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Q. I had my nipple pierced for almost a year before I became pregnant. I am now 20 weeks. I have a hole on either side of my nipple and when I squeeze it, a yellowish liquid comes out of the holes. It does not hurt. My biggest concern is breastfeeding. I have searched everywhere for info on this. Please help!
A. The yellowish liquid is colostrum, which is produced by the milk glands and is later replaced by real milk two to four days after the birth. Some women notice small amounts of colostrum leaking from their nipples before giving birth, but the bulk of it comes in after the delivery.
During pregnancy, you many notice little "buds" appearing on your nipples, which are milk ducts coming to a head. Did you know that milk can squirt out of each and every one of these ducts? There can be anywhere from twenty to fifty ducts in each nipple! I used to think the milk would neatly come out of one hole—nope!
As far as having your nipples pierced, I don't think you have anything to worry about. You may have severed a few milk ducts getting your nipples pierced, but there are more than enough ducts to compensate and create a healthy milk flow.
Q. I love my wife in her pregnant state. I also love making my wife's nipples leak during sex. She is 5 1/2 months pregnant. Will this reduce the quality/quantity of the colostrum/milk that our baby will need?
A. I don't think you need to worry about taking food out of your baby's mouth. Any colostrum that leaks or is expressed before the delivery should be considered a free sample. After all, what your wife is producing now isn't going to "keep" until the baby is born. After delivery, a mother's hormones turn on the switch for the major colostrum production that is meant for the baby. Immediately after delivery is when you may want to stop stimulating your wife's breasts, but she probably will be too tired to fool around anyway.
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Q. I am flat-chested, about an A-minus cup. Will this affect breastfeeding?
A. If you are pregnant, you won't be flat-chested for long. During pregnancy, the titty fairy can go a little berserk and most women's breasts increase several cup sizes. Don't worry if your breasts still don't seem "big enough." It's not the size that provides an ample milk supply for the baby, it's the output of the milk ducts. For example, my huge-chested friend could usually only pump 4oz. of milk at a time, while my much smaller boobs could produce 12oz.
Q. I had my daughter nearly 10 months ago. Over the last month she has been weaned off breast feeding and onto formula. I've started to get scared about my period not coming back. I had it for the six weeks after I had her and then two weeks later I had a light period for not even a week. Since then, I have had no bleeding. I have done a couple of home pregnancy tests and all have been negative. I am scared and don't know who to ask about this and I am far too embarrassed to talk to my doctor as we don't see eye to eye on things.
A. Most women don't ovulate or get a period while breast feeding. It sometimes takes several weeks after stopping for ovulation and a normal period to begin again. The bleeding you experienced for the six weeks after childbirth is normal, but was not a period. After either a C-section or a vaginal birth, the uterus needs several weeks to fully heal. During this time, moderate to light bleeding is normal. Even your light bleeding episode two weeks later could have been caused by a not-fully-healed uterus.
If you want to prevent pregnancy, you should use birth control, whether you are breast feeding or not. Like I said, most women don't ovulate or have a period while breast feeding, but it is possible in some cases.
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Q. I gave birth to my son two months ago. Now my breasts are not the same size. The right is small and the left is big and full of milk, but every time I try to pump it won't come out. Is this normal? Are my breasts ever going to be the same size again? This is worrying me.
-Yupa, United Kingdom
A. Don't worry; your lopsided boob problem is very common and quite normal. Sometimes the milk ducts in one breast will be more active than the other. Sometimes the baby will prefer to nurse more on one side than the other. In either case, you can end up with uneven breasts.
Usually, the larger breast is the one producing more milk. You would think that draining this breast would even out your proportions. In fact, just the opposite is true. The more you have the baby nurse or try to pump the milk out of this breast, the more it will grow and produce even more milk. And the less-used breast will begin to shrink and produce less. The trick is to try and nurse or pump more often on the smaller breast to make it catch up with the larger one.
Whether you get them to even out or not, it doesn't really matter. After you are done with breastfeeding, your breasts will both return to roughly the same size.
Q. I have inverted nipples and one side is especially bad. Do you think I will be able to breastfeed? Even when the nipples are erect, there won't be much for the baby to latch onto.
A. In most cases, inverted or flat nipples will not cause a problem during breastfeeding. However, some types of nipples are harder for the baby to latch onto, especially at first. With patience, persistence and proper latch-on technique, you will most likely be able to breastfeed your baby.
There are a few treatments you can try before the baby is born to help draw out the nipples in preparation for breastfeeding. Some of these treatments require self-manipulation. Others require a device, such as a breast shell. Even after the baby is born, there are some techniques that can be helpful to draw out the nipple prior to a feeding. Breast pumps, nipple enhancers and nipple shields can also be useful.
For more information, you can contact the La Leche League. Their web site offers advice, information and contact numbers for a consultant in your area. http://www.lalecheleague.org
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Q. How can you get breast milk to start even though you are not pregnant?
A. The only reason I know the answer to this question is because a girlfriend of mine did it. She wanted to be able to breast feed her newborn adopted daughter. She contacted a lactation specialist, began a hormone treatment of estrogen and progesterone and used a breast pump daily. Within a few months she was producing some milk. She never did have enough to fully feed her baby, but she felt it was well worth the process.
Some adopting mothers will also choose to enhance milk production by using the drug Domperidone. As with any drug, it is not guaranteed to be 100% safe, but it can get the milk production process started much more quickly.
Q. A friend of mine told me that once I began breastfeeding it would be impossible to become pregnant during the feeding process. Is there truth to this statement?
A. This statement is partially true. Most women, not all, will not ovulate or get a period while breastfeeding. If the ovum is not released, it is impossible to become pregnant. There are a small percentage of women who do ovulate while breastfeeding and never know it until they discover pregnancy.
If you want to avoid pregnancy, I recommend using birth control. Who knows if you are within that percent of women that ovulate while lactating?
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Q. I am in my seventh month of pregnancy and I notice that I am leaking colostrum from only one breast. Is this a concern? Will I be able to breastfeed from only one breast?
A. I wouldn't worry. The breasts and milk glands develop, enlarge and begin to produce colostrum, but not always at an equal rate. I, too, had my left breast producing liquid many weeks before the right one caught up. By the time your baby arrives, I’m sure both of your boobs will be ready, willing and able.
Q. Recently I was tested for a lump in my right breast. My OB/GYN says it's too small to worry about it now and we should keep a close watch on it, but now that I am pregnant I think about it all the time. I probably won't be able to do anything until the baby's born, but I am just wondering if the lump would affect breast feeding?
-Mai, New Jersey
A. It's hard to say if the lump in your breast will affect breast feeding or not. If the lump is benign (non-cancerous), then it should not affect breast feeding at all. A benign cyst may or may not grow with a pregnancy. I've heard of them disappearing. I've also heard of them becoming enlarged.
A malignant (cancerous) lump also has a 50/50 chance of enlarging or shrinking during a pregnancy. My friend Danielle had a small lump in her breast that only began to enlarge when she started breastfeeding. At first she thought it was a blocked milk duct. It turned out to be malignant.
In either case, it's a good idea for you and your doctor to keep an eye on it. Just being aware of a potential problem can be a huge advantage for possible future treatment.
p.s. My friend Danielle recently underwent a breast reconstruction and is doing just great!
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