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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.


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 (41-50):
by on Nov. 20, 2013 at 11:55 AM
For some low milk supply is a real issue. I had no issues with my first two. With number 3, my supply has struggled since he was born. After birth, it was medical reasons that I couldn't produce. Now, the issue is working full time and sometimes not getting all of my pumping breaks in on some days.
by Emerald Member on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:03 PM

When I had my dd I bled out during surgery. My blood pressure bottomed out. I could not make any breast milk and I was devastated. I did everything the nurses told me to do. The most I ever pumped out was 25 cc (which is 1/4 of an ounce) of milk after pumping for 45 minutes with a suction cup on each boob. My dd was quickly loosing weight, but she still weighed enough for me to take her home. I tried and tried, and then cried and cried. 

Two years later, I discovered that I most like had something called Sheehan's Syndrom. It is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure and if you have thyroid issues to boot (and I do) then it can cause your body to stop making prolactin with is essential to producing breast milk. 

by Also Not Paul on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:07 PM

With my son I stopped producing completely after 3 weeks of very low supply and seeing lactation consultants and doctors and midwives because he was losing so much weight and was constantly crying because he was hungry. So I think, from personal experience, that it DOES happen. However, with my daughter, I'm able to exclusively breast feed and give her everything she needs. She's gained weight and is super healthy and strong. I had support, information, and the will to do it both times, but only one of my children were able to receive the benefits. 

I don't know if it happens to as many women as is believed. I know a LOT of doctors that still push formula or supplimenting. That DOES lower milk supply, which could be a root of the problem after the fact. 

Ask me how you can be of at least average intelligence!

by on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:10 PM
1 mom liked this

I think most woman are just uninformed & their source (their dr) is just as badly informed... 

Breastfeeding takes work.. The first 2 months your child will be attached to your boob. Period. 

Nursing is supply/demand.... Your baby nurses, tells body to make more milk.. So your body makes more... If your baby is not nursing enough then your body stops/slows down milk production.. 

by *you're on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:11 PM
1 mom liked this

I agree. I think women in general are being let down by a real lack of education about it, even many who are being relentlessly pressured about bf.

Quoting svolkov:

I think people who think they have low supply are either misinformed or having other 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

by on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:11 PM
1 mom liked this

 I never had this problem. I could have fed the whole state of Florida.

by on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:12 PM
I think it is a real thing..but not nearly as many women have that problem as they say. Most just don't want to nurse so they use that as an excuse to not be judged.
by Ruby Member on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM
I have doubts. I don't know how women can even feel if their breast are "full" or not unless they are engorged. But if they are engorged its usually because the child missed a feeding right? I have to pump because I work and sometimes I will pump in the morning right after I nursed my daughter for 20 minutes from both breasts and I still get enough. Or I will pump first and then nurse and my daughter has no problem.
by on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Because so many women want to breastfeed successfully. We need to help each other.

Quoting Anonymous:

Why the hell do people care so much how a woman feeds their child?

by Anonymous 8 on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:25 PM

i think it's a real problem for SOME women.

I think others get stressed or tired and need a break and call it low supply cause their baby is demanding more milk than they think he needs (or for the 40th time in the day and they're just beat). I think it's something nobody tells you before you give birth: your baby is gonna need to nurse OFTEN..and you're gonna think for a few months that you've become a milk dispenser and nothing more. And during growth spurts it will increase in frequency. If you keep nursing through it, your supply will be fine for most women.

That being said, with my first, i didn't realize he'd need to be attatched to me 20 hours a day and i gave him a bottle or 2 a day. I didn't have a lot of problem with my supply but with my second i knew what to expect so i didn't lean on that as backup. i knew i'd be ok and that the frequency would lessen the older she got.

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