why are there so many mothers who dont make enough milk- tf opinions - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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as i delve further into a tf lifestyle and way of eating i am struck by how many stories i hear of mothers not being able to make enough milk for their babies and needing to supplement or wean before one year. i just read sally fallon's account of her own breastfeeding struggles and am wondering what you wise tf mamas think is going on with this problem.

i used to assume that when women said they werent making enough milk and had to quit breastfeeding that they really were simply uninformed and suspicious of breastfeeding and just didnt really want to breastfeed, or felt embarrassed to breastfeed so they used the "not enough milk" excuse to quit, because who is going to judge a mama trying to save her baby from starving, right? but after reading sally's testimony and other moms blogs about not making enough milk it seems like they genuinly believe they HAD to start formula (often homemade).

anecdotally, i ran into a woman recently who had a 4 month old babe and asked me if i am breastfeeding, which i am, she then told me that her baby had been super fussy and she had started giving formula and the fussiness disapeared and now she only nurses once a day.

how are people determining that they dont make enough milk? rae they weighing baby after feeds and finding that baby isnt getting much? are they pumping and measuring? or is baby simply "fussy" and they assume baby isnt getting enough milk and thus begins the cycle of supplementing and the start of weaning?

according to sally fallon she says women can make enough milk if they have the right diet but she also says that in other animal species some individuals just dont produce much milk and their offspring must be "bottle fed or die".here is a link to that quote from ms. fallon
http://www.westonaprice.org/children/saga.html

what do you all think? is it cultural- ie. our culture doesnt truly support breastfeeding and it undermines our success at it by advertizing formula ect? or is it truly a physical problem of women having such poor diets that they cant produce enough milk? or is simply luck of the draw- that some women arent good milk makers despite a good diet?
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#2 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 01:53 PM
 
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what do you all think? is it cultural- ie. our culture doesnt truly support breastfeeding and it undermines our success at it by advertizing formula ect? or is it truly a physical problem of women having such poor diets that they cant produce enough milk? or is simply luck of the draw- that some women arent good milk makers despite a good diet?
I think it is a mix. I've met women who claim they couldn't nurse, but when they tell you their story you see elements where they were undermining themselves and causing their own low milk supply. Then you meet women who have obvious hormonal imbalances that either produce too much or not enough. Then you have non-hormonal physical issues, which isn't as common. It seems the cultural and hormonal is on the rise, but the hormonal issues are rising much faster. Overall, I think it's a big, waving red flag from the endocrine disruptors in our food supply and environment.

Making it a cultural norm would minimize the women who can't make enough for cultural reasons, but it's not going to solve the hormone problems.

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#3 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 02:11 PM
 
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Yes, to what the pp said. Its a mix.
I have 2 friends who really really really want to breastfeed, neither of them can do it fully. Both of them have used the SNS or Lact-aid with donated milk or formula. They keep "breastfeeding" though.
Both of them, end up being able to satisfy their child by age of 6 mos and older because then there are also solids in the game and then the need for breastmilk becomes lower.

On the other hand I know lots and lots of women who have simply not had the right information or support to continue. Some just don't want to.

In the animal world it happens as well that some individuals do not produce milk, but this is rare - asked my BIL who is a biologist. The rate in the animal world is very different from that in the human world.
With that in mind I do think it is a big mix, cultural, nutrition and hormonal which is then linked to nutrition.
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#4 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 02:11 PM
 
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Personally, I think its mostly misiniformation and an unsupportive environment. Second to that, IMO is bad diets/hormonal imbalances which in this day and age are essentially the same thing. People are getting So many hormones from the food they eat due to GMO crops, GMO milk/dairy, etc that even if they think they're eating 'healthy' they're really not. And its not their fault. Its just very, very hard to find food thats not GMO and/or full of artificial flavors, colors, hormones, etc.
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#5 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 02:18 PM
 
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I think it's a combination of factors.

There ARE some physical problems that prevent women from producing enough milk, and that keep some women from producing any milk. In "the old days", a few things could happen: the baby would die, the baby would be nursed by another mother (or mothers) in the community, the baby would grow VERY slowly and be sickly (and probably die of disease due partly to malnutrition) or they'd start solids very young to supplement the breastmilk. Wet nursing/cross nursing was probably the most common solution.

In "the old days", women didn't have cosmetic breast surgury, nor did they have surgical treatments for breast cancer. Either they didn't get cancer as much, it was treated non-surgically, or the women didn't survive to reproduce.

Modern obstetrical practices can mess up breastfeeding. Not getting the baby to the breast right after birth, and restricting breast access in the first week can interfere with the development of the milk supply. Excessive blood loss, retained placental fragments (commonly caused by impatient birth attendents), and some drugs used during and after birth may interfere with breastfeeding as well. Some women are VERY sensitive to that first week or two- if the supply isn't properly established right at the beginning, some women are unable to build up a full supply after that. Others are less sensitive, and can fully BF in spite of these kinds of difficulties in the beginning.

Then there's poor breastfeeding management. Besides the stuff about the first few weeks mentioned above, some women are encouraged to space out feedings, get the baby to "sleep through the night", use pacifiers, etc. If a woman is unwilling to NIP, that generally leads to less frequent feedings.

Then there are physicians who don't support breastfeeding. Many of them get women worried about milk supply when the baby is doing just fine, and that can begin the supplement-reduced supply cascade. Few pediatricians will offer breastfeeding assistance, or a referral to a lactation specialist, rather than suggesting formula. There's also the fact that pediatricians are even LOOKING at baby's growth/milk supply issues. Without this oversight, many babies might continue to grow and do OK on breastmilk alone, even if they'd do better with some supplementation.

Not all babies who "seemed to be much less fussy" after drinking a bottle of formula truly needed to be supplemented. Maybe the baby was less fussy because he or she was worn out from trying to digest the heavy formula. Maybe it was day 2 of a growth spurt, and the milk supply was ALMOST catching up, and in another day the problem would have resolved on its own. Or maybe supplementation was truly needed in that situation- possibly because of obstetrical practices that interfered with the development of her milk supply initially. Or maybe she was one of those women who would have needed a friend or relative to nurse her baby once or twice a day back in "the old days."

It's likely that maternal nutrition plays a role in milk supply as well. I'm guessing that, if this is the case, we're talking about the mom's nutrition going back years and years, probably back to her own childhood. Poor nutrition might have prevented her milk glands from developing properly. Or maybe it only goes back a year or two, and if she had a good supply of nutrient stores, she'd be able to make richer/more plentiful milk. And obviously, good nutrition while lactating means a healthier mom (who's not feeling so drained or overwhelmed) and possibly more nutritious milk, although women can still produce plenty of milk in sub-optimal conditions. I suspect this varies greatly between individuals: some women are able to produce plenty of good milk no matter what, while other women are much more sensitive to the effects of maternal diet on milk production.

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#6 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 02:22 PM
 
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Another vote for mostly misinformation. In no particular order:

babies need to nurse often- usually more often than our culture teaches us
babies need to nurse more at night- also not popular in our culture
pacifiers interfere with milk production
artificial nipples interfere with the breastfeeding relationship
being separated and pumping is bad for supply and the nursing relationship (Disclaimer- I realize this is largely unavoidable, but we're discussing what's happening to milk supply- this is a factor)
pumping is not the same as nursing (see above)
spoonfeeding lots of solids messes with supply
other sucking can interfere with supply (sippy cups, bottles, etc)
juices and other milks can interfere

There are VERY few women I've heard of who avoided all of the above and had supply problems. VERY few. Do they exist? Yes. But historically wet nurses- aunts, cousins, etc- would have been available in those rare cases.

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#7 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 02:23 PM
 
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I think the numbers of women who have an actual inability to produce enough milk are teeny tiny. I've always heard the "I don't make enough milk" saying as "My doctor scared the carp out of me by claiming my kid is FTT" or "I don't know a thing about babies and their growth patterns so I thought my kid wasn't getting any milk" or "My baby seemed skinnier/longer than FF babies so he must be starving to death" or "My baby wants to BF every 2hrs and I don't want to do anything near AP, so he is obviously not getting enough"

etc etc

I suppose for those very few women who are actually experiencing a problem, hormones in our food and junk food aren't really helping. But I doubt that it would alleviate much of this "starving BF kid syndrome"

Mama to expecting Babe 2
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#8 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 02:25 PM
 
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I think it's almost entirely lack of support, lack of information and lack of drive. The quality and quantity of a mother's diet doesn't dramatically effect her ability to produce milk. Studies in developing nations have found that mothers, even when faced with conditions of famine, can produce adequate amounts of quality milk.

Sally Fallon is one of the most uninformed breastfeeding resources out there. Her consistent misinformation regarding breastfeeding is the only reason I have not yet joined WAPF.

Now, don't get me wrong, I strongly feel that pregnant and nursing mothers should eat natural, whole foods in abundance, but blaming breastfeeding failure rates on poor nutrition is casting blame in the wrong direction.

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#9 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 03:28 PM
 
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Honestly, I think it is related to the fact that the breasts supply whatever is demanded. If a woman keeps telling herself, or being told, that she doesn't have enough milk, she'll stop suckling the baby as much. If, on the other hand, she has a support system of people who will say, as my wise sister did to me, just let the baby nurse as often as he wants to...well, then the supply will tend to meet the demand. The breasts will increase their output in direct relation to how much they are used, whether from pumping or nursing. Most of the mothers I've met with the problem were too quick to say, oh, I just didn't have enough milk, when in fact, they didn't really take the time to try to increase the supply by increasing the demand. It is simple, but not easy, and in our overly-hurried world, slowing down to relax and enjoy nursing in which no actual milk is being-- at that moment--produced, seems to some people unfruitful and a waste of time. But that is precisely what is necessary for the body to increase the milk supply. And of course, I recognize there are very real exceptions, but most of the women I have met that struggled with this, I believe, didn't take the time it requires, but gave up too quickly. Most, I repeat, not all.
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#10 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 04:10 PM
 
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Does anyone think it could be stress related? I am super sensitive to stress. I stop ovulating the second I feel stressed. (even a minor argument or a late fee on a bill or something)

In this case, with these lactating moms- stressors: a new baby, a bad diet, unsupportive fast-paced society, financial issues, faced with going back to work shortly, short or non-existent baby-mooning period which was so common for our ancestors, all of these are such common stressors for moms now days, and we probably all handle this stuff differently. I bet lots of moms are so stressed out their bodies react accordingly. What do you all think about this idea?
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#11 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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That's a good point too DesertMommy. And "feeling stressed" has as much to do with external stressors as it does with our reactions to it. Poor nutrition (especially lack of B vitamins) can make stressful situations feel more intense, and exaggerate physical responses to stress.

Remember that most traditional societies combined emotional support with nutrition, and just called it "nurturing." Every culture had special foods (such as liver) that were considered especially appropriate for expecting and new parents.

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#12 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think it's almost entirely lack of support, lack of information and lack of drive. The quality and quantity of a mother's diet doesn't dramatically effect her ability to produce milk. Studies in developing nations have found that mothers, even when faced with conditions of famine, can produce adequate amounts of quality milk.

Sally Fallon is one of the most uninformed breastfeeding resources out there. Her consistent misinformation regarding breastfeeding is the only reason I have not yet joined WAPF.

Now, don't get me wrong, I strongly feel that pregnant and nursing mothers should eat natural, whole foods in abundance, but blaming breastfeeding failure rates on poor nutrition is casting blame in the wrong direction.

yes, i too have read that even mothers who are literally in starvation can provide enough milk to sustain life in their infants. thats why fundamentally i find it hard to believe that many moms really cannot physically make enough milk
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#13 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 11:21 PM
 
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Interesting thread. I don't know of anyone who is into traditional foods other than myself and I still breastfeed my 16mo DD. At my school I was listening to other gals talk about how they 'just couldn't nurse them' in reference to their children. There are a couple of moms there who nursed until their children were 9-10 months and considered that extended breastfeeding because it was past 6 months. I think it has to do with the cultural image that only poor people nurse because they can't afford formula or something like that. I also think it has to do with advertising, at the hospital I went to they had a strict no forumula adds policy but the other two hospitals in town have tons of sponsorships from formula companies. Out the door of the hospital new moms get free diaper bags, bottles and formula. I don't know any moms from those two hospitals who've nursed beyond the first month. The two moms at my school who nursed their kids past six months both birthed at the hospital i went to.

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#14 of 55 Old 01-30-2009, 11:32 PM
 
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I agree with much of what's been said already, but I think there's another factor, too, which Ruthla alluded to but that I feel compelled to expand upon because it was kind of ME three years ago.

I go back and forth on what would have happened had a hospital not been available for me, but I am pretty sure that I would have died in childbirth. Obviously, I didn't, but I did hemmorhage pretty badly and lost a couple of litres of blood. Afterwards, although DD nursed pretty well from the start and I was all about boobies all the time (I remember nursing her for about 5 hours straight when she was a week or so old) my milk never "came in". I nursed her literally EVERY opportunity I got. If she was awake, she was on the boob. And she was obviously, painfully, not gaining. My midwives - who were VERY reluctant to advise supplementing - stepped in at about day 15 and recommended that I do so.

I'm pretty sure this was related to shock, blood loss, stress, and anemia - all of which are not uncommon during birth nowadays, but pre-industrially, births like mine were pretty much a death sentence. That having been said, preindustrially people did not wait until their mid-thirties to have babies, and I have no doubt the outcome would have been different had I had my daughter 10 years earlier.

Anyway, I went on domperidone, nursed and pumped as much as I could, and after a couple of months my supply WAS sufficient for EBF. I can, however, completely understand why women who don't have the motivation or support that I had would give up. Supplementing AND nursing? Pretty much hell. It's the worst of both worlds - all the PITA of bottles, plus all the stuck-on-the-couch-OMG-I-have-to-pee of nursing a newborn. Plus stress!

Frankly, I don't think nutrition has much to do with it. I was raised on wild game and organic vegetables, my parents never bought into the low-fat thing and I ate well during my pregnancy. I think possibly endocrine disruptors could be a cause - although I don't think so in my case, and stress, and post-partum anemia and trauma and lack of information and lack of cultural support or context and just plain not nursing ENOUGH - but it seems to me that the only thing necessary nutrition-wise for adequate breastmilk is adequate calories for mom. Far too many really poor, really malnourished people survived the Industrial revolution for good nutrition to really have that much impact.

Postpartum doula & certified breastfeeding educator, mama to an amazing girl (11/05) and a wee little boy (3/13).

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#15 of 55 Old 01-31-2009, 03:33 AM
 
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i agree w/ much of what's been said.
lack of support and knowledge in the hospital and post partum community (or lack thereof) is a big one. stress is definitely a factor at times. and personally of the women i know who have had this problem, the majority are vegetarians or close to it. i'm not saying this amounts to a scientific study-- there are obviously many other factors as discussed previously-- but in my own opinion i do not think it's a coincidence, either. from a standpoint of studying chinese medicine it makes sense to me. i also could see other maternal health history as being relevant. interesting question.
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#16 of 55 Old 01-31-2009, 12:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by DesertMommy View Post
Does anyone think it could be stress related? I am super sensitive to stress. I stop ovulating the second I feel stressed. (even a minor argument or a late fee on a bill or something)

In this case, with these lactating moms- stressors: a new baby, a bad diet, unsupportive fast-paced society, financial issues, faced with going back to work shortly, short or non-existent baby-mooning period which was so common for our ancestors, all of these are such common stressors for moms now days, and we probably all handle this stuff differently. I bet lots of moms are so stressed out their bodies react accordingly. What do you all think about this idea?
Not in my case, at least. My adrenals bottomed out after Ds was born in spring of '06 from severe emotional stress, yet I still produced such an oversupply of milk complete with painful letdown. Almost 3 years later & I'm still in zone 7 (almost no cortisol) & am still producing a lot of milk & still experiencing let down (tho not painful - probably from going GF...)

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#17 of 55 Old 01-31-2009, 12:54 PM
 
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I've really wondered about this, and it haunts the back of my mind when I think about another pregnancy...

I grew up hearing my mother talk about how wonderful it was to breastfeed and how she had such an abundant supply that she sold her extra milk to the hospital. I never once doubted my ability to make enough milk. I nursed my firstborn for over 3 years, always having enough milk (although knowing what I know now, my milk didn't seem very nourishing, as dd was always very very very skinny.) I had a pretty crappy diet, but didn't yet know better. Oh, and my daughter's birth was about as bad a hospital birth as you can imagine, and I didn't even get to hold her for 12 hours.

When my living son was born, there were once again complications. He got stuck, I hemorrhaged, we were separated a lot. I didn't know when they would "let" me nurse him, so I used the hospital pump, to make sure my boobs knew they needed to get to work. Right after that they let me nurse him, and I had nothing to give... he was HUNGRY, and somehow that moment set up our entire nursing relationship. I never had enough for him. How did I know? It was just obvious. He always wanted to nurse more. I knew how to breastfeed... I was confident that I could and that I would make enough... I knew to never restrict amounts or times or anything. He was on my boob as much as he wanted. I got him chiropractic treatment immediately, to help with his rough birth... so that wasn't a cause. But my boobs were always drained to the last drop. And he always wanted more. He took to food with gusto, but still wanted a LOT of boob. The older he got, the more food he ate, never let my boobs catch up. I started taking domperidone when he was almost TWO YEARS OLD because I still couldn't make enough milk for him, he was nowhere near ready to give up nursing, and I was exhausted... spending hours on the couch, nursing him. By that time my diet was significantly better (although I didn't know about my gluten-intolerance, so who knows how much I was digesting.)

I remember reading somewhere in the WAPF stuff that the breastmilk becomes less rich with each subsequent pregnancy. If that is true, it scares me. I want to believe that I can make enough milk for another baby, but... my confidence has been utterly shaken. I have addressed (by myself, no professional help) adrenal fatigue, my food allergies, and I think I'm made huge strides toward healing my leaky gut. So maybe I've got a whole new situation now. I sure hope so.

I personally feel like if even *I* could have a hard time making enough milk, anyone could. I think a lot of mamas really do struggle with low supply.

SAHM of Kayla (11/98) Hunter (8/03) Jo (1/04) : Jared (2/05) Camelia (12/07) Hope/Chance (11/08) and Jack (12/09)
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#18 of 55 Old 01-31-2009, 02:06 PM
 
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I remember reading somewhere in the WAPF stuff that the breastmilk becomes less rich with each subsequent pregnancy. If that is true, it scares me. I want to believe that I can make enough milk for another baby, but... my confidence has been utterly shaken.
I wouldn't be relying on WAPF for breastfeeding info.

It's possible that breastmilk does become less rich, although I think the difference if you space children appropriately (3-5 saves lives!) is minimal. My wonderful IBCLC-certified doctor told me that mothers almost always make more milk with subsequent children, so even if it IS less rich, there'll be more of it.

I would suspect you had a similar problem to me with the hemorrhaging. Before medical interventions, that was the #1 cause of death in childbirth - I don't think our bodies are adapted to recover from that easily.

Postpartum doula & certified breastfeeding educator, mama to an amazing girl (11/05) and a wee little boy (3/13).

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#19 of 55 Old 01-31-2009, 02:23 PM
 
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Excessive blood loss/hemorraging is one cause of low milk supply - when the mom's body is focused on recovery from something that traumatic her body prioritizes what it can do - and the first priority is the mom's own body healing and everything else (even milk production) comes second to that (for good reason biologically!). Moms with low supply due to traumatic birth are a reality and shouldn't be dismissed as 'didn't have the right information' or 'didn't try hard enough.'

Another potential cause of low supply is women who conceived via ART - there are often underlying hormonal issues and even after getting pregnant and giving birth, a higher incidence of low supply.

Other physiological causes include hypoplastic breasts (i think that's the right term - the breast tissue doesn't develop properly, the breasts look tubular/torpedo-like instead of rounded, breasts don't grow much if at all during pregnancy, milk doesn't come in much. I have known moms with this condition who were able to nurse but it was typically only with supplementing, incredible dedication, and often with subsequent pregnancies b/c of how milk supply tends to increase with each baby).

PCOS is another condition that can have a negative impact on milk supply (again, due to the hormonal issues).
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#20 of 55 Old 01-31-2009, 02:35 PM
 
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I remember reading somewhere in the WAPF stuff that the breastmilk becomes less rich with each subsequent pregnancy. If that is true, it scares me. I want to believe that I can make enough milk for another baby, but... my confidence has been utterly shaken. I have addressed (by myself, no professional help) adrenal fatigue, my food allergies, and I think I'm made huge strides toward healing my leaky gut. So maybe I've got a whole new situation now. I sure hope so.
I have found that my milk supply has gone up with every child, so this is not necessarily so. I have had a lowish supply with my 1st, then enough for my 2nd, with the 3rd a slight oversupply and with the 4th definitely oversupply. I have seen this pattern in many many mothers.
One thing that is very important is that the mother uses an abundant amount of fats and nutrient dense foods. Mothers who are on the malnutrition diet can have problems.
HTH
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#21 of 55 Old 01-31-2009, 02:45 PM
 
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I have yet to meet a mother with supply problems who was not doing at least one of the following: sleep training their infant in some way, using pacifiers or refusing to nurse frequently (and at times, that can mean every hour). Nutrition very rarely has anything to do with milk supply, and when it does, it is an inadequate amount of calories rather than quality of food.

Do I think there are women out there with true supply problems? Certainly. However, I think it is a lot rarer than "society" thinks. I believe a majority of women think they aren't making enough milk when the baby wishes to nurse frequently instead of the four-hour schedule their pediatrician recommended
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#22 of 55 Old 01-31-2009, 03:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by spughy View Post
My wonderful IBCLC-certified doctor told me that mothers almost always make more milk with subsequent children, so even if it IS less rich, there'll be more of it.
I agree that the supply tends to increase with each child. There are also studies that show the fat content increasing with the length of time the child nurses, that didn't mention any differences with subsequent children. I would not consider it a significant factor, especially if you are nursing on demand.

I agree that the majority of supply problems stem from misinformation and cultural norms. At the same time I think the point about decreasing quality of diet, with greater and greater amounts of adulterations, is certainly valid.

I was listening to some women talking yesterday and their idea of healthy was to add splenda to cookie recipes and serve V8 Light - with splenda and food coloring - instead of koolaid. They actually brought this stuff to the kindergarten to serve to the kids.

If you were to push me I'd admit that I think a woman's potential to produce milk probably starts when she is an embryo, through mom's nutrition and genetics, and by the time she lactates, is affected by all those years of her own nutrition level, whether good or bad. Top that with modern birthing practises, all the bad advice about infant care and suddenly supply problems are an epidemic. Sort of a combination of nature and nurture, if you will.
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#23 of 55 Old 01-31-2009, 06:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Natsuki View Post
Excessive blood loss/hemorraging is one cause of low milk supply - Moms with low supply due to traumatic birth are a reality and shouldn't be dismissed as 'didn't have the right information' or 'didn't try hard enough.'

Another potential cause of low supply is women who conceived via ART - there are often underlying hormonal issues and even after getting pregnant and giving birth, a higher incidence of low supply.



PCOS is another condition that can have a negative impact on milk supply (again, due to the hormonal issues).
OMG! I am all 3 of these! And i did NOt have enough milk for dd, no matter what!!!! i discovered after the fact that PCOS could be a cause of my supply issues, as well as my thyroid issues......I had to use fertiltiy drugs to get pg, and hemorrhaged badly. No WONDER I had no milk. This time aroubd, obviosuly i still have pcos, and hypothryoid, but i did NOt lose hardly any blood ( well within normal) and had plenty of milk...hmmmm...

CPST
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#24 of 55 Old 02-01-2009, 02:10 AM
 
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I have yet to meet a mother with supply problems who was not doing at least one of the following: sleep training their infant in some way, using pacifiers or refusing to nurse frequently (and at times, that can mean every hour). Nutrition very rarely has anything to do with milk supply, and when it does, it is an inadequate amount of calories rather than quality of food.

Do I think there are women out there with true supply problems? Certainly. However, I think it is a lot rarer than "society" thinks. I believe a majority of women think they aren't making enough milk when the baby wishes to nurse frequently instead of the four-hour schedule their pediatrician recommended
I had unbelievably low milk supply with baby #1, he was not gaining any weight until I started supplementing. I had no breast changes at all during pregnancy or after birth, never felt my milk come in ever. I nursed him virtually around the clock, he never used a pacifier, we don't believe in sleep training, and he could nurse constantly. We used a SNS, I was on domperidone, and I used herbs. I also had a good diet both before, during pregnancy, and while nursing.

It was somewhat better with baby #2. Still absolutely no breast changes during pregnancy, never felt my milk come in, and was on the max dose of domperidone and took galactophages. She also nursed virtually around the clock. The bonus with her was that we did not need to use the SNS.

I could tell I had milk supply issues with both my babies by using both the "gold" (naked weight checks on the same scale) and "silver" standards" (wet & dirty diaper counts).

I have PCOS, which means my hormones are not in balance with each other. I will most likely have milk supply issues with every baby. There are more women who share my story on the breastfeeding issues board. I do not use pacifiers, schedule my babies, or even sleep-train them now that they are toddlers. Low milk supply is a real issue and a huge struggle to live through. I felt like a failure as a mother because I couldn't exclusively nurse my babies. It feels worse when it is made out to be my own, preventable fault.

WAHM to a toddler, preschooler, and kindergarten student. 
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#25 of 55 Old 02-01-2009, 01:15 PM
 
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Does anyone think it could be stress related? I am super sensitive to stress. I stop ovulating the second I feel stressed. (even a minor argument or a late fee on a bill or something)

In this case, with these lactating moms- stressors: a new baby, a bad diet, unsupportive fast-paced society, financial issues, faced with going back to work shortly, short or non-existent baby-mooning period which was so common for our ancestors, all of these are such common stressors for moms now days, and we probably all handle this stuff differently. I bet lots of moms are so stressed out their bodies react accordingly. What do you all think about this idea?
I think this is a huge thing that is ignored. I suffered from low supply, baby not gaining, used lactation specialists, midwives and doulas...SNS, etc...but we were also preparing to leave the country and although I thought I had it all together, I am now not so sure. Once we arrived in our new home, after a month or two, DS stopped taking the supplements and DH decided my supply issue was totally stress related. I was able to

I also had labor issues due to low hormone production that we thought messed with my milk issues as well, which is possible. I grew up with lots of pollutants in a big city and I'm sure my endocrine system is out of wack.

I will say that a lot of the moms who have nursing issues that I have talked to, can get more stressed out by having the issue. My life was CRAZY with supply issues. Besides having a little new baby, I was pumping and nursing constantly. I was lucky to get a 30 minute break. I was constantly reading and obsessing about supplements and diet.

But as a TFer, I would say that I am SURE diet affected my issues. As I change what we eat and eliminate toxins and chemicals from our lives as much as possible, I see so many things change in all of us, including my hormones(PMS is SO much easier). I know my anxiety has decreased eating this way and am eager to see with child #2 how it has affected my supply.

Just a little side note...if you have never had issues nursing, be really careful making assumptions about moms who have. I am JUST as guilty of this as the next person, but I have to remember how crazy having a new wee babe is to begin with and how crazy it feels to realize you are their lifeline. As moms, we all have to make the best decisions for us and our situation. Education is important, but you can never be in another mom's shoes entirely, and you can never know all of the things that influence decisions she makes that may influence her nursing relationship. Sorry if any of that sounds defensive or directed, I assure you, it is not, just something I try to remember...

S, mama to boy M(6/07) and baby girl R(7/10). We do all the good natural family living stuff!
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#26 of 55 Old 02-02-2009, 04:47 PM
 
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I'm glad I found this thread because I have so many questions about why I struggled with low milk supply with my dd, born a year ago December. There was no immediately apparent reason for why I could not produce enough milk, so I am seeking answers so that I can prevent this from happening with any future children I may have.

I definitely did not time feedings (she was nursing constantly), sleep train, use a pacifier, or have lack of drive to bf. I wanted to ebf more than anything, but for some unknown reason, it did not work for me. My dd was born full term, but never sucked vigorously for any length of time no matter what I did. From what I've read, I've decided she did not stimulate enough prolactin receptors in my breasts early on, and by the time I started pumping, using an SNS, taking herbs, etc., (4 weeks later), it was too late for me to establish a full supply, despite my absolute best efforts.

I am in agreement with those of you who say true milk insufficiency is very rare. I read a study that said the percentage of women worldwide who are physically unable to ebf for a variety of physical reasons is only 1%, yet in the United States that number is estimated to be around 15%, and this is thought to be because of lack of proper bf management and support, stress related hormonal issues, among other preventable causes. I do not have any obvious signs of breast hypoplasia, am of normal weight, eat well, do not have a hormonal disorder. It is easy to blame my body for this, yet I think the picture is much more complex, and largely has to do with a culture and medical industry that is supportive of bf as long as things go smoothly. If problems arise, like they did in my case, Drs. are quick to label women as part of the % that simply don't produce enough milk, and that's that.
I am a very stressed out individual, and like DesertMommy, my body reacts to stress quickly. It is interesting because many Western LCs say stress does not have a major impact on supply, but this is in contradiction to global journals I have read that say anxiety and stress are the most common worldwide cause of low supply. The hormones released when an individual is stressed out not only inhibit oxytocin, but actually prevent prolactin from releasing into cells. I have also been in touch with Dana Raphael, a medical anthropologist and author of the book "The Tender Gift", which she wrote years ago after she experienced lactation failure with her first child. She was so devastated by this that she decided to study other cultures where bf was the norm. She came to the conclusion that breastfeeding is the only biological process that relies on culture in order for it to work. She said in other cultures where breastfeeding issues are much more rare, these women have a confident and knowledgable doula figure at their bedside to ensure that breastfeeding gets off to a good start and in essence works. She likened it to needing someone to sit with you in order for your food to digest once you ate it. For highly anxious people like me, I think this is very relevant.

To be honest, I'm frustrated in a Western system that has not helped me in my quest to find out why I wasn't able to meet my baby's needs. I'm still searching for answers, and was very happy to come upon this discussion which seems to be looking at this issue much more holistically.
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#27 of 55 Old 02-03-2009, 12:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Junegoddess View Post
I remember reading somewhere in the WAPF stuff that the breastmilk becomes less rich with each subsequent pregnancy. If that is true, it scares me. I want to believe that I can make enough milk for another baby, but... my confidence has been utterly shaken. I have addressed (by myself, no professional help) adrenal fatigue, my food allergies, and I think I'm made huge strides toward healing my leaky gut. So maybe I've got a whole new situation now. I sure hope so.


This is not what I've read. I have read that with subsequent babies, mothers produce more milk, and that it is better quality, so that if mom had supply issues with #1, that isn't necessarily and indication of later inability to BF. I can't remember where I read this; it was something I came across several years ago when I was studying to become an LLL leader.

I do think that diet can make a difference in BFing success. However, I also think that stress (and the hormones of stress) can be a huge factor. Stress hormones inhibit the secretion of other hormones, so why would it not affect a woman's ability to BF? Lackluster nutrition (even "good" nutrition by cultural standards), stressful birth (as described by several PPs), stress in significant relationships, lack of security (whether financial, relational, physical, etc.), I think these are all factors involved in BFing success. I don't think in most cases, there is necessarily *one* determining reason that a woman experiences low supply (perhaps with the exception of IGT).
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#28 of 55 Old 02-03-2009, 01:14 AM
 
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I think its mostly lack of encouragement and a lack of information in the medical community and with mothers in general. I'm sure the quality of food does matter. But I'm not sure how much as like previous posters have mentioned women in starving situations have managed to feed their babies. However I'm not sure what kind of problems all the chemicals and crap we've introduced could do, nothing good I'm sure.

When my first was born he was 4 weeks early and had jaundice. He did wake for eating and we had to put ice cubes on him and he STILL wouldn't wake. They told me to never wake a sleeping baby and it was fine if he went 5-6 hours. He was like 2 days old! Well his bilirubin levels were 19 when we had him tested so we admitted him for an IV (He was EXTREMELY dehydrated). I wouldn't give him formula but still was breastfeeding. There they gave me a medical grade pump to lose but I could never get more than an oz. they said it was normal and lots of women don't respond well to pumps. Long story short, he never gained kept losing and I gave him formula at 6 weeks. After a few weeks he wouldn't take the breast and he was all and he was all formula fed. Then I found MDC. I knew this was all my fault for all the things that I allowed to happen. I became suicidal. Finally snapped out of it and was determined with my new baby.

Well, he was 4 weeks early and had to be in the NICU. I went down every 2 hours to feed him. my milk came in, I was feeding him he was eating until I was dry! But he was super yellow. From our previous scare we had him tested. His bilirubin was 22. He was hospitalized. I got a medical grade breast pump. He was tongue tied, I had it clipped. Still he was losing weight and I couldn't pump much at all. I got bigger nipple shields. Still cant pump anything. baby is still losing weight. I was NOT going to let this baby down!

well, he was getting sicker and more and more dehydrated. I gave him formula. I was still breast feeding (and using sns and taking every kind of supplement known to man) and then following up with formula. I was also using a medical grade pump every two hours including at night. He was taking more formula all the time.

I ended up spending over $3,000.00 on different lactation consultants and at home nurses and doula's and midwives assistants. Finally someone suggested I may have Insufficient Glandular Tissue. I had all the symptoms. Got a mammogram, and sure enough I don't have nearly enough milk ducts to feed a baby.

Now that I know I feel much better. My dr's say only 4% of women have this so it is rare. I'm angry that it cost me sooooooo much to find this out and it was impossible to find help. And now I'm lumped in with all the women who just say they don't have enough milk when really they're lazy (I don't mean this, it's just what Im told...all.the.time. by people here and at playgroups, churches...). Everyone always tells me why my breastfeeding relationships fail. I'm thinking of carrying around my mammogram to shut them up.

Anyway, that's my story
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#29 of 55 Old 02-03-2009, 01:34 AM
 
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I definitely think it's a combination of factors.

In my case, I know that I would not have enough milk if I didn't eat a lot of saturated fats and complex carbs (amidst moderate amounts of proteins and veggies and fruits etc). With my first DD I tried moderately reducing calories, thinking that I could lose weight while bf. Well, I soon had a very fussy hungry baby and fortunately I figured it out before a few days went by and started eating to satisfy hunger again. Had a few issues early on with this baby, too. If I'm losing weight, then my baby isn't getting enough milk.

My babies have been frequent nursers, the first moreso than this one. I think I don't tend to make a lot of milk at a time, so I can see how someone would think "oh, this baby is hungry every 1/2 hour, there must not be enough milk!" In my case there is, she just has to nurse every 1/2 hour to get it.

I probably have PCOS, and I had thought that cutting carbs would help my supply go up as it had always helped with my other symptoms in the past, but it turned out to be the worst thing to do!
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#30 of 55 Old 02-03-2009, 02:27 AM
 
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I think much has to do with malnourished bodies. this could cause facial malformations (one kind being the ones Price described), also tongue tie has to do with not having enough vit A and folic acid. TT is a mid-line issue. Both my boys have midline issues to varying degrees. My milk supply tanks both times at 3 months. I have always assumed it was because of my own modern SAD malnourished body, and in essence it was, but the structural element was a pivitol (my goodness how do you spell that?) cause for me. I had to fight hard to get my milk supply up.

Children deserve the respect of puzzling it out.
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