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Please, enlighten me about this low milk supply issue. I hope I won’t touch any sensitive cord here. I’ve not started this thread to put the blame on anyone who decided to go the articifial way, I just want to understand what’s going on.

From all the reading I’ve done I understand that most women have a good supply of milk; it’s natural; our body took us through the pregnant phase, gave us a baby and now helps us provide for our baby, the same as some other animals provide for their little ones. In humans, it’s usually the technique that is not right, which leads to milk supply diminishing. Yes, I understand, problems sometimes occur, but it’s in a small number of cases only. Yet, what I seem to notice is that all the women who gave up breastfeeding in the early weeks or supplement it with formula say they didn’t have enough milk, which is a lame excuse. I’m ok with women choosing to go the artificial way knowing the pros and cons of the formula milk.

I’m told sometimes that I’m lucky to have enough milk after emergency caesarean. This attitude also bothers me. Toby is almost 10 months old, very happily breastfeeding exclusively on demand from day one. Even during pregnancy, not a single moment I thought I won’t have enough milk to feed my baby, so it didn’t even cross my mind that after emergency caesarean could be different. We ended up having emergency caesarean due to an infection, which gave me high temperature and irregular heartbeat to the baby during the beginning of labour; waters broke almost 2 days prior to that. We planned homebirth, but didn’t happen, so I thought that ending with an emergency caesarean was out of my control, but everything else was still in my control.  So, we just got on with stuff. I guess, thinking it might be a problem, it transforms in a problem. Actually, baby’s irregular heartbeat stabilised because of the skin-to-skin and breastfeeding from the first hour of the baby’s life. We were not separated at all. We co-slept even in hospital where we stayed with antibiotics for 5 days. The things we couldn’t do in hospital due to my mobility was to carry Toby in a sling, use cloth nappies and practice elimination communication, but was able to do all that the minute we got home.

So, I don’t consider breastfeeding a luck thing, it’s just the way nature intended us to feed our babies. I can’t see how another specie’s milk can be as good for my baby as my milk, that’s all. No blame intended. It’s just the way I see it, and I’m open to being told I’m actually factually wrong. Just point me in the right direction to back up my gut feeling or to contradict it. You can point me to some good solid research as well if there is something new out there. I read Politics of Breastfeeding even before I was pregnant. I’m going to ask the same question at our local La Leche League next meet-up.

Thanks for listening, and look forward to your views, Bianca

Attachment and travelling mama, home educating Toby, 17.02.2012. Vegs. Neither telly nor car. Brompton bikes. Live in Reading, Berkshire.
Skills You Need to Change the World
http://www.truefood.coop/, http://www.mooncup.co.uk/, http://www.storyofstuff.co/

When I was bf Sophie I was told repeatedly that my supply was too low and I needed to supplement with formula.  I think it is total tosh for the most part and that professionals would much rather quickly get babies onto formula than take the time and effort to establish good breastfeeding.

In my case I had bad raynauds of the nipple which made feeding very painful and Sophie’s epilepsy was really bad at the time.  She was having 100’s of fits a day and would no sooner start feeding then fall off fitting,she would struggle to latch on (due to tongue tie) just get going again and then fit again and drop off.  She certainly wasn’t getting enough sustenance you can see it in pictures quite clearly though it wasn’t that clear to me at the time and she barely slept as she would wake up about 20mins after finishing a feed as she was still hungry and she would scream for hours I guess because she was hungry too :(.

My local bf support worker was fantastic and its down to her help and enouragement that I carried on as long as I did.  I only managed 3 months which I feel guilty about as had I known then what I know today I would have battled through and overcome the obstacle.  But all the family and dr’s involved pressured me to formula feed and I gave in.  I only wish I had had the strength to say no and ask for advice on how to overcome it together rather than just give up and give her formula.  Sophie now is a very allergic child and I did wonder if that may not have been the case had I continued to bf, I guess I will never know.

If push came to shove there are lots of things you can do or take to increase your supply including prescription medicine if you wanted to go down that route.  Again, I only wish I had known that at the time.  I think Health Care Professionals need to have more training in how to help mothers foster a healthy bf relationship rather than encouraging them to give up at the first hurdle.

Mummy to Lauren (2008), Sophie (2010)

Thanks Erimentha. I’m sorry you had to go through all that. And no, you shouldn’t feel guilty; we can only learn from mistakes. And sometimes, things happen and are out of our control. Like I wonder if I could have done anything to prevent the infection, which caused us to have emergency caesarean and stay in hospital on antibiotics for 5 days. But, I guess, I’ll never know.

I guess, I don’t feel lucky for being able to breastfeed, but now I think I should feel lucky for the fact I knew so much about breastfeeding before I gave birth. We don’t have the community to learn from anymore, but luckily I have some best friends who had children before me and I learnt a lot from them.

Attachment and travelling mama, home educating Toby, 17.02.2012. Vegs. Neither telly nor car. Brompton bikes. Live in Reading, Berkshire.
Skills You Need to Change the World
http://www.truefood.coop/, http://www.mooncup.co.uk/, http://www.storyofstuff.co/

Hmmm…well I believe definitely that nothing is better than breastmilk. But I also believe that it can be very, very difficult and frustrating for some mothers. I worked with a mother who was determined during pregnancy to breastfeed.  I visited her twice to talk about benefits, what to expect etc. I supported her in the hospital where baby latched well with help and seemed to be ok. I visited the following day when baby was very agitated and feeding almost constantly. I visited her again the following day when the MW was with her, the baby wasn’t having wet nappies. That evening mum went into hospital as she was so concerned. I visited the following day, baby had lost weight despite apparent good latch, mum couldn’t express milk. Tests showed mum had an HB of 7.5, highly likely that this was causing a very reduced milk supply. We continued to support mum for a further two days to latch baby/hand express to try to encourage supply but without success. Mum eventually gave up offering as she was so upset and exhausted. She asked the MW to phone and tell me as she felt a failure…..

Nature does intend it as the way to feed our baies but it’s not always that simple. I was determined to BF DS4, but it was incredibly difficult. He had an undiagnosed yet obvious tongue tie which meant I was in sheer agony for the first 10 weeks and then just plain old pain and discomfort for the next couple of months. Every single feed I would hide in the bedroom, bite down on a towel to prevent screaming out loud and pray for the feed to be over. It was only my own stubborn determination not to fail that kept me going.  And of course the belief that it was best. Nature meant for DS4 to breastfeed. Nature also makes every child/parent different, even putting barriers (tongue tie) in the way. I exclusively BF DS4 for 7 months before introducing solids and continued to BF until he was 5 years old. I would never judge another mother who found herself in the same situation I had with him and who decided that formula was the right choice for her.
Of my youngest thee children, all BF exclusively, all never had formula, BF for 5 years, 3 years and still BF, and new baby age 3 months and still BF I have had struggles with tongue tie, mastitis many times, nipple thrush, deep breast thrush, projectile vomiting up to 10 times per day caused by dairy intolerance when dairy was only passed through mama’s milk, reflux, oversupply and forceful letdown which means changing clothes many times a day. I still believe breastmilk tobe the best I can give my babies bause nature intends me too. I can also understand from these examples why my own grown up pregnant daughter doesn’t intend to breastfeed her baby…...

Erimentha - 13 December 2012 12:06 AM

Sophie now is a very allergic child and I did wonder if that may not have been the case had I continued to bf, I guess I will never know.

H has never had formula yet was highly dairy intolerant through milk I ingested. And you know that she was in hospital recently with a severe chest infection and a subsequent diagnosis of asthma, despite still being breastfed at 3 years and 6 months.
You did a great job, you gave three months worth of breastmilk even though you were struggling with other health issues, you really don’t need to beat yourself up. Too many people feel the need to explain their actions surrounding parenting, it’s almost becoming like the whole religion thing, choose your faith now and deny all others…...
Good for you on being a loving, caring, wonderful mama, whatever your choices, and however you reached them smile

xx

Thanks Becks. Both your reply and Erimetha’s brought me to tears. So powerful. Sorry you also had hard times. Well done for continuing, and sorry your daughter won’t follow your good example. I’m also one that just gets on with it, no matter what. But, yeah, as you say, we all diferent, and some would give up easier than others, I guess especially nowadays when choosing what’s easier is so easy. The same, I won’t criticize a woman that ended up with an emergency caesarean as I know that my one saved our lives.

Attachment and travelling mama, home educating Toby, 17.02.2012. Vegs. Neither telly nor car. Brompton bikes. Live in Reading, Berkshire.
Skills You Need to Change the World
http://www.truefood.coop/, http://www.mooncup.co.uk/, http://www.storyofstuff.co/

Becks - 13 December 2012 12:18 AM

struggles with tongue tie

This seems a lot the case lately, and yet doctors don’t make it routine to check for it even though is such a quick thing to diagnose if you know what to look for, and also easy to put right. Could it be that it’s done deliberately, so formula milk companies can milk the profits they do? I might be sarcastic here, but it’s beyond my comprehension why this is not a routine check-up procedure.

Attachment and travelling mama, home educating Toby, 17.02.2012. Vegs. Neither telly nor car. Brompton bikes. Live in Reading, Berkshire.
Skills You Need to Change the World
http://www.truefood.coop/, http://www.mooncup.co.uk/, http://www.storyofstuff.co/

I think I feel so guilty about it as it never really was what I chose myself and I never really felt it was for the best, I was just exhausted and felt pressured to the point that I cracked.  I feel guilty because I gave in at the time because it was easier and I didn’t feel I had the strength to do what I thought was right IYSWIM.  Soph also had bad reflux which certainly wasn’t helped by the formula.  The vomit was never quite at the projectile point but by god there was a lot of it. I agree Bianca that they should routinely check for tongue ties at birth, it takes less than a minute and could save so much hassle in the long run.

You know when I tell people about my experience (people who ask, I don’t just randomly collar people at the bus stop!) they can’t understand why after all that why I am so pro breastfeeding.  Or why after everything else I went through in pregnancy and when she was small I want more.  Personally I can’t understand how they can’t see how that 2 years or so of unpleasantness and misery (hyperemasis is miserable in my experience) and constant hospital appointments is SO SO worth the lifetime of joy she will bring us.  And that even in her first year when she was being diagnosed and everything was up in the air and the constant worry from all the fits there was still more joy, wonder and happiness than any negative emotion.

Mummy to Lauren (2008), Sophie (2010)

The body is a unique and complicated thing. Just because it is meant to be able to do something, doesn’t mean it can/will on demand. Some people metabolise medication better than others meaning they become tolerant more quickly and/or it doesn’t stay in their system long so they need higher doses. Genes can determine a lot including how your breasts go about producing milk. If you don’t have a gene that enables you to produce the “right amount” of milk, then you won’t. It’s nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about, you’ve just got to make do with what you’ve got, as we all have. We can’t change our DNA (at the moment!) so we have to find ways around the issues our bodies create.

I think that one of the arguments attempting to debunk low milk supply is that many more babies would have died before infant formula was invented if women couldn’t feed their babies. However, milk sharing and wet-nursing was much more comman, and if mothers couldn’t/wouldn’t feed their own babies they would pay for another source of breast milk.

Having said that, I do personally believe that *most* women could make enough milk WITH THE RIGHT SUPPORT. My issue is that specialised breastfeeding support is stretched very thin, and that breastfeeding training given to midwives and health visitors seems very poor.

I (personally), think that formula should be available on prescription. It would then be free to those who actually need it, as it isn’t fair to put an unnessacery expense on people who really struggle, but it wouldn’t be advertised (yes, I know it’s only “toddler” milk that is advertised, but we all know that it builds brand awareness), there would be no money off coupons in bounty packs, and it wouldn’t be offered as an equal option to breastfeeding.

I was talking to a woman yesterday who had her children while on kibbutz in Israel, and whose daughter has chosen not to breastfeed because “it’s wierd”. She was totally bemused because she said that on kibbutz everyone breastfed - there just wasn’t another option mentioned. I had to say that sadly, her daughter is right - in this country it *is* wierd to breastfeed :( . Until we have really good breastfeeding support from EVERY health professional a new mum comes into contact with, and we prevent formula companies from pushing formula in whatever way they can get away with then many more people than it is actually the case for will continue to believe they have low milk supply and their baby isn’t getting enough milk.

I think that often when we are so determined to breastfeed, we can sometimes not realise that people can be so put off by just one or two comments - if they start from a position of ” I’ll breastfeed if I can manage it”, then the first doctor who tells then they have to stop because they have mastitus, or that the antibiotics they need aren’t compatible (without finding ones that are), or the first health visitor who says that the four month growth spurt means that their baby isn’t getting enugh milk, will mean that they stop nursing because they genuinely believe it is what is best for their baby. I don’t believe that low milk supply is anywhere near as prevalient as many mums think, but I put the blame for that squarely at the door of health professionals and/or formula companies, not at new mums who tried and were encouraged directly or indirectly to give up.

Angie

http://www.etsy.com/shop/WashedUpFamily Sea Glass Jewellery from the beautiful South Coast[/color]

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Well, I broke the mold, lol.  I was determined to breastfeed, didn’t even consider formula feeding but when my first was born, it was the most horrible experience which really ruined those early days :-(  He was very unsettled as he was always hungry, he was constantly latched on, but every health professional told me “there is always enough milk, your body makes as much as baby needs” etc etc.  I felt under so much pressure to keep going and it got to the extent that I wished someone would abduct my baby!  My breasts didn’t fill up, I never experienced engorgement, and I never even went up one bra size.

I remember one night being completely hysterical and walking to the nearest petrol station at 2am (I didn’t trust myself to drive as I was so exhausted) to buy formula and bottles, and after a very guilty bottle my baby slept for a whole hour, which I cried through from guilt as I felt so bad that I had let him down and was poisoning his body with formula. 

When I was pregnant with number two I was determined to read up as much as possible about increasing supply so that I could exclusively breastfeed, only to find out that baby had cleft lip and palate at 20 week scan.  That obviously ruled out breastfeeding, but I wanted to express etc so contacted lactation consultants to maximize knowledge etc.  Well, with all of the natural ways in the book I only ever managed to express 2 oz with a hospital grade double pump, so she was never EBF either.  The next two children were the same, and they are all here, so that’s what counts for me. 

In theory the body is supposed to be able to produce enough milk, likewise a vaginal birth is supposed to be the birth canal. but hey ho, that’s not always the way things happen!

Muslim mum of four, home educating, environmental hypocrite (but doing my best) hodge podging through this life…..

Just to add though, that I think everyone (even those set against BF) do acknowledge that breast milk is best, but many people just choose not to do it.  The idea that a womans breasts have a primary sexual function (as opposed to being a mammary tool) I think puts many women off in the first place.  Its a sad state of affair that some women would feel more comfortable with a strange man staring at her breasts than her own child (and her)  gaining the benefits, but that is probably just the society we live in.

Muslim mum of four, home educating, environmental hypocrite (but doing my best) hodge podging through this life…..

Breastfeeding came quite easy to me, I had a hard time to start with as he contantly wanted to latch on which turned into comfort sucking, crying etc etc but that just went after a month into it. I bf up until 9 months, regretted not persisting to make it last longer and will do so with a future baby.
To me people not wanting to try breastfeeding does not make sense, why do you not want the best start for your child? Why do people give up so easy?
Until I met a good friend who had a horrible time, both her kids had horrible reflux, which wasnt diagnosed until much later on, with her first she gave up after a month and her second 3 months, both times she felt like an utter failure and blames and not getting good support and doctors failing to diagnose reflux early on. She is due her 3rd in 3 weeks time and is terrified she will have another reflux baby but again has her mind set on breastfeeding soly for at least the first month and I do admire her persistance where as before I would have said; what only one month? I don’t think thats fair now though as I never had troubles nor have I expierenced a reflux baby

Bianca McHale - 12 December 2012 11:37 PM

From all the reading I’ve done I understand that most women have a good supply of milk; it’s natural; our body took us through the pregnant phase, gave us a baby and now helps us provide for our baby, the same as some other animals provide for their little ones. In humans, it’s usually the technique that is not right, which leads to milk supply diminishing. Yes, I understand, problems sometimes occur, but it’s in a small number of cases only. Yet, what I seem to notice is that all the women who gave up breastfeeding in the early weeks or supplement it with formula say they didn’t have enough milk, which is a lame excuse. I’m ok with women choosing to go the artificial way knowing the pros and cons of the formula milk.

Well for many of those women, it was probably true. They didn’t have enough milk or didn’t think they had enough milk. Many aren’t aware of what is “normal” and they don’t have the support from knowledgable family, friends, HCP’s etc that understand what is normal either. They don’t understand the physiological process of bfing, so they may supplement with a bottle of formula, and/or a dummy and end up in a spiralling negative cycle.
Breastfeeding forums are full with women seeking advice on their constantly bfing newborn.

A hormonal issue like PCOS can interfere too with getting bfing established

Stress can have a severe effect

And then there’s the medicalisation of birth, for many this can and does interfere with establishing bfing (not many know or are informed about Kangaroo Mothercare)

And even when things seem to be optimum setup, it can go wrong.

I grew up with bfing being normal and was/am very pro bfing. My mum is very pro-bfing homebirth mw. She had sent me books, links etc on bfing when I was pregnant too (we were living in different countries). I thought I was well informed on potential issues ie poor latch etc.

I had a lovely home waterbirth with an IM with my eldest, and all seemed to be going fine re bfing. But by day 3/4 I was starting to get niggles of concern. DD1 would latch on beautifully, but she wouldn’t stay on very long. Her wee’s were low and she was still producing meconium so she was obviously not feeding enough. We thought it was maybe an issue with my letdown being too slow and tried different things to remedy that, then for letdown being too forceful etc, but nope.

By day 6 it was obvious DD1 was getting very weak, my supply was non-existent due to stress/upset/guilt and lack of stimulation. So we made the decision to supplement her with formula, it was either that or hospital due to failure to thrive. The next few days were hell. I’ld “bf” her then DP would feed her a bottle of formula while I tried to express (pitiful amounts). Then next feed, she’ld have expressed, bf, formula. Gradually my supply increased, I was able to express more but I had lost confidence in my ability to feed her myself as well as being wracked by guilt for not realising sooner we had a feeding issue and blaming myself/mw’s . After a week of this, DD1 had her first proper feed off me. Where she actually stayed on and came off “full”. It was a wonderful feeling, and brought back my determination to exclusively bf her. Unfortunately, she had by then developed nipple confusion between bottle and me. Fortunately a Nursing Supplementer resolved that, but it took another week. By 3weeks we were exclusively bf smile

We don’t know why I had such big probs getting bfing establshed with DD1, maybe it was my PCOS, an issue with DD1? Hindsight is wonderful and I’ve learned other ideas to try if it happens again. But I haven’t had any probs bfing my other 2, but tandem bfing probably helped.
And what would have happened if I hadn’t of had my background, the support of family, friends, mw’s and their knowledge base? I think I probably would have formula fed her due to not having enough milk.

This is quite a controversial topic and one I don’t normally enter into as some people are so passionate about their view it often turns into a ” them and us” kind of situation which I strongly dislike.

I have bf 2 of of the 3 of my babies. The youngest being bf the longest. My view is simple. Bf’ing is the best for your baby… But only if you are totally committed and happy to do it. What good is struggling to bf, being so stressed you want your baby to go back to where he/she came from etc etc. I totally agree there should be more automatic support for me mums because (like me) not everyone feels comfortable ringing support workers however lovely they are, especially when they’re feeling down/stressed. So, yes, if there was more support out there (ie your visiting mW actually knows about bfing and visits daily for at least 10 days - I saw mine twice in the first ten days) I would have definitely bf for longer.

However, I know mums who have exclusively bf all their children and have had constant battles with allergies and ailments and mums who have exclusively ff and have had no allergies and ailments. To be totally honest I don’t think bf would prevent an allergy or illness… If a child is going to get it, he/she will get it. I’ve known a mum who had severe pnd due to worries about bfing her baby, low weight gain, failure to thrive and then weaning issues and now, 7 years on big eating issues - she’s feels is due to her negativity towards feeding from day one (negative because for whatever reason it wasn’t working for them but due to get struggling on she just detested feeding her baby which have the baby negative vibes towards mealtime s.

What I’m trying to say (through my waffle) is that no one can tell you which way of feeding is right for YOU. No one feels what you feel either physically or mentally. Two of my friends cringe at the thought of breast feeding. So formula feeding is right for them. How on earth can you bond and show love to your baby if you,‘re shuddering with disgust every time you feed them?

I, personally, loved bfing and would try to bf every baby I have. But babies don’t die from being given formula providing it’s made up correctly.

I think Angie’s right. Formula should be on prescription for those who need it but for everyone you should have daily visits from midwives or support workers who know what their talking about for at least the first two weeks till its all established… Because although it’s ” natural” it doesn’t always come naturally. And a miserable stressed out mama is going to struggle to bond with their baby the way they should.

Sorry this has gone on much longer than planned!

Skye-Blu - 13 December 2012 02:52 PM

This is quite a controversial topic and one I don’t normally enter into as some people are so passionate about their view it often turns into a ” them and us” kind of situation which I strongly dislike.

I have bf 2 of of the 3 of my babies. The youngest being bf the longest. My view is simple. Bf’ing is the best for your baby… But only if you are totally committed and happy to do it. What good is struggling to bf, being so stressed you want your baby to go back to where he/she came from etc etc. I totally agree there should be more automatic support for me mums because (like me) not everyone feels comfortable ringing support workers however lovely they are, especially when they’re feeling down/stressed. So, yes, if there was more support out there (ie your visiting mW actually knows about bfing and visits daily for at least 10 days - I saw mine twice in the first ten days) I would have definitely bf for longer.

However, I know mums who have exclusively bf all their children and have had constant battles with allergies and ailments and mums who have exclusively ff and have had no allergies and ailments. To be totally honest I don’t think bf would prevent an allergy or illness… If a child is going to get it, he/she will get it. I’ve known a mum who had severe pnd due to worries about bfing her baby, low weight gain, failure to thrive and then weaning issues and now, 7 years on big eating issues - she’s feels is due to her negativity towards feeding from day one (negative because for whatever reason it wasn’t working for them but due to get struggling on she just detested feeding her baby which have the baby negative vibes towards mealtime s.

What I’m trying to say (through my waffle) is that no one can tell you which way of feeding is right for YOU. No one feels what you feel either physically or mentally. Two of my friends cringe at the thought of breast feeding. So formula feeding is right for them. How on earth can you bond and show love to your baby if you,‘re shuddering with disgust every time you feed them?

I, personally, loved bfing and would try to bf every baby I have. But babies don’t die from being given formula providing it’s made up correctly.

I think Angie’s right. Formula should be on prescription for those who need it but for everyone you should have daily visits from midwives or support workers who know what their talking about for at least the first two weeks till its all established… Because although it’s ” natural” it doesn’t always come naturally. And a miserable stressed out mama is going to struggle to bond with their baby the way they should.

Sorry this has gone on much longer than planned!


Absolutely!!!!

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