Moms Who Can't Breastfeed
These are mothers that have tried everything, they have attempted to get help and
have not been able to breastfeed. There is not enough support out
there for them, and they feel terribly isolated because of this. If this sounds like you, then I hope that
you will find some sort of encouragement from knowing that you are not the
I was ridiculed by my own family
searched the web for anybody who has had a similar dilemma as myself
and could not find a single article, etc.
throughout my pregnancy (first pregnancy) I realized that my breasts
were not swollen, but didn’t fret a great deal about it. What does a
first-time mommy know? All I knew was that I couldn’t wait to experience
holding him and breastfeeding him for the first time.
doctor and nurses reassured me a day after he was born that my milk
would start coming in after the third day, so I waited, but nothing happened! The
worst part was everybody was still expecting me to breastfeed my
child, saying "there was no such thing as women who cannot breastfeed or who don't have milk."
I can remember lying on the
hospital bed crying through the night with my baby, he was terribly hungry, and
every time I called a nurse to help they would bring me 40ml of formula
milk. I tried breastfeeding for two whole months, but he stayed hungry, so I had to start feeding him formula in combination with trying to breastfeed him.
asked the doctor for help, and she put me on tablets, tablets that would
help me produce milk. Later I started using the pump to see how much
milk was, in fact, coming out, the most milk I could get out in a day was
about 100ml. After about three months of trying I stopped entirely. I
was depressed about this, but my husband made me feel better by saying
that it was best if I instead stopped worrying about it and just begin
feeding him formula.
I was ridiculed by my own family, told
how unhealthy it was to stop breastfeeding, even though they knew how I
had struggled. Even our pediatrician when he asked if my baby was still
being breastfed said that most mothers give up too fast! I felt
terrible…I felt like there was something wrong with me.
feel that there should be more info out there for moms, especially first-time moms who feel insecure and who don’t know what to do, how to do
things properly, etc. I want to have another child, but I can’t bare going
through the same thing again. For me, breastfeeding is essential, and I think that it really does help a lot for bonding with your child
because I felt very distant towards my baby in the beginning.
can’t imagine being able to breastfeed and then deciding not to. It’s
such a precious gift that most people just take for granted.
Some women just can't breastfeed
"I had exactly the same issue. No one wanted to
tell me that some women just cant breastfeed. To this day I still
wonder why breastfeeding is thought of as a perfect function, why it
seems to be exempt from the complications that any biological function
may suffer. Life is not that simple. There is a reason for wet nurses
and formula beyond a stereotypical excuse like convenience. I believe
that some women just cannot produce breast milk. Whether it be hormonal
or genetic, it is a reality that for whatever reason has been
downplayed and ignored by the majority of the medical community. It is
sad really. To make a woman feel like less than a woman or mother
because her breasts simply won't fill with milk is ignorant and abusive.
I wish that someone would dedicate more time, money and research into
I refuse to let someone make me feel guilty
“I don't typically comment related to
anything I find on the internet, but I feel this article is critical. I too experienced trying to feed my son for 6 weeks without
supplementing with formula. I was pumping in between feedings to attempt
to increase my supply and nothing. The most I ever got from both breasts was about 1 ounce. One breast was producing almost nothing. When I
decided to switch to formula and saw my constantly crying baby suck down
bottle after bottle finally getting fed it was a huge relief, and I
never looked back.
After my second son was born I never even
considered breastfeeding. The first experience of angst about not being
able to produce was enough for me. Everyone made me feel like it was
about my technique, but I spent hours upon hours trying everything I
could think of and working with a lactation consultant for a month. When
the nurses started giving me looks after my second son was born about
my choice to formula feed I made a declaration to all of the hospital
staff treating my disapproving family and me that this was my choice and
if they wanted to choose how to feed a baby they were welcome to have
one. No one asked any more questions after that. I'm all for education, but I refuse to let someone make me feel guilty about a decision I
believe I am making in the best interest of my child."
There seems to be no help out there.
“I had the same problem. I could
only pump about 1-2 tbsp a day. I pumped and pumped every day for
several weeks. But I finally gave up. I couldn't stand trying to get her
to breastfeed her sucking a little and then screaming. She wasn't
getting anything!! I was SO depressed and mad at myself over it. I
thought what kind of mother can't make milk for her baby. I took herbs
and drank herbal tea that was supposed to help. But I really couldn't
find any information or help on the subject online or from my doctor. He
said formula fed babies can be just as healthy. I don't think he
realized the emotional effect of it all! I just remember my first month
or so with my little girl as a horrible, depressed and miserable time. I'm
pregnant again now. I hope I can keep from feeling that same way again. I
have a different outlook on it now. My daughter is one of the
healthiest kids I've ever seen. I have no pump this time. And I'm not
going to buy one. I'm just going to try a week or two and if it doesn't
work, formula will! I do wish I could find some info on what could've
caused it. But there seems to be no help out there.
Some moms don’t choose formula
After being so depressed to have to feed my
baby formula, I was searching for any support group or forum that would
make me feel a little better and less depressed. Surprisingly many sites that support breastfeeding and cheer for successful moms,
but absolutely none for moms who REALLY wanted to breastfeed but they
I had difficulty with both my sons and I cannot
believe what a terrible feeling it is to fail in breastfeeding. As
someone mentioned here, you would feel like less of a woman. I wish
there were something to calm down new sleep-deprived moms whose bodies
are in pain because of latching positions and instead of "15 minutes" at
each breast, they spend hours awake to feed their baby.
newborn would drink a whole 2 oz bottle after being at my breasts for
more than 90 minutes. I gave up at month 4 with my first son and at day 7
with my second because I had a 3-year-old who also needed my attention
and I could not sit there for long hours with tubes and all other kinds
of BF accessories to help with breastfeeding.
Go, girls. I wish
people knew that some moms don’t choose formula because of their own
convenience but just to feed a crying hungry, frustrated baby."
The primary goal was to feed her
"I believe feeding Jason educated me one of my
first lessons of motherhood: no matter how much I want what is best for
my child, I can't always make it happen. And it's so annoying! Coming
into this, I wanted to breastfeed her. I'm not sure why my heart was so
set on that, but it was something that I was extremely determined to do.
After watching her lose so much weight, having a doctor suggest supplementing with formula, crying over dry diapers and worrying that she was dehydrated, I had to face the reality that I would not be able to do what I wanted. At least not exclusively. I also had a representative of the local La Leche League tell me that the primary goal was to feed her, rather than to cling so firmly to my own preferences.
was tough because it made me face the fact that, although I am firmly convinced that she would get the most nutritional help from me, I can't
give her that. I'm getting there, with the help of every wet and soiled
diaper, the plump tiny cheeks and double chin, and every content sigh
she makes when I lay her down after giving her a bottle. It's not what I
had planned, but she seems to be blossoming now . . .
think most people won't actually understand or care about this problem,
but it has been overwhelming my life for the last couple of months."
It doesn’t always work out that way
“I gave birth 3 months ago and wanted to
breastfeed exclusively. I did not buy a bottle or formula and brought my
baby home. After a week I realized that my baby was not gaining any
weight and that I was only producing about 6 ounces a day. I worked with
lactation consultants to increase my supply and went on drugs to
increase my supply. I felt so guilty when I finally had to give my baby
formula. I’m still using an SNS system to stimulate milk production, but
my body just doesn’t seem to want to produce milk.
got any support and everything online always gives the impression that
if you want to breastfeed, you can…but it doesn’t always work out that
way. I feel like I am the only one with this problem."
Pregnant again but unsure what I’ll try
"I tried to breastfeed and made myself crazy. I tried Fenugreek, which gave me migraines - realizing the side effect years later using it for something else.
I pumped 7 ml’s per bilateral pumping and 70 ml a day. Pumping 10 x a day was not helpful. I supplemented early on because of jaundice and multiple other risk factors.
I cried more volume in tears than milk I made and eventually dwindled down to 40 ml per day. I got my period at 6 weeks as evidenced by it following every month after. I decided I was done at that point.
It was a relief to stop. Stopping was what needed to be done for my sanity and our bonding. I respect those mothers who continued attempting despite similar volumes being pumped.
My 4 year old formula-fed baby has never been to the Dr. for sickness only well-baby check-ups. He didn’t smell formula-fed - my weird pre-failure fear.
I bought formula I felt comfortable with and put my research into that. In reflection and looking forward to my next pregnancy I’ll probably try 2 weeks and call it. The colostrum may be the only gift I can still give and that’s worth the effort to me."
Should I have tried harder?
"My daughter is now three months old, and I love her more than I ever knew possible. I wanted to breastfeed - it was always my plan, but part of me knew that it might not be achievable.
During puberty, my breasts never seemed to develop fully. I was a size 12 (UK size) but barely filling an AA bra. I felt so out of proportion, and I was very insecure, so-much-so that I got a breast enlargement.
I’m kicking myself that I never went to the doctors beforehand to have my breasts or lack thereof, examined. When my daughter was born, I breastfed her, but she lost far too much weight. The midwife told me if she lost any more, then she would have to be hospitalized.
I was told I needed to breastfeed, then express, and top up with formula. I did as I was told but I was producing less than an ounce pumping at least eight times a day. Then I got mastitis. I wasn’t in a lot of pain, but my breasts were hot to the touch and had red patches on them. My nipples were also incredibly sore - I was exhausted.
When I went to the midwife to be examined, I told her that I was going to stop breastfeeding. She made me feel even worse by telling me that it felt like there was a lot of milk and that it was a shame I was drying up.
I just didn’t want to starve my baby. I never engorged, which led me to believe there wasn’t any milk there. My daughter is exclusively formula-fed now and is happy, but I often get comments on how big she is, and I worry it’s because she’s formula-fed.
Maybe I should have tried for longer and done more to increase my supply, but I was so fatigued, and it seemed futile. I still feel guilty about it now. If I were to have another baby, maybe I would try again, but I don’t know if it would be different. There should be more support for women like us. I feel like such a failure and a bad mum."
Pumping sucks. Literally.
"I was told to pump 8 times or more a day by the IBCLC. I don't think she fully appreciated what a full-on task it was.
I tried my best, but my house suffered, my marriage suffered, my baby suffered, and my energy suffered. It's not practical I wish they wouldn't push pumping on mums who can't BF as it only draws out the grieving process (and yes it is grief) over being unable to breastfeed.
So to answer your question, you tried your hardest. You couldn't have done any more."
I tried everything
"Years ago I tried everything including pumping and was not able to breastfeed.
My daughter just had her first baby, so, after a lot of research she would breastfeed and pump in between to try to increase her supply.
We used a powerful pump, and after one month and less than 1oz a day, she decided to bottle feed and add what little she gets with pumping to the formula. So as all of you discovered, some people do not produce enough no matter what they do. I felt guilty for 33 years. No more, thanks for the post!"
No one replied to my pleas for help...
by Denise (Ireland)
"I was devastated when it came to the time to give up on trying to breastfeed. When I first had my son, I was told my nipples were too small, so I was given a breast pump and left to my devices.
I came home with the pump and no one replied to my pleas for help. I still get upset now as I feel that I've let Max down.
My heart was set on giving him the best start. I have written to the hospital board and explained my complaint as I don't want another mom to go through what I have. I'm glad to see I'm not alone. Thank you for putting up this site."
Why can't I breastfeed? - The wishing to breastfeed does not go away
by Sarah (Baltimore)
"I stumbled across this web page through a google search and wanted to leave my story in hopes that it may provide some help for another mom.
Upon my request, I was able to naturally deliver my second daughter at 39 weeks. She weighed 7lbs 7ozs. I had breastfed my first daughter exclusively for six months and then on and off until she was 2.
I was excited at the thought of being able to establish this bond with my second daughter. My breast milk came in late with my first daughter (around 5-6 days after birth).
When I was in the hospital with my second daughter, my milk did not come in. Hoping it would help, I began to pump. At the suggestion of a lactation consultant, I pumped 8-10 times a day for 20 minutes on both sides. I tried to think of relaxing things while I pumped. I still got nothing. No milk, no colostrum...nothing. I was so frustrated.
The lactation consultant suggested we begin using a Haberman feeder with my second daughter. Meanwhile, she has lost weight close to 1 lb. And seemed very sleepy. Because of this development, we upped the amount of formula we were giving her. I continued to pump and tried to breastfeed, but still no milk.
I was not satisfied with the reaction from my OB, so I decided to get a second opinion. I start taking Reglan and continued to pump and tried to breastfeed. After two weeks, nothing. I was so depressed.
My OB orders bloodwork, they test my thyroid levels, cortisone levels, prolactin levels and order an MRI. All results come back normal; the prolactin levels are so low that it doesn't seem to register that I delivered a baby less than two months ago. By this point, I am so sad. It looks like I will not be able to have that special breastfeeding bond with my second daughter.
Meanwhile, she's had an allergic reaction to the organic formula she's been on and is starting to excrete blood in her diaper. We switch her to a hypoallergenic formula, and this extinguishes the problem. Meantime, I feel awful. I want to give her the best food possible, but I can't.
Will I have a special bond with my second as I did with my first? Five months later, I am still struggling with this question. I wanted to share my story with other women in hopes that it may help someone out there. My body refused to produce breast milk. I still don't know why, but it did. I am again picking up the pieces as I move forward in life. I find myself judging myself way harsher than I probably should.
The wishing to breastfeed does not go away, and I find myself jealous of new moms who can do this. I'm hoping my self worth issues and depression about this will get better in time because I would hate to miss out on life with my second daughter."
After 4 babies I finally realized that I have a low milk supply
by Kyla (British Columbia, Canada)
"A mother of 6 babies raised me. She had, as I would describe, a better than average breastfeeding experience. The same goes for my two sisters. So when I gave birth to my first son, I assumed things would be smooth. No one ever told me about having nipples that were too small or not producing enough milk. I was terrified. With him, there were other factors such as extreme jaundice and I was struggling with major infections postpartum so I attributed my milk supply to those. But after months of pumping after every feeding, using a nipple shield for latching and prescriptions, nothing made a difference.
Baby number 2 starting refusing my breast from the start, my nipple was still too small and areola still too big. I cried and cried. We had a screaming baby for weeks, and I would pump when she wouldn't latch and get no more than 1 oz. I felt defeated again.
The 3rd baby came, she latched! I had so much joy. Now all my problems would be solved. It did not go that way, after weeks of refusing the breast like my second and weight loss, I gave up when she was six weeks old. I knew all the tips and tricks, the dos and don'ts. Everyone would try to give advice, and I would say "Trust me, I've tried." My mom would spend the first week or so with me, begging me to stop because it was excessive. She saw my struggles.
My 4th baby was similar, he was so patient, and I was determined again, but when he started following the same pattern, no weight gain, nursing for hours at a time for weeks, I gave up for the last time. So many tears have been shed, my husband and other children see me breaking down because all I wanted was to breastfeed.
I feel damaged on a psychological level because of my experiences. Every baby is different, and every breast is different. Every mom wants the best for her baby! Every mom also knows her limit, and I couldn't function on that level of stress on a daily basis. No women can!
You're not alone in this. I still hurt watching other mothers breastfeed. My sister had her first baby recently and has gone through a similar experience to mine, and I was glad I could give her support and reassurance that she is still an amazing mom and her baby will always love her."
Refused my breasts due to nipple confusion
"My son is 15 weeks now and on a combination feed. Like most mothers here I always wanted to exclusively breastfeed my son. I just assumed it would be the most natural process and never imagined otherwise.
I had no milk for the first three days, and my son was just continually crying. I persisted in having him latching on in spite of terribly sore nipples.
At one point my son was taking in blood from my nipples, that's when my doctor advised me to give him some formula as a temporary solution until I started producing some milk. I did just that, and my baby was happy.
I started to work on getting my supply going by pumping and finally I managed some milk but still not enough to satisfy him completely. So I would keep supplementing him with formula.
All was going well until the 12th week when my son started to completely refuse my breasts due to nipple confusion. I was making a good amount of milk, but he got so used to the easy flow of the bottle that he wouldn't breastfeed. I had to stop giving him the bottle completely, and he started losing weight.
I was a nervous wreck. That's when I discovered the SNS, and it has been genuinely working wonders for me so far.
Like most women here I too really feel we need to be made more aware of the complications of breastfeeding and that it may not always work.
Formula should not be considered a taboo as convenience may not be the only reason to choose it. Also, websites along with encouraging to breastfeed, giving various methods to increase supply, should have a P.S. at the bottom saying that it's okay if none of the above work for you and you may need to resort to using formula.
To all mothers out there, please remember that the priority is a Happy and Healthy Baby."
Unable to Breastfeed
by Alexandra (Las Vegas)
"So happy to have found this. A year after having my son it still hurts to know I was unable to breastfeed.
I cringe every time I hear or read something negative about moms who don't breastfeed. I wish there were more articles or research on this issue.
This support forum feels like a huge sigh of relief :) As mothers, we should support each other.
We All feel insecure in our role as mothers at some point or most of the time. Anyone who picks on a mom who is unable to breastfeed is just trying to ease their insecurities. Before becoming a mother, I had a great deal of expectation in my head of what it was all about (It was something like perfection.) And you know what, just like everything else in this world it's full of ups and downs.
It's time to forgive myself for the things I can't change. :) love and healing to everyone out there <3"
I was mentally and physically unable to continue breastfeeding
"The truth of it is, I drove myself to the edge of a nervous breakdown trying to breastfeed a premature baby with a tongue tie and failing, then topping up with formula, then pumping, then sterilizing, then changing.
They told me to wake her every 2 hours for a feed, and each time I failed, I had to go through the breastfeed fail, top-up, express, sterilize.
This 2-hour cycle was taking me 3 hours. I did not sleep at all for days on end. I know it is the same for everyone, but I guess I had an adverse reaction to the love of my life being born early and I ended up being diagnosed with postnatal depression and I was on antidepressants.
When the tongue tie was snipped, the nurse told me I would have to work even harder than I had been already to establish breastfeeding. And yes, at that point I gave up. I was mentally and physically unable to continue.
I can't even use the most accepted reason for low supply. Society has genuinely made me feel like a failure in this respect, and it makes me sadder than I can put into words as I suffered from infertility and was only able to conceive my darling by IVF."
I feel your pain
"I felt so touched by your stories I just had to reply. I gave birth to my son and expected to breastfeed. I had tremendous stress just days into his delivery which I think is the reason I had low milk supply.
My baby was losing weight when I breastfed. I used an SNS (a bottle that I filled with formula and it had a tube that was taped to my nipple) to supplement my baby with formula while I breastfed. It was a significant effort, feeding, trying to get my nipple and the tube in baby's mouth in the right position, sterilizing the SNS, and preparing for the next feed.
I felt like a failure - like I needed a prosthetic breast to feed him. I was embarrassed to do this in public and after 12 weeks, went to bottle feeding.
I felt I had missed out on a part of motherhood and wanted to try for a second baby straight away so I could have this bonding experience I missed out on. I suffered infertility and could not conceive a second child. I am now going through IVF round 2 but don't know if it will be a disaster like the first round."
Unable to produce enough milk
"Thanks, everyone. I also have been unable to produce enough milk and have been feeling horrible about it. I have tried to breastfeed my son and most recently my daughter.
The kids were tongue-tied and the latch was painful until it was corrected.
I gave birth to my daughter by c-section in the middle of a power outage and a state of emergency.
It was hours before I could breastfeed and then her tongue was tied and the hospital wouldn't correct it, so I waited until discharge and got an appointment with the pediatrician who clipped her tongue.
Manual pumping to try to build supply was not very fruitful - at two weeks she has lost weight and I am devastated at the thought of not breastfeeding, but I would breastfeed for 2 hrs and still, she would take two to three ounces of supplement - I have a three-year-old as well.
The Dr has been the nicest about it. My family not so much so. I haven't told them how much it upsets me. But you won't have my daughter losing weight.
I forgot to mention she has thrush too as upset as I am over it I am not going to keep struggling to pump a dwindling supply of milk worrying about it forever - this sure has helped tremendously. I have healthy happy children and this is just one of the disappointments in life."
Guilt for not being able to breastfeed...
"I felt and in some ways still, feel a sense of guilt for not being able to breastfeed my first child. I was living in a very stressful situation when I gave birth.
I could not produce enough breast milk, only 1-2 ounces per feed, even though I pumped all the time for weeks and took herbal supplements, some part of me still feels I did not do enough. It's like a dark area for mothers, and the emphasis is on trying harder and the presumption that you are not doing enough if you cannot increase your milk supply.
My postnatal midwife was great, saying worrying about increasing milk and spending a lot of time doing this and being stressed was not what being a mother is about. I still worry even though my son is healthy and alert that I did not give him the best start and whether we will be close when he is older, even though I feel a deep bond with him."
Guilt and the decision to not breastfeed
by Mama (Michigan)
"I felt the same way regarding the guilt that I put myself through, and others did as well.
I felt like I was driving myself to the point of lunacy. And for what? Some silly milk. I think my daughter appreciates having a completely sane mother over some breast milk.
I do think that there is a difference in breast milk and formula, of course! The research is there. But I don't think its as big of a deal as people make it out to be.
When I changed to formula and felt these feelings, a friend of mine said 'Hon, it's not like you're starving her.' And that's right. Baby is eating and is healthy and happy, and so am I!
I struggled for three weeks. And no one could help me. No one helped me at the hospital, two nurses and a lactation consultant visited me, and it was just unhelpful in the end. I'm happy I decided to not breastfeed in the end, and I certainly would not try again!"
I had no idea what to do
by Jayna (Michigan)
I gave birth to my son five weeks ago today and through the entire pregnancy could not wait to breastfeed my baby.
When the time came, and he was born, he latched on immediately at the hospital for the first time, and I could not have been happier.
Then came the next feeding at the hospital and he latched on for a minute and then screamed and screamed and refused to latch on again.
I asked a nurse for help who tried a couple of positions with me (none of which took) and then said I should change his diaper and try again and left the room with no intention of returning.
I was left in a room with my screaming baby as a first time mom I had no idea what to do but keep trying.
The horrible guilt set in at that moment when I was unable to provide for my baby, and he was screaming in hunger.
I tried and tried, and he refused to latch, spending hours with him at my breast screaming, but I was determined that this was going to work out. We took him home the next day, and I sat on our couch with him for an entire day working with him on breastfeeding, he still would not take to the breast.
At this point I had no idea what to do, all I knew is that my baby was starving and I could not provide any milk. I attempted to pump and found I was barely producing any milk for him.
Eventually, I broke down and gave him some formula, and he gobbled it down and fell right to sleep satisfied. So I thought I would supplement with formula and keep working on breastfeeding, but he never took, spending all his time at the breast screaming his little lungs out for hours.
The guilt was overwhelming at the time, and I would sit and cry. I attempted to look for support online, but everything made me feel worse, with sites telling me I am just lazy and won't work hard enough at it, making me feel even more less of a mom.
I am happy to have found this site. Today I have decided to stop attempting to breastfeed.
My milk supply is so low that I can't even produce 1 oz and I return to work in 2 weeks. My baby is healthy and thriving. He has been gaining weight as he should and is a happy baby boy :)
I realized that all I can ask for, and even though the guilt is still there, I have accepted the fact that breastfeeding did not work for me with this child and that I was formula fed as a baby and I am as healthy as I can be so why can't my son?
If you are having problems with breastfeeding or are unable to please don't let the guilt and depression cloud and consume those precious moments with your baby.
I was not able to enjoy some of those moments, and I regret that. The most important thing is that your baby is being fed, growing and happy."
Mothers who are unable to produce milk
by Jessica LaBounty (Springfield, MO)
"I was thrilled to find this site. I had these same issues. Nursing my daughter was very important to me.
When I was pregnant, my breasts never got any bigger. After having my daughter, I was never engorged. I pumped every 1-2 hours; I saw a lactation consultant, I took herbs, and even reached out to my doctor and received a prescription. Nothing worked. I would only pump about 4 oz per day.
After three weeks of trying and getting less and less milk each day I pumped, I finally switched to all formula.
I was heartbroken. I still feel like my daughter and I are missing out on so much together.
There is a lot of support for nursing mothers and those who choose formula, but none for mothers who are unable to produce milk. Reading about other moms who have had the same problems I've had, helps."
Support for mothers unable to produce milk
I too felt like I missed out on a part of motherhood when I couldn't breastfeed. I went through pregnancy just assuming I would breastfeed and wondering why anyone would choose formula. For three months I pumped at every spare minute, took supplements and a prescription pill. I also used an SNS to feed my baby formula through a tube in the corner of his mouth while I breastfeed to try and encourage my supply. Nothing worked.
At the time I was devastated by my situation, and while of course, I would rather have enjoyed that relationship, I have to say that now I am proud of my efforts. We are currently trying for baby number two, and this time if I have a low supply again, I am planning on SNS feeding until the baby is one year old until the baby is getting enough nutrition from food so that I can dump the SNS and enjoy a year of just breastfeeding with my limited supply.
I just wanted to share because I know how nice it felt for me to read other low milk supply stories and not feel alone. I had never heard of not being able to make enough milk to feed your baby until it happened to me.
You are all amazing mothers. You have put in so much more effort in the first few weeks of your babies' lives than others have to whom breastfeeding came easily."
I didn't produce a single drop either.
"My breasts did not change at all during pregnancy ( Have been the same sine I was 14/15). No nipple change - didn't grow a single bit and didn't leak. They didn't even ache. At all!
When my son was born, I produced the smallest drop of colostrum, and they swelled up for a few hours. Still no milk. At all.
I tried and tried with my son to see if I could get my supply going but no luck. I had to use formula or my son would have starved.
What didn't help me was having a mother-in-law have a baby six months before me (her 5th baby) and she was exclusively breastfeeding that baby.
Comments aimed at me about how she doesn't have to bother with the hassle of bottles or even getting out of bed in the night, the health benefits of the child, how it's the perfect way to bond, etc.
Just what I needed, I didn't CHOOSE to bottle feed. I had NO CHOICE. I was bottle-fed, by my mother's choice. What's the big deal? Why judge how a woman feeds her baby?
Also, the breastfed baby I mentioned happens to be ill way more often than my bottle-fed son and my son is far more advanced than hers and mine is six months younger.
There is no information or support for women who have this problem.
I was a young 21 years old, nieve, clueless new mom. My world suddenly changed (as it does with kids!). My breasts not doing the one thing they are meant to do affected me when I was most vulnerable.
Next baby, nobody will make me feel guilty for not being physically able to produce milk.
I have educated many ignorant men and women since having my son. One man told me 'all women should be made to breastfeed for the first few months.' That moron and everyone else in the surrounding area soon heard my voice on this subject. How dare he!
We still rock and it doesn't make us any less of a mother or a woman."
8 children, never produced milk - unable to breastfeed first baby
"I had eight children, and I never produced one ounce of milk.
With my first baby, the doctor looked at me like I was a freak because no matter what they gave me, my body didn't produce milk.
So when I had my second baby, I had put in my file, that for medical conditions I couldn't breastfeed. That took away the rude people telling me how bad a mother I was for bottle feeding my baby.
My children aren't stupid; they are healthy and no different from breastfed babies.
My poor daughter when she had her son, was reduced to tears, when she didn't produce any milk either, lucky for her, I was able to boot those people out, and explain that to her doctors about me.
She had my support and the support of her sister that can breastfeed. It seems in our family, from history at least one daughter will not be able to breastfeed.
I hope that the radical breastfeeding people will learn to understand, that for some strange reason, some women can't produce milk.
So please look at your baby after it has a full tummy and is healthy because it is loved by its parents. It doesn't matter where the milk comes from, just the love your children."
Feeding twins born at 37 weeks
by Sarah (Australia)
"I felt incredibly depressed after being unable to breastfeed my twins. They were my first babies, and I NEVER considered that the fact that I had inverted nipples (not just flat!) would have an enormous effect on my ability to feed, let alone feeding twins born at 37 weeks.
The girls simply were not strong enough to even attempt to pull my nipple out. I expressed miserably for four months. Fortunately, I had an oversupply. My time spent feeding, including expressing was 18 hours out of 24.
I was exhausted. With your first baby, you have no idea what is to come, and, therefore, no idea what questions you should ask pre-birth about an issue such as mine!
With my subsequent pregnancy, I researched everything about inverted nipples and found out I could break the ligaments and draw the nipple out during my second pregnancy: something I had NEVER heard of, and something NO midwife had educated me on even once I had the twins.
My experience with my third bub was so fulfilling as he latched onto my 'new' nipples and everything worked.
The thing that got me through my inability to feed the girls was a friend who said: "make the firm decision to formula feed, stop beating yourself up and do what is going to get the girls and you to a happy place without feeling guilty."
This was the best advice I had ever heard and I will remember it forever. Stop with guilt-tripping mothers. There are circumstances where there are no other options. Let's look at the mental health of new mothers rather than formula-fed brilliant, beautiful children like my girls."
It isn't just me who has struggled
"It's so good to read these stories and finally know that it isn't just me who has struggled.
My daughter is eight months old, I was always fully intent on breastfeeding exclusively, but this wasn't to be. I had to supplement with formula from two weeks, which I found heartbreaking.
I tried everything I could; doctor-prescribed medication, herbal supplements, pumping, days on end in bed getting skin-to-skin contact, a lactation consultant, I visited a kinesiologist, practiced EFT (emotional freedom technique - clears emotional blockages) joined La Leche League, requested hormone and thyroid tests from my doctor, but nothing helped.
I still put my baby to my breast although she gets so little, it acts as a soother. I found the lack of support almost unbearable; there is so little understanding for women who don't produce enough milk.
My nurse thought I had postnatal depression as I would get upset by not being able to feed my baby, I was told that shouldn't make me sad. The worst thing for me was the attitude of professionals who didn't offer support but instead expected me to give my baby a bottle and get on with it.
No one understood my deep need to breastfeed my baby, and my utter desperation at not being able to. I'm blessed with being pregnant again. Although I'm already anxious (I know this won't help!!) about feeding our next baby, as I know I don't have the strength to go through it all again.
I'm hoping my next experience is better, but I'll have to take each day as it comes. Thank you all for sharing your stories."
This should be treated with compassion
"I am so glad I found this. As someone with a Master's degree in child development and whose entire extended family is in the medical field, I still feel guilty about being unable to breastfeed.
When my son (now 3 years) was born, I bought the $300 pump, all the nursing clothes, and accessories, and was utterly shocked when I never produced milk. It became the hourly phone call - has your milk come in...No. I even tried two different lactation consultants and herbal supplements - nothing worked. It was only then that my mom (an RN) told me that neither she nor either of my grandmothers were able to produce milk.
When my daughter (5 mo) was born, I was determined to try even harder with additional support from lactation consultants, additional herbs, additional equipment (SNS, hospital pump, etc.). It was interesting to see the lactation consultants start with the mantra "everyone can nurse" then slowly recommend more and more formula as my daughter became utterly dehydrated.
The most I was ever able to pump in a day was 2 oz. with my daughter nursing to the point that she was sucking blood (then spitting it up resulting in me rushing her to the ER). With a 5-month-old infant, I still receive looks/judgment from co-workers (I work in the medical field), family, and others for not nursing. I would LOVE to nurse, and realize that breast is best but would someone please do a research study on moms who indeed can't make milk? It also makes me extremely scared/thankful. What if there was no formula? I have uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries. Would I have just had a string of starved babies???
Again, it seems as if the medical community is in complete denial of the fact that some women are just unable to produce milk, and this should be treated with compassion, just like any other medical condition."
It took me years to come to grips
"Wow, finally people who care and have been through this too. My first was a new experience - no change in my breast, and I was worried, but the Dr said it would come in. The first week home with my darling was exhausting, feeding sleeping, feeding. I went for a two-week check-up and we were admitted to the hospital because she was losing weight. I cried so many nights feeling like a bad mom, it took me years to come to grips.
When I got pregnant again, I was planning to breastfeed, armed with consultants and ideas, ready with medication and the Dr knew. I would sit and feed for an hour, and she would want to eat again in 20 min, so the cycle has started again. By one week she was on formula and its the hardest decision to make. I hate going out and seeing bf moms or commercials on tv because I feel like a failure. I am still working through the emotions, the anger, and sadness, but I keep reminding myself I have a healthy happy baby now, and that's what matters."
When it just doesn't work out
"I agree with everyone else. I felt like less of a woman when I gave up and started feeding my son formula. My story began with a tough pregnancy, 10 wks of bed rest at the end, 16 hrs of labor, and a healthy 8 lb 2 oz baby!
I breastfed immediately and felt like all was going well in the hospital. At his first appointment after being discharged, he had dropped to 7lb 3 oz. Not too bad, but the Dr told me to start supplementing with formula after every feeding, and for me to start pumping and taking fenugreek. With emotions running wild after having a baby, just hearing all of that made me feel scared and overwhelmed.
I had not even purchased formula or bottles b/c I had no concerns that nursing would not work. I did as the Dr said, but never got more than a drop out when pumping, and Reece would suck down those formula bottles like he was starving.
Mentally that was torture for me. I felt depressed and cried for hours wondering why I couldn't supply all he needed. We had to go back for weight checks every two days until he stopped losing weight. At each examination, they would tell me to supplement with more formula, more formula.
It finally defeated me, and by the time he was 2 wks old, he was on formula only. After that, he started gaining weight. During that 2 wks of trying, I never got engorged and never felt the milk "letdown" when he was nursing. Amazingly, he latched on, and he did everything perfectly. My body couldn't make the milk, even with supplements and pumping.
When I stopped trying, I never leaked milk or had pain as it was "drying up." I don't think it was ever there, to begin with. I finally had to start antidepressant medicine to help me cope, and now my son is 15 months old! I realize now that he is just fine and I did my best. I will try again with my future children, but will never beat myself up as I did with Reece."
I didn't know how much it meant to me until I didn't have a choice.
by Taty (Chicago)
"I am HIV positive. This is the first time admitting this online. I just had a happy baby girl two months ago; this is my second little girl. The first is healthy and - I breastfed her the first six months of life, but my point is when I was pregnant and HIV positive with my second child, in the beginning, I didn’t know what an emotional roller coaster I was actually in for, but let me start from the beginning.
I had my first child in 08 after months of people asking, doctors and WIC staff. I made a decision to breastfeed my 1st born, I had the hardest time with her latching correctly with sore nipples, and while she was nursing, she seemed not to get enough and not want to let go after continually falling asleep while nursing.
I stopped nursing on April 2nd the day my grandma came to get her to leave the state because I could not afford childcare and would not leave her with strangers. Fast forward… my husband found out we were HIV positive and later that I’m pregnant. I honestly thought breastfeeding would be the least of my worries.
I am HIV + and the mom of a 2 yr old and a two-month-old - both girls. I breastfed my oldest till she was six months with the first six weeks being almost exclusive, she had 2 or 3 bottles during that stage because of frustration.
We had so many problems during that stage - trouble latching on, poor milk production," the first four days," falling asleep at the breast and not letting go when done nursing, which caused me to believe she wasn’t getting enough: sore nipples, overproduction of milk causing her to choke. Lumps of fat around the outside of the breast and the list goes on.
She never did learn how to latch correctly but we worked it out in our way - whatever works for you, and your child doesn’t always have to be textbook.
I went back to work when she hit six weeks - our bond was strong, but she eventually preferred the bottle, and it didn’t matter to her if it was breast milk or formula. She just wanted to eat. At this time I was working, parenting and sleep-deprived - I was full of complaints - I said to myself I wouldn’t do that again."
Not able to breastfeed
by Mel (Wales)
"I never produced any milk either, my boobs never grew in size, and I didn't leak milk. I had a breast pump continuously on my breasts for three days and not a drop of milk.
I was feeding my little boy with formula from a cup suggested at the hospital, so he didn't get used to a bottle teet, but I had to use a bottle which was very upsetting as I was looking forward to that so-called special bond with the skin-to-skin contact. Nevertheless, I bonded still with my little boy, and he is a healthy boy. It is a mystery why some women do not produce milk. I do know of a friend who never produced any milk with her first child, but did with her second, so I am hoping that will be the case for me."
A Devastating Reality
"My pregnancy with my son (who is now 3) was a surprise. I had morning sickness and thought I had the flu. I didn't get pain or soreness in the breasts (they are quite flat) and didn't know until about seven weeks pregnant.
When I found out I was going to be a mother, I changed my entire lifestyle. I ate healthily and went for daily walks. I looked forward to providing the very best for my little man to include breastfeeding. My grandmother always told me, "My breasts didn't develop until I had my first kid!" So I had anticipated developing breasts and getting to keep them when my son was born.
When it came close to the expected date, I was worried because my breast had not changed. I was reassured that when the baby was born, the change would come.
My son had lost almost a pound during his first week of life because I had produced maybe a tablespoon of milk each feeding. I had a nurse come to my house, and she'd give me tips on how to encourage milk supply. I would pump and pump and pump and still barely anything. What I did produce I added to his formula. It wasn't much, but it was something.
At first, you feel inadequate. You feel like less of a woman and less of a mother. To make matters worse is that the majority of women have the incredible ability to provide their children with the best of the best. It's just not normal for women not to be able to breastfeed. And of course, when you're out in public, and you pull out the bottle and formula, you get those women who "know better" than you and lecture you on the importance of breast milk. These women don't know the pain and heartache I've gone through and had the right to judge me?
But here it is three years later. My son is happy, healthy, and incredibly intelligent. My husband and I are trying for baby number 2. I will do my best to encourage milk flow. I won't guarantee that it won't be disappointing if I cannot, but I know that I'm a good mother nonetheless."
I know the feeling!
"My son is 5 1/2 months old, and I planned on breastfeeding. I was devastated when I did not produce enough milk, and he lost weight when I exclusively breastfed.
I spent three months breastfeeding with an SNS (a tube that goes into the corner of his mouth to give formula while I breastfed) and then this became too much, and I gave only formula.
I too am trying for number two and have done much research and joined a breastfeeding association as I am desperate to make enough milk for number two."
It is not your fault
by Alicia (New York)
"I too have had these issues with breastfeeding. I feel sorrow for anyone that has dealt with this. I read all of the articles here, and I felt like maybe with my firstborn, Adam, that I should have tried longer. I tried for one week.
The hospital stay was pleasant up until the second day, in the morning as I was preparing to leave. I tried yet again to pump and ended up with half an ounce from both breasts, on a double pump. The nurse kindly brought me a bottle and some formula for him when I began to cry because of feeling so inadequate.
I got home and began the most grueling week ever. I had gotten him some colostrum in the first day and a half in the hospital, but that's about all he got through the entire process.
I pumped a lot at home and also tried to have him at my breast for more than an hour each time. The first three nights at home I got no sleep. I was hallucinating from the sleep-deprived state I was in.
My mother saw me and knew how long it had been since I had slept. She watched him that day while I took a long nap. I woke up with some clarity and decided that I would try for a week and then I would stop.
The breastfeeding lady at the hospital told me three to four days and my milk would come in. Well it never did, and I tried just as hard the rest of the week but while sleeping this time, I just couldn't. I had to use formula. I had entirely depended on my own body to be enough to nourish my baby. It just did not work out that way.
Adam just turned three last week, and he is the smartest little boy I have ever seen. I am currently four months pregnant with my second child, and I may try to breastfeed and I may not, and it is my decision.
My hubby's family cannot stop asking, and I told them that I think I will give it a shot one more time but I also told them my story and they seem understanding of it. Of course, I feel a little odd about even talking to my mother-in-law because she breastfed my brother in law until he was five! yeah. But it is our choice as women to choose what we do with our baby and no one deserves to go through all of these emotions just after giving birth.
It is not fair to ourselves or our newborns or anyone else around us. It is an unhealthy state of mind to be in. I have learned a lot from my experience, and I say give it a shot. If it doesn't work out, it just doesn't; that is what there is an alternative for.
There should be more information on this subject available. And no one should be ridiculed for this problem. It is not your fault. I wish you the best!"
Physically unable to breastfeed
"I won't go into my failing to breastfeed Saga, but to say it is similar to most I've read here.
At the time I felt so sad and guilty. Now I have some perspective. My two-year-old daughter is thriving in every sense of the word and bonded to me like superglue, and I realize that of all setbacks a child might face, being formula-fed is a minor one.
But there was no one to tell me that - when my hungry baby and I were crying our eyes out over and over at each breastfeeding attempt.
I'm entirely on-board with the pro-breastfeeding campaign, but it goes too far when it makes mothers who can't breastfeed, feel inadequate and judged. One mom admitted to me that when she sees another mom pull out formula she assumes she is lazy, or uneducated.
This type of thinking is itself is uneducated, insensitive, and discriminatory. The militant Go-Breastfeeding movement has got to develop a shred of sensitivity to the myriad situations that can preclude breastfeeding (physical inability, adoption, HIV, etc.)...or they become a lot like the pro-FORMULA propaganda machines of yesteryear in some disturbing ways."
Permit yourself to do what is right for your child.
"I had four children and tried to breastfeed each of them unsuccessfully. I sought help from a lactation nurse, my midwife, my doctor and with each child, I thought this time it would work.
But alas it did not. I simply would never "let down." My breasts would get swollen but not engorged. My midwife, the dear lady, finally "gave me permission" to stop trying. What a relief!
My four children are now ages 10-21 and are healthy well-adjusted kids/adults. The formula does not appear to have hurt them in the slightest. I do find it interesting that after my youngest was a toddler, my mother informed me that neither she nor my grandmother was capable of nursing.
I wish she had said something sooner, but it does help give me additional relief that this "problem" was not me doing it wrong.
It was likely a physical trait I inherited. Just like every other part of raising kids, a mom needs to trust her instincts.
No one else can know your child or your situation better than you. It may not always be best to breastfeed. Trust yourself and permit yourself to do what is right for your child."
Mothers in the same situation
"So glad to find a support group like this. My baby boy just turned six weeks, and I have struggled to breastfeed since he was born. I'm a first-time mom and went into my pregnancy "knowing" I was only going to feed him breast milk, whether it be nursing or pumping and bottle feeding...well when by day 5 I was barely producing any milk I started to stress, which I've read makes things worse...I began to supplement with formula. This made me feel terrible, and I began to get very depressed.
My husband begged me just to quit trying and go exclusively to formula. But I couldn't bring myself to do that; I wanted to be able to provide for me, baby. As the weeks have passed milk supply just stayed the same, even after taking herbal remedies and pumping after nursing, I was only producing maybe 4 ounces a day between both breasts.
I wasn't going to stop trying until I read other mothers in the same situation. And now I think I can stop trying and enjoy my baby, knowing I'm not alone and that those formula-fed babies can be just as healthy and happy as breastfed babies."
As long as mum and baby are healthy and happy
by CharlotteCharlotte (UK)
"I'm so glad pages like this exist! I too had my heart set on exclusive breastfeeding - I was so excited for that magical bonding experience with my baby.
After an arduous and slow labor, my son and I were both exhausted - I tried for hours after delivery to feed him with encouragement from the midwives and doctors.
He could not get the hang of it - after cup feeding him a couple of times I was reassured that eventually he would latch on and I was still encouraged.
However, after several hours I was told that we would not be allowed to go home until they had seen him feed one way or the other. I was devastated!
This put a lot of pressure on me to get him to feed, and I was stressed! (Probably making things a million times worse!) I tried all night - hand expressing colostrum and dropping it into his mouth via a syringe - I saw midwife after midwife each with a different technique and suggestion, but we still couldn't do it.
By the following morning, with still no sleep I gave in to formula and was discharged. I was determined to continue at home - I saw midwives, community support and nurses and still couldn't get the hang of it - he couldn't latch on.
I felt like such a failure, and it was upsetting - by then my milk had come in, and I was expressing as much as I could and topping him up with formula.
This worked for a few weeks but as his appetite increased it was getting too much - I found myself either feeding or expressing and getting no quality time with my son whatsoever.
I was truly devastated. Luckily my husband and midwives were encouraging and supportive and explained how lucky I was to be able to have the option to provide my son with an alternative feeding method.
I later found out that my son has a laryngeal stridor (airflow is disrupted by a blockage in the larynx) This does not cause him problems, and at five months old he has grown out of it) this would have made it difficult to breastfeed according to the research I have read.
I think as mums wanting to breastfeed there is an awful lot of pressure to justify why you are bottle feeding. I still feel the urge to tell the whole story when asked about our chosen feeding method - ridiculous I know, I have come to appreciate that as long as mum and baby are healthy and happy - there isn't a great deal else to worry about!"
No Milk Ducts!
"I have read everyone's comments, and in my eyes, you are all lucky to a certain extent.
At least you got to have the feeling of breastfeeding even if it was fleeting. In my circumstance, my body can produce enough milk to feed my baby and more, but during my development as a child, my milk ducts did not develop and thus I have no way of getting the milk out of my breast.
I have had to take medications throughout my whole pregnancy to stop the production of milk. It was incredibly frustrating knowing that I was stopping something that would have been beneficial for my child.
And the worst was that even though the nurses knew I could not... they gave me a hard time over it!"
Breasts were very small
"I had the same experience as you ladies. When my daughter was born six years ago I was excited about breastfeeding, but my breasts were tiny and nothing was coming out.
My mom had large breasts and breastfed her four kids, and my mother-in-law said that she never bought formula - so I felt very guilty.
I remember trying to pump for one hour to get 3 oz. of milk. My baby was hungry, so I had no choice but to give a little bit of my milk and tons of formula. I remember my family staring at the baby and feeling sorry for the baby!
Every time the baby gets sick, both moms would say to the baby "Poor baby... you got sick because you never got good milk from mommy." How cruel was that comment?
Today, my daughter is a perfectly healthy child. She's the biggest and the tallest in the class :) We are best friends, and I am excited that we are having another baby this year.
Most likely, I will be giving formula again this time because my breasts are not growing, but I just stopped worrying about that. I am very thankful that we have great formula out there!"
So glad I'm not alone
"When I got pregnant, I knew immediately I wanted to breastfeed. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about breastfeeding and attended BF classes at my hospital. When I brought him home, I was under a LOT of stress because his father had walked out on us.
I was emotionally distraught. I think the baby sensed this too, and he would not take to the breast. I had a nurse come out to the house to ensure he was latching on correctly, and he was, but he'd suck for a few minutes, not get anything, and start screaming. When he started losing weight and was crying all the time from hunger, I finally gave up.
The nurse told me that I had to get some nutrition in him. When I fed him a bottle, he sucked it down so eagerly and went right to sleep. I still didn't want to give up on BFeeding, so I tried to pump. After about an hour and a half, I only had a little less than one ounce. I gave up but felt so guilty. What kind of mother couldn't feed their child? That was 16 years ago, and my son is healthy, but I still feel guilty that I wasn't able to breastfeed him."
Milk never came in
"I am so thankful I found this page. My daughter was born through an emergency c-section. I lost a lot of blood, and she was in the NICU for several weeks very critically ill.
My milk never came in although everyone at the hospital always said it would. I pumped and took herbs and drank tea and tried medication and pumped and pumped and pumped some more, hoping it would come in. It never did.
I have been pumping for months to get her a couple of ounces a day and so that she could nurse once at night (she won't during the day because she has to suck too hard and long to get anything).
She's six months old now, and I decided I should give up the pumping since I was spending so much time and energy struggling with it. My milk has disappeared entirely overnight, and I feel like my heart is breaking and I feel so alone. I wanted to breastfeed SO VERY MUCH, and the internet and doctors make it seem like this never happens."
My struggles with breastfeeding
by Kristen Love (Colorado Springs)
"I am so comforted to see this...NOW. My little man is now ten months old, and I went through such pain, depression, and judgment over my struggles with breastfeeding.
My little one lost 1 lb in the hospital, and his stomach was full of amniotic fluid and meconium....so we could not breastfeed for the first 24hrs as much as we tried.
The lactation consultants at the hospital made me feel terrible but sent me home with a very intense plan and formula to supplement. We tried and tried and tried for six weeks. From birth to 6 weeks his total weight gain was only 2 ounces, yet he had enough wet diapers. He suffered from some pretty severe acid reflux.
I was berated by other moms and the lactation consultants being told: "it was my technique, I was selfish by not wanting to pump even though I was pushing through to pump, and that every woman can breastfeed, I just needed to stick with it and try harder."
Finally, my wonderful pediatrician explained that I was producing "skim milk" and that he was hydrated, but needed "whole milk" to grow.
We switched to formula, and he has finally grown and is wonderful now. But that whole experience led to postpartum depression and anxiety.
I hope other women out there will be gentle with themselves and remember that the most important thing is taking care of your baby and helping them to grow and thrive - no matter how you choose to do it!"
Agony and guilt
"I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has told their story, and I hope more new mums who are struggling with breastfeeding find this website.
I had only ever planned to breastfeed after all of my friends seemed to have no trouble at all. I had lessons before the baby was born and I did absolutely no research at all on bottle-feeding or formula. I had a very natural 6-hour labor and a water birth so I thought everything would go well.
The first few days were hell. On day three my milk still hadn't come in, and despite my baby suckling on my breast for hours and hours, he just screamed all night. When the midwife came over the next day she said he was starving and when she weighed him he had lost over 10% of his birth weight. My parents went and bought bottles, formula, sterilizers, and I robotically went through a lesson on how to use these things. Meanwhile, the midwife fed my son and he guzzled down a bottle of formula and went straight to sleep.
I tried hospital-grade pumps, lactation consultants, breastfeeding clinics, helplines, fenugreek tablets, and tea and persevered for about three weeks. At around week four my milk did increase a little, and I was able to hand express 100mls a day, so I fed my baby with formula and made one of his bottles a day breastmilk. I think this was more to satisfy myself than him as he was 100% happy with formula.
I don't know why I felt so guilty, and every time I gave him formula I felt like I was feeding him poison. I wasn't bonding with him and was crying most of the time. It started to affect my relationship with my husband and my new baby. I won't say I am fully over it and I may never be. If I have another baby I will try again but I don't ever want to put myself through the agony and guilt I have felt for the last month and when I look at my son, he is healthy, happy and content and that is what matters."
Breastfeeding is highly overrated
"Gosh! My son is now seven years old and my daughter 5. They are the brightest kids of the block, and I am not just saying this because I am a doting mom.
Both of them have been pretty much exclusively bottle-fed. I tried and tried with my older one and then analyzed to death and righted all the wrongs with my younger one. But no, I could not produce the milk they needed.
It was so bad that I firmly believe it was my stubbornness to stay away from the formula that pushed my younger one to neo-natal jaundice a week after she was born. I still feel lousy about not being able to have breastfed them, but then I had not read this thread before!
Seven years later and much the wiser, I feel breastfeeding is highly overrated in our society. If you can't, you are not any less of a mother!"
Seeking Advice on Getting Over Low-Supply Depression
"I have been spending all of my free time and money trying to increase my supply, which has been slowly dwindling over the last three months.
I have seen over a dozen midwives, doctors, and lactation consultants who repeatedly told me "anyone can do this."
The professionals I have sought help from, have all left me feeling like they see me as lazy and unloving because of my failure. I started seeing a therapist to try to deal with the stress, but she has also suggested that "there are other things I could try," and after learning that I was supplementing asked me twice in the same session, "you'll still breastfeed, right?"
As more time goes on, my daughter is less interested in breastfeeding (once out of every 12 times I try, she will). My daughter is happy and healthy, but all of this failure has made me feel like a shell of a person, and I am having intense suicidal thoughts for the first time in my life.
The mental anguish is crushing me; I can't help feeling that my daughter would be better off with someone else who had the confidence to give up on increasing supply.
I'm afraid to seek help as the professionals I have been dealing with have only made me feel more alone, but I can't go on feeling this way. How can one get over the shame?"
You Are Not Alone
"I feel for you so much as I was in your shoes when my son was born. I had always planned to breastfeed and had never heard that a mother couldn't make enough milk. I was devastated. I spent the first three months of his life trying every supplement under the sun, I pumped all day, I set my alarm to get up during the night and pump and I breastfed with a supplemental nursing system so my son could breastfeed to stimulate my supply while he got extra milk from the bottle.
Nothing helped. A doctor referred me to a counselor, but I too found the counselor to be no help at all. When I finally stopped breastfeeding at three months, after stopping for a day several times before but then feeling too guilty and returning to the hard work, I wrote my son a letter apologizing to him for not being able to breastfeed him.
I want to say it does get easier to deal with and when you look back at this time, you will be so proud of yourself for all the effort you put in because you love your daughter. He is now 2 1/2 years, and while I am still sad that I didn't get the whole breastfeeding experience, I am so proud of my efforts and don't regret a second of all the work I put in. I am now trying for baby number two, and if I have a low supply again, I will be disheartened but I plan to continue breastfeeding with the use of the supplemental nursing system and not feel down but feel proud that I have put in so much more effort than any other mum who can breastfeed easily.
Look at how much effort you have gone to for her - no one loves her more than you and she could have no better mother than you! It doesn't take confidence to give up breastfeeding if we have little milk supply, you had done amazing to keep going this far!"
Oh, mama! You are so very, very far from a failure!
"First and foremost, a baby needs a healthy and happy mom. If for you to be happy and healthy, you need to focus on things other than breastfeeding, that is okay. You aren't giving up; you are doing what you need to do to be healthy and be there for your baby.
Breastmilk is best. But the formula is there for the moms that, for whatever personal, medical, or psychological reason she and baby need it.
You have done an AMAZING job providing your baby with breastmilk thus far. If you continue, you should do so without guilt and fear. If you decide to stop, you should also do so without guilt and fear!
Breastfeeding is not for every baby and mother. Sometimes, formula is needed, and that does NOT mean a mom loves her baby any less, that she should feel guilty, or that she is a failure.
It seems like now you need to focus on getting yourself better and do what it takes to make that happen. If that means switching to formula or only pumping a few times a day, that is okay. You are a great mom. You need to do what is right for YOU."
Intense sadness and jealousy
"I come from a country where there is almost a "military-style" propaganda as far as breastfeeding goes.
When I was pregnant with my first child, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed and I was very determined to do so.
Unfortunately, my baby was breech, and I had to have an elective caesarian. I was informed by other women who had undergone caesarian that they had experienced difficulty producing milk, but when I queried this, I was informed by various medical staff that this wouldn't be the case.
After spending five sleepless nights in the hospital and wondering why my baby was screaming after I had had him on the breast for what seemed like hours, I was given a device called a "Lactaid," basically a specimen jar with a tube inserted in the lid which was filled with formula. This was to be inserted into the baby's mouth simultaneously as my nipple and was supposed to encourage greater suckling by fooling the baby into thinking he was getting more milk off of me.
No less than three nurses tried to place the Lactaid on baby and me with no success. However, I was told to persist. At home, again after several sleepless nights (and I mean absolutely no sleep!) the midwife suggested Blessed Thistle and prescribed Domperidone after ten days.
All this while I was continuing to pump after every feed (including the night ones). After approximately three weeks I was only producing 2mls of milk (and this was at my peak).
My baby was ravenously hungry and had lost so much weight, and eventually, the midwife finally admitted it wasn't working. We placed him entirely on the bottle, and my son slept through the night at five weeks old.
With my second son, I tried breastfeeding again and once more, after having to have another c-section my milk supply was minimal. After three days he was lethargic and turned jaundiced.
I decided that I would not put myself or baby through this again and didn't delay the formula. In the hospital when it became apparent there was no milk I was asked questions such as, "how long did it take for your milk to come on last time?" and "can you feel your breasts getting any fuller?"
I was told by a nurse that if I wanted to feed my son formula, I had to ask for it, that the nurse couldn't offer it and even then, in her words "had to sign a piece of paper saying how terrible it is."
I would love to hear from other Mums who have experienced low milk supply after elective caesarian (and indeed I know women who haven't had this problem and were able to breastfeed afterward).
I still placed my boys on the breast even though they were only getting a teaspoon of milk and indeed even now I find I have trouble letting go.
I feel intense sadness and jealousy when I see mothers exclusively breastfeeding their babies, knowing that for whatever reason I was denied this right.
I also hate reading literature stating that, "only 5% of women cant breastfeed due to low milk supply and this is extremely rare" because this serves to make me feel more of a failure, more of a freak."
"I am so sorry to hear of your disappointing experience and the emotions that you still feel.
I believe that you did the best that you could with the knowledge and support that you had at the time and so you need to forgive yourself, not judge yourself and give yourself time to heal. Your worth as a mother and a person must not rest on your performance."
"I too had a similar experience with both of my girls with hardly any milk supply coming in.
I had this problem and did not have a c-section with either pregnancy. I would put on the breast, pump in between (with after a couple of days I wouldn't have had enough milk to even give her a bottle of exclusive breast milk.
I stuck with it for my oldest for two months doing this - I saw lactation consultants, took meds to promote the supply, tried mothers milk tea, tried fenugreek, I did everything the doctors and lactation consultants could think of with no rewards.
I understand your sadness and jealousy and then when you hear the stats of only 5% can't produce, it frustrates me that as a mom who really wanted to breastfeed, why was I denied and then there are moms that choose not to, but could, why couldn't they be a part of that 5% instead!!!! Know you are not alone."
I so desperately wanted to breastfeed
by Dianne (Canada)
"Thank you all for your stories. I am like so many of you. My breasts never became full during pregnancy, and I waited expectantly on day three postpartum for my milk to come in.
When Brandon lost 12% of his birth weight, we started supplementing with formula on the direction of my midwife.
I tried medication, herbal medicine from a naturopath, acupuncture, pumping, hand expressing, lactation consulting, nothing helped.
My breasts hurt from massaging them during pumping and I was beyond myself when my yields were about an ounce from both breasts combined.
I was so depressed that I would sob in my car after every appointment. Sometimes I wouldn't go home because I felt like my job of feeding my son was given to anyone who could hold a bottle.
I finally stopped my hours or breastfeeding torture after six weeks. When my baby started gaining weight, my husband and family would tell me that we're doing everything right.
There's just the stigma of quitting that kept me down. I so desperately wanted to breastfeed. It was my mothering goal.
My midwife told me that it was something that I had to grieve to get past. I still feel sick to my stomach when someone asks me how my breastfeeding is going or if I'm breastfeeding or askes... "what's in the bottle?"
Everyone needs a bit more compassion. Our bodies, minds, and spirits have just gone through something so challenging that we need to give ourselves a break.
When I'm able to stare into my son's eyes as I give him a bottle and I can see his double chin and full cheeks I know I did the best thing for both of us."
Today I've made the conscious decision to stop breastfeeding
by Maria Tureaud (Jackson, NJ, USA)
"I'm done. I've been crying myself to sleep since my baby was born 6.5 weeks ago.
They told me it would take 3-4 days before the milk came in. I only ever produced foremilk. Less than 20mls a day, both breasts, 15 mins each breast every 3 hours. Not 20 mls per breast or feeding session...20 mls a day. Period.
I got production up to 55mls a day which amounts to 2 ounces. I kept telling the lactation consultants, and the pediatrician...Do you want to know what the ped said? Breast is best - you must be doing something wrong.
My breasts didn't get bigger during pregnancy; I never became engorged, no let down...nothing. So I had to start feeding him formula and give him whatever meager amount of milk my breasts decided to cough up on that day. At his two weeks check up he was lighter than when he left the hospital, now he's thriving.
I've been pumping anyway - giving him what I can - but now I'm down to 10 mls a day.
It hurts, I'm tired, there's no result, I'm emotionally drained, and today I've made the conscious decision to stop.
My mother-in-law keeps telling me that when she had her kids, she could feed a whole village with her milk and that her niece's freezer is overflowing with bags and bags and bags of milk. The guilt trip is incredible. I feel like shit.
What should be a happy time - my son is the first pregnancy I've carried to term out of more pregnancies than I dare count - has turned into a nightmare.
I rock him, and my tears fall, and I beg him to forgive me and assure him that I love him very much and I'm so very sorry...and then he smiles his little gummy smile and I'm overcome by my inadequacy. Every day I lose a little of myself.
I didn't want to formula feed. I wasn't prepared for it at all - all I had were Similac samples that I had picked up by accident from my ob/gyn and boy was I glad I had them! In my mind it wasn't an option: I couldn't afford it, baby deserves the best start in life, immunity is the best gift I could ever give...well I say enough.
The best gift I could give to this most precious, and wanted, child of my heart was life. A life that was denied my other children, and I have had it with these nasty, horrible, hypocritical, bitches that lord it over us all. We're awful mothers??? I don't think so.
I've allowed myself to become consumed and obsessed, but now I'm ready to love my son. My husband sees my heartbreak, but nothing he does or says can help. I'm so thankful that I found this site. To anyone reading this, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I'm here with you."
You are NOT alone!
"Oh, mama! I wish I could reach through the screen to hug you!
You are NOT alone! Breast is best - but is not always possible for mother and baby. From what you described, you may have insufficient glandular tissue in your breasts. You could also have a thyroid imbalance causing you to be chemically unable to make milk. Both of these should be checked out as well as a tongue and lip tie on the baby.
It is very normal for a baby to lose 10%, or even more, of their body weight after birth - more bodyweight loss is usually in correlation with the number of interventions during the birth of a baby.
It is also not always possible for every woman to pump. Some women never respond to the pump. Some women have to hand express (check youtube.com for some good videos!). Some have the wrong flange size; sometimes suction is off due to a tear in the pump's membrane. And some women make plenty of milk, but can't pump a drop.
It sounds like your relatives are incredibly insensitive. Is there a way your husband can talk to them and let them know to back off because you are doing your best?
Formula is NOT the end of the world. Plenty of babies have done just fine to live fantastic lives on formula.
You have done better than so many, giving your baby even a little breast milk. And if you so choose, you can look into breastmilk donation for your son. There are both formal (from a milk bank, which can get pricey), or informal (check out "eats on feets" or "human milk for human babies" on FB). Or, it sounds like you have relatives that could even donate their milk to you!
You are NOT alone. You have done a fantastic job for your son. You love and care about him, and now it is time to kiss him and cuddle him.
P.s. You can also research an "SNS" so you can "breastfeed" even with formula. :)
I completely understand
"As a mom of 3 that struggled with breastfeeding. My first never latched on, so I tried pumping, getting only a couple of oz a day, I did this for two months until my pediatrician assured me I wasn't a bad mother and that with my daughter being on formula she was doing great.
With my second daughter I tried again, using supplements, tube feeding, going to see lactation consultants still with the same results and this time since my oldest was only 18 months old, I chose just to put her on formula, she did great and is a very healthy, smart and active 3-year-old little girl.
Now with my son being born, he is 4.5 months old, I have done everything again-I did manage to get about 2-3 oz total when on maternity leave, now that I am back to work I might get an oz when I pump I have been doing what I can, but have decided it isn't worth watching him get frustrated when I don't produce enough. When he turns five months, I am going to stop.
You are not a bad mother, and from another Mom who has had the same issues as you, it is hard not emotionally to get wrapped up in it, but you need to focus on loving your little one & yourself!
You have done what you can, which is better than what some women do. I think that there needs to be education out there for those of us that for some reason can not produce, because for those of us who do want to breastfeed it is incredibly difficult to deal with, and it sure isn't our fault.
Peace be with you and may you enjoy this wonderful time your life. They grow up so fast, please be kind to yourself & allow yourself to enjoy that beautiful baby."
Thank you, Maria
"You are not alone. Thank you for being such a great writer and putting into words exactly how I felt on the day I stopped.
I hope you feel the relief that comes with putting down the pump and picking up your baby. Spend less time squeezing drops of milk out of your breasts and more time squeezing your baby's cheeks.
I struggled heavily with the guilt afterward, when crazy, ignorant people would ask me about breastfeeding, but it's getting better.
Your baby is lucky to have such a strong mama who can make an important decision that will only make your lives better. Formula wasn't my choice either, but it's the best choice for my family."
by kelly (PA)
"I am a mom to 6 beautiful children. I nursed my first son for a year, only stopping because I became pregnant with son #2 whom I nursed for four months, but had to stop due to his digestive health.
I nursed my 3rd son for two years and my first daughter for nearly three years. When I found out I was pregnant with our second daughter (5th child), I was so excited to nurse another baby.
I prepared by getting tons of breastfeeding supplies. After the 3rd day at home, I realized my breasts felt no different, and my baby wasn't getting anything.
I thought well maybe it will just take longer this time because I'm older. Nope, tried all the "tricks" and barely got an ounce per day.
I saw Drs and had tests done and still no answers. I eventually accepted I wasn't going to get to nurse her.
Now I have given birth to our 3rd daughter, our last child, and the same thing is happening again. I am devastated beyond words again. Nobody thinks its a big deal, but to me it is."
I developed Preeclampsia and had no breast milk
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 c-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 the 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 someway somehow it's all your fault.
I tried everything literally, but I still feel guilty that I could've done more or done things differently."
My heart goes out to you
"As a mom that experienced the same thing with hardly any milk being produced, I feel your pain.
The doctors and nurses make it sound like everyone should be able to produce and that is not the case. They need to be more empathetic to those of us who 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 are eating and thriving finally when we begin supplementing.
I think that there 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 the nutrients to help them be satisfied and flourish!"
Not the only one with this problem
by Kayla (Arkansas)
"Let me 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 cup size. 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 six months pregnant with my second child, I'm experiencing the same problem.. and I'm feeling very inadequate as a mother.
I can't even supply my child with nourishment. My husband tries to be supportive, and he 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."
Leave me alone and accept my diagnosis
"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 breasts. 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 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 even believes me until I explain my story in full.
Even worse my baby was 'nursing' before she bottle-fed so that we could at least simulate that relationship but now that she is four months old she's figured out that it is pointless and wants to go straight to the bottle.
So now she 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 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 heartbroken. I 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 work hard...but this is the one exception. I can't do anything about it. Thanks for reading my rant."
I am in the same boat
I too had milk supply issues with my son. I had only planned on breastfeeding, 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 breastfed 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 breastfeed. So when my son was three 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, but it does also 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 just want the breastfeeding experience without the devastation I associated with it first time around and don't know that I will get the opportunity again. So I understand and want to say you are not alone.
Love your way
"Hun, there are some mums that no matter how hard they try can't breastfeed, please stop beating yourself up over it, you carried your dear child for ten months, breastfeeding isn't everything - you are nurturing your child and at the end of the day that is what is important."
Feeling your pain
"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 afterward.
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 I was so glad to have a chance, but it was false hope.
Why can't I produce breast milk? I wish there was an answer for us. I wish I didn't care, but I do.
So I'm stuck spending money on powdered 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."
I have learned to let go of this crazy, ridiculous dream
"I have a daughter, and from the time I was pregnant, I wanted to and aspired to breastfeed exclusively. I got all the accessories and took breastfeeding classes and got a medical-grade pump.
I started breastfeeding her 10 minutes after she was born. I had trouble with supply in the hospital, and so when I got home, I drank the teas, took piles of herbs, had a lactation consultant that was $200/Visit, pumped and nursed every two hours (sometimes around the clock)...but I could not produce an adequate amount.
Worst of all, my baby would wake every hour or every 30 minutes hungry because of the shortage of breast milk. Ironically, my lack of sleep and exhaustion made my supply low and so once I started sleeping and relaxing I was able to get more milk for her.
I always had to supplement and supplementing made it possible for my baby to sleep well at night and gain weight.
Now at three months of age, we are almost exclusively formula feeding, and I have learned to let go of this crazy, ridiculous dream about exclusive breastfeeding.
I loved breastfeeding my baby, and many times I was able to satisfy her hunger, but it wasn’t sustainable as she grew and needed more milk.
I agree there needs to be positive support for women who can’t do this. I nearly drove myself to the brink of insanity and exhaustion trying to make it work, but I wasn’t willing to let my baby go hungry or lose weight, which I think was the right decision. After all, it’s not about satisfying your ego; it’s about a thriving baby. So, rid yourself of the guilt and enjoy your babies.
Love and compassion to all you mommies out there!"
Why can't I produce breast milk?
by RR (De)
"I'm so happy to have found these comments. I'm a new mom who was also set on breastfeeding. 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, the 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. New mom's milk flows like a fountain - this has not been my experience at all. It took one week of pumping around the clock every 2-3 hrs to get my milk going, and now it is at a standstill 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 entirely 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.
This is the only place I have found others like me."
I still feel awful
by Brandice (Milwaukee)
"It is all true. When milk production was a problem for me La Leche, and lactation consultants couldn't help.
Domperidone 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, simply wasn'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 that next time breastfeeding will work 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."
With my next child I will try and try, but I will not agonize over it.
"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.
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 eight weeks. If I wasn't Breastfeeding, I was pumping. It took over my life to the point I could not even enjoy my daughter.
I ultimately had to start supplementing her at two 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 two days because of being in the NICU.
The birth was traumatic for both. But regardless of 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, and cried every night about.
Now I have a healthy happy 9-month-old, and with my next child I will try and try, but I will not agonize over it."
Medical Condition - IGT
"The inability to breastfeed is a genuine medical condition called insufficient glandular tissue.
It merely 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 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."
Soul-destroying to find that your body won't work.
"My milk just never came in, and I have no idea why.
Breastfeeding councilors were worse than useless as they just repeated the same advice about demand feeding and latch without listening when I explained that I was already doing that, plus more.
I pumped and pumped for weeks, never getting enough to even cover the bottom of the bottle. I wanted to breastfeed so much, and the available literature had encouraged me to think that all that was required was the determination to do so.
I did try everything, and it is soul-destroying to find that your body won't work. I cried about this every day right up until the weaning stage. Now I'm planning a second child but terrified that I will have the same trouble again."
I had the same trouble
by Michelle Molesworth
"All I could ever pump was 20-30 ml. My son was losing weight when I just breastfed. I cried every day for the first three months.
I have read a few stories of women who did not have breast changes with their first pregnancies and then took progesterone supplements from ovulation up until the first three months of pregnancy and they then noticed breast changes and went on to have a full milk supply for their subsequent babies.
The first 48 hours are really important in setting up your milk supply. So if medically able, get baby on the breast in the first hour after feeding and then as often as possible after that in the first few days - with skin-to-skin contact.
Sorry, you may have been told all this by a lactation consultant already but they are the tips I plan to do next time (we are currently trying for baby two) and I hope that they can be of some help to you."
I too was ridiculed
by Dana (Milan)
"Hi there, reading your stories is such a relief, I have had a terrible time four months PP and no milk at all, no swollen breasts in pregnancy or after birth, in fact, my boobs decreased in size.
This is my second baby within eighteen months and I had no milk at all with my first either.
Both experiences have made me very tearful as I tried for four months, hours a day, and nothing. I feel like a failure.
I wish there was more research or at least people who tell you that it sometimes doesn't work for every mother.
I too was ridiculed, with people saying you can't be trying hard enough. I tried it all - the herbs, oatmeal, and medicine from the Doctor and nothing, not one drop. I have finally given up."
"Wow! I had a few problems with breastfeeding. I had two babies and tried hard to breastfeed both of them.
With my daughter I couldn't get a latch - when my milk came in I was so full and hard it was damn near impossible to get her to latch, I'd pump to soften them but before she could even feed I'd be full again.
I wanted so bad for her to have breast milk - I pumped exclusively for four months. Then I had my son, and I tried the nipple shields and everything, still couldn't make it work.
I pumped for two months and gave up. It was so frustrating! I wanted it so bad, and I couldn't do it... I hate the way that moms who breastfeed are looked at like the shining stars while the ones who bottle-feed feel like they have to hide at home rather than face the ridicule.
If you can breastfeed, fantastic so happy for you, but don't make moms who can't feel bad because they can't."
I can't feed my own child
by Karen (India)
"I've always wanted to provide what's best for my child. Not being able to feed my newborn has been the most depressing and frustrating time of my life.
I've been judged, pumped with meds to increase lactation, my breasts squeezed by every nurse on the floor in the futile attempt to stimulate lactation.
I've given up, and my son feeds exclusively on formula now. I feel so guilty and depressed that I can't feed my own child. I wish I had someone to talk to who would understand how I feel."
Not all women can breastfeed
"I am a mom of 5 kids, and I was able to breastfeed all of them. I too had problems in the beginning but was able to work through them. Sometimes all it takes is relaxing because the hormones are fickle and can reduce the flow of milk.
Other times, mom just has a hard time feeding her baby or producing milk.
I am proud of myself for being able to work through my problems. My kids and I were a success. But in no way do I feel superior to those women who tried and did not succeed at breastfeeding.
Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, you are feeding your baby. Take pride in giving your child your love, your attention, and the time to care. Just as everyone has muscles, but not everyone can walk, every woman has breasts, but not all women can breastfeed."
Really want to breastfeed and cannot.
"Thank you, all of you, so much. I cannot tell you what it means to have other women who've experienced this share their stories and support!
Everywhere I look I see stories about how you must breastfeed, and you can do it and don't give up too fast. But nothing to support mom's like me who want to breastfeed and cannot.
Our little girl was feeding for hours straight and screaming in hunger immediately afterward. It got to the point where she didn't even want to be near me. So we tried so hard to pump, to at least give her milk that way. After a month of pumping, massage, herbs, beer, lactation cookies, etc... still only making maybe 4 oz a day. We had to give up.
The guilt of knowing how much better breast milk is and thinking well I am producing - I can't give up is unbearable. Everyone looks at me like I'm lazy and don't care about my little girl. But the reality is that it was like trying to feed two babies to get up for pumping and to care for her. And she finally looks healthy. She is finally gaining weight on formula -not losing. She is finally happy and lets me hold her and care for her again. That's what matters.
I am still dealing with terrible guilt and heart-wrenching depression that brings me to tears and makes me question my decision. Reading these helps me to remember that I am doing what's best for her and it's okay."
I bottle fed my preemie babies
by Drusilla (Brooklyn, NY)
"I had two preemies, an eight-month 2lb 13 oz, the other full-term 4lb 4 oz and both were bottle-fed.
I tried and tried to breastfeed my children but I couldn't. I had a lactation specialist and other breastfed experienced moms try to help me, but for some reason, my breast would not produce milk, and believe me I tried everything known to women, but it didn't work.
So, I bottle fed my babies. And lo and behold they thrived!! To the astonishment of even the doctors, my eight-month premature daughter was released from the hospital a month after being born weighing 5 lbs 2 oz!
My son was released with me, four days later just shy of weighing 5 lbs. Every bottle I gave my babies were filled not only with milk; they were filled with LOVE.
My daughter stayed in the hospital for 30 days, and 30 days I went to the hospital for her 6 am feeding and stayed until they kicked me out at 11 pm. My daughter is now 27 and my son 37 years old. Yes, it was a long time ago, but I was still ridiculed for not breastfeeding, mainly because both of my children were premature.
Three years ago I became a grandma for the first time and watched my daughter, the same child I couldn't breastfeed, breastfeed my grandson.
But as she tried to get him to latch on I didn't see her breast or lack of a bottle, I saw her love for him and knew no matter how this breastfeeding thing worked out, my grandbaby would be alright."
Can't Breastfeed Sick Baby & other Complications
by Danielle (USA)
"When Nathan was born in October 2011, I just knew that I was going to have a vaginal birth with an epidural and I was going to breastfeed until he was at least six months old, but I hoping for a year.
I had these visions of breastfeeding him in the rocker we bought for his nursery, and a few other simple little visions that I have learned being a first-time mom - things just don't always work out as we think they will in our head before baby.
I had to have a c-section. Due to complications of labor Nathan was not tolerating labor and was not doing good. He was in the NICU for two weeks due to liver issues (which the cause for any of his issues is a mystery, it was never determined - there was no infection, no genetic disorder -nothing)
I wasn't able to hold him one week after he was born in which we did have a good breastfeeding session with a lactation nurse, but the next week I got very sick and tried to nurse him, but I kept straining from looking down at him and I didn't feel comfortable exposing my germs to him and all the other babies, so I decided to wait until I felt a little better. So by the end of the week, I tried again, and Nathan just screamed at me when I tried to nurse him while he was in the NICU.
Once we got him home, Nathan had a lot of doctor appointments he had to go to, so I had to time his feedings. I was pumping around his appointments, and it was getting VERY hard, not to mention when I was sick the week before, the medicine I took had a decongestant which caused me to start drying up.
I started taking Fenugreek to help my milk supply, and it started to help, but at this point (3.5 weeks after he was born) I felt defeated on the breastfeeding journey.
Nathan was still not latching on, and my supply that I was so proud of was quickly getting used up, and my fear was Nathan going hungry.
The GI doctor wanted him to take Progestimil formula by Enfamil (costs about $50 a tub) due to his liver, I don't know if any mother has ever tried that formula, but it tastes like a chemical.
So now my dilemma was not the cost of the formula, but Nathan would not eat it - I can't blame him. So luckily my mom gave us some Similac Advanced formula, so I gave that to Nathan, and he ate it like a champ.
The GI doc was worried about him eating this formula because it was milk-based, but thank goodness everything worked out, and he's been eating that since he was almost four weeks old.
As I said earlier, I had many visions of nursing him and looking into his eyes while he ate, but it didn't work out like that. After crying about it and feeling guilty that he wasn't getting my breast milk, I KNEW that I was doing what I needed to do to feed him.
Mothers who have no problems breastfeeding can't really understand what it's like for mothers who want to, but per their circumstance, they can't and I know from experience that just because you don't have that natural birth like you planned or just because you cant breastfeed as you intended, no one will love that baby more than you, and you will nurture and love your baby."
I'm proof that sometimes breastfeeding just can't be done.
"I am currently trying to feed my 6-week old baby too, but not having much success at her latching since day 1.
I don't have very much milk either, but everything is very different. Fortunately, I successfully breastfed my first three children, one for 19 months, one for nine months and the third for 14 months.
For some reason with the fourth child, I can't produce enough and can't latch her. I am pumping about 2 ounces from one breast and 1.5 from the other every 3 hours. Since I've experienced successful breastfeeding three times before, I have such mixed feelings about this one.
I've done everything from hospital pumps to herbs and then to the doctor for some meds all with no success at increase. I think I'm proof that sometimes breastfeeding just can't be done.
Hang in there anyone with similar problems, and whatever you do is for the health of your child. I'm going to keep trying for a while, but I'm a busy mom of 4, so we will see what happens."
I love my daughter even if I can't breastfeed.
"I'm nursing my daughter now and will soon supplement with a bottle of formula. I wish I could give her what she needs though (breast milk alone) but I am trying to come to terms with the fact that it isn't going to be what I planned.
This is the hardest thing I've ever done. People put a lot of pressure on moms to breastfeed.
I love my daughter even if I can't breastfeed. I will continue nursing as long as I can and hopefully will forgive myself when I can't nurse anymore. It's comforting to know I'm not alone.
Be strong and know that just the fact that you care enough to be reading this right now shows how wonderful a mother you truly are."
I tried and tried and tried and it's okay
"I had two very complicated births. I had preeclampsia with my first child. He was born four weeks early. I had decided to give breastfeeding a try with him but wasn't overly committed to the idea.
My mom, grandmother, and aunts did not breastfeed any of their children, and so I had no one encouraging me to do so.
Due to the medications I was on after my son's birth, breastfeeding (or staying awake for an extended period) was not possible right away.
My son started on formula, and by the time he and I were able to come home, I was content to keep him on formula.
When my friends became pregnant, they all asked me about the moment my milk came in and shared their experiences with me.
It was then that I realized that after the birth of my son I never experienced my milk coming in. I never once had to wear nursing pads, I never saw even a droplet of milk on my nipples. At the time, I didn't even give it a thought because I wasn't breastfeeding.
My daughter was born five weeks ago. I had preeclampsia with her as well, but this time I also developed HELLP syndrome.
My daughter was in the NICU. I didn't even see her for almost 24 hours after she was born. I had several complications with her birth.
This time around I wanted to breastfeed. Again, due to medications, I was on I was not able to start breastfeeding right away, so my daughter started on formula.
When I was able, a lactation consultant helped me get started pumping. I pumped practically around the clock. I was in the hospital for seven days after my daughter's birth. The entire time we were there I only produced enough colostrum to rub on my daughter's lips.
The nurses told me every little bit helps. I know that my milk "should" have come in while I was still in the hospital, but I was assured that it doesn't always come in 3-4 days after birth, so I didn't worry.
However, 14 days after she was born I was still only producing tiny drops of colostrum. On the 15th day, I could see a change in the color, and that told me that my milk had come in, but I didn't have any of the sensations of my milk "coming in" that my friends had talked about.
By this point, I was only pumping due to the small amounts I was producing and had been supplementing with formula from the beginning.
Because my son was solely formula-fed and had no complications or adverse reactions to it I had no reservations giving my daughter formula - I just really wanted to breastfeed.
I bought several different milk storing containers. I was ready for the milk to just start flowing like everyone said it would. Only it didn't. The most I ever produced at one time from both breasts combined was just under a half-ounce.
I consulted my doctor, and he recommended two herbal remedies and one medication. The medicine could cause depression as a side effect, so I opted to go the herbal route — no change. I am not willing to try a medicine that could cause depression.
I'm sad that breastfeeding is not working out but I'm not depressed, and I'd like to keep it that way.
Here I am 5 weeks later, and I know I am close to quitting. My nipples are chapped and have bled, and I have never been able to produce enough milk at once to give my daughter a full bottle of breast milk.
My doctor has recommended that I have no more pregnancies, and after everything, I experienced I would have to agree. I think I'm trying so hard because this is my last child.
However, to all the moms who are depressed let me offer you this encouragement:
My son was 100% formula-fed. I never felt that my son and I were "less bonded" than my breastfeeding friends and their children.
Also, formula feeding allowed my husband to participate in feeding our children actively. He feels that this has helped him to bond with our children. We have friends whose husbands have NEVER fed their babies. My husband enjoyed taking the middle of the night feeding time. He said he likes it when the house is quiet, and it's just him and his baby. Hearing this has helped me make peace with what I feel is my inadequacies.
My daughter is also doing perfectly fine on formula. Logically I keep telling myself that making sure my child is well nourished by any means does not make me a bad mom. It doesn't make any of you a bad mom either."
I really wish people would understand
"Thank you so much for this page! My baby was an emergency c-section with complications that ended up with him in NICU for three days.
The combination of formula they fed him there, and my own recuperation from surgery took a huge toll on breastfeeding.
I pumped and pumped with hardly had any results after spending our first two weeks as a family in consultant appointments with doctors and lactation consultants. I was at the end of my rope.
The best thing that ever happened for my mental and emotional well-being was when a lactation specialist walked in and said "the odds are against you here, it might not ever happen and the most important thing is that your baby gets fed. This is not a third world country; children do fine on formula."
It was such a freeing moment for me. I still put him to the breast occasionally, but more-so for comfort than nutrition.
My best friend just had a baby, and I have to bite my tongue when she complains about how often she has to breastfeed him.
I am amazed at how judgmental other people have been on me for "giving up," and I wish people would understand it's not always such an easy choice."
I'm so glad I'm not alone in all of this
by Gilly (Castle Black)
"After reading the many comments on here and hearing the frustration and sadness in them that echoes my own, I can say that while I don't wish anyone pain, it's nice to know I'm not alone in all of this.
Somewhere out there are other women who are going through the same thing, and we all wonder, "Why don't my boobs work?" Yesterday after trying to nurse for almost an hour and then having my kid suck down almost five ounces of formula immediately afterward, I made a decision: I'm going to stop focusing on my boobs and start focusing on my baby.
Maybe like some of you who posted, I had a couple of things going against me: for one thing, I have tubular breasts. I never knew there was a term for breasts like mine - they seemed shaped differently than everyone else's and never seemed to grow much. They were very far apart, and the nipples were huge and puffy. This is because the areolas herniated due to a congenital disorder.
For another thing, my baby got bottles from day one in the hospital. He had a low sugar issue, and the doctor gave him a bottle of Similac Advance to raise his sugar, and then also suggested supplementing his feedings with formula due to a case of jaundice.
Before the baby came, I took two classes on breastfeeding and after he came, I took another one. I asked three nurses if my son was latching properly and they all gave me affirmative answers. I spoke with two different lactation consultants; one in person and one on the phone.
The lactation nurse in the hospital was very helpful. She instructed me on the use of the hospital-grade pump I brought home and gave me good ideas on how to pump. The lady on the phone told me that I wasn't making enough milk to make a trip to my house worth her time. Nice. I took herbal supplements which helped a bit, but not enough to make a lot of difference. I even ate oatmeal (which I hate) every single day to support my lactation.
As of yesterday, the most I have ever pumped in this past seven weeks is a little over three ounces. I pumped that the day before yesterday because my kid was asleep during a feeding period. Most of the time, I get less than one ounce when I pump. Today, I've gotten a total of four ounces all day.
Right now, my mindset is that I have a limited amount of time with my son before I return to the workforce, and I don't want to spend the remainder of it being miserable because my boobs don't look right and don't work right.
So, there's my story, and I hope that anyone reading it can take heart if they are having similar issues: You aren't alone."
Tried so hard to breastfeed
"Thank you all for sharing your stories! It helps me feel so much better!
With my first daughter, I tried so hard to breastfeed. I went to a class to learn how - I had the pump, and when I had her she seemed to latch like a pro, but she was very fussy.
We figured out I wasn't producing milk; I'd pump and get drops. The lactation consultant encouraged me to use a syringe to capture the drops I was producing and feed that to my baby, and also to keep nursing exclusively, she said my supply just needed some time to come in. Being a first-time mom, I didn't know any better, so I followed the advice I was given.
Because my daughter latched so well and would continue sucking, I thought I was producing milk. At my daughter's first office visit, she had lost over 10% of her birth weight and was very jaundice.
We had to readmit her to the hospital for phototherapy. The lack of nutrition caused her billy Rubin levels to skyrocket (she wasn't pooping enough).
My pediatrician came in to check on her in the hospital and took me aside and said "I don't want to tell you not to breastfeed, but this baby needs food. I was a formula-fed baby, you were a formula-fed baby, and we turned out fine. Breastfeeding doesn't work for everyone, and that's okay."
I have shared that story before, and people have said that it was irresponsible of a pediatrician to say, but at that time it was the best advice anyone had given me.
I had issues with my second child as well. We suspect it may have something to do with my PCOS. Both of my children are happy, smart, and well developed (not obese).
I tried my best to be a full-time nurser but it didn't work for us.
by mandi Bloos
"I struggled so bad with lack of sleep during the first four weeks. She cluster fed constantly. Hourly!
At the four week check-up, she was only 3 oz above her birth weight at 6lb10oz, 12oz less than the doctor wanted to see.
I couldn't understand how a baby could nurse so much and be below weight. Now almost nine weeks and 8lbs15oz. I had to start supplementing formula.
I pump, and she gets a mix in each feeding. She is an entirely different baby. So much happier and I am finally sleeping!
I was really upset at first thought of supplementing, which made me feel like a failure. I don't feel that way anymore.
She is healthier and happier. I tried to eat healthily, I guess it just doesn't work for all. I Still nurse during night feedings.
Everyone's babies and situations are different. I know I tried my best to be a full-time nurser, but it didn't work for us."
There's no need for tears
"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.
BUT in the end, happy & healthy babies are 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 do that."
There are some of us who simply don't produce milk
by Elle Mom of 4 (Minnesota)
"I was also told that breastfeeding was natural and would happen if my baby latched on properly! I was a young mother (age 20) 20 years ago with my first child.
After a night of dry diapers, I saw the pediatrician (a charming, very OLD man) who had me weigh the baby before and then after - I fed him for 40 minutes in the office. The doctor was very kind and just said, "he needs formula, you are not producing."
He did not guilt me or tell me to keep trying. He was not of this generation that pushes breastfeeding as the only method of feeding. My child would latch on properly and 'nurse' for an hour and got nothing.
My second child I didn't even try to breastfeed, as she was only one year and two days younger than my first. I had been so distressed by my starving first child that I didn't want to worry about it.
My third child, four years later, I tried to breastfeed again. I was prepared with formula for after feedings in case. I noticed she was starving after she nursed for 40 minutes, so I fed her whatever formula she would eat after. It was always a full 2-4 ounce.
People loved to say things about breastfeeding being better etc. I said 'my child doesn't get anything from me and a dead baby is certainly worse than a bottle-fed baby.'
That made them quiet. The ones who think you are 'choosing' bottle are the worst. My mother-in-law tried to take our baby overnight at three weeks old for a visit by saying, 'well since your not breastfeeding anymore, maybe we could have her overnight! I was not leaving my three weeks old with anyone and was offended that she saw it as a reason why I didn't need to be with her.
My youngest child, seven years later, I tried one last time. This was in 2003, and there were many more 'helpers' for breastfeeding in the hospital.
I had a lactation consultant tell me that it would come in if I just kept trying. They wanted me to supplement with a weird little tube that gave formula attached to my breast while I nursed. Their theory was it would build up eventually.
My breast never produced more than 1/2 of an ounce of milk. I did what I did with my 3rd child, nursing mostly for bonding and then fed afterward. Feedings took 1 1/2 hours because of this. I only did this to give him the antibodies that were in whatever he got.
My kids were all excellent latchers and sucked well. I too think the medical community is cruel and doesn't care to believe that some of us don't produce milk. If milk isn't coming after a few days and your child does not have wet diapers, supplement immediately! They are starving and dehydrating!
And on a side note, my older sister had her only child three years after my fourth, and she also did not produce more than 1/2 ounce of milk.
There has got to be a genetic component to the problem if we both had the same problem. Maybe a researcher could study this?
If you don't produce milk, then supplement, you can still nurse for bonding. And don't let others feed the baby the bottle if you don't want them to. Some will ask to feed the baby. You can say, "no thank you; this is our time. Just because I can't nurse doesn't mean it's not essential that I feed her.....You decide."
Mother of eight
by Kerry (Missouri)
"I have been a mother eight times, and not one of them was I able to breastfeed.
I was utterly devastated every time but never as much as I was three years ago when my son Joshua was born two months early. I remember the nurses in the NICU asking me every day if I had brought my milk in for them to tube feed my precious tiny newborn son.
I felt so terrible trying to explain over and over again that no matter what I did I couldn't produce more than a few drops of milk.
I would cry every time I tried, and I always felt like a failure. Not only could I not keep him inside me long enough, but my body couldn't feed him either.
I felt like I had let him down in every possible way! I wanted to be the one that gave him everything he needed to grow strong and healthy, and I had failed. Not once but twice. I wish the nurses could have understood that I was trying too. They placed a crib card on my son's bed that read "thanks mom for breastfeeding me." I went home that day and cried for an hour. I think my depression over this will never really go away. But I have a beautiful 3-year-old who is healthy and happy, that's all that matters!"
Bell Shaped Breasts
by Kerrie (Sydney, Australia)
"I had my first child and like most expecting mothers went to all the classes at the hospital on breastfeeding with no thought that perhaps this wouldn't be an option for me as this was never discussed.
I knew that my mother wasn't able to feed me properly, but I didn't know why. We had an emergency C-section, and my beautiful daughter was born.
Along with the effects of the surgery, I was suffering from carpal tunnel, which prevented me from being able to hold my baby in the right positions to feed.
The midwives at the hospital encouraged me to keep trying, but my milk wasn't coming in. I thought it was because of the operation.
We left the hospital after three days when my husband realized how the pushing of the nurses and my screaming hungry baby was impacting me.
We tried for another four days with a midwife visiting our house. I used a breast pump and breastfeeding until my nipples were cracked and bleeding, but I wasn't getting enough milk.
My mother spoke to the nurse and told her that she couldn't breastfeed, and she remembered that her mother had problems as well.
Our daughter lost more and more weight and was becoming so sick that we were looking at having to take her to the hospital to have a feeding tube.
It took us to get to this point for the midwife to finally agree that it wasn't working. She said that I had bell-shaped breasts, which meant that the baby was unable to stimulate the milk ducts to produce and release the milk and it was most likely GENETIC.
We went straight to the supermarket and started formula. Within a few days our baby was putting weight back on, was sleeping and happy as well as her mother.
My biggest disappointment was that it took us so long and we put our daughter's health at risk, all because of some preconceived idea that "Breast is Best."
New mothers are not provided with enough education to realize that if things don't go to plan, (and let's face it, how many pregnancies and births do) there are other options.
We need to be given the right information so that we, as new mothers can identify when we have to choose between an ideal and the reality of the situation.
I wonder how the midwives will feel if I turn up to my next birth with a bag packed with bottles, teats, and formula.
Hooray to this website for discussing these hard topics and allowing women to express their frustration and disappointment and to share their experiences.
We need to let each other know that it's okay, even if society doesn't. We have all tried our hardest to breastfeed with no success, but ultimately at the end of the day, we have done the right thing by our children, which is what matters the most."
Bottle feeding support sites?
by Ashley (Blaine, MN)
"When I was 20, I chose to have a breast reduction to eliminate my weekly trips to the chiropractor.
I was aware of the risk that I would have a small chance at breastfeeding, but I couldn't live under the size 38FF that I was. When my son was born on Feb 2, I never thought I'd feel so much pressure as a mother to not breastfeed.
I have searched for a good support site for mothers like me, with no luck. It's hard to feel so judged in a world where time magazine lady's caption was "are you mom enough."
I am very thankful that formula is a safe alternative and that my son is big, happy, and healthy as a result."
No milk supply at all
by Annie (London)
"I tried for six months for hours a day and night with no milk supply at all.
It was so stressful l was advised to do top up, but that was a full bottle of formula.
So instead I was told to buy a professional pump - nothing came, which made my poor baby suck for hours a day - frustrated, and he would kick and kick me - it was the worst experience ever.
I wish I never put him through it, as soon as he got the bottle he was so happy.
Looking back I feel it was very wrong of me to put my baby through that for so long. I should have just stopped making him try for 2 hours before he got the bottle it was so unfair on him. This is what I was advised to do; nothing came not one drop."
I cannot sit up at all without excruciating pain.
"Hi there, there have not been many changes in my breasts this time or during my previous pregnancy. I was under huge amounts of stress during both pregnancies and have been on Morphine for several years due to spinal injuries and 8 major back operations, which means I cannot sit up at all without excruciating pain. Even feeding my baby lying down is very painful for me.
However, I did try very hard from day 1 after c-section and put my body through a lot of pain trying. In the end, after one month I managed to produce 2 drops. After 24 hours of pumping, I got nothing.
This time I am in so much pain I am pretty sure I will have to be on my strong painkillers soon after, as it's unbearable right now.
My breasts are not sore this time either nor have they become any bigger."
I just couldn't get any milk!
by Sam (India)
"Okay. I must comment on this one. I had a normal delivery without an epidural. Hence breastfeeding never seemed like a task to me. I was sadly mistaken.
I just couldn't get any milk! In the hospital, I sat and fed my baby for 45 mins on each breast. The nurses gave my daughter a kind of formula that helped a bit. But whenever I would try, my nipples would get so sore and painful and start bleeding. Besides, my sutures hurt when I sat on them. I also had loose motions because of some antibiotics.
I was so sad depressed and fatigued. To add pain, my sutures started opening up because of constant pressure while I fed my baby. I was put on everything that could increase milk flow. I tried hard, so hard. To the point that I started developing hard boils, due to the heat.
My mother and especially my mother-in-law made it very difficult for me. My Mom-in-law told me that I was not drinking enough milk to stimulate the flow. I was so depressed all the time. Finally, I even bought a breast pump; it was then that I realized that I was able to pump only 1-2 ml at a time. No wonder my poor hardworking baby sucked for hours.
My heart went out to my daughter. My husband bought NAN 1 on the 3rd day. Problem solved. I never looked back. My baby just gobbled up the milk hungrily. I still would try feeding her the 1-2 ml that I would pump. She was majorly only on NAN1. Finally two months down the line I had completely stopped breastfeeding! I am glad I made that choice.
I realized that other mothers had their baby on each breast for 5-10 mins and they were done whereas I would sit for nearly 90 mins only to sit back to breastfeed in another 15 mins. Trust me it is just not worth it making yourself feel less of a woman trying this. I did go through a very bad phase where I blamed myself. Then one fine day I felt that this attitude was more damaging than the problem itself.
Producing milk doesn't make me a better mother. Loving my child does. I wiped my tears and grew confident in my new-found assurance. So please girls don't kill yourself over this - I also feel that women are the worst, instead of supporting you, they make you feel bad.
My baby was healthy, happy and less irritable because she was well fed. My first month with the baby was painful and depressing! I can't believe I went through all this. Now I make sure I can support other women."
They refused to let me supplement.
"I had my first child eight years ago and could not breastfeed. I couldn't even pump more than an ounce.
I have some insight into why now a few years later. I came across an article that examined the effects of Polycystic ovarian syndrome and underdeveloped breast sacs.
I suffer from POS, and now I am 38 weeks pregnant with my second. I have such anxiety about being in the hospital, and the nurses made me feel like a bad mother for giving up the first time after my first child lost a whole pound in 4 days as they refused to let me supplement.
I have to have a c-section with this child and will be in the hospital for 3-4 days.
I am dreading the guilty looks and smart-ass comments from the maturity nurses. I wish they would understand that this is not a choice, but a need. If any nurse is reading this, please don't judge - just understand and get off your soapbox. I don't need you making me feel inadequate."
by Mrs. G
"Things like PCOS and diabetes have a direct impact on your ability to breastfeed. Milk production relies on certain hormones being released by the body at the right time. When you have a disorder that affects your hormones, of course, you will have issues with breastfeeding (not that anyone bothered to tell me that. Try googling diabetic and breastfeeding... the only links you get are ones that point to the relationship between breastfeeding and preventing type II diabetes later in life).
There should be more education for expectant moms and the medical community about this... setting someone up for failure because they don't take other health factors into account is mean-spirited at best."
I nearly killed myself trying
"I can't describe how it feels to finally come across other women who just couldn't breastfeed and to see so many similarities in our stories.
I had always planned to breastfeed my baby and was excited about what I thought would be a unique bonding experience.
During my pregnancy, I noticed no real swelling of my breasts but didn't overthink it. Our son Luka was born in July 2011 naturally, with no interventions. I am Irish living in Brazil where there is a huge rate of planned cesarean births (up to 90% in some hospitals) but a really strong culture of breastfeeding until at least two years of age.
After the birth, I produced very little colostrum and Luka wasn't sucking well, and the only way I could get anything into him was squeezing out the little colostrum I had and putting it on his tongue with my finger. Despite reassurances that babies are born with "a reserve" and that my milk would come in "any day now," on day three my husband had to go and get milk from the nearest milk bank an hour's drive away.
Luka survived almost entirely on other women's breast milk for the first three weeks of his life because when my milk did come in there was very little of it.
I was getting advice and support from doulas, lactation consultants, my obstetrician, and four different pediatricians. I tried breast shells and nipple shields. I was on every conceivable type of homeopathic remedy, tea, supplements, milk-producing foodstuffs, even using synthetic Oxytocin before each feed to try to increase my supply.
Luka's tongue was also positioned far back and seemed almost glued to the roof of his mouth, so I wasn't getting much stimulation there. So I did breast massage, using a breast pump, even getting my husband to try to nurse on me so I would make more milk.
My breasts were starting to get bruised from the pressure of my thumbs trying to make the milk flow better for Luka.
I used to spend ALL day trying to get milk out of me and into my baby. I nearly killed myself trying and had to give up in the end. Even so, I ended up with full-blown postpartum depression. which I am still treating.
I felt overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and failure, I felt less of a woman and less of a mother and believed that my body didn't work the way it's supposed to.
It drives me crazy that I have to explain myself everyday here to strangers on the street as to why I am not breastfeeding. As I said, the breastfeeding thing is huge here, and people (men and women) you don't even know have no qualms about asking intimate questions about your nursing and enjoy telling you that they or their partner had floods of milk.
There seems to be little or no awareness out there that sometimes it is just not possible to breastfeed, no matter how much the mother wants to. There is such a thing as not producing enough milk.
It's still very painful for me that I couldn't breastfeed my baby. I hope someday it won't hurt anymore. I am finally getting my confidence back as a woman and mother. I am discovering that there are other ways to be just as close to my baby: talking and singing and holding him close as I bottle-feed him, giving him little massages, carrying him in a sling and letting him hear my heartbeat, sleeping with him by my side and trusting in my instincts and in what feels natural - as opposed to what I "should" or "should not" be doing. Breastfeeding or not we can still be fantastic mothers with wonderful, close, nurturing relationships with our babies."
I breastfed for as long as I could
"Breastfeeding was important to me. I'm an RN (registered nurse), so I know all about how the nutrients from your breast milk benefit your baby. My planned birth of a natural delivery turned into a medically scheduled c-section so I figured at least I could breastfeed as planned.
Unfortunately, I struggled greatly with milk supply. I was pumping on day one and had to supplement with formula within three days. I cried when she first took the bottle.
She wouldn't latch naturally and suck, so I had to use a breast shield to breastfeed her. But I persevered.
My daughter is now six months old, and I have pumped three times a day for 10 - 20 minutes each time. By doing so, she took the breast in the morning and received about one bottle a day of pumped milk- the rest was formula.
This was the best I could do, and I wanted her to get whatever I could give. To add to my challenge, I couldn't take any medications for increasing milk supply for my health reasons. Therefore, it was a pump or nothing.
So here I am, and it is so hard. She is now on solid food, and I don't have the time to take care of her, feed her, make food and pump, so I'm putting the pump away.
My goal was initially one year before starting to breastfeed, then four months and I made it to 6. I never worked so hard at anything in my life, and I should be proud of myself.
I do fear being judged for giving formula, but I did my best.
I have many friends who were unable to produce enough milk to feed their babies, yet you never hear about this. We need to support mothers, including their choices on how to feed their children."
Deep and humble gratitude
"Been there, got the T-shirt. It's devastating to want to breastfeed and not be able to.
I wanted a natural birth and had to have an emergency C-section. I wanted to breastfeed, and at the 10-day checkup, my baby was still losing weight from her birth weight. The doctor said to feed her as much of your milk as you can (which was very little, sadly) and supplement with as much formula as she needs.
The aim is that our babies are healthy, develop, and grow. Instead of focussing on the negative, maybe we should be grateful that we live in places that have formula milk available with which we can feed our babies - imagine having nothing at all to give them.
I have a happy, healthy baby and for this, I feel profound, deep and humble gratitude - every day.
May I never become complacent enough to forget this feeling."
Tried to breastfeed but couldn't
"For all of the mothers who tried to breastfeed but couldn't, please do not feel discouraged.
Your children love you, and you love them, that's all that matters : )
I have a beautiful six-week-old son, and I went through the same thing. My milk never really came in - the most milk I produced from pumping was only 10 ml total!
After discussing with my Dr. and lactation consultants, no one knows why I'm not able to produce.
I may not be able to produce breast milk for reasons unknown....but I'm still able to be a great mom to my wonderful child. So ladies, please don't be depressed, or feel bad, you are great moms. God bless."
Milk protein allergy
by Jennifer (North Carolina)
"My daughter was born through an unplanned c-section. I was not able to breastfeed her until 4 hours after her birth due to all the medication I was given.
I was shaking too much to even hold her for the first 2 hours after she arrived. I was not told that the c-section might affect my milk supply, and the first day I brought her home from the hospital, she screamed in hunger for hours because I had no milk. At 3 AM I went to a 24-hour Walgreens and bought her formula, and finally, after drinking a bottle of formula, she fell asleep.
I was so relieved. Even though my milk came in eventually, I never produced very much, and after feeding her for hours all day long, she would begin crying by 4 PM every afternoon in hunger.
All the breastfeeding websites said to keep trying and not give her formula, or my milk supply would drop even more, but my baby was crying and hungry so that I would give her a bottle of formula. Then at one-month-old, she began to have bloody mucus in her diapers.
My pediatrician diagnosed her with a milk protein allergy and suggested an elimination diet along with supplementing Nutramigen as she was not gaining weight quickly enough.
For one month I pumped seven times a day around the clock, including at 1 AM and 5 AM to keep up my milk supply while I waited for the milk proteins to leave my milk.
Every time I tried to give her my milk, however, blood and mucus would appear in her diaper immediately after. No matter what foods I eliminated all dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, etc. she reacted to my milk.
Every time I changed her diaper, I felt afraid to see flecks of blood. When I gave her only Nutramigen, the blood and mucus cleared up. In the meantime, my left breast stopped producing milk.
After a month of pumping only a few ounces of milk per day, which I could not give to her, I decided to quit.
I am so upset after hearing for so long breast is best and how my baby will be obese and have low IQ and get sick because I cannot give her my milk. I miss being able to nurse her, but I do not know what else to do.
Since receiving only Nutramigen, she looks very healthy and has gained weight. She is starting to have chunky legs and a baby belly, which she did not have before. She also has normal diapers. Even though I feel guilty for not being able to breastfeed her, I want to do what is best for her. I want her to be healthy. She is seven weeks old today."
Yet again I am unable to breastfeed
by Zoe (Uk)
"My heart is crying today, this is my third baby, and yet again I am unable to breastfeed. My milk never comes in - my babies always end up losing weight and never gain it properly.
With each baby, it seems to have gotten worse. This time around I couldn't get enough milk out at all. With the other two I did combined feeding, and I could deal with that.
I'm sick of everyone saying all women can produce milk it's all about supply and demand.
My breasts didn't work the way they should have. I feel like a failure."
Without formula, I don't think he would have made it.
by Moria (Columbia, MD)
"I had a c-section in March and wanted to breastfeed my baby boy. We spent four days in the hospital with the nurses and the lactation specialists stopping by every 3 hours to check on me and my baby.
On the 3rd day, he'd lost 10% of his birth weight, and they brought me formula to supplement the feeding. I felt like such a failure. The lactation consultants did not help with that at all.
I was close to tears every time they talked to me because his latch was great, but I was not producing. They even brought in a pump to try and help. I never got much out of either breast. Before pregnancy, I was in between a B and C cup. My nipples got bigger, but the breasts never really did.
Then a week after birth we went to my son's pediatrician. While getting dressed I put on my normal bra and was dismayed to see that not only did not fit, it did not fit because my breasts were maybe an A cup! I burst into tears.
Barely holding it together, my husband went with me to the appointment. Our son still getting supplements, he and I talked about going to formula exclusively - to make sure our son got enough to eat! When the pediatrician walked into the room - he took one look at me and said: "There is a reason that they make formula to be the best it can be, and as close to breast milk as they can. Feeding your child formula is not a problem, and I've seen it many times in my 30 years of being a doctor. You are doing great with the formula, and he is doing fine." It was the best thing I could hear, especially coming from a doctor. We stopped and got bottles and formula on the way home and have not looked back.
Other people are surprised when they hear my breasts shrank - I am not sure if it is because I am overweight or if diabetes played a role, but I am GLAD they make such great formula out there. My son is almost five months old, and he is 15 lbs and 1 ounce. Without formula, I don't think he would have made it."
Perfect latch - Huge breasts - Insufficient milk!
by Lesley (UK)
"For years I told myself "I'll have a breast reduction after I have children and breastfeed them" because my breasts are enormous and inconvenient - they get in the way, buying bras is almost impossible and expensive.
I'll be very lucky to avoid serious spinal issues in old age because of the weight of them. I had to make my own sleep bra and just pray that when my milk came in, my boobies wouldn't expand too much.
Well, at the age of 35 I had my son. Despite the first 24 hours of him in the special care unit and me stuck in bed recovering from the caesarian section, when I got him back he had a perfect latch. And 2 hours later, he was still latched. He even slept while still sucking. And screamed if I unlatched him to try to do anything like switching him to the other breast.
And 3 days later, we were still in the same routine - he'd be latched and sucking all day and was still losing weight. Finally, a midwife told me to give him formula. I felt like an utter failure. So I latched him for 3/4 of an hour (and the lactation experts in the hospital checked so many times and said "well, he has a perfect latch!" and "keep at it, your milk will increase!"), unlatched him and had a good squeeze & grope (while feeling bovine - moo!) to check... no milk left in there! So he had a formula feed and went to sleep happily while I cried. Every feed after that was the same - 3/4 of an hour, then a bottle.
He stopped losing weight. We left the hospital. I tried breast pumps. I never did get enough for a full feed, despite spending hours and hours each day with pumps attached. I pumped and poured it into his formula feed because some milk is better than none, right?
I gave up pumping after 3 months, I just couldn't do it anymore for less and less milk... when I was down to 5ml in a day it was just time to admit I'd dried up. I decided that time spent being happy and able to interact with others, including the baby, was more important.
I've since found out that the medication I'm on could theoretically have reduced the amount of milk I can produce - but not one of the experts mentioned that at the time. Just "keep trying, your milk will increase!" They let me feel like an utter (or udder!) failure while my (already tiny) son's weight kept dropping.
I'm pregnant again now and will try again because I know it is best for the baby, but with bottles, pump, and formula standing by because I suspect they'll be needed again.
And yes, the boobie police from both sides have already started trying to tell me how to feed my child who hasn't even been born yet!
Insufficient Glandular Tissue is a real problem for some women
by Nashville Mama (Nashville, TN, USA)
"Insufficient Mammary Glandular Tissue is a real problem for some moms, like me, and should be addressed on sites like this or diagnosed by a Lactation Nurse/Consultant.
No matter what remedy I tried, and I tried them all for months on end, I never made more than 1 oz per breast, at best. This was measured by weighing my babies #1 and #2 (2 years apart) intake before and after at an LC's office several times, by hand expression, and by pumping (with which I had the worst results)."
Re: I couldn't agree more
"I too have insufficient glandular tissue but no one would dare diagnose it for me! I tried breastfeeding for two months, with pumping, domperidone, massage, feeding every two hours... you name it, I've tried it. But the only message I would get even from lactation consultant was that there was no link between the size of my breasts (at most an A cup while nursing) and the amount of milk I produced.
In the end, sites like this one helped me realize that there was such a thing as low milk supply caused by hypoplastic breasts! Although I had a very hard time coping with this in the beginning, I am now bottle feeding with formula and my 5-month-old couldn't be healthier!!
I do hope that it will be different with the next baby but only time will tell and I won't feel so guilty if it doesn't work."
Inability to breastfeed
"I have a five-week-old, and an inability to breastfeed.
I was breastfeeding exclusively for 3 weeks around the clock. He never gained weight. Pumping brought very little. Maybe 1-ounce totals. The pediatrician suggested I supplement.
What a difference that made! I had a content happy baby instead of a screaming baby. I have mostly gone to formula now.
I still feel guilty. I am tired of hearing that breast is best. My husband is suggesting I go to a breastfeeding support group. I just want to give up. I don't see myself ever being successful at breastfeeding."
The most I felt was an inch from my nipples
by Dawna (Arizona)
"I couldn't breastfeed either of my girls and I don't suppose I will breastfeed the one I am expecting now.
I tried all the herbal remedies the second time around and both times I pumped. There was no difference in my milk production! I could only get 3/4 oz!
Although I was prepared for the possibility of not being able because my sister and my aunt were unable, it was still very hard and depressing!
Any lactation consultant I talked to or anything I read online gave me the impression that I was lying almost or not trying hard enough.
I've heard friends tell me they felt engorged in their whole breast when the most I felt was an inch from my nipples (and it took long past feeding time to feel that way)!
Why wouldn't it be possible for some women not to breastfeed? Just because your body is supposed to do something, doesn't mean it's going to.
For everything the body is supposed to do, some people can't do it! That includes producing milk! I wish the medical community would research this and try to find a way to help those of us that are dying to breastfeed but simply can't!
I am grateful for the encouragement and understanding of my family and doctor. They encouraged me when I tried and reassured me when I had to stop!
They remind me that while I didn't give my baby very much, I gave her some in the most important time and that is worth a lot!
I want to pass on that same encouragement! Whether or not you decide to try and breastfeed again or not. You are doing what's best for your baby! You did your best and your baby will thrive on formula just as he/she would on breastmilk!
What you have given has added to the health and benefit of your baby and you should feel comfort in that!
Remember you are a loving mother that does what it takes to care for your baby and that means so much more than your inability to breastfeed!"
Wasn't producing enough milk
by Emil's mama
"Thank you so much for these stories! I cried reading them because it all sounded like what happened to me with my son.
I wasn't producing enough milk, and he became dehydrated. We spent an extra 4 days at the hospital, and I felt like such a bad mom. I had wanted to breastfeed so badly. Luckily, I have amazing in-laws who bought me formula and gave me so much positive support when I had to bottle feed.
I am due in a month with my second child, and while I would like to breastfeed, I won't hesitate to give him formula this time."
"I tried Fenugreek, Motilium, drinking lots, breastfeeding on demand, pumping after feeds, got baby's tongue tie snipped, saw a lactation consultant, cranial osteopathy, used SNS feeding system, but all to no avail! The specialist midwife had not even heard of my congenital problem.
I have tuberous breasts so I simply did not have enough glandular tissue, plus with my baby's tongue tie breastfeeding was incredibly hard. I had no choice but to combination feed from the start. When asking for help they would do a blood sugar test after the formula and say "she's doing fine" or weigh her and say "she's not lost more than 10% of her body weight yet".
I felt so guilty, but knowing my baby is now healthy and growing is what's important. Someone I know is continuing to breastfeed against Dr's advice, her baby is still not at her birth weight after 10 weeks. She still thinks breast is best, it's simply not the case for everyone!"
Feel so good after reading this
by Florence (South bend, Indiana, USA)
"Hello, I felt the same as most of the women here.
I did try for more than a month to breastfeed my baby girl without any success and yes, people criticize us because they think we gave up too soon and that's not the case.
I am pregnant with my second baby and I will try harder to breastfeed but if that is not happening again I wouldn't feel as discouraged as I did before."
"My milk never came in after the birth of son due to Prolactin deficiency. My pituitary was damaged during labor not because of bleeding out (the normal cause of Sheehan's) but because my blood pressure went really low for too long after getting epidural. If your labor was difficult and then your breast milk doesn't come in ask for testing of hormone levels or see an endocrinologist."
"Hi, my son is now nearly one but I remember it like yesterday the way I felt when he just would not latch, I felt like a complete failure as a mother and as a woman.
I had lactation consultants who did their best but it just wasn't to be.
I did express for a while but he was a big boy and required regular top-ups of formula otherwise he would cry constantly.
Eventually, I gave up expressing altogether because between pumping and sterilizing bottles I had no quality time with my son and huge issues with sleep deprivation.