Starting breastfeeding again after olanzapine?


I was wondering whether anyone has been successful in reinstating breastfeeding after taking olanzapine? I had my first child 6 weeks ago and was diagnosed with PPP shortly after coming home from the hospital. I had to go to a Mother and Baby Unit for a month and was put on medication which meant I couldn't continue breastfeeding. I am now home though, but still on medication - 100mg Sertraline and 10mg Olanzapine. I know there's a long road ahead but I am feeling much better now and am starting to think about the future when I'm eventually off the olanzapine. So far I've been given a rough estimate that I may be off the olanzapine in a couple of months (the sertraline may be for longer), and I would really like to start breastfeeding again, even if it's just combination feeding, once I'm off the medication as I had such a good supply of breastmilk before my PPP diagnosis. I'm obviously cautious not to add extra stress into my life too soon, but just want to know if it's a possibility as I was thinking of starting to express again now using a pump to get my supply going again in time for when I'm off the meds. Any thoughts would be much appreciated! Thank you

4 Replies

  • Hi littlemiss85

    I am pleased to hear that you are now home and feeling much better.

    I can’t really give much advice with regards to breastfeeding but it is great that you are thinking about doing so again. I wasn’t able to breastfeed as I was on medication for quite a few months after being diagnosed with PP. And with the particular medication I was on, I was not allowed to breastfeed.

    I think it would be a good idea to speak to your health visitor and any of the other care professionals you are under to ask their advice. Breastfeeding is a big decision and as you say you wouldn’t want to add any additional stress to your life.

    From my experience, I wish I hadn’t rushed off the medication too quickly. I should have taken my time to gradually do this. It does take time to recover from PP so don’t feel under too much pressure for this process to happen quickly.

    I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. There will be others who reply to you with their experiences and offer some guidance on this.

    Really pleased you are feeling better. Please ask any more questions during your recovery. It will be great to keep in touch about how you are getting on.

    Emma. x

  • I'm glad to hear that you're recovering well from your pp episode. Breastfeeding can be a great way to reconnect with your baby after the rocky start you've had.

    I was fortunate to be able to continue to breastfeed with my meds (sodium valporate or epilim and quientipien or seroquel). However my supply was very low after my pp episode so I had to work at building it up. I had to supplement with formula for around 6 months but eventually continued breastfeeding till my son was 2.

    If you're able to express to keep up your supply than that's a good start. You're next hurdle may be that baby will not want to attach as it's much easier to drink from a bottle.

    When you are able to try breastfeeding again start with a lot of skin to skin contact in a relaxed setting maybe in a bath. Try feeding when your baby is a little hungry but not too hungry that they want the milk straight away as it will probably flow slower and they'll probably need to work harder to get it from the breast.

    Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Stress can impact on breastfeeding as well as impacting on your recovery from pp. Although I appreciate the importance I put on breastfeeding as part of my recovery as I saw it as getting back to normal.

    If you are able to express than at least your baby can receive breastmilk I know someone that actually expressed and bottle fed for 9 months. I wouldn't have been able to do that as I could never express more than 20mls at a time.

    For a while I used a supply line. Which is a bottle with a small tube that you tape to your nipple so that the milk (either formula or expressed breastmilk) comes out faster but the baby is essentially feeding at the breast. You can then adjust the flow from the bottle until the baby is happy just to feed from the breast.

    Good luck with it. I hope all goes well.

  • Hello littlemiss85

    I'm sorry I can't advise about breastfeeding as unfortunately my PP took over and I was off the planet for a while. I think the replies you have received so far will be very helpful though.

    There may be a long road ahead but you are doing so well to be in control this early along the way. We are all here for you however long it takes.

    Take care.

  • Hi littlemiss85

    Just wanted to share with you briefly about my own experience of relactation - starting some breastfeeding again - after a short course of Olanzapine. My best ally was the breastfeeding specialist at our local Children's Centre so do find out if you have a similar person locally, or have a look at the La Leche league website to see if they have volunteer supporters in your area. I didn't manage to re-establish a full supply, but was able to do a couple of feeds during the day alongside bottle feeding which felt very lovely and seemed perfectly OK for my daughter (#2 born in 2011) until she got a bit bigger and hungrier and refused the breast!! Then we went back to the bottle but the couple of months I had were very precious.

    I used one bit of kit which is available online called a supplemental nursing system (SNS) by Medela. Basically it's a rather odd contraption with a pouch of milk (either expressed, or in my case formula) and two tiny silicone tubes which attach to your nipple and give extra calories while baby is latched on and suckling. The idea is that while your supply is re-establishing your baby gets used to a satisfying feed again and in turn the supply is stimulated by breastfeeding for longer that your body's own supply would allow. I have to be honest, it's a fiddly bit of kit and you have to sterilise it in a saucepan (!!) but it worked well for me and reduced the upset of pumping and getting very little in the early days!

    Secondly at the advice of the breastfeeding specialist, we just did lots of skin to skin time to help boost Oxytocin and help with let-down. There are also some herbal teas which some people find very helpful, I think one is called milk thistle. Funnily enough Olanzapine itself actually stimulates lactation so will be helping, and I guess I would advise taking your withdrawal from Olanzapine pretty slowly and getting advice from your health professionals about the balance of risk of relapse, and your understandable wishes to see if you can relactate and breastfeed again.

    While you continue to take Olanzapine it could be useful for you to chat to your perinatal team if there is one in your area - I was advised by a perinatal psychiatrist that even when taking Olanzapine it is possible to breastfeed if you take Olanzapine at night, express and discard in the night and again express and discard first thing in the morning. I have to admit that this felt too much for my own rest and mental health at the time so I didn't feed while taking Olanzapine - but I thought as you are keen to start expressing it might be worth knowing this. Do chat to your own perinatal psychiatrist though if you have access to a specialist team.

    Hope this isn't too much info! And good luck :)

    Naomi xx

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