28 answers

The Emotions of Low Milk Supply

I've tried just about everything you've ever heard of to increase milk supply, during my breastfeeding attempts with my two boys. Are you ready for the list? Here goes: NINE lactation consultants--yes NINE, nursing like a fiend, pumping like a fiend, Fenugreek, Reglan, eating lots of oatmeal and protein, banishing the underwire bras, breast compressions, drinking tons of water, Goat's Rue, prayer, visualization, Zoloft, not using pacifiers, 5.7 million websites and books, tongue-tie clipping for my first boy, La Leche League...there's probably more, but I'm forgetting it. Oh yes, my new baby and I just went to the chiropractor on Tuesday to see if it would help. Out of the monster list, it's the only thing that helped a little bit. All the lactation ladies say, "yep, that's a nice wide latch, just keep nursing." So what's the problem? Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It causes low milk supply in 33 % of women who have it.

So what's my question? I guess I'm just at that point where I feel like I'm chasing my own tail. Part of me can't help but look up more crazy things to try and keep on hoping for the day that I won't have to supplement. Then the next minute as my son latches on and then either fusses or falls asleep because there's only about 3/4 of an ounce to drink out of one breast I feel like crumpling up in a ball of tears. I want my boobs to work! He's six weeks old this Friday and I had all these visions of making breastfeeding work right this time. I know, I should count my blessing and I do: he is still nursing and I can give him about half of what he needs, plus he is healthy and so is my family and that is more than anyone can ask for and yet...I just so want to be the sole provider of what my child eats. I feel like I'm breast obsessed! I guess I'm just wondering if any of you went through this swirl of emotions. I find myself praying that by baby continues to nurse off of what I can supply. My husband is no help because he just want to "fix" the situation like a typical man, and his version of fix is for me to stop working so hard for what he thinks is so little gain. He just doesn't get it, and that doesn't help me at all.

What can I do next?

More Answers

Dear A.,

I can certainly empathize with the feelings you are having. I had a low milk supply after my son was born 6 weeks early in January. I tried Fenugreek and Reglan and didn't see any improvement - pumped around the clock, getting no sleep of course, and was just a wreck. Unfortunately, due to other life circumstances, I was really stressed out and of course, anxiety doesn't help the low milk. I was about to have a breakdown when I decided that this was a battle I didn't want to continue. I felt really sad about it, alone, disappointed - even now, I wish things were different - but my baby is doing wonderfully, healthy (other breastfed babies I know have had more illnesses) and I'm a happier mom. Also, I started to hear about supply issues from other moms and didn't feel quite so bad. Here's a webpage that I found really helpful when I was really having a hard time.

http://www.stormyscorner.com/2006/09/deciding_to_sto.html
Probably a parenting lesson from the situation for me was to do what works and it's ok to change.
Wish you, your baby and toddler well!

2 moms found this helpful

I don't have an answer for you but I have the EXACT same story as you. I didn't go to 9 lac. cons. but other than that, I tried EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING with my first son. I completely exhausted myself and put on 10 lbs trying to eat all the right foods and make sure I was getting enough. After 3 months I hated that pump! I finally was so beyond exhaustion and frustration I went to formula. My son was such a happy baby after completely on formula and always having a full tummy and I was less stressed once I accepted it. With my 2nd son I was hoping that I would be able to know more from the get-go and be more successful, which I wasn't. And then I had my 3rd and it happened again. Each time I was less stressed out but I tried breast feeding. For some reason my body just would not produce enough milk for my kids to gain weight, barely enough to maintain their weight w/o supplement. So I feel for you and completely understand your stress and frustration. Just do what is best for you and baby. My kids are completely happy and healthy after using formula for a year. Another bonus is that my husband got to help out for the middle of the night feedings :) Best of luck to you and it sounds like you are a wonderful mother to do SO much to try to give your baby the best!

2 moms found this helpful

Dear A. D,

This really is an emotional thing, mixed up as it is with our love for our babies and the deep natural desire women have to suceed at being able to meet their needs in the best way possible, which is usually considered to be the natural way. But "possible" is an important word here. It sounds like you have tried everything you can, and for reasons beyond your control it just isn't working. I wish I could recommend something you haven't tried that would enable you to succeed in the way you want to, but I don't know of anything.

Maybe it's time for you to re-define what your idea of success is in this, and also to learn to accept what is and let go of what cannot be. How is driving yourself crazy going to help your baby? You have succeeded in giving your baby the best start you could by nursing him with what you have. I'm sure this passed on the immunity things needed, and helped form a close bond with him. That bond won't break because you are feeding him from a bottle. But it could be messed up by your being so uptight trying to nurse and re-inforcing a sense of failure in you every time you try. It is not a failure, it is just a quirk in your body that you have to work around as best you can, just like we do any medical problem. You don't want to give yourself emotional problems because you won't accept this.

I didn't have enough milk with my daughter and had to supplement and too soon the nursing ended. It was frustrating, but she and I are very close and she is the healthy Mom of 4 of her own kids now. That is meaningful success, and it didn't have much to do with whether I could nurse her better or not.

I wish you all the best, my friend!

From a friend

1 mom found this helpful

I A. right there with you!!!I have PCOS and have the same problem. My 2nd boy is 2 months old right now and I have found something that works! I tried everything you did with my first one and nothing worked, until I tried Domperidone!!! I used to get 2 oz max (even after not nursing or pumping all day) with my first but since taking Domperidone I get enough to feed him and sometimes a bit extra! The max I have pumped this time around was 8oz (after going 6 hours without nursing/pumping). I almost cried. Domperidone has to be prescribed by a doctor and then find a compounding pharmacist to make it for you. You cannot get it otherwise in the US. You can get it from New Zealand off the internet or over the counter in Canada. Those weren't options for me so I found that the Medicine Shoppe compounds prescriptions. You just need to find a dr. to precscribe it. I had to tell my midwife about it - she had never heard of it before and she called in my prescription.

Go to breastfeedingonline.com and check out Domperidone (under Jack Newmans Articles). It can take up to 6 weeks for full potency but I noticed within a week that my milk came in better and more. I take 3 pills, 3 times a day @10mg each. So a total of 90 mg a day and that it what finally worked for me. I don't know if it will help me keep up as this baby demands more - time will tell, but so far it is worth every penny! Plus the emotional side of it (which I don't need to tell you)is SOOOO much easier this time. Good Luck - you can e-mail me directly if you want for support or for more questions about the prescription. ____@____.com in there - it IS worth it! A.

1 mom found this helpful

A. D,

I know exactly how you feel. With my first child I was not able to breastfeed, and believe me I tried. Not quite as much as you are doing, but I did a lot! I felt like a failure as a mother that I could not give my baby what she needed. It took me a while to realize that I was not such a horrible mother just because I couldn't nurse. If you have to supplement or even go to just formula it does not make you a bad mother. With my seconed baby I A. nursing, but at first I was also supplementing. I was able to start nursing her exclusevly, and maybe you will be able to also. Just don't stress yourself out and enjoy your little baby. They are babies for such a short time. I hope I have been able to encourage you at least a little bit.

Nancy

1 mom found this helpful

You are so awesome trying so hard!! Stay with it. It can be done. The baby is fussy at the breast because of nipple confusion. This happened with my first baby. Scrap the bottles! Supp at the breast with a supplementer. I have used the Lact-aid. (www.lact-aid.com) Go to the lact-aid website and look around. Don't waste time with the Medela SNS, I tried that also, didn't like it.I have used the LA for 2 babies and I will use it again with this future one. I have also had success bringing in more milk with the second baby with Domperidone which I order on the internet. A lot cheaper than a compounding pharmacy. I live is WA. There is also Shatavari, but you can't use Shat and Dpd a the same time.
I have severe PCO AND I had a breast reduction 1989. It was the most radical technique, the free nipple graft where they sever the nipple and sew it back on. I shouldn't have been able to feed at all but I did. I have had to supp as much as 8-10 oz a day. That's okay. Which means I was making about 2/3's what my baby needed!! Breastfeeding is not all or nothing.
When you use bottles the flow is much easier for baby, he doesn't have to work as hard as if he was extracting milk from the breast. So then when you latch him on he wonders why the flow isn't faster (like the bottle) and gets frustrated. He also has to learn that milk comes from mom, not a bottle even if some of that milk is coming from a supplementer. There is a learning curve with the supplementers but once you learn it is like second nature and eventually you will nurse w/o the supplementer or use it less when baby starts solids or whatever. I nursed bare at night and used the LA during the day. I found my "groove" and you will too. I was able to stop using it at 1 yr and we still had a wonderful nursing relationship continue. I promise you will not regret staying with it. Here are a couple of websites for you www.lowmilksupply.org and www.bfar.org. I have so much to say about this but I need to put my 2 yr old down. PM me if you would like. I would be glad to help mentor you through this process.
Good Luck and milky thoughts to you!!

1 mom found this helpful

I did everything you did . . . I even tried acupuncture! Nothing helped, and after four months I had no milk at all. I was so worried about it at the time, but now in retrospect I wish I had that time back. I needed to just accept that it wasn't going to work and ENJOY my baby. I spent too much time stressing about it instead of lovin' on my little one. You've tried so hard and put forth a great effort for your baby, and he is healthy. Cherish him while he is young because the time goes so fast :-)

1 mom found this helpful

Hon, wish I could help with this one, but it sounds like you have tried everything.
One thing I do know- you are seriously stressed over this and stress may actually bring down your milk production.

This is one of those things that you can not change- so you have to make a choice, be worried, upset, stressed- or b;ow it off. You are still giving your baby the the food he needs, the bonding time/ cuddle time etc.. so what is he is not just breast fed- there are many women that can not or chose not to breast feed and their children are ok.
While I understand your frustration and probably anger and maybe feelings of failure- It is ok....
You are doing everything you can for your baby and seriously your baby needs love more than he needs breast milk- so hold him close and nurse as you can. Try not to let your feelings color your special time. No one else can feed your baby as you can. Even if a bottle- You are still mom and very SPECIAL to him.

1 mom found this helpful

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