Monday, May 21, 2012

How bout them jugs?

My breasts are the most disappointing thing I have dealt with since my ovaries.

You might think this is a complaint about how they look - but no . . . it is a statement as to their lack of function.  I have never had a good relationship with these two things that sit upon my ribs.  My mother had breast cancer when they were developing . . . so theres not much more to disliking a part of your body when you are developing than thinking one day it might kill you in your forties.

Okay . . . that was depressing . . . but unfortunately how I have looked at them.  Moving to a more humours reason for my dislike . . . THEY JUST GET IN THE WAY!  For the non-lactating individual they serve no more than a sexual attraction purpose, and quite frankly I don't understand the attraction to two sacs of fat that just hang there.

just sayin

So anyway - Mine don't work correctly.  Something I did not anticipate.  I did anticipate difficulties with latching and nipple problems because of their inversion, but I never anticipated that I would have problems actually making the milk.  After talking to many people about this, apparently some fraction of women with PCOS have serious supply issues and I happen to be one of them.  The theory is that there is a high androgen level during pubertal development and the breasts just don't develop correctly.  Unfortunately I didn't know that theory before which made me more disappointed in my lactational status and secondly it made me look kinda dumb.  Everything people say is that it is a supply and demand relationship.  Bull***t.  I have been demanding extra since she was born and I still have puny production.  I am even on multiple (not exactly FDA approved) medications to make my prolactin levels increase.  As much as they help, I can't keep up.

I feed and pump and supplement breast milk followed by formula with the bottle every 2-3 hours and we still rely on formula supplements to feed the kid enough.  This all was fine and dandy until baby girl decided that she does not LIKE the formula.  Now I have heard of picky but this is redicluous.  Its been 2 months and being born at an average size she should be over 11 lb by now.  Instead she hasn't even hit nine yet.  Super frustrating.

Breastfeeding is a lovely, wonderful, natural process that is the best for the baby.  This is all people have kept iterating to me to keep me going.  But seriously . . .  at what expense?  I haven't had self esteem issues like this since I was in middle school going through my very akward stage.   It has given up any chance of sleep that I could get if I wanted.  (people ask me if she is sleeping through the night and I just laugh being on this 2-3 hour regimen . . . and its not like I can just roll over, supply the boob and go back to sleep.) And Anxiety . . . yup.  You get lots of personal issues when you feel that you cannot provide for your infant's most basic need.  Also, people make you feel that you are a horrible person who doesn't love their baby if you even think of giving it up.  I have thought of it, but I don't dare verbalize that.

I had a little breakdown one day thinking that I was never meant to have kids (which still is probably true) and that if I had been back before the time of breast pumps and formula that she wouldn't have survived.  My friend settled me down and reminded me that in the history of man it usually took the village to raise the child, and that likely there would have been another lactating woman around to help me out.

I like to think that is the case . . . that everyone would chip in to feed this little girl.  That my postpartum inadequacy could be overlooked even in prehistoric times and people would help me keep her healthy.  But alas, for the present . . . she gets to try a new formula and I get to renew my commitment to the pump.  I may dislike these two milkbags, but we kind of need them right now.


  1. Not sure if you have though to branch out to any of the milk donation groups on Face book or yahoo but there are many over producing mom's out there that offer their excess for babe's who need the extra because of latching difficulties or low production. Human Milk for Human babies is the group I am currently associated with on face book and there are many Mom's always offering. Hope you are able to find what works best for you. :)

  2. gosh - who knew breastfeeding could be so hard? I have a good friend who's baby is 6 months and she stopped nursing at 12 weeks due to low supply and she had to go talk to a therapist about how bad she was feeling because she couldn't provide breastmilk for her baby. Right now, the upper middle class is obsessed with bstfdg (i.e. Time magazine cover), but if you are really stressed out and not producing despite your best efforts, I believe it's healthier to just go with formula. Best of luck to you your little one!

  3. I've been there, and don't have PCOS to blame it on. Very very large quantities of fenugreek are what allowed me to stop supplementing with formula at 3 months. And now I'm trying to figure out how to wean my boob-obsessed 19 month old.

  4. has become the bane of my existence. I never really got my little girl to latch consistently and feel like a complete failure because of it. I chose to pump and pump and pump some more just to get a supply in.

    Many lactation consultants will recommend fenugreek, and a garlic supplement will also increase your supply. My acupuncturist has done some specific treatments to help with production.

    I did the every three hour thing with the nursing offering supplement and then pumping. I think I slept for all of about 10 minutes until she was 2 months old. I gave up trying to nurse her and just pumped and fed. It wasn't how I wanted things or planned things, but she's getting fed so I guess that's the most important thing.

    Do what you feel you can and know you did the best you could. I still struggle with feeling like a failure for not being able to breast feed my daughter. Check out the PAIL monthly theme for March. It has a bunch of different perspectives on breastfeeding.

    Best of luck!

  5. I'm with you on the PCOS and low milk production. I struggled with it continuously while attempting to breastfeed my son. We tried Reglan for awhile as well but I didn't see much of an increase even though I nursed on a supply demand basis. It's so discouraging when our bodies can perform what seem to be the most basic functions of getting pregnant and feeding our babies. Hang in there, I wish you all the best and share your disappointment about our bodies!