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?

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Dec 11, 2013
You Are Not Alone
by: Anonymous

I feel for you so much as I was in your shoes when my son was born. I had always planned to breast feed 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 (a bottle that I could fill with formula or expressed milk and a tube that was taped to my nipple) 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!

If it would help to chat further, please email me [email protected]

Dec 26, 2013
You are NOT a failure!
by: Lyssa

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 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.

You are a fantastic mom for providing your baby with breastmilk thus far! But 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.

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Intense sadness and jealousy

by Tina

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 can't 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.

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Feb 13, 2013
Lactation Consultant recommended
by: Shirley

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.

However, for others reading this, I would urge mothers to get help from an IBLC - an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at once if you have any concerns.

...and in those first precious hours and moments, babes MUST be skin-to-skin and feed every 1 and a half hours to get the milk supply going. Don't let babies sleep for 3 hours at a time!

Feb 13, 2013
I understand completely
by: Anonymous

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 eve 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 teak, 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.

Feb 15, 2013
I had low supply trouble too
by: Michelle MOLESWORTH

I also used the Lactaid to feed my son after it became clear he was losing weight with being breastfed.

I did everything to increase my supply, Domperidone, Fenugreek, pumping between feeds. It was difficult to go out - I felt embarrassed to use the Lactaid in public - as though I needed a prosthetic breast to feed my son. I did this for 12 long weeks before moving entirely to formula.

I then started trying straight away for baby number two, feeling that I had missed out on the part of motherhood in not being able to feed my firstborn.

I too feel jealousy at other mums that can breastfeed. I used to feel like a failure, but now I look back and am proud of my efforts-much more work than those who can feed easily.

I hope you can look back one day and feel proud of yourself too. I have read everything and made a plan to hope that breastfeeding goes more successfully next time, but there are no guarantees.

Now we are having trouble conceiving baby number 2 - trying for a year and a half now — mothers who can conceive and feed easily don't realize how lucky they are when my journey of motherhood has been filled with lactation and fertility appointments and pain and frustration.

It helps to know that you are not alone. If you want to chat more, please feel free to email me [email protected]

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I so desperately wanted to breastfeed

by Dianne

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 bf torture after six weeks. When B 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... 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.

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I didn't and my baby is more than amazing!

I had a lot of guilt over not breastfeeding because that's what I always wanted to do, but it's okay if you want to do formula. Here is my full story about it:

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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 fore milk. 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 mustn't be doing something right.

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, 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.


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Sep 02, 2013
You are NOT alone!
by: Lyssa

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 body weight 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 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 a "SNS" so you can "breastfeed" even with formula. :)

Sep 03, 2013
I completely understand
by: Anonymous

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.

May 22, 2014
Thank you, Maria
by: Anonymous

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.

Dec 04, 2015
M hubby wont support me
by: Mai Rona

I wish my husband were as supportive. He blames me, and I feel so so guilty about it. I am afraid to go out with her in public because of the shame of pulling out a bottle of formula at her tender age (6 weeks).

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Selfishly sad

by kelly

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 BF 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 tests 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, on 2/23/13 and the same thing is happening again. I am devastated beyond words again. Nobody thinks its a big deal, but to me it is.

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Mar 01, 2013
Normal To Feel Sad
by: Michelle MOLESWORTH

It is indeed not selfish to feel sad about this. I had always planned on breastfeeding my son, and it was devastating to realize that he was losing weight and my breasts were not full like other mums. I nursed with a tube going into the corner of his mouth which topped him up with formula as I breastfed but it was embarrassing to do this in public-as though I needed a prosthetic breast to feed my son. The emotional toll was too great, and after 12 weeks, I went to bottle feeding. We are now trying for our second, and I hope the same thing does not happen again, but there are no guarantees. I felt so alone. Everyone else seemed to breastfeed. I have signed up to this site and got emails when people post stories so that I can read them. Quite regularly, there are stories like ours where we don't produce milk. Thank you for sharing. It makes us not feel so alone. People told me to 'get over it,' but we know what devastation it brings us. If it helps to talk to someone in the same boat who understands, please feel free to email me [email protected]

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