Swollen Feet

Do your feet look like these? Sometimes women experience high blood pressure, or pre-eclampsia surrounding their pregnancy and birth process. In conjunction with this bodily physiology is the possibility that your feet may swell. Even if you don’t have pre-eclampsia or blood pressure problems, some women may have swelling of their feet caused by the intravenous fluids (IVs) provided during labor.

Well, what does this have to do with breastfeeding? The fluid overload, such as in these feet, can cause a delay in milk production. Our bodies respond to the “stress” of the fluid overload by not producing breastmilk readily. Luckily, we are not a woman in her 90’s with congestive heart failure which could cause the body to malfunction completely! However, many times these feet symbolize many women who cannot make enough breastmilk for their babies. The breastmilk is slow to “come-in”, and women are often left to their own accord. I often hear from new moms that their doctors tell them to allow their swelling of their feet to resolve on their own, but that it may take up to six weeks. Well, this is good advise for the obstetrical care of women. I’m not saying the doctors are wrong here. However, in my view of breastfeeding, I would rather not take the view to “wait it out.” Why? Because according to Dr. Peter Hartmann’s research from Australia, there is such a thing as a prolactin receptor theory.

According to the prolactin receptor theory, there needs to be prolactin surges created by the active suckling of baby, or the effective use of a hospital grade electric breastpump, which I feel is the Medela Symphony pump to feed the receptors and cause them to thrive and become plentiful. An analogy to this theory is a plant that is adequately cared for and nurtured by proper watering so that the plant grows and thrives, versus the plant left without water and forgotten, which shrivels up and dies. The prolactin receptors go into a dormant state without repeated surges of prolactin; at least 7-8 times in 24 hours.

The baby who goes to mom’s breasts attached to the same body as these swollen feet will not suckle actively because there is a delay in milk production. Therefore, instead of telling this mom to “wait and see”, we would like to give this mom the best chance to make breastmilk with the use of an effective pumping regimen. I have been involved with many of these situations whereby the low milk supply and swollen feet were reversed, and milk production maintained. The theory of eating berries, any kind – strawberries, blueberries, etc., (fresh is best, but frozen works, too), or watermelon causes a natural diuretic action on the body which rids the body of this fluid overload. As soon as the fluid overload is resolved and your feet are back to normal, the corresponding depleted milk supply begins to increase and milk production is established.