Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Claire didn't produce enough milk.

I want to write this for you first time moms who want to breastfeed.

Meet Claire.. She is a first time mom, very excited about her baby, she has researched and knows breastfeeding is the best for the baby and so she plans to breastfeed she bought no bottles she bought a pump. She was set.. or so she thought.

Claire went to birth classes where they covered breastfeeding, they told her abut proper latch and they gave her a couple of resources and she felt confident.  Baby finally arrived and at the hospital, a lactation consultant came to visit, she showed her the  proper latch and a couple of holding techniques, she then referred her to the store inside the hospital where she could get the latest breastfeeding gear.  Baby Had a bit of Jaundice so they told her the only way to discharge her was until they cleared baby this meant a bit of formula which in no way would interfere with her breastfeeding it would just speed up the process  until her milk came in.

Finally the day came to go home she was excited, elated, relieved but very tired, before leaving the hospital they made her sign papers. and follow protocol and they gave her instructions to every 2 hours change baby's diaper and feed baby, she nodded and the new family went on their merry way. Finally home, she settled in her comfy chair with baby, She took a nap baby was exhausted too and sleeping away. Family started showing up, Claire took a shower and ate, baby finally woke and baby started rooting for a nipple, Daddy changed the diaper first as this is what the hospital told them to do and then swaddle baby by the time Claire got baby to breast baby was screaming and restless..  Baby was so upset he couldn't  settle down enough to latch on. Grandma took baby and tried to calm him down, Claire becomes stressed  emotional, she takes baby back and baby was still upset she became more and more stressed.. why did this work so easily at the hospital and not here?  baby fell back asleep. Claire worries but she let him sleep maybe next time he'll eat.  Visitors left and baby woke up again.. this time screaming as he had not eaten in a while.. Claire changed his diaper and tried once more to latch on and he latched on.. and then he screamed.. he latches on again and then he screamed.  Claire worried he had not eaten said .. say forget this!  it's more important that he eats something so she  remembered the nice nurse packed a couple of  ready to use formula bottles in her bag  so Claire gave in.. .. just an ounce.. enough to fill his belly and calm him down..  just a small ounce that's nothing ! Che put him back to breast and he latched on and then unlatched because he had fallen asleep, huge smile on his face.. full, content.  Claire breathed a sigh of relief  Claire is sure next time all will be well.

3 hours later baby is still asleep, he was so full with the formula that he was still sleeping away but the nurse told them to not let baby go more than 3 hours without feeding him so they wake him up change is diaper and latch him on.. baby was so sleepy he suckled a couple of times and fell back asleep.  They all decide to go to sleep. In the Middle of the night baby starts crying and screaming, he's hungry again.. tired the parents decide they will deal with the breastfeeding in the morning and they give baby another ounce of formula, baby drinks an ounce.. spits up half and falls back asleep.  This time he doesn't stay asleep long, an hour later he wakes up screaming! Claire tries to latch him and feels like a failure when this doesn't work.. she starts crying and her husband hates seeing her so upset, he tells her to go to sleep and he'll take care of the baby, Claire nods goes to sleep crying and the well meaning husband takes the baby out of the room changes his diaper feeds him a bottle rocks him to sleep and all is well until the morning. 

Claire wakes up changes baby latches him on and it works!  baby seems to get it! Yaay! baby nurses 15 minutes on her right breast and he falls asleep.  Claire is sure they're on the right track..  baby  is awake for a bit and happy and 30 minutes later he's sucking on his fist.. rooting,  everyone thinks it's so cute.. he then cries.. no one thinks to feed him as they eat every 2 hours.. it's too soon!   they rock him to sleep. He wakes up again hungry upset..  so the cycle of supplementing begins again...

Claire's milk comes in she breastfeeds and "supplements" with formula eventually this turns into formula feeding supplemented by breastfeeding and then it is completely formula feeding.  Claire doesn't know what happened.. she never produced enough milk for her baby and then it dried up. Baby was always hungry and she was not able to keep up.  She tried the best she could but to this day she doesn't know what happened.. she sees women talking about breastfeeding online and she wonders why she couldn't. She becomes enraged when she sees women saying formula is inferior she reminds them not everyone is as lucky and that she herself tried and just couldn't produce milk.  She doesn't know what happened.

This is a VERY typical story.. there are many obstacles  for a woman that can sabotage breastfeeding but this one is a very common yet very preventable reason.

Actual inability to produce enough milk is rare, with studies showing that mothers from developing countries who are experiencing nutritional hardship still produce similar amounts of milk of similar quality to mothers in developed countries.[8] There are many reasons a mother may not produce enough breast milk. Some of the most common are an improper latch (i.e. the baby does not connect efficiently with the nipple), not nursing or pumping enough to meet supply, certain medications (including estrogen-containing hormonal contraceptives), illness, and dehydration. A rarer reason is Sheehan's syndrome, also known as postpartum hypopituitarism, which is associated with prolactin deficiency; this syndrome may require hormone replacement - Wikipedia.

What Happened to Claire is that she was sabotaged from the beginning, the introduction to formula even though it was a small amount was a huge factor. Everytime formula is used and baby is not on breast it is a missed opportunity to signal to your body to produce milk.  The production of human milk works on a supply and demand basis.. the more baby asks for it in the form of nursing at the breast, the more your body produces to meet such demands.. If your baby is not at the breast your body will not know it is needed.  It will make less and less milk until it is gone. 

Another Factor in Claire's sabotaged breastfeeding is the schedule!  Hospitals often tell people that baby needs to eat every 2-3 hours and to change the diaper before,  When a baby wants to nurse that's the time to feed them, when baby starts rooting and looking for that nipple that is when they should get, it.. if baby is made to wait in order to get a diaper change or meet a schedule then baby will start crying and by then you have waited too long! Baby Can potentially become hysterical and not want to latch on. The diaper change can wait.

If you feed baby on demand and put baby at breast often, chances are you will be successful.  Also wait as much as possible before pumping,  the first 6 weeks are crucial in establishing milk supply, if you have to go back to work and there is any way that you can prolong your leave please do so.. After your milk has been established then pump and keep in mind that the ounces on the bottle are not indicative of the ounces baby is actually eating, if you are worried about baby eating enough seek some help.  Also remember before your milk comes in the baby's tummy is smaller than a marble so they don't need much.. the colostrum you are making will be perfect even half an ounce of formula is too much for them!

Most important ASK for Help!

You can find a lot of support online

The Leaky Boob
Best for Babes
Instinctual Mamas

You can even contact me!  I am no expert but if you want me to help in any way I can or look for some resources for you I will gladly do so.

You are not alone in this!  You can do it!  It gets easier!

A successful breastfeeding momma (the second time around!)


  1. Change the name and THIS WAS ME!

    I'm now 38 weeks preg with my second and I refuse to let anyone else tell me how to feed my child this time around. Even if this baby wants a breast 12 minutes after feeding, she'll get it. And hubby and I are banning formula from the house. We can't supplement if the formula doesn't 'exist' in the first place.

    For any soon to be FTM's out there, don't get discouraged, don't let people tell you what's best. Your parenting instinct is all you need. I agree with feeding a hungry newborn on demand, you can't schedule a baby straight out of the hospital...

  2. I've heard a lot of people tell me a similar story. Or they start giving formula and breastfeeding is difficult so they just give up... I had a very difficult time in the beginning with breastfeeding(as so often is the case, improper latch, sore/cracked/bleeding nipples), but I was determined to breastfeed, and had a great LC who did a session with me for free (she normally charges), and helped me SOOO much. I'm so thankful for her help, I just wish everyone knew that there were sources, and through LLL they can find free LC help.

  3. This is the story of 3 moms I had around me the year my son was born. It's so sad I was the only one who never 'supplemented', never scheduled feedings, and was the only one who 'produced' enough milk. I wish I was the first in the group to have my son, maybe they could have benefited from my instincts, they just seemed content with following doctors advice.

  4. Total shame! We had a bit of trouble with the latch the first day and after that were fine. I'm sure I seemed like a crazy person I was so adamant about NO FORMULA and NO interruptions while we were learning to feed. Even now, my 9 month old goes to day care 4 mornings a week and I visit twice each day to nurse. I'm sure everyone thinks I'm crazy!

  5. There is another biological reason why some women cannot breastfeed. It is not very well known, but I am finding it is a lot more common than people think. It is called IGT, or insufficient glandular tissue.
    I have personally struggled with this. It is heartbreaking.
    Check out http://noteveryonecanbreastfeed.com/

  6. I admire what you have done here. I love the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that is working for you as well. Do you have any more info on this?
    lactating cookies



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