I developed preeclampsia and had no breastmilk

by Jennifer
(Canada)

I felt breast changes during pregnancy, I bought the nursing bras, the nursing pads, the breast milk freezer bags. I was so excited to try breastfeeding. But at 36 weeks I developed preeclampsia and was put on bed rest for two weeks until I had to have a c section.


I never experienced labor, my daughter was born two weeks early and due to her small size(5lbs 8)and the epidural she was sleepy.

After my section I didn't see her for over an hour, which is the best time to start breastfeeding.

When I did finally try, she was forced onto me by a rather rough nurse.

My milk supposedly came in and they weighed her before and after a feeding and said she drank 4 oz. I was elated!

But from then on nothing. I tried every position, they checked her mouth, her latching, I saw the lactation consultants.

They brought in the pump and still nothing. I tried hand compression, barely a thing. We hadn't even left the hospital and she had dropped to 4lbs 11oz and we could see her fontanels on her head.

At home, I still had no milk, my pump only produced 1oz between both breasts. I tried two herbs and a prescription with very minimal improvement.

My lactation consultant eventually advised us to supplement with formula because she was worried about her development. But, not with a bottle, because God forbid she get nipple confusion.

So I had to do two separate feedings, one with breast milk, one with formula so we knew she was getting all the breast milk (which was usually less than an oz). It was put in a syringe attached to a tube taped to my finger, and she would suck on my finger to eat.

Unfortunately the milk came so fast down the tube that when put to breast, she would get frustrated and pull away constantly and cry.

After about six weeks of feeding her like this I decided to go on birth control, but wanted one that would be safe while "breastfeeding". I was told it was safe, but would decrease my supply.

That was the last straw, and I stopped the pumping and breastfeeding and syringe feeding that day.

She gulped her formula from a bottle and it was the most beautiful thing I'd seen in a long time. My baby had a full belly.

I don't know why my milk never really came in, I didn't even become engorged when I stopped. No one had any answers, it just makes you feel like some way some how it's all your fault.

I tried literally everything, but I still feel guilty that I could've done more or done things differently.

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Apr 22, 2014
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My heart goes out to you
by: Christie

As a mom that experienced the same thing with hardly any milk being produced, I really feel your pain.

The doctors and nurses make it sound like everyone should be able to produce and clearly that is not the case. They need to be more empathetic to those of us who really want this and let us know it is not our fault and that we have done nothing wrong.

The most important thing is that our kids our eating and thriving finally when we begin supplementing.

I think that there really needs to be more research and understanding for moms that experience this so that we can enjoy our babies instead of fretting about not being able to provide the "best" for them, which in our case is providing them nutrients to help them be satisfied and flourish!

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not the only one with this problem

by Kayla
(Arkansas)

Let me just say how grateful and happy I am to read that I'm not the only one!

During my first pregnancy, my breasts didn't swell or even change cupsize. Nothing was going on in the boob department.

Even after delivery I tried to pump, to get him to nurse, I even made the demand high and nothing.

I got criticized from all directions, including doctors. Depressing to say the least. Now that I'm 6 months pregnant with my second child, I'm experiencing the same exact problem.. and I'm feeling very inadequate as a mother.

I can't even supply my child of nourishment. My husband tries to be supportive, and he really is. But some things he says makes me feel just as inadequate.

Like well what did women back in the day do?? I don't know I just felt alone. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with this problem. A woman can only endure so much.

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Oct 17, 2012
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I had low supply too
by: Michelle

Thank you for sharing. Your comments make me feel not so alone too. My son was losing weight when I just breast fed.

I was devastated. I breast fed with an SNS (a tube that was taped to my nipple to top up with formula) and I expressed between feeds to increase my supply but nothing worked. After 12 long weeks I gave up and moved on to bottle feeding.

I have since done much research into what could have gone wrong and have put every thing into a plan that I intend to use when I get pregnant with no. 2 which we are now trying for.

I feel confident that I will make more milk next time. I would love to share my info with you. Please feel free to e-mail me [email protected] if interested. If breast feeding doesn't work second time around, I will at least have peace that I tried my best.

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Heart-broken, broken boobs but don't know why.

I will always mourn that I will never know what that is like :( to exclusively feed a baby with my own breast milk. I am on my second and both times I produce only drops of milk and no one can tell me why.

I am so sick of reading about 'how rare it is' it makes me feel like a freak of nature. My breasts look completely normal, my thyroid is normal. I've seen doctors, lactation specialists, done EVERYTHING to see if my supply could be increased and there's no effect.

It makes me angry that no one can tell me why this is happening. I don't know why but I just want to know why they don't work. I feel like not knowing why adds to the frustration because when I say I've tried everything and I can't make milk the first thing people respond with is "Well have you tried...' YES, YES I HAVE.

I have tried all the tips, pills, herbs, pumps, lactation teas/cookies, feeding every hour all hour, I HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING. Just leave me alone and accept my diagnosis. How can I come to terms with this when no one will even believe me until I explain my story in full.

Even worse my baby was 'nursing' before her bottlefeeds so that we could at least simulate that relationship...but now that she is 4 months old she's figured out that it is pointless and just wants to go straight to the bottle.

So now she just screams when I try to 'breastfeed' even if I give her some food first, try when she is sleepy. I tried finding information on nursing strikes but it's all geared to women that actually have a milk supply...there's no information on ending a nursing strike for women like me who are incapable of producing even a third of my baby's needs.

Anyway, I am so heart broken. I just don't understand why I'm broken this way. WHy can't I do this when I want to so badly?!?! Everything else in life I can achieve if I just work really hard...but this is the one exception. I can't do anything about it. Thanks for reading my rant.

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May 15, 2015
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I am in the same boat
by: Anonymous

I too had milk supply issues with my son. I had only planned on breast feeding and it was devastating when it didn't work out.

I too was pumping at every opportunity and taking all the supplements but nothing helped. Rather than a bottle, I actually breast fed with a supplemental nursing system which is a bottle with a tube taped to my nipple so that baby is getting topped up with formula at the breast and not getting frustrated at the lack of supply. At the time, I felt like a freak doing it - like I needed a prosthetic breast to breast feed. So when my son was 3 months, I changed to bottle feeding.

I read a book called 'a breastfeeding mothers guide to making more milk' which I cannot recommend highly enough'. Not only is it full of useful advice for mothers in our situation, it really does make you feel not so alone as it genuinely accepts this as an actual condition and relays stories of other women in our situation. I then felt ready to move on to try again with baby number two and was proud of my efforts with my son and told myself this time I would SNS feed right up until baby was ready to wean - only now it's been four years of trying and 10 IVF attempts and I can't produce baby number two.

I really just want the breast feeding experience without the devastation I associated with it first time around and don't know that I will get the opportunity again. So I totally understand and just want to say you are not alone.

May 21, 2015
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Love your way
by: Lisa

Hun, there are some mums that no matter how hard they try can't breastfeed, please stop beating your self up over it, you carried your dear child for 10 months, breastfeeding isn't everything you are nurturing your child and at the end of the day that is what is important

Jul 21, 2015
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Feeling your pain
by: Anonymous

I still have tears in my eyes reading this because I am where you were.

This is my second child and I just don't or can't produce enough milk to satisfy her.

It sounds silly saying it aloud. My head knows that she'll be content with formula but my heart is just breaking.

She'll nurse and at least this time I have a letdown. I never letdown with my son. But she'll always look for more and cry afterwards.

I did have a breast augmentation under the muscle and I'm always blaming the surgery, but most sites will tell you the mammary tissue is still there.

In the hospital my baby gained weight from nursing and and I was so glad to have a chance, but it was false hope.

I wish there was an answer for us. I wish I didn't care but I do. I wish I could pump for weeks and have a bank, but I can't.

So I'm stuck spending money on powered formula.
I know how it feels. I know since it's my second attempt, it will hurt less over time, but I am never putting myself through this again.

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Share your can't breastfeed story

by Rebecca
(Australia)

Hi everyone,

It has been very humbling to read what you have all shared. I am currently writing a book called "don't be bullied in to breastfeeding" and am up to the chapter about women who can't breastfeed... If anyone would like to share their story in my book it would be a pleasure to get it out there so other women don't feel so alone and the ones who do critisize might learn to be less judgemental. Please get back to me on [email protected]

Thank you :)

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Breast feeding struggles

by RR
(De)

I'm so happy to have found these comments. I'm a new mom who was also set on breast feeding. But I developed gestational diabetes during my pregnancy (despite no usual risk factors!), had a planned induction as per OB
which ended with C-section and then on top of it all, baby was separated from me, placed in NICU and given formula as I was producing no milk.

I too am sick of all this online info that says apparently, new mom's milk just flows like a fountain - this has not been my experience at all. It took 1 week of pumping around the clock every 2-3 hrs just to get my milk going and now it is at a stand still as I can only produce max 200 ml/day despite hours of pumping with a hospital grade pump.

My baby also won't latch because the let down is so poor and I was told no need to try latching until the milk is flowing more readily (although I'm not sure that was such good advice).

I am seriously considering stopping completely but it makes me so sad given that my milk production seems to be the issue as opposed to lack of trying so I had no chance right off the bat. But as I read similar stories, I do feel encouraged that I'm not alone. Thank you for sharing your struggles.

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This is the one and only place I have found others like me.

by Brandice
(Milwaukee)

It is all true. When milk production was a problem for me La Leche and lactation consultants couldn't help.

Domperidome didn't help. More milk plus....fenugreek....I tried it all. I went to the internet to seek information or support-zilch. I only saw women on breastfeeding forums saying that the woman with low production without medical issues just simply weren't trying enough.

I stumbled across this website today after learning my co-worker who just delivered a few weeks ago has the opposite problem, and her milk is coming out like a fire hose. That made me remember how terrible I felt about myself and my new role as a mother when I couldn't feed my daughter.

I would pump every two hours and I never got more than a few teaspoons. My daughter lost so much weight we went to supplementing, but after 2 1/2 months and me returning to work, I stopped trying entirely.

I mentioned to my OB how I didn't notice any breast growth during my pregnancy, but he assured me, as well as the nurses at the hospital, that my milk would come in. It never did. I still feel awful, she had a great latch from the get go.

On the upside, my daughter is almost eight months and extremely healthy. She is quite the porker now at that. I am hoping next time breastfeeding works for me, but I have learned not to beat myself up about it. I wish there was more information to be found on this subject, but I am very glad I found this site.

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its not the end of the world

by sads
(Pakistan)

I felt the same when i had my first child. I was under depression with my breast-feeding issue over 6mnths.

People got shocked at my bottle feeding my child, even my gynecologist thought i was doing something terrible...

my son is 16 months old now a healthy baby who loves his formula and food... its all that matters...

so mothers who are unable to breastfeed...give yourself a break!

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On not being able to breastfeed...

by Yvette

I find it is very insensitive and tactless for people to insist that there is no such thing as a woman who can't breastfeed. I felt like a complete failure after my first baby could not get enough breast milk to gain weight. So with my second child, I was determined to succeed. After two months, I was not meeting my baby's demand for milk and was exhausted from pumping milk nearly round the clock.

I had chosen a pro-breastfeeding pediatrician who advocated for mother's milk only for the baby's first year. On my baby's third month, however, he asked me to relax, supplement my milk with formula and enjoy my baby. I am so grateful to him for letting me off the guilt trip. The bond with each of my four children has everything to do with our intense love for each other and the countless hours spent, not just feeding them, but looking out for them, cuddling them, spoiling them, disciplining them, and being their unconditional, eternal #1 fan.

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It's not the most natural thing in the world.

I absolutely cannot stand all the posts on Facebook and forums that ridicule and criticize all moms that formula feed.

I tried and tried for 8 weeks. If I wasn't Breastfeeding I was pumping. It took over my life to the point I could not even enjoy my own daughter.

I ultimately had to start supplementing her at 2 weeks because she had lost too much weight. I was so depressed and down on myself.

The day I gave her her first bottle of formula I cried because I knew I had failed her and also because it was so good to see her guzzle down food. She was so hungry.

The most I ever pumped from both breasts in a day was an ounce. Maybe it had something to do with a c section and not having my child latch for 2 days because of being in the nicu.

The birth was traumatic for both. But regardless to all those women who are pro Breastfeeding, before you try to preach to the women who formula feed, stop for a minute and think, maybe it wasn't because the mom was lazy or took the easy road. Maybe just maybe it was an actual problem that the mom agonized over, became depressed about, cried every night about.

Now I have a healthy happy 9 month old and on my next child I will try and try but I will not agonize over it.

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Medical Condition - IGT

Inability to breastfeed is a very real medical condition called insufficient glandular tissue.

It simply means that at some point, either during puberty or during pregnancy, the majority of the tissue that formed in the breast was not the type that produces milk.

There are several possible causes for this condition, often hormonal and/or hereditary. In my case, my great-grandmother and grandmother seem to have suffered from the same condition. However, it took years of struggle and shame for me to find the real answer to the problems.

My first child was born with a cleft lip and palate. He could only feed using a special bottle. Even under these circumstances, I was made to feel like a terrible person because I was unable to pump enough milk to support him.

Three years later when my second child was born, I spent six weeks agonizing, trying to feed her, with her gaining very little weight and suffering from jaundice due to malnutrition. We made daily trips to the hospital for blood tests and had to hold her on a special light for hours every day. Nobody ever told me all I needed to do was formula feed to fix all of the problems and that nothing was wrong with this decision.

To this day, now that my children are ages 6 and 3, friends post articles and have conversations about the importance of breastfeeding, right for women to breastfeed in public, tragedy of women who give up on the "right choice" for their babies, and I still feel slightly depressed and like less of a woman and mother. I have to keep reminding myself that the "right choice" for my children was nutrition rather than starvation!

We need to join together with resources like this website and get the word out. Having a baby and watching your child feed should be a joyous experience rather than months of torture. I feel like I was robbed of beautiful experiences during the first few weeks of my children's lives due to depression over this issue.

Lactation consultants should be trained to help women with this condition accept what is happening and enjoy the experience of being a mother rather than contributing to their negative self-image at a time when depression is already more likely to occur for a woman with or without this problem.

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