Tabitha Frost suffers from hyperlactation syndrome, which makes her produce three times more milk than average.
Breastfeeding can often turn out to be a challenging task for new mothers. Some mothers do not produce enough milk; others might produce it in excess amounts. A case in point is Tabitha Frost, mother to an eight-month-old girl, who has to pump milk every three hours.
Frost produces so much breast milk that she has donated nearly 1000 pints (around 470 litres) of it to feed other babies. She produces approximately 90oz (three litres) of breast milk each day, and only a part of it is consumed by her daughter Cleo.
The California-based blogger recently revealed to Independent how pumping milk has become a “full-time job” for her. “My routine doesn’t stop whether I’m on vacation, I’m not feeling well, or if I’m lacking in sleep. I’m always doing it,” she was quoted as saying.
Why does Frost produce so much breast milk? That’s because she has a rare condition, called the hyperlactation syndrome, making her produce three times more milk than average.
Express Parenting got in touch with gynecologist and obstetrician Dr Shweta Goswami to find out more about the syndrome.
How is breast milk produced?
“The level of the hormone called prolactin rises post-delivery. When the baby sucks breast milk, the body sends signals to the brain to increase the level of prolactin, which leads to the production of milk. That’s how the cycle goes on,” said Dr Goswami.
The amount to breast milk produced is linked to the sucking response of a baby. The woman’s body ideally produces milk as per the baby’s requirement, which varies with the age of the child. The amount of milk consumed also varies from one baby to another.
What is hyperlactation syndrome?
Hyperlactation syndrome is a rare condition whereby the body produces excessive milk.
So, when does a woman produce excess milk? “Hyperlactation is caused by hormonal imbalances. In some cases, the prolactin level becomes high, which is called hyperprolactinemia. Sometimes, this can also be a sign of brain tumour and will require surgery. On the other hand, there can be women who may have highly sensitive ducts, whereby the breasts keep secreting milk, even if the hormone level is not that high. Hyperlactation can be the result of either of the two conditions,” explained Dr Goswami.
Is pumping milk the right solution?
When there is excess milk production, some women resort to pumping just like Frost does. Dr Goswami, however, advises against it. “The more you pump, the more is the milk production. We generally advise women to avoid stimulating their breasts or touching them since the ducts are very sensitive. So, in case of hyperlactation, women ideally shouldn’t pump at all. Frost’s case could be one of those rare disorders where she has to pump or she might be doing it voluntarily,” informed Dr Goswami.
Hyperlactation is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention, says Dr Goswami. “Medication is available for hyperlactation, which helps suppress the milk production. This condition should never be taken lightly and if you are having some kind of secretion, you should consult a doctor,” she added.