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Do you think low milk supply is not as big a problem as everyone makes it out to be?

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Low Breast Milk Supply Isn't Even a Real Thing (Usually)

by Adriana Velez

breastmilk movieMaybe it's just because I live in a city with a lot of stressed-out women, but it seems like I've known a lot of women who felt like they couldn't produce enough breast milk. Most of us -- oh yeah, I'm including me -- went through the bother of pumping with hospital-grade pumps and using other remedies and torture devices to try an up our supply. But did we really need to? What if, all along, we were making enough? What if we just needed help getting our babies to access the milk we were making?

In Ricki Lake's new documentary, Breastmilk two Australian moms question what seems to them an American obsession with pumping and milk supply. One of the moms says something I think cuts deeply into the issue. 

To be honest, I see it as an assumption that woment's bodies can't possibly be good enough by themselves, that you need to supplement it, that you need to control it, that it's unmeasurable and you don't really know. And so therefore there's this ignorance and this fear associated with it.

Wow, I'd never really thought about it that way. I think she may be right. Low milk supply -- is it a myth?  We actually don't know the exact number of women with low milk supply. "You cannot find a number for this," says Marianne Neifert, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. She says it's probably around 1 to 5 percent of Western women.

More from The Stir: 5 More Breastfeeding Myths You Probably Believe Are True

But that idea that our bodies are not enough -- that definitely rings true. I think we feel that way about our bodies for so many other reasons. Why wouldn't it also apply to how we feel about breastfeeding? I think back now to when I first doubted myself. It was when my pediatrician said my baby wasn't gaining enough weight fast enough. She told me to supplement with formula -- and you know what? That turned out fine. My son caught on to breastfeeding and I did dump the supplements.

But what if I'd known that low milk supply isn't really all that common? What if my first pediatrician (yeah, I switched) had recommended a lactation consultant instead of formula? And what if my health insurance had covered lactation consultants at that time, like they all effing should? Imagine the difference this would make.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Do you think low milk supply is not as big a problem as everyone makes it out to be?

by on Nov. 20, 2013 at 10:20 AM
Replies (31-40):
strongforthem
by Platinum Member on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:02 AM
This. Your milk supply goes up and down often during breastfeeding. I'm sure that it is a real issue now and then, but mostly I believe it's lack of education and fear of losing your supply.


Quoting svolkov:

I think people who think they have low supply are either misinformed or having other problems....like pumping issues/not eating and drinking enough.



When babies go thru growth spurts it often feels like u are having supply issues... even when its perfectly normal

PoplarGrove
by Gold Member on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:11 AM
2 moms liked this

Yes, low milk supply is becoming more prevalent and more of a problem that the medical community and society needs to come to terms with.  Three of the major causes of low supply are medications given during labour (like the anesthesia in epidurals), stress and  low post partum support (which goes along with stress).  

In generations past a woman wasn't expected to hop out of bed 2 days after baby is born and pretend that her body isn't going through some of the most dramatic changes it will ever go through in her life.  Often she's been given an epidural and told it won't affect the baby but anesthesia is shown to seriously affect the milk supply in the first few weeks.  

Even in hospital, while rooming in is wonderful, she is left to care for an infant often by herself in an unfamiliar environment and sometimes made to feel like a horrible mother if she asks someone else to hold the baby for a while while she tries to get some rest. That can be exhausting and exhaustion isn't condusive to milk supply.   Then she gets home and her partner returns to work, leaving her alone with a newborn and often no one to help her at all.  

Then the medical community sticks their nose into the mix and instead of giving her support and encouragement causes her to second guess every decision she's making.  And if you like in America you get, what, 6 weeks to establish a good nursing relationship before you are forced to go back to work.  

I think post partum doulas and lactation consultants should be standard practice for every woman after birth.  And lactation consultants who have actually nursed a child.  I remember having one come to visit me after my third was born who told be I was nursing her wrong (because I hadn't just nursed a child for 3 years or anything) because it wasn't the way her books and instruction had told her I was supposed to do it.  Turned out she had never had a child, let alone nursed one.  Had it been my first child I likely would have failed at nursing with her advice.  But having already nursed 2 children I knew what worked for me.  

Lilfootmommy
by on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:14 AM
My child almost died because of my almost non existent milk supply so yeah id say its a big deal and a real problem
Anonymous
by Anonymous 7 on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:15 AM
I know that it effects women. I could not bf my oldest almost starved to death because I was not producing enough milk. With my other 3 kids I did produce any. So yes I feel it is a problem and I so desperately wanted to bf my kids.
RazzleMySpazz
by spaztastic on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Every time I hear someone say they suffer from low supply I remember a conversation I had with a friend once...

We were talking about breastfeeding.. She said that her and almost every mother friend she had, had noticed their milk start to dry up around 10 months....

I told her I didn't have that problem.... Dd was breast feeding a little less and my boobs got a lot smaller around then... But I did produce plenty..... Well exactly how much my dd needed... Breastfeeding was always surprisingly easy for me...

She said.... But you got smaller... Made less...




I just wonder how often someone's sees a change in breast feeding like this and assumes something is wrong... She started supplementing around 10 months because she thought that something was wrong... When really it was probably fine and she caused a problem by supplementing instead just bf more...
BambiF
by on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:19 AM
I think most women who day they have low milk supply are misinformed, or lying.
BambiF
by on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:22 AM
I had a similar conversation with a mom with a six month old. She was supplementing because she wasn't getting engorged anymore...I said"well that just means your supply has regulated"
She didn't believe me, and I didn't push it.


Quoting RazzleMySpazz:

Every time I hear someone say they suffer from low supply I remember a conversation I had with a friend once...



We were talking about breastfeeding.. She said that her and almost every mother friend she had, had noticed their milk start to dry up around 10 months....



I told her I didn't have that problem.... Dd was breast feeding a little less and my boobs got a lot smaller around then... But I did produce plenty..... Well exactly how much my dd needed... Breastfeeding was always surprisingly easy for me...



She said.... But you got smaller... Made less...









I just wonder how often someone's sees a change in breast feeding like this and assumes something is wrong... She started supplementing around 10 months because she thought that something was wrong... When really it was probably fine and she caused a problem by supplementing instead just bf more...
Roo1234
by Platinum Member on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:30 AM
1 mom liked this

There are so many issues beneath the surface of this issue.  

Women doubting themselves, their bodies, petrified they aren't ""good enough" .  From early on girls are raised to question everything about themselves.  Why wouldn't it carry over to this, one of the most meaningful parts of parenthood-providing for our child.

This collides with the fact that there are no numbers to crunch.  You can't assess a feeding by ounces consumed-which ironically was one of the things I really liked about breatfeeding.  It allowewd my child(ren) to control their consumption from day one.  They learned to trust their own, rather than external, cues. But, without those numbers, you look like you aren't a good parent, because you can't actually say "baby ate 3 whole ounces today" when asked. Many people liek that sense of control. Bigger numbers mean success.  No numbers must mean something worse.

Yes, there are women who struggle with supply, there are a good number of women who simply can't, but we are so quick to write it off and say "give up" rather than realizing it isn't an all or nothing world.  Our culture is all about getting results quickly, rather than slowing down and looking at the problem from more than one angle to see if there is something more that can be done to ease the mom's worries, struggles and even if she then doesn't continue nursing, still nurture a sense that she didn't fail.

cybcm
by Gold Member on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Agree with this.

We love to throw out "but other cultures" yeah, well, what are other cultures doing differently? The demand on the mother is very different "in other cultures" for most, a mother who jas just given birth is cared for by her family and community, she's not playing superhero.

Also agree with lactation consultants that actually know what they ard talking about. Even those who have done it themselves can spout the most nonsense. With my youngest I had one trot into my hospital room and inform me that "Honey, trust me, I've breastfed two babies and I have E cups and sometimes it felt like I wasn't making enough, you can't do it with AA's" this was only six years ago, I told her "Look lady, I've breastfed four kids prior to this one so that's crap". She rolled her eyes then told me I was holding my son wrong.


Quoting PoplarGrove:

Yes, low milk supply is becoming more prevalent and more of a problem that the medical community and society needs to come to terms with.  Three of the major causes of low supply are medications given during labour (like the anesthesia in epidurals), stress and  low post partum support (which goes along with stress).  

In generations past a woman wasn't expected to hop out of bed 2 days after baby is born and pretend that her body isn't going through some of the most dramatic changes it will ever go through in her life.  Often she's been given an epidural and told it won't affect the baby but anesthesia is shown to seriously affect the milk supply in the first few weeks.  

Even in hospital, while rooming in is wonderful, she is left to care for an infant often by herself in an unfamiliar environment and sometimes made to feel like a horrible mother if she asks someone else to hold the baby for a while while she tries to get some rest. That can be exhausting and exhaustion isn't condusive to milk supply.   Then she gets home and her partner returns to work, leaving her alone with a newborn and often no one to help her at all.  

Then the medical community sticks their nose into the mix and instead of giving her support and encouragement causes her to second guess every decision she's making.  And if you like in America you get, what, 6 weeks to establish a good nursing relationship before you are forced to go back to work.  

I think post partum doulas and lactation consultants should be standard practice for every woman after birth.  And lactation consultants who have actually nursed a child.  I remember having one come to visit me after my third was born who told be I was nursing her wrong (because I hadn't just nursed a child for 3 years or anything) because it wasn't the way her books and instruction had told her I was supposed to do it.  Turned out she had never had a child, let alone nursed one.  Had it been my first child I likely would have failed at nursing with her advice.  But having already nursed 2 children I knew what worked for me.  


leakymommy2
by Gold Member on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Quoting mom2the.rescue:

The books (that I read) don't teach feeding on demand.  They also don't teach that it may hurt at first.  They teach to feed every 2-3 hours and that it shouldn't hurt at all and that baby should eat for 20 minutes.  If those things don't happen, it's natural for a woman to think something's wrong with her boobs, her supply, or her execution of it all.  

We should be taught to follow our instincts.  If we did that, I don't think so many women would have this 'low supply' problem.  Those first few months need to be feeding baby on demand to get your supply right.


Yes! Yes! yes! We need to stop thinking that our bodies and babies are black and white. Well, you know what I mean. I agree that if we let our instincts over ride our fears more women would be able to successfully breast feed. So many women become stressed with production issues and end up damaging their supply.
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