Breastfeeding broke my heart

Or, rather, the inability to truly breastfeed broke my heart.

“You have insufficient glandular tissue.”  These words were spoken to me by my lactation consultant after what seemed like hours as she poked and prodded my breasts. I was three weeks in to being a new mom and was an emotional wreck.  Breastfeeding was going horribly. I was hardly producing any milk and despite all my attempts, I just couldn’t figure out why.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

So, when she uttered those words I must have let out a nervous laugh or something because she placed her hand on my shoulder, looked me straight in the eyes and said it again…then…”it’s not your fault”.  Well she opened up a flood gate of tears and I think they were tears of relief.  Really? So…I’m not some crazy, inept new mom doing everything wrong?

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

I’d been doing everything in my power to breastfeed. And when I say everything, I mean it. I did it all…supplements, tubes taped to my breast while my son nursed, pumping like a crazy woman…still, never did I get that sensation of fullness or that my milk was coming in.  Never.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

Back at home, scrutinizing my breasts in the mirror, I could see now what she was talking about.  All the signs were there. The shape of my breasts, no change in my breasts during pregnancy, no milk coming in after giving birth. I wasn’t crazy. It wasn’t my fault.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

I continued to study my breasts, looking at them in a whole new light. They had betrayed me. Not functional, just there. Me, trying desperately to make them do what they should do. What all women should be able to do.  I looked at them. I hated them. They broke my heart.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

Still, I did all I could to coax that milk out.  At the height of my breastfeeding experience I got a whopping 2 ounces! This was after 3 months of non stop nursing and pumping.  And those 2 ounces…I treated it like gold and dutifully saved it for my son’s next feeding. I would mix it with formula, which somehow, lessened the pain of giving it to him.  Problem is those two ounces would only happen 2-3 times per day.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

I remember being embarrassed, ashamed that I couldn’t nurse my son.  Every fiber in my being wanted it so badly. I longed for those quiet nursing sessions. The peaceful sound of swallowing, of satisfied murmurs. It never happened.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

It’s embarrassing to admit, to talk about…but, it’s exactly what I have.  I spent months trying to force these dysfunctional breasts in to production. The time, the effort put in…all for a measly ounce or two. And yet, I kept at it because I’m a woman, a mother…I should be able to breastfeed.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

Please don’t judge me. You don’t know. If you’ve never experienced this, how can you possibly know? Still, there will be those who will quietly think…she gave up, she didn’t really try everything.  I did…believe me, I did.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

I hated feeding my baby in public.  I never could just sit down, cover up and nurse.  I envied those mothers. I wanted to be that mother. I stayed home. Nursed for 20 minutes, then pumped while giving him his real meal…the bottle of formula.  Our nursing sessions were just the appetizer.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

Please don’t stare at me as I reach for that bottle, feed my baby and think…I can’t believe she doesn’t breastfeed her baby. Please don’t go all Gisele on me. You don’t know.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue

The blow to my self-esteem as a mother, as a woman. It still hurts.

I remember our last pseudo-nursing session. My son was 5 months old and I knew what supply I had , had pretty much dwindled to almost nothing. We were quietly playing, I picked him up to give him some cuddles.  He turned in, like he wanted to nurse…which filled my heart with so much joy.

He still loved it…the tiny amounts he did get, the bonding.  For a moment, I pretended I was one of those moms. The ones with ample breast milk. I brought my baby close and nursed him. It lasted all but about 5 minutes and I could physically feel him draining those last drops of gold.

He let out a sigh of contentment. He didn’t fuss, wasn’t frantically searching for more. It was like he knew. Tears were streaming down my face. It was over. We both sat there for a few moments. Mother and baby cuddled together…happy.

Soon, the hunger set in…my baby started to fuss but I was at peace as I went to make him a bottle. Looking at my angel boy, I finally saw my body in a whole new light. I am a Woman, a Mother.

A Mother whose body created and nourished this beautiful boy for 9 months.  I am a mother who went through 16 hours of labor and delivered this 8 pound 4 ounce healthy baby.  A mother who in spite of Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT) continues to nourish, love, and adore this baby I have been blessed with.

And with that knowledge, that realization…I try to stop beating myself up over IGT.  I stop focusing on what my body could not do for my children and focus on everything it could and can do. And, with each passing day, that part of my heart that has been broken is mended…one little hug/kiss/laugh/cry at a time.

*Originally posted August 5, 2010*

This is my breastfeeding story, what is yours? Did you struggle with breastfeeding? If so, you were able to overcome those struggles?

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53 Responses to Breastfeeding broke my heart
  1. Meghan
    February 6, 2012 | 6:22 am

    I almost killed myself to feed my first. I was crazy with it. I had over-production and constant breast infections and thrush. The pain was toe-curling. But all of this way after it took WEEKS to latch the baby. She was tiny. Could just couldn’t latch on properly. Even my mother, who used to help nursing mothers, thought that I had lost my mind. She gently encouraged me to quit. I would not. I would not quit. It was about guilt from having a C-section and feeling man-down from that. I finally got that damn baby on, had infections, 9 rounds of meds, for the baby to quit on ME at 7 months! It was literally one of the hardest, loneliest, painful times of my life.

    With my second child, I prepared myself to not care. Had another C section, had a bottle ready. Put her to breast immediately with no hopes, no expectations. She latched on and never let go. Only shock could outweigh my joy. I didn’t trust it for a while, but she and I got it right. So too, with my third.

    I have so much empathy for new nursing moms and I desperately want there to be more info and help BEFORE and AFTER the baby.

    Thanks for your beautiful blog…

    • Melissa
      February 9, 2012 | 9:46 am

      Meghan, than you for sharing your story. You are right, moms need support and education before the baby comes too! I assumed it should just come naturally…what a shocker I was in for! I just had a friend tell me about her latch issue and how heartbroken it made her. She pumps around the clock and feeds her baby. I’m so glad your breastfeeding experience was great with your next 2 children :)

  2. Jana
    February 6, 2012 | 7:08 am

    I never made enough milk with my son and he was more formula-fed than anything else. I will say even though I am breastfeeding my 2nd (nearly 100% bf so far), I never got the joy or attachment that I hear other moms talking about. Maybe it’s me, but it still kinda hurts.

    My first time around, however, I was losing it at the hospital. My son had tongue tie (fixed right away), I was pumping, getting my boobs manhandled by a lot of different people, etc. I was getting very upset as I was trying so hard not to go to formula. Finally, one of the lactation consultants looked at me and said “Do you know what the first rule of breastfeeding is?”

    Tearfully, I shook my head no.

    “Baby gets fed.”

    That’s all it took for me to let go of my guilt and my frustration and just enjoy the fact that I had this new little one in my life.

    • Melissa
      February 9, 2012 | 9:50 am

      Great point Jana…we just need to feed our babies. About the attachment issue…give it time. It’s a myth that it’s instantaneous and love at first sight. It will happen. No need to feel guilt over that either. I had a similar experience with my second. My birth experience was vastly different too. With my first? ALOT of pain! And, I felt our bond was immediate (endorphins/hormones are amazing.) With my second…pain free, which was nice but didn’t have that catharsis or rush of endorphins. I think that has a lot to do with it. What were your births like? This could explain some of the difference.

  3. Dina @30ish_Mama
    February 6, 2012 | 8:21 am

    I did not have an issue with breast feeding, but I can still relate to your feelings. When I was undergoing fertility treatments and miscarrying I felt betrayed by my body as well. It is a terrible place to be as it is, but I can only imagine how much worse it becomes when you have to meet the judgmental glances from those types of people who believe their way is the only way.

    • Melissa
      February 13, 2012 | 6:36 am

      Feeling betrayed by your body…exactly. That is the hardest part. Sorry for your struggles too. I’m sure many of the “judgmental glances” were in my head. I was so hard on myself. I think we all are.

  4. Kirstin
    February 6, 2012 | 9:00 am

    The most I ever got on one day where 5 oz. It took 6 hours to get a tiny bit of colostrum out. 2 hours for 2 oz of milk pumped from both breasts. It was killing me. It still does. Needless to say, at some point, after six weeks, I gave up. By that time I was already supplementing. Now he is 2. Healthy as can be but I often wonder if I did enough. Tried enough to produce more. :-( I know how you feel. It made me feel like a failure and speaking about it brings those feelings back.

    • Melissa
      February 13, 2012 | 6:37 am

      I’m so sorry Kristin. It is just so damn hard, when we do all we can, and it still doesn’t work out. You have a healthy, happy, thriving child…just remember that and enjoy him. :)

    • Courtaney M.
      May 11, 2012 | 1:26 pm

      Kristin, I’m so sorry! You’re story is very similar to mine. I still feel so much regret that I couldn’t nurse my son past 6 weeks. At the time I thought I was trying EVERYTHING — herbal supplements, teas, massage, pumping every 2 hours throughout the night, and on and on and on. But was it enough? I was so self-conscious about bottle-feeding my baby — I can still feel the judgmental eyes of other mothers when I fed him in public. He’s 3 now and healthy. Happy! But I can’t join in on the “remember what it felt like to nurse?” or “I miss nursing” conversations with other moms. Nursing was never easy or peaceful for me. I envy those nursing moms… :-(

  5. Heather
    February 6, 2012 | 9:06 am

    I too had a hard time with breast feeding. When I first put my daughter to my breast, everyone told me she took to it like a pro. But every time thereafter, she had latch issues, and it turns out I wasn’t producing enough milk for her. The nurses and lactation consultant kept thinking I didn’t want it as I turned to bottles in the hospital, until when I was checking out and the LC finally saw how raw and infected my breast was from trying. I felt let down and cheated by them that they weren’t there for me more. I did keep trying at home, using breast shields and more, but she never took to them. So I pumped, and I was lucky to get 2 oz a session. I did this for 2 months, and finally had a friend tell me it was okay to stop and strictly formula feed. It was like I needed to hear from someone else that it was ok, that I did my best, although I felt so defeated. Moms, we need to support each other no matter what choices we make.

    • Melissa
      February 13, 2012 | 6:42 am

      I remember going through a couple of LCs who kept telling me to “keep trying” it will come. Maybe, this works for a lot of moms…but it was the worst advice for me (and sounds like for you too). I was so grateful when I happened upon a LC who knew what I had!! She was a lifesaver for me. I hope more and more moms, nurses, and LCs become aware of real struggles out there and although well intentioned, don’t make moms feel guilty for needing to turn to bottles. We’re good enough at making ourselves feel guilty, don’t need any extra piled on from the outside.

      • Courtaney M.
        May 11, 2012 | 1:30 pm

        The break-through for me was at one appointment, the LC told me to take a break for a moment. She reminded me that breastfeeding should be a happy experience. If it’s not happy, take a break. I know she was talking about breastfeeding in the moment, but it was like she had given me permission to admit that it had never been a happy experience for me & my son. NEVER. When I came to that realization, it allowed me to stop trying and focus on other ways to connect with my son.

  6. Jen
    February 6, 2012 | 11:02 am

    Thanks for your blog. My son nursed for years. I get so tired of feeling condemned for preferring this connection with him.

    • Melissa
      February 13, 2012 | 6:43 am

      Yes, and it’s the flipside to this, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we all just be allowed to feed our babies the best we know how and for as long as we feel it’s right? So glad you nursed for a long time…good for you :)

  7. MJ
    February 6, 2012 | 11:54 am

    We are from the same mother so therefore we must have genetically been given the same circumstance;) I will say with my first I was able to squeeze out 3 months worth of milk in pain and agony but as I became wiser and felt less faulty I agreed with myself I would not care or feel the need to do what every mother does. There are a million ways to do the right thing and get the same result. Our goal is to feed our newborn baby and if that means having to reach for that bottle than of course reach for that bottle.

    I do/did despise the comments, “Well such and such had no problem, maybe you are doing it wrong? “ughhhh…4th baby in I think I know what I am doing by now, but thanks for the support and judgment”..lol. Those were the words I wanted to say but never could actually get out.

    Applause for writing an article where so many mothers will relate and breathe a sigh of relief as they too grab for that bottle to feed their crying, hungry newborn baby. Amen!;)

  8. Kat
    February 6, 2012 | 4:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story, it’s really important to hear stories like this. I am a firm supporter of natural birth and breastfeeding, and the thing that gets me is that we can’t trust our health systems to make sure that the only people who can’t breastfeed (and the only people who don’t get least-intervention-possible births) are the people who actually can’t breastfeed. There are such a high number of people who just miss out on the right supports and information that when we see someone bottle feeding, we know that there is a high chance that they *could* have been successful, if only…. It really is awful that our frustration with “the system” gets taken out on mums like you who really are terrific and loving parents.

  9. [...] is the original post: Breastfeeding broke my heart | Confessions of a Dr. Mom Tags: bedtime-routine, breast feeding, breastfeeding, breasts, children, glandular-tissue, heart, [...]

  10. Stacy
    February 6, 2012 | 7:51 pm

    This is dated with a written date of 2/6/2012, but wasn’t this written in early/mid 2011? I remember reading this exact post last year (2011) when I was struggling with breastfeeding.

    • Melissa
      February 7, 2012 | 6:06 am

      Yes, this is a re-post. This was originally posted on August 5, 2010.

  11. Jaime
    February 7, 2012 | 4:36 am

    I just followed a link through pinterest and now I’m crying. What an absolutely beautiful post. I’m so sorry you struggled with this. This is why I try never to judge a mother for her choices – natural birth vs c-section, breast vs bottle, disposable vs cloth, co-sleep vs cry it out, etc, etc, etc. We have so many choices – and in some cases, like yours there isn’t much of a choice – we’re all just trying to love and support and protect our kids the best way we can. I wish more people could see that.

    • Melissa
      February 9, 2012 | 9:53 am

      Thank you Jaime :)

  12. Nancy
    February 10, 2012 | 2:48 pm

    Thank you so much for this post, Melissa. I wish I had seen it when I was trying to nurse my son. He was born 6 weeks early and was in the NICU for 2 weeks before I could bring him home. I think we just got off on the wrong start.

    I read all the benefits of breast milk and the practice of breast feeding, and I used to judge other mothers who didn’t breast feed. This is probably why I was so unbelievably hard on myself when I couldn’t do it. I pumped all the time, used nipple guards to make it easier for him to latch, went to lactation meetings, acupuncture, took all the herbs, logged every time I nursed and pumped, and still could not produce enough for a solid feeding.

    After 5 months, I went out to lunch with another mom who has a baby a few months older than mine. She asked me if I was still nursing and I told her I was (or at least trying to). She said that once she stopped breast feeding, a huge weight was lifted off her shoulders. She knew of all my struggles and had some similar struggles. A few weeks later I skipped a few pumps and noticed that I did feel better. I stopped completely a week later. She was so right. I didn’t have a constant feeling of disappointment anymore. It was really refreshing. I had another friend tell me that she was in a mom’s group and the leader had to remind everyone that “formula is not poison. Give yourselves a break.” I love that. I know at the hospitals they need to encourage breast feeding but I feel like they could also let the patients know that it’s okay if they can’t. The babies need their love and support more than anything else.

  13. Emma
    February 14, 2012 | 8:30 pm

    I didn’t have any trouble with breast feeding, until I had to go back to work. Pumping sessions are really hard to work into a daily schedule that has me unable to take a bathroom break more than once in a 14 hour day. I managed to make it 6 months before we had to supplement with formula and 18 before we quit completely, but I still felt guilty that I wasn’t able to put my baby’s needs above my corporation’s. Why is it that we put so much pressure on ourselves as mothers?

  14. [...] Every woman experiences it differently – some with very little problem, others with challenges they never even dreamed of. [...]

  15. Katie Pink, RN, MSN, CPNP
    February 19, 2012 | 6:58 pm

    Hi, I found your blog when I was doing research to start my own. I am a PNP and Lactation Consultant as well. I hope you don’t mind if I share some of your knowledge with my readers. I am sharing this post because I couldn’t have written this information any better. It is straight from the heart. I had a few moments when my supply decreased with my daughter, but never had any trouble like you did. I have worked with many women that have had the trouble you describe. I want women like you and those that I have worked with to understand they are not alone. Thanks for sharing. Katie

  16. [...] a mother that was unable to produce a adequate supply for her child.  Check out her struggles, http://www.confessionsofadrmom.com/2012/02/breastfeeding-broke-my-heart-2/#comment-15676.  The information I have read so far on her blog has been awesome! My Joshua, in Gryffindor tie [...]

  17. deneen
    March 14, 2012 | 6:01 am

    with my first baby i had recurring chronic mastitis; but the time she was 7 weeks i had been to the DR so many times, done the antibiotics, done the cabbage leaves, the vitamin E … new years day 1999 was a huge snow storm … i woke up to such incredible pain while feeding baby i couldnt even hold her … my DH dug us out of the driveway and took me to emerg. the mastits in the breast had created an abcess which the surgeon had to open and clean out. i had a wound 3″ deep that required 4 months of homecare for cleaning and repacking 2x a day. my baby went from boob to bottle that day. it was very sad. i did have some crazy woman show up at my door one day from a breastfeeding advocay group telling me i was a failure and i gave up too soon and my child should be removed from my care !!!! people have NO idea what hell i went thru for 8 weeks. Miraculously, i no problems BF’ing all the rest of my babies!

  18. Emily
    March 14, 2012 | 11:27 am

    At the height of my breastfeeding ability, I could hand-express (pumping never worked…) 1/4-1/2oz. At the hospital, when my precious perfect baby girl was hospitalized for jaundice the lactation consultant got an expert to come from the capital. She measured and asked if she could take pictures… hypoplastic breasts, insufficient mammary tissue, unique case, etc. I felt like I wasn’t a good enough mother for her, remembered all the people telling me how even adoptive mothers could breastfeed, and told my husband we should give her to someone who was a good enough mother. Of course he basically told me that was a load of hogwash, and as I look at my little girl saying “I love you mommy” 3 times this morning I know very well that bonding and love isn’t made by breastfeeding.

    My doctor actually had the same issues and she was very supportive to me. I am grateful to the doctors out there who recognize… not everyone can breastfeed.

  19. Melinda
    March 14, 2012 | 2:33 pm

    I was never breastfed by my mother – no lactation consultants back then! But we are and always have been amazingly close. Having breastfed 2 kids successfully it can be an amazing way to bond with your child, but it is only one of many many ways to bond, and it is certainly not the definitive thing that will bring you close to your child. We are lucky we live in a part of the world where we have healthy options when it comes to infant feeding. I wish for all of you that have felt hurt by judgment from others or from your own disappointment that the joy of parenthood erases this. Let’s be thankful we have these options and the time and means for these discussions!

  20. Sen
    March 16, 2012 | 8:50 am

    I wanted so badly to breast feed my son. I dreamed of it, longed for it. I had breastfeeding pillows. I read the breastfeeding books.
    Birth did not go as smoothly as I wanted, with more interventions that I planned for. My son would not latch no matter what I did. I had to resort to a bottle, though I gave him pumped milk. I was pumping madly, and when my milk came in, I had too much, and was engorged. I, like others, made many trips to the doctor because of plugged and infected milk ducts. It was agonizing. I kept up my efforts getting my son to breastfeed, but at 3 months I gave up.
    I pumped for 1 year. I always envied mothers who breastfed. I would hid in a bathroom stall to pump, embarrassed by the sound of the machine, wishing I could sit comfortably in a chair and cuddle my son. I hated feeling like a cow, with a machine attached to me. I hated taking that machine everywhere. I hated not holding my son while I pumped. And sometimes… I was angry at my son for refusing my perfectly good milk-supplying breast. I had SO much milk… enough to feed triplets at its peak supply. And yet he wouldn’t breastfeed. The rejection I felt was immense. I think it was part of this that delayed our bonding.

    Actually, when I decided to give up pumping, there was guilt and relief. Guilt to quit, when I know he would still benefit, but relief to be free from the machine, to give him more of my time. relief to be free of the round-the-clock reminder of my small failure to breastfeed.

    We all have issues, our own envies. You could not make so much milk… my heart shares that ache even though it was not the same problem I had. However, that your son would still nurse, and cuddle… that I never experienced, and I think I might have traded my vast supply for the sole experience of nursing.

    The mother’s heart, yes?

  21. Irritated- IGT
    April 30, 2012 | 9:52 am

    I have IGT as well. I have two children and it was the worst feeling in the world to not make enough milk for my babies. I breastfed for over a year with both but had to supplement half their milk with formula the entire time. I pumped 8-12 times every 2 hours (<-you read that right.) + breastfed + fenugreek + domperidone + goats rue + blessed thistle + sns attempts. My first child was severely dehydrated and jaundiced. She would have been seriously injured or died if I had listened to the lactation consultant I called when my baby was days old and I told her it seemed like I was not making milk. I took my baby in to see the consultant that day and we discovered she was getting only drops from me. I had to give her formula right then and there. The LC became a good friend to me, she did everything she could to help. I eventually counseled nursing mothers at a center for a while on breastfeeding because I had gained so much knowledge on breastfeeding through research for myself. I helped others, but could not do that for myself. Their problems were "Easy" in comparison. When someone tells me they "understand" yadi ya, that must suck..because I made SO MUCH MILK. Just way too much, oh lucky me"…It feels like they're just trying to rub it in my face that they Could and I couldn't! It feels like someone cutting me down to boost them-self up. It doesn't make anyone feel better. Would you brag about riding a bicycle to someone who can not walk? I would hope not! No one with IGT is trying to make you feel worse about yourself. Do you have weight problems? Well I wouldn't listen to you complain about dieting then say; "I'm a size 2, 120lbs, and I eat whatever I want whenever I want without gaining weight. That must suck, I know how you feel." Because I don't know how you feel, I may have IGT but I can find my waist. Hopefully, those who do the bragging understand now that it certainly does not make anyone feel better.

  22. Irritated- IGT
    April 30, 2012 | 9:55 am

    correction: 8-12 times a day, or every 2 hours.

  23. Becky @ cheesemyhead
    May 4, 2012 | 12:06 pm

    Wow. Your bf story is almost word for word mine. I’m pregnant with my 3rd right now – doing research today to see if there’s any new information I can use to get more milk this time around.

    Even if there’s not anything new I can try, I’m okay with the SNS and nursing this baby as much as I can. The bonding is sweet and I know whatever small amount she’s getting at the breast is helpful. At least I’m doing what I can do.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! So good to know there are others in the same boat.

  24. [...] reconcile this sensitive issue within themselves as it is and we need to support those mamas too. (This beautiful account from one mom will probably make you [...]

  25. [...] wedding. Tears puddled in my bra for Melissa Arca, who admitted that when she couldn’t do it, Breastfeeding Broke My Heart. And Lorrie Goldin gave me premonition-shivers for my someday-girl-in-college-maybe with her tale [...]

  26. Mrs Loquacious
    May 13, 2012 | 1:48 am

    Wow. Tears are running down my face as I read your account, which is not unlike mine in some ways. My breasts never grew when I was pregnant, but my doc didn’t flag this as an issue. When my baby girl fussed and fussed for the first week, I thought it was colic until we took her to Emergency and discovered that I was underfeeding her because I wasn’t making enough milk, despite feeding her on demand and pumping and taking domperidone. I got rid of my doctor when she basically told me that I was messing up my supply by supplementing (the only way my baby was going to get full), and I had to go to a breastfeeding clinic and work with an LC/MD who helped bring my supply up to a whopping 3 oz per pump in the mornings (less throughout the day).
    Now, at 3.5 months, my baby still needs to be supplemented but enjoys her bonding time with me through nursing in the mornings and as a pacifier/dessert to help put her to sleep. I think she’s there for the comfort more than for nourishment though. I long to be “one of those” who can just whip it out and satisfy their baby no matter where they are, but alas, I can only nurse with a pillow and in the privacy of home.
    Though nobody outwardly judges me for supplementing, I most certainly feel the pressure (probably from myself) to do more, to try harder, to feed her naturally “because millions of women have been doing this for centuries.” I have to fight my feelings of inferiority and insufficiency as a mom on a daily basis, and it is only my little one curled against my body with a smile on her face that assures me that despite my low production, I am doing something right and she still loves me. But it is hard, and it hurts, and I am so glad to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  27. mel
    June 25, 2012 | 2:28 pm

    Thankyou, so much for sharing your stories. My children are 13 and 14 and I still struggle with not being able to breast feed my children. My breasts did not change during pregnancy and my milk did not come in. I was completely dededicated to breast feeding. I didn’t buy a bottle. I believed the myth that every woman could breast feed and knew it would be hard. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t feed my children, I wasn’t a proper mother. In hospital I was surround ed by women will engorged breasts who didn’t want to breast feed their babies! I would have dreams for years later nursing my children and wake up crying. The sadness of not being able to breast feed comes back to me every time a friend becomes pregnant. Hearing your stories is a real comfort. Thank you

  28. Maggi
    July 9, 2012 | 11:28 am

    Your story brought me to tears. I went through the exact same hell of trying to — and wishing I could — breastfeed my children. My supply was pitiful, and a lactation consultant blamed it on insufficient glandular tissue. It was utterly heartbreaking and I still have a hard time with it, especially because my children don’t tolerate baby formula well at all. I have received more judgement for pulling out a bottle to feed my children than I’ve ever seen a nursing mother get for feeding her baby in public. I wish every day that things were different, but my youngest just turned a year old and both my kids are thriving so I know in my heart I’m a good mother who just happened to be unable to give them breastmilk. I worry those feelings of inadequacy and shame will come back when we have another baby. It is so difficult to reconcile something that you hear constantly should be “natural and easy” to do. So many people who don’t have all the facts just make blanket statements and pin me as a “lazy mom.” If they only really knew.

  29. [...] consultants before finding one that could help me. I still thank God for her. She diagnosed my IGT and helped me more than she’ll ever know. But, many others will go unrecognized. [...]

  30. AnneMarie Toste
    July 24, 2012 | 9:16 pm

    I had a breast reduction surgery when I was 18. I really didn’t know what to expect when I became pregnant. I really, really wanted to nurse my baby from the breast. I read all that I could find on Breast feeding, but there is virtually nothing on BFAR (breast feeding after reduction). My midwife recommended a book called Defining Your Own Success, by Diane West. This book helped me come to terms with the real possibility that I might not make enough milk, depending on how much tissue had been removed. But Whatever I could give was a valuable gift. It felt good to be comfortable with anything that might be. I wouldn’t know until baby arrived if I could BF. I looked around for formulas before hand, I guess coming to terms with that possibility. However, I WAS able to exclusively breast feed! I really feel for you and the other mothers who can’t make enough milk, or for other various reasons (medications, etc…) it is best not to BF. Thank you for you post, and having the courage to bear your raw feelings for us to see.

  31. SweetMama
    July 26, 2012 | 11:31 am

    I am a breastfeeding peer counselor who breastfed three children. I did not have any problems when it came to breastfeeding but I work with women before and after birth who all have different experiences than I did. I am able to listen to moms without judging and I believe that for the most part, most women ho breastfed feel the same way as I do. I don’t look at mothers who formula feed and think badly of them, I usually try to talk, mother to mother. I work with doctors everyday who feel they are not taking care of their children the way they desire to do so because they are trying to keep their patients healthy. This includes breastfeeding mothers who wish they could pump more or be home before the baby is sleeping. I look at these women and try my best to encourage them. As a peer counselor I have been taught about the reasons a mom can’t breastfeed and some of the issues that can occur but as a mother and as a woman it is in me to encourage and uplift the people around me and that is what I try to do. That’s what we all should try to do.

  32. [...] was a heartbreaking discovery after the birth of my first child. I have IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue). I don’t know [...]

  33. Siobhan
    August 3, 2012 | 1:23 am

    Thank you, thank you , thank you!

    I really needed to hear your story. I have had to work really hard to let go of the guilt I carried for not breastfeeding my twins. I had all the issues you had plus two very low weight girls with tongue tie. I remember one lactation consultant giving me the advice to just keep at it and they will eventually be hungry enough to latch on. My husband came home to three bawling females and begged me to stop.

    But I still didn’t stop and I spent my days either attempting to breastfeed, then feeding bottled breast milk, then pumping (what little I had). There was no time for anything else and I would cry nearly everyday feeling like such a failure.

    After two breast infections and blood blisters on my nipples (I didn’t even know that was possible!) I packed it in very reluctantly after 3 months.

    Now all of us are far more relaxed. My breasts don’t hurt anymore and I’m really enjoying my time with my girls. Yes I wish it would have worked but this is what works for us

  34. Stevanie
    August 8, 2012 | 1:47 pm

    A million times over I want to thank you for this article! You have so adequately described everything I have experienced. Your words are what I have been wanting to say (sometimes yell) over the last 4 months of trying to nurse my daughter. It is heart breaking to try everything you know to do and still not be able to get the results you so desperately desire. And it seems everywhere I go every other mother can successfully nurse their babe. It is so nice to know I am truly not alone in this struggle. Before my daughter was born I went to breast is best classes, childbirth classes, spoke to my OB and other moms I knew that had nursed (some which eventually decided it was not for them and turned to formula), and I read any articles I could find on the topic. After I had my daughter I exclusively nursed until her 2 day check up when her weight had dropped below the 10% mark of her birth weight. I then supplemented for a day or two and once her weight was back up I went back to exclusively nursing. I could not understand why my baby was so fussy and never seemed satisfied. My husband once made the comment that, “she was always crying unless i was nursing” I went to see the lactation consultant several times and was always assured my baby was getting enough. I had to take her to be weighed weekly because she was not gaining weight. At this point I bought a Medela pump, started fenugreek, mothers milk tea, eating oatmeal, drinking Gatorade, hand compressions, power pumping, hot showers, trying not to stress, nursing around the clock, etc. I never saw any results after weeks of trying this regime. I then went to speak to my OB who prescribed Reglan. I tried taking it for several days but had to stop because it made me feel so jittery and like I was walking around in a tunnel. I knew that I could not be a good mommy while feling like that. As a last resort I scheduled an appointment with an MD whose specialty is dealing in lactation. I booked the appointment the day my daughter’s doctor recommended I go see her. When I booked the appointment I spoke to the nurse to explain to her all I had been doing. Her response was that I should have been there 13 weeks ago (my daughter was 14 weeks at the time). I would have been there earlier had I known about them. The appointment with the doctor was painful. I ended up in tears after she told me my daughter had gained a significant amount of weight and that the “old scale that said a baby should double their birth weight by 4-5 months was outdated and all those people were formula fed and now in their 50s, overweight and with health problems”. My baby is now 19 weeks and has not yet doubled her birth weight and at her 4 month check up she was only in the 50th percentile for height and weight. How could someone that has dedicated their life to helping mothers with supply issues be so callous? Just the fact that I was seeking her help and was still trying to breast feed should have shown her how badly I desired to make this work. Needless to say she could not come up with anything for me to try that I had not already done…a waste of money and threw me back into a state of shame. At this point, I am still nursing before I offer the bottle but I know soon the day will come when what little supply I have will be dried up. It still hurts and sometimes I cry over it but I have finally started to accept that there is nothing else I can do. Honestly, I wish I had seen a doctor, lactation consultant, or just someone that would have helped me instead of giving me the same lines about everyone being able to nurse. After doing my own research I now realize I have several of the symptoms of IGT. But for me it would have been validating to have a medical professional diagnosis me with IGT and assure me I had done everything I could. Your words and this article have given me a little of that assurance that I so desperately want. I am sorry this is so terribly long but it has been nice to put it out there and feel like the burden is somewhat lifted off my shoulders. Thank you for sharing your story!!

  35. Jen
    September 16, 2012 | 4:18 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I am a new mom and my son is now 3 weeks old. For 3 weeks I have been going through the intense regime of breast feeding, bottle feeding, and then pumping for 20 minutes after each feed. I have been taking the max dose of motilium and herbal supplements, and I am still only producing drops of breast milk. Literally zero ounces when I pump. My sin has a great latch, a good strong suck, and is very comfortable at tge breadt. It’s only today that I’m discovering there could be a reason for my crazy low milk supply. Even though I’m devestated and an emotional wreck over this entire experience, it does give me a bit of comfort to know I’m not the only one who has gone through the same thing.

  36. Suliana
    November 13, 2012 | 12:25 pm

    Thank you so much for this post and for the link you put on Peaceful Parenting in FB (that brought me here). Reading your post reminded me so much of myself during the early days of breastfeeding..and even now. For the first 3 days after my daughter was born, I was nursing her EVERY hour. Each nursing session lasted about 45 minutes, and after I was done nursing her, I had to pump. That was what the LC told me to do after seeing how little I was producing. Imagine how little rest I got as a result of all that nursing and pumping! My milk didn’t come in like most LCs and breastfeeding mothers claimed would happen. For the first 2 months, nursing sessions lasted 45 minutes, and I was nursing her every two hours! For the next 10 months, until she turned one, I was nursing her every 3 hours day and night, despite starting her on solids at 6 months.

    I’m still breastfeeding my daughter who is now 20 months old. Now she nurses every 4 hours. She even wakes up in the middle of the night for feedings. I’ve always felt that I am not producing enough milk. I have NEVER been able to pump more than 3 oz per breast. Most of the time, I only get 1-2oz when I pump. My daughter has always been on the 3rd percentile in terms of weight. She was small for her gestational age, and was a tiny 36-weeker at birth. She’s of normal height though.

    While reading your post, I wondered if I too have insufficient glandular tissue. I’ve been feeding her for 20 months yet she’s so tiny! At the rate I fed her in her first year, she should have been a BIG, FAT baby! But no, she was always tiny and she’s still only on the 20th percentile. She weighs only about 20lbs now. No issues in other areas of development. The worst part is, she hates eating. She only wants breastmilk and little else. She enjoys eating fruits though. I’ve tried reducing nursing frequency, but it hasn’t helped. My breasts still produce little and she still refuses to eat!

    I read and heard so much about mothers pumping out excess milk and even donating. I can never do that because the amount I make is hardly sufficient for my baby. Even when I go for hours without feeding her, I wouldn’t be able to pump much milk afterwards. I’m so glad for your post. It has made me realize that perhaps I too have insufficient glandular tissue…Maybe not as severe, but still…

    I’ve tried everything to increase my milk supply. Pumping, herbs, supplements, extra rest, changes in diet… Nothing worked! No one understood why I was feeding my baby so frequently and for so long each time. While other nursing mums lamented about having an oversupply and leaking breasts, I have always wished that my breasts would produce a tiny bit more. I bought breast pads before delivering my baby, but never had any use for them. My baby never had latching problems, yet I could not produce enough milk for her. My breasts always felt empty yet I soldiered on, believing in the mantra that “breast is best”.

    I’m glad that I have been able to breastfeed her for 20 months and counting, but I’ve never slept though the night even once since she was born! I guess I’m just not producing enough, hence she has to nurse frequently to get whatever little milk I produce. Reading your post made me feel less lonely. It made me accept that some of us just aren’t able to produce much milk, and it’s absolutely not our fault. What really matters is that we truly care for our children and always strive to give them the best. It’s just sad that the “breast is best” mantra has made so many mothers feel guilty and inadequate.

    Thank you for your post! <3

  37. Jessica
    February 18, 2013 | 7:59 pm

    You took the words right out of my mouth! So glad to know that I’m not alone in all this. The only problem was why did not one of the health professionals tell me abthis?! I thought I was crazy.Thanks for the encouraging words Sometimes I still feel guilty but know Im being the best mom I can be !

  38. Kristen
    February 21, 2013 | 12:51 pm

    12 weeks after my preemie baby was born, she’s finally latching, but despite pumping a ridiculous amount of hours every day, even at the cost of my time with her, I still don’t produce enough milk. I supplement and it breaks my heart since I know I can’t maintain this pace until she’s a year as I’d originally hoped and dreamed.
    I’m not IGT, but my LC told me I definitely did not produce enough glands and that, coupled with an overactive thyroid, has caused me to only pump 13 oz a day, at most, in 4-7 hours worth of pumping sessions.
    I get so jealous when I hear about mother’s who pump an oz a minute (instead of an ounce every 15) AFTER they’ve given their baby a full feed. And I get so tired of people telling me I haven’t tried hard enough (trust me, I’ve tried everything to increase my supply) to give my baby the best.
    Thank you for this article. It really hits close to home and it gives me hope that some day I can come to terms with my “failure” as a mother.

  39. Tami
    February 28, 2013 | 10:04 am

    A million times yes. Every word. I did nurse and bottlefeed, after my first. I realized it didn’t have to be all or nothing. I wish I had understood that with my first, but once I saw the brick dust urine, I put away any thoughts of breastfeeding. I am still nursing my almost 3 yr old, after a fashion. I still make some milk but I don’t know what he gets. Its mostly comfort for him, now.

    My breasts have never looked normal. They’ve always sagged and drooped. My mother used to say it was because I didn’t wear a bra like I should have when I was a teen. I know different now, but dang it, that still hurts.

  40. Ini
    March 19, 2013 | 4:34 am

    Hi. I’m a pediatrician too. I have a daughter who just turned 6 months old. I can pump only 3-5 oz/day even when I pump every 2 hours. I breastfeed after lunch, the whole afternoon then the whole night but i dont think she gets enough. I’m forced to give her 10-20 oz of formula a day. :( I feel betrayed by my body too! its so frustrating. :( I’ve done herbs, domperidone, the works.
    Feeling so guilty….

  41. Mary
    May 29, 2013 | 11:26 am

    This story made me cry because it sure hit me deep in the heart for it explained so well what I am going through. So many times I’ve cried because I feel insufficient not being able to provide for my baby.

    My family has seen me try it all. My mother even tells me many times to give up, but she doesn’t understand for she always produced plenty milk supply for two on each pregnancy. I am glad I have a supporting husband though and I sure make the best of the few drops of white liquid gold to feed my baby with.

    I really wish there was something that could be done, it breaks my heart to feel so helpless, to know it’s out of my control and no matter how much I try I can’t really do anything about it to change it.

    Thanks again for sharing your story and making the rest of us feel a little less alone on this. I loved it, you put everything in words so well.

  42. Amy shelaine
    May 30, 2013 | 7:31 pm

    This was my experience. Exactly. In fact, I’m sitting here crying while reading this because you expressed what my own words couldn’t say. Wouldn’t say. I feel like sharing this post with my family so they can understand, just a little. I am pregnant with my second, and I’ve read that, for many moms, their second breast feeding experience got better. Some have been able to exclusively breast feed the second. I have faith i’ll be able to. I’ll do everything I can!

    My daughter is one year old, and she still loves to nurse to sleep, but only with the Medela SNS supplementing.

    Thank you for unleashing the words my heart couldn’t say. It has freed me a little more to know I’m not alone.
    Hugs.

  43. Size
    July 21, 2013 | 2:24 am

    I have tears streaming down my face as I read your beautiful post. What an amazing woman you are.
    I didn’t have trouble producing milk but experienced post partum psychosis after my first and had to give up nursing because of the medication I was taking. I remember getting the shakes as I made up my daughters formula in front of a room of breastfeeding mothers. It took me a long time to get over. I then suffered a still birth, so no feeding again. I have just had my third child and, although its not been without its challenges, I have managed to feed her for 7 months! She has been a very awkward feeder & I have had to feed lying down which has been embarrassing at times. I’ve had family members joke about it and on a couple of occasions have had to get horizontal in front of other nursing mums & one or two of their husbands because my baby was getting worked up. I remember my face feeling flushed and the sweat pouring down my back. I knew they wouldn’t have judged me but I was humiliated. I’m just so very grateful to have had an amazing husband who has loved me and supported me all the way.

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