this has broken my heart...hypoplastic breasts

by Erin Allbright
(Texas, USA)

I had my first child when I was 20, and I thought breast feeding was kind of gross, to be honest.

I never even considered anything other than using formula. No one in my family had ever breastfed, and I even remember my grandmother talking about how she thought breastfeeding was unnecessary because formula was available, and babies did just fine on it.

So, I fed my daughter formula, and washed bottles, and paid for expensive formula, and lugged around all the needed bottle feeding supplies, and never thought twice about it. 3 years later my son was born, and I was older and less effected by what my family thought, so I researched breastfeeding, and decided that I wanted to try it.

I remember the first time Benjamin nursed, and how much of a connection I felt with him. I loved everything about breastfeeding. It was convenient, it was good for me and my baby, and I felt like I was more of a woman, more of a mom.

Being new at breast feeding, and because I'd never been around anyone who breastfed, I didn't know what I was doing. When I took Benjamin in for a checkup at 5 days old, he'd lost 15% of his weight. He was dehydrated, had jaundice, and had to go back in the hospital.

A nurse brought me a breast pump so I could pump while Ben was under the lights for his jaundice. I used a hospital grade pump for an hour, and didn't get enough milk to cover the bottom of the bottle. I realized that I had been starving my baby. I felt so much guilt. Benjamin began receiving formula, and I gave up on breast feeding. 5 years later I found out that I was going to have another baby.

This time I educated myself. I read everything I could about breast feeding, I bought an expensive pump, I stocked up on herbs and vitamins that were supposed to help with milk production, and I told my family that regardless of their opinions on the topic, this was my baby and my body, and I was going to do what I felt was best.

I was going to breastfeed my baby this time, I knew it.....I was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Breast 3 days ago.

My son was 5 days old, and I just knew that breast feeding was going to work for me this time. When I took Jackson to the doctor and discovered he'd lost over 10% of his original birth weight, I was shocked. Then the lactation consultant had me breastfeed him, and then re-weighed him. After 15 min of feeding, he'd only taken in 8 cc.

She then examined my breasts and told me that I had Hypoplastic breast, which basically means that I don't have enough breast tissue. I sat their for a minute and listened to what she was saying and then realized I was sobbing.

My grandmother was with me at the appointment, and I thought I was about to hear "I told you so", but she began to cry, and explain to the lactation specialist that I had tried so hard, and that it was so important to me.

I then started thinking about my older son. When I was breastfeeding him, and he became ill due to low milk supply, my friends and family (myself included) joked and said that my breasts were too small and that I was starving him. Realizing that this was somewhat true all along was heartbreaking and embarrassing.

I had tried so hard this time to make breastfeeding work. I'd read every article, I'd bought supplements and a pump, I would let my new baby nurse for ridiculous amounts of time, thinking that maybe it was a problem with the transfer of the milk rather than the supply, and he needed a little more time.

I also wondered why no one had ever mentioned this to me before now. Why hadn't someone said something when Benjamin was so sick? At least I would have known what to do when Jackson got here and wouldn't be going through this again.

I've been supplementing for a day and a half now, and I break down and cry every time I give him a bottle. I continue to pump and let him nurse, but its just not enough to keep him healthy and full.

I never thought I'd be this upset about not being a success when it came to breastfeeding, but this has just broken my heart.

I feel like I'm less of a mom, but I know its not my fault, and that I really did try so hard. I am considering using donor milk, but want to research that more. I just want him to get the best start at life that I can.

Comments for this has broken my heart...hypoplastic breasts

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Aug 10, 2012
there's no need for tears
by: Lesley

I know how you feel - I felt shame and so upset that I "wasn't even a good enough mother to feed my child" and that I let him down by letting him go hungry and lose weight. I wanted to cry with every bottle he had.


we both did the best we could.
We both WANTED to give them the best start we could.

And in the end, happy & healthy babies is what matters.

So what if in our case that means formula or donated milk? it doesn't matter. My son is 2 now, perfect for his age, and happy.

All that matters to the babies is that they get a full tummy, warmth, and love. And we can both do that.

Feb 06, 2013
underdiagnosed issue
by: Sophie

I completely understand how you felt, and had a somewhat similar experience. I have always has small breasts and even before I got pregnant, I would worry that my baby would starve because I wouldn't get enough milk. I was reassured by a lactation consultant and also by family members who had breastfed successfully despite having small breasts. So I decided I too would breastfeed exclusively...

When I realized after 5 weeks that my baby had not gained enough weight, I was devastated, and I felt guilty for having not realized how hungry he was. I was given a medication (domperidone) to increase my supply, I nursed every two hours, pumped, etc. Still, I had to supplement or else my poor little Charles would cry for hours and sleep very little...

I have given up breastfeeding after two months. It was heartbreaking, but in some way a relief to see my baby happy and gaining weight. I tried to do both (breastfeed and supplement) for a while but it was just too much trouble for me, and I was getting tired and depressed.

Through all this experience, no one (doctor, nurse or lactation consultant) really told me I had hypoplastic breasts.... I just eventually figured it out myself! I wonder why this issue is not talked about more. I had never bothered too much about the aesthetic aspect of having a small chest, but this was like the ultimate insult to my womanhood...What kind of woman can't make milk for her own baby? Reading stories similar to mine has helped me cope with this and I am now in peace with myself.

I hope that in the future, there is more awareness about this and that although «breast is best», there is no sin in bottle feeding when nature does not allow you to breastfeed.

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