Thursday, September 16, 2010

What If You Can't Breastfeed

You have probably heard that "every woman can breastfeed her child." Well, I'm here to tell you that that is simply not true. Many of you may disagree but I can speak from firsthand personal experience with this.

I was so excited to be pregnant, and, like many pregnant women looking forward to breastfeeding my son. After a very difficult pregnancy and delivery I tried to get my son to latch so that we could start our breastfeeding experience. He wouldn't I had the lactation consultants at the hospital try to help me. I was told that my son had a high palate and my nipples were short. They had me try a nipple shield and start pumping. I should have known something was not right when I was barely getting any colostrum. I kept pumping faithfully and trying to get him to latch with the nipple shield. We started supplementing with formula because his blood sugars were low. By the time my milk should have come in I was lucky to be able to pump 20-30ml of breastmilk at one time (from both breasts combined). Needless to say I was devastated. I even saw a lactation consultant after I left the hospital. She told me she thought I had insufficient glandular tissue and would probably not get a full supply and she didn't know how much I would get. She thought the ounce I was getting at times was probably the most I would ever get. Again, devastation struck.

My mom told me that my grandmother had not been able to breastfeed any of her children (she didn't know why but I suspect this was the reason). Insufficient glandular tissue is thought to be genetic (although my mom breastfed me). In doing some research I also found that glandular tissue in pregnancy is tied in with progesterone. With some of the problems I had with my pregnancy I wondered if perhaps my hormone levels were fluctuating. There is no way to really know now. I have decided to talk to my OB/Gyn doctor at my next visit about this. Perhaps I will need to try something like natural progesterone cream in my next pregnancy (should the Lord allow me to have more children). I have read that natural progesterone cream used during a subsequent pregnancy has helped some women with insufficient glandular tissue. Of course, the lactation consultant also said that it improves with each subsequent pregnancy, but there is no way to know if I would ever get a full supply. I suppose I will have to pray about it and leave it up to the Lord.

My son is a happy, healthy infant who has thrived on formula. So, to those other women out there who have not been able to breastfeed because of this type of issue know that you are not alone (although it often feels that way). To those who can breastfeed, please don't judge those of us who are not because you never know why some women are not breastfeeding.