/2013

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Sound like you over producing. With my first son I didn't find anything on the Internet that help me, but I was in and out to see lactation specialist. I tried many positions and discovered that when I lay sideway and feeding him during the night my son doesn't choke at all. So again with my second I see the same result. I co sleep so I can rest while breastfeeding at night . Good luck !

[deleted account]

normal! when my son was younger he couldn't handle how fast my milk let down. As they get older they get better at it and its not a problem :)

Tiffany - posted on 12/08/2009

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One thing that i was told from my lc is the get a nipple shield. Try a side lying position with a nipple shield on. This allows the milk to pool in the shield rather than in the mouth. And by lying on your side, extra milk will leak out. So lay on a burp cloth... As you have been told many times, burp baby many times during feeding. Air from swallowing gets trapped, making fluid come up easier. If baby is gaining eight like should, not eating enough isn't a big risk. You might also try feeding more often, every 2 hrs so that baby doesn't gulp.

Christine - posted on 12/06/2009

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My baby is almost 3 months old and is still choking on breast milk. I didn't know it was due to my let down til reading this thread so thanks for asking the question!

BethAnn - posted on 12/06/2009

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it will even itself out once you establish supply... when this happened with my LO I would feed her in a recliner and lean as far back as comfortable :0)

Kelly - posted on 12/05/2009

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well i already know what your problem is you overproduce i did with my oldest son here is what you do when you know she is going to be ready to nurse you need to pump each breast but only pump 1oz then latch her on this way you wont choke her whats causing you to choke her is when she latches on and take that first suck you have a letdown and thats were you r milk just comes gussing out uncontrolably after you have pumped the oz and fed her pump each breast so that way you totally empty each one of breast milk i know it seems like a pain in the rear to do but it is worth it and no more choking and gagging

Deserei - posted on 12/05/2009

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aww, that means you have a great supply of milk!



dont worry, she will get use to it.. shes still learning. to make it easier, you could express a little bit of milk before you feed her so there isnt so much pressure when your breasts "let down."



it's completely normal and keep up the good work!

Holly - posted on 12/05/2009

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Thank you ladies! I'm glad to hear that this isn't uncommon and will definitely take all your advice!

Hannah - posted on 12/05/2009

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I agree.



It is normal judging from my experience. My daughter still gets choked on occasion and she is 5 months. I know that when my milk first came in and I was engorged my milk let down ALOT faster and milk was going in all directions. If you have that problem then that could be the culprit and will fix itself once your supply is more regulated. :)

HTH.

Hannah - posted on 12/05/2009

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your baby might be choking on breast milk because of your let down...my daughter has that problem when she drinks to fast too.

Christine - posted on 12/06/2009

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My baby is almost 3 months old and is still choking on breast milk. I didn't know it was due to my let down til reading this thread so thanks for asking the question!

Hannah - posted on 12/05/2009

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your baby might be choking on breast milk because of your let down...my daughter has that problem when she drinks to fast too.

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