Do they have to be useless too, on top of being unattractive?!
September 20, 2010 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Have you been able to breastfeed successfully despite having tuberous (tubular) breasts? Do you know someone who has? Please hope me.

I'm not much of a milk producer so far. It's day 8 and I'm only producing about 20 ml of breastmilk (from both breasts) in a pumping session. (The reason I'm pumping in addition to the attempts at breastfeeding is to stimulate the breasts to produce more milk. We are supplementing with formula, of course.)

A nurse just brought me to the sort of devastating realization that I have tubular breasts and unfortunately, this type of breast generally doesn't produce a lot of milk.

I started domperidone two days ago and have seen a tiny increase in the milk volume.

My question is - might there still be hope for me? I really wanted to breastfeed. I need your honesty, please. If it's getting near the time to accept that I can't do it, so be it.
posted by kitcat to Health & Fitness (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, and yes, I've talked to and received help from numerous nurses, both in person and over the phone. I have a referral to a breastfeeding clinic. I know about the tea and the oatmeal, etc, etc ,etc.
posted by kitcat at 2:09 PM on September 20, 2010

First, hospital nurses may not have adequate training to help with this, so don't despair before dealing with more reliable sources.

Some major info missing here. What metrics were you using to determine that you weren't producing enough at the get-go? What went on before the pumping and formula?
posted by kmennie at 2:23 PM on September 20, 2010

Ditto on everything kmennie said.

Was your baby being weighed before and after feeding to determine how much s/he was getting? (Many women have plenty of milk for their babies and yet have a lot of difficulty pumping, even without tubular breasts.)

I am the furthest thing in the world from an expert on breastfeeding but since having my son 6 weeks ago I've learned that there are all sorts of things that can cause problems with milk supply, regardless of breast shape, so if you're having problems at 8 days I think it's far too early to think that the cause has been pinpointed and it's all over. I know from experience that the whole pumping/feeding/formula routine is enormously exhausting, but even if your baby is just getting 20mls or so right now it's doing him or her good. Keep that in mind as you look for further info.
posted by rubbish bin night at 2:33 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hi Kitcat,
While you're talked to some nurses, it's not clear to me what kinds of backgrounds they have in lactation. Here in Vancouver, a lot of the community health nurses have taken extensive training in breastfeeding and there is fantastic support. I hope that's the case where you are, as it is so helpful. If you are able to call the "nurse on call" at your health unit, you can keep calling till they have someone who really clicks with you, by the way. At least, you can in Vancouver. Anyway, at this point, your baby's stomach is the size of a grape, as I recall, so do keep that in mind as you are thinking about supply. And I do think it takes a few days for things to kick in with medication. Some great sources of support are La Leche League (, and Dr. Jack Newman's site. Dr. Newman was really fantastic - he emailed back pretty quickly. He's an international authority and based in Canada. See I would refer you to him because I was able to email him about some rare things I was experiencing and he was actually the only person able to answer and he was so reassuring!

Also, this may be sensitive, but some people supplement with formula while continuing to pump to keep up demand...even for a long time. And, right now, regardless of how much your baby is getting, your baby is still receiving the benefits of skin to skin contact, your breathing, your heartbeat, a secure attachment, a human pacifier, on demand response to their needs and so on even as you go through these early days and all that will do so much for both of you.
posted by acoutu at 2:33 PM on September 20, 2010

Get yourself to a lactation consultant STAT. The nurses, while awesome, don't know everything.

Please fill us in with more details about why you thought that you were having problems at the beginning.
posted by k8t at 2:37 PM on September 20, 2010

I don't have that condition but I did have an awful time producing enough milk. I would have been thrilled to be pumping 20 ml in a session on day 8. You're really doing great so don't despair too much. It's hard, frustrating, crazy-making work and with all the hormonal stuff and the demands of now being in charge of the whole new person you made, it can be super stressful. So mostly, I wanted to say, hang in there, it gets better (probably). but if it doesn't, it's okay. Don't make yourself crazy over this one aspect of being a mother. There are many, many, other things that you do to earn that title. None is more important than the other.

Also, I took domperidone for months. It helped a little but not a lot. I did hang in there for about 6 months, pumping and supplementing but at that point I was SO ready to be done with it all. Just keep it up until you can't. Lots of nursing as often as you can will really help. Don't fixate over what the pump produces as it may not be at all accurate as to what you're producing when your baby is nursing. I went down sorts of support: a couple of lactation consultants, doctors, friends, the internet. They all said different things and made it even worse for me since I got so confused.

I know lots of women that had a really tough time of it for at least a month or more and then everything sorted itself out and it got much easier. I wasn't one of those women but I hope you are, if that's what you want.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:46 PM on September 20, 2010

All of the above advice, and meanwhile: take your baby to bed and nurse.

Sometimes it takes a little longer for your milk to really come in. Climb in bed with the baby, rest and nurse as much as the baby will nurse, and wait for a call from the lactation consultant.
posted by padraigin at 2:57 PM on September 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

If you don't have a nursing center near you, your pediatrician will probably let you go to the office, weigh the baby, nurse, and weigh the baby again, to get a measure on how much she's getting for the feed. (Since pumping doesn't typically get as much as straight feeding does.) At least, all the pediatricians around here do. Call up and ask the nurse if you could try it out.

If you DO have a nursing center near you (typically affiliated with a hospital in the US, but not always; I see you're in Canada so I have no idea how they work there), this is a pretty common service, the pre- and post-weigh. And they will have tons of expertise to help with stuff generally.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:23 PM on September 20, 2010

Ok - here are some more details.

Day 1: Two nurses (on different occasions) observe, offer pointers and help me with the latch. We have trouble. One nurse says I need a nipple shield. We get one and start using it.

Day 2: Another nurse helps. Baby is very sleepy and it is extremely difficult to wake her up to feed. I learn tricks to help wake her up. Some suggest that she's so sleepy because her blood sugar is low and she's not getting enough to eat. Alternately, some say it could be because of my epidural. Nurses suggest we supplement with formula, which we begin doing. We go home from hospital.

Day 3: Community health nurse visits again and helps again with nursing. Shows some good positions. I tell her that baby is not staying on the breast for long without fussing. Maybe 7 minutes. Seems concerned about supply; says that my milk should come in on day 4 or 5, but notes that my breasts are still very soft. She suggests that I breastfeed, supplement with formula and then pump for the extra stimulation. I start drinking mother's milk tea.

Day 4 or 5 (Can't remember): Community health nurse calls to check in on how nursing is going. Milk still hasn't come in, really. She suggests I go to the doctor and request a prescription for Domperidone. I do this.

Nothing notable for the next few days. Milk production increases slightly, from what I can tell from the pumping sessions. Baby seems to enjoy being at the breast, but depending on her hunger level, she either falls asleep after about 7 min or fusses after 7 minutes, at which point I switch to the bottle.

Yes, I think I will send my question to Dr. Newman. I've read a bunch of his stuff on a nurse's suggestion. Also, I'm in Edmonton and the support for breastfeeding and the community health nurses are pretty good, I'd say. As for La Leche - to be honest, I'm scared of them.
posted by kitcat at 3:26 PM on September 20, 2010

"Baby is very sleepy and it is extremely difficult to wake her up to feed. I learn tricks to help wake her up. Some suggest that she's so sleepy because her blood sugar is low and she's not getting enough to eat. Alternately, some say it could be because of my epidural."

My anecdotal experience, and that of like all my friends, is that BABIES AT TWO AND THREE DAYS SLEEP A LOT and are desperate to doze off after half a feeding, or a quarter of a feeding, or whatever, and that medical staff are desperate to MAKE THEM EAT FOREVER!!!!!! I thought I was going to absolutely CRY if I had to go through the rest of my breastfeeding life tickling the baby's feet with a wipe to wake him up when he was clearly determined to sleep once his stomach was a tiny bit full and warm. For all of us, whether breastfeeders, supplementers, or full-on formula feeders; natural, epidural, or C-section births; the babies eventually started staying awake for a full feeding. DO NOT beat yourself up about the epidural and DO NOT think dozy babies in the first week are unusual.

Definitely, definitely pay attention to the medical professionals about it -- I know they are so super-strict about it to make sure the babies DO get enough foot in the first couple weeks, when, yes, a very dozy baby can fail to thrive for not getting enough food, and then they get dozier because they're not getting calories and it's vicious cycle. But for most babies, it's overcautious. I'd be diligent, but not WORRY about it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:32 PM on September 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

#1: I, myself, struggled and struggled with breastfeeding, so I want to impress this on you: as long as your baby eats something, and gains weight, you're doing it right. If that "something" ends up being formula because your body can't produce enough milk, that's ok. If you nurse and then supplement, that's also ok. If you are eventually able to nurse, that's ok too.

The advice you're getting about seeing a lactation consultant and getting the baby weighed before and after feeding is very good. I was never able to pump more than about 1 oz at a time, but was able to nurse my son until he was full for the first few months of his life.

Women with all shapes and sizes nurse their children.

There is a condition called "breast hypoplasia" which means that the breast does not contain enough (or any) milk producing glands. It is sometimes associated with a specific breast shape, but its not something a medical professional can diagnose simply from the shape of your breasts. Here's some additional info from Baby Center. Here is some info from the boards.

But again - and here's the main thing - if you end up using formula and bottles, well, its not the end of the world. You're not a bad mother. A bad mother is a mother who doesn't care if her child gets fed enough. A good mother is one who does what it takes to make sure baby's tummy is full. You and your baby will be ok, whatever happens.

Good luck, and enjoy that new baby smell!
posted by anastasiav at 3:37 PM on September 20, 2010 [8 favorites]

Many women will have adequate milk for baby but will get next to nothing when pumping. The only way to know for sure how much baby is getting is to weigh before and after.

Easier said than done, but try to relax. It's not the end of the world if you have to supplement with formula, really, it isn't. I had a baby nurse who had been doing it forever and the best thing she said to me was that my baby wanted me and my milk - he is primally programmed for it. I was worried about "nipple confusion" if I supplemented with formula but she was right - it was totally a non-issue.

I hope you're able to find some good support to help you along so you can enjoy your new little one. Congrats!!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:38 PM on September 20, 2010

Wow. Yiii... It's hard to imagine a better recipe for scuttling breastfeeding than that carnival of bad advice. I am very sorry.

Honestly, it doesn't sound like anybody you dealt with had any idea what they were doing. Again -- nurses -- really not qualified for this.

Speaking of Dr Newman -- have a careful read through of his excellent Is my baby getting enough milk? Then read Finding a breastfeeding support person -- noting especially "Nipple shields should never be used for the baby who refuses to latch on before the mother's milk 'comes in' on day three or four" and all the other warning signs about bum steers...

Why not call La Leche? Honestly, you would've been much better served by a LLL 'leader' than by a community health nurse for breastfeeding advice.

At this point your best bet is for-real support, and padraigin's advice. Stop messing with pumps, bottles, formula; go to bed with the baby and nurse and nurse and nurse. There is nothing at all here to indicate that your breasts were not up to the job, just a lot of sabotage.

The breastfeeding clinic -- is this more hijinx from the hospital with unqualified people, or is this a certified, "IBCLC"? Can you see a proper consultant ASAP to get some reassurance? Pay close attention to the diapers when you stop the bottles. That, not the clock, not the pump, should be your metric for the nonce.
posted by kmennie at 3:41 PM on September 20, 2010 [5 favorites]

I had to google "tuberous breasts". Wow, was that an education, most of it coming from plastic surgeons. Ugh.

I don't know anything about breastfeeding with tuberous breasts, but . . . I can tell you a couple of things that spring to mind, none or all of which may be a factor:

A) With my first, I never pumped more than 20ml. My body just didn't respond.
B) with my first and with my 2nd/3rd (twins), nursing sessions were often around 7 minutes -- at which point I'd switch them to the other breast and they'd nurse (or not) for 2-3 minutes.
C) Supplementing with formula really complicates detective work -- breastmilk digests itself and babies will wake more often to eat, like every 2 hours at this age. Formula takes longer to digest, so they will sleep longer . . .
D) if breastfeeding doesn't work out, you think about how breastfeeding changes the relationship, and contemplate if or how much you'd like to replicate a breastfeeding relationship. Just as a jumping off point, I wrote some about it here.
posted by MeiraV at 3:55 PM on September 20, 2010


Nipple shields

Weaning from formula supplements

Supply issues

All @ There is a lot of awful advice on the net for nursing mothers, including formula-company-sponsored "information," but Newman and Kellymom are highly reputable. Re-reading your additional info it is so strange that I also want to stress how important it is to discard what you "learned" from previous sources. Nipple shields -- clock-watching -- concerns about breast firmness -- surprise that a newborn is sleepy! This is stuff out of the dark ages, nursing-advice-wise. None of the people you dealt with "helped." From all indications here you are entirely capable of nursing. Do try to keep in mind that common breast variations not normally compatible with being a successful mammal would've disappeared a long time ago!
posted by kmennie at 3:56 PM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, is chock full of excellent breastfeeding info, if you find yourself wanting to read more more more in the middle of the night . . .

(And I'm sorry this is hard. You can handle this whole parenting thing, I promise.)
posted by MeiraV at 4:02 PM on September 20, 2010

I'm typing this while nursing my third child, so although I am not an expert I do have ten solid years of experience.

Nursing is hard at first - it is a skill and pumping is even harder. Even though my milk flow was fine when I tried to pump hardly anything came out. I don't think I ever got 20 ml. And if I was stressed - especially about how little I was producing, then it would dry up completely. I had moderate success pumping one breast while the babe was on the other. Good luck, I hope you find the help you need.
posted by saucysault at 4:20 PM on September 20, 2010

devil's advocate:

It's possible that your body simply won't provide enough food for your baby. Breastfeeding advocates don't want to acknowledge that this is the case. Don't feel bad if you are really feeling this is the case, but feel "guilty" for "failing" at breastfeeding. Even with all the best intentions, and attempts, and consideration, and support, it doesn't always work out. People don't talk about this much online b/c there is much shaming (even if unintentional) from the breastfeeding community.

but, if you talk to your girlfriends a bit you will probably hear about this from quite a few of them.

hang in there -- no matter what, your baby will be ok.
posted by wurly at 4:36 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I breast fed for several months, but could never pump very much - at all. It just wouldn't work for me. In hindsight, I suspect that that part of the problem might have been the pump.

Also, my baby had to have formula in the hospital (blood sugar issue), and we had to supplement sometimes with formula (see above re: pumping not working).

After I went back to work, the baby gave up the breast entirely - preferred the fast flow of the bottle, I suppose.

Here's my very firmly held belief: the best thing you can do is whatever it is that works for you and your baby. It's whatever allows the baby to be fed, and you to be relaxed so you can focus on being with and enjoying your baby.

Having said all that, lactation consultants kick ass.
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:51 PM on September 20, 2010

It can take some time for you, your body and your kid to get into the swing of it. Don't let anyone on earth make you feel bad for doing what you need to do to stay sane! It is TOTALLY COOL to supplement with formula, to let other people give the kid a bottle, etc. It took Wee Thumbscrew FIVE WEEKS to learn how to nurse properly. I drove myself crazy during that time period - every three hours or so, I'd try to force him to nurse until we both got frustrated, then spend another twenty minutes hoovering away with the pump. It damn near broke my brain.

As long as your boobs are getting stimulated to produce milk (by kiddo or pump) every few hours, ANYTHING ELSE YOU DO is fine at this point. I would be astounded if nursing had worked itself out so early. :-)
posted by julthumbscrew at 5:15 PM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing the recommendation of a session with a proper lactation consultant. I had the same in-hospital experience as you, and then I was shocked at how knowledgeable my LC was. She had me on herbs that boosted my supply incredibly (fenugreek and goat's rue -- ask about these). My local LLL did nothing for me, could hardly get a call-back -- though they were the ones who gave me the name of the LC. Anyway, we ended up supplementing with formula for three weeks till I had full supply, and then it took another three weeks to wean off of the damn shield and just feed directly from the breast. Smooth sailing since then!
posted by xo at 5:24 PM on September 20, 2010

I didn't have to deal with the tuberous breast issues, but I will tell you that I couldn't pump more than 15ml per pumping session either. My daughter, however, was getting plenty, as evidenced by her wet diapers and growth. Getting a real lactation consultant helped a lot for us.

We used the SNS, and it was great. When she's start to fuss and get sleepy, I'd open up the line and she would get some supplementation, then she was good to nurse for a while again.

Good luck. And remember, as long as you're feeding your baby you're doing it right. The what, when, how and where is all just minutia in comparison.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 5:28 PM on September 20, 2010

Huh. I was going to throw a bit of gentle snarkery at the "simply won't provide" thing; this wouldn't be simple, and it would be exceptionally rare. And passing on stories of other nursing experiences that were trashed by old wives' tales is not useful for somebody who needs to learn how to nurse a new baby.

But then I noticed I really wanted, past tense, and the assumption that there will be a time to accept that it is not going to be done.

If you are not able to for whatever reason you will -- this comes out over and over on "mommy board"-type discussion groups -- feel much better if you get that out. There is stuff here that suggests the heart is not really set on it, and the early days do require determination. If you came here for wurly's answer, well, there it is.

However. There are lots and lots of mothers with deep regret about not perservering when at the point you're at, many who are dedicated to the idea of nursing subsequent children because of so much unhappiness over stopping with the first. But really not so many who did press on and regretted pressing on. Likely you are at a bit of a crossroads right now, with still enough milk to make a successful go of it, if you are strict about jettisoning the shields the pump the bottles the formula the bad advice. It is possible to bring one's milk in a second time but really not easy, and later on your baby is unlikely to be so co-operative about latching on if she stops now.

You may have breast issues, but nothing at all has yet happened to determine this. Right now with the information you have on hand you are no more or less capable of nursing than anybody else.

Buy you do have a hard road here with all the sabotage. Re-visit how you felt about this during pregnancy. If you were committed to mama milk and saw yourself blissfully nursing a toddler, shake off the sleep deprivation and bad advice and just get to it. But if it was largely inconsequential, you don't have to e-mail people or go to clinics or otherwise go through motions.
posted by kmennie at 5:39 PM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

The advice you've gotten from nurses and the visiting nurse, as others have indicated, is kind of crappy and sabotaging. Yikes. Good for you for persevering!

Try not to be afraid of La Leche - I know exactly what you mean about being scared of them, but they are SO HELPFUL and really, not jerks. You can call your local Leader and she can help you figure stuff out over the phone. They want to help and won't be rude to you or make you feel like a failure.

You could also benefit from talking to a real lactation consultant. What you want is someone with the initials IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) - at least where I live, "lactation consultant" isn't a protected profession, so people who've taken a two-hour class funded by a formula company can claim to be one and dispense lousy advice to confused new moms. (Lame.)

Try this:

I peeked at your profile, and it looks like there's a half-dozen lactation consultants in your area. THEY CAN HELP. Whatever impression you're getting from other people about how maybe it's hopeless is almost certainly untrue.

Finally - others have said this, but the amount you get from a pump is not an accurate representation of how much milk your baby is getting. My body, which makes tons of milk for my actual baby, hates the pump and will begrudgingly hand off half an ounce at a time. Pumping is notorious for making mothers crazy. It sucks for many of us.

I really encourage you to call a lactation consultant! They are nice, not-scary ladies, and they can help you figure this out.

(Also - I am just a mom, not an expert, but I had a rough start and figured out how to feed my kid. If you need support or just commiseration, feel free to memail me.)

Congratulations on your little one!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 5:48 PM on September 20, 2010

I just want to say - thanks, folks. Really, I didn't see the nurses' advice as sabotaging. I thought it was just good, solid advice. But I can kind of see it now. It's funny how they are so pro-breastfeeding and yet are so uninformed at the same time.

Also, I really wasn't aware that pumping wasn't an accurate measure of how much milk baby is getting.

I have no intention of giving up yet, and will get in touch with a consultant.
posted by kitcat at 6:35 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just want to add to the choir of voices to say that although very nice, the nurses at the hospital (a pretty pro-breastfeeding and natural-birth hospital, too) gave me pretty bad advice. Only, I was so sleep-deprived and such a newbie mom that I didn't know it. I kept asking for a lactation consultant, and only on day 4 did I get it, and that still didn't fix my issues (mainly, that I was having intense, screaming, want-to-punch-the-wall pain with feeding). The nurses originally told me that feeding wasn't supposed to hurt so the pain meant something was wrong, so they gave him formula when I was crying so hard I couldn't breathe. Turns out this happens to a LOT of women, especially those with super sensitive nipples before pregnancy. If I'd known then, I could have prepared for it.

I wanted to give up a million times during the first few weeks. It hurt terribly, but the lactation consultant told me to stick it out until day 14 if I could, and that it would be smoother by then. He would feed for an hour at a time and cry when I removed him from my boob to go to the bathroom. I couldn't imagine he was getting enough. What kept me going wasn't that it was best for my baby because I didn't care at that point, I just wanted him fed - it was knowing that formula would kill us financially, and I was so stubborn that I couldn't let that happen unless it was truly not going to work. I've seen people so dedicated to breastfeeding that their babies are diagnosed as Failure to Thrive and they still refuse to use formula, and that's just f*cked up. I'd never suggest that, and I'd never do that.

I am so so very glad that I'm stubborn and that I took the LC's advice and just counted the days, hours, minutes until day 14, because by that point it was like the rainstorm broke and the fog lifted. I know for some women it's longer than day 14, and some don't have the luck I did.

But you asked if all hope was gone, and that's absolutely not so. If your baby has wet diapers and BMs, you are doing OK. Do you have a kitchen scale? Can you or your SO run out to Bed Bath & Beyond and spend $20 on the cheap one if you don't? What you can do is measure an empty diaper, then measure it when full after it's been changed and subtract the difference. This may help you get a more tangible reading on what your baby is really taking in (and uh, putting out). My son was hospitalized at 8 weeks with meningitis and they did this exact thing to make sure that while sick, he was still eating and gaining weight.
posted by kpht at 6:55 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Also, I really wasn't aware that pumping wasn't an accurate measure of how much milk baby is getting. "

Yeah, baby is just far more efficient at sucking than even good pumps are. This is why a pre-feed and post-feed weigh is a good idea if you're concerned -- the difference in weight tells you about how much baby got. (I had a friend who went and did this at the breastfeeding center seriously every day for two weeks, she was so paranoid about the baby getting enough!)

My son was a great feeder and got plenty (he was gaining at the absolute upper end of the daily weight gain for the first several weeks), but I barely got anything from pumping until we were 6 weeks in and I guess my boobs had more practice? or I was more relaxed? I dunno. (That's late for pumping to work, btw; for most people pumping works better faster.) But pumping and direct feeding don't provide equivalent amounts, and how much you can pump vs. how much you produce for the baby will vary based on the strength of the pump, the suction of the baby, and how you react to the pump ... which is a lot of variables! (Which is also part of why you hear of women who pumped at work for a whole year with no problem, and women who pumped at work for a couple months but started drying up.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:06 PM on September 20, 2010

A good friend of mine is a La Leche League leader. She had problems with low supply with her first, and supplemented with formula (through a supplemental nurser) the first 10 months of his life. This is all just to say that she's totally not dogmatic or blinkered and is really just interested in helping mothers breastfeed, who want to breastfeed. You might try there, attend a meeting, get some more perspectives.

Also: I've never had much success with pumping, and my 3rd is 3 months old and 90th percentile for weight, exclusively breastfed.
posted by palliser at 7:19 PM on September 20, 2010

I am not a mom and I don't know a ton about the topic, but I coincidentally stumbled across two links today that I hope may be interesting or useful to you:

1) A page about breast size and breastfeeding [NSFW - naked breasts pictured]. There's a little gallery on the left of a variety of breast sizes and shapes that have successfully breastfed, including some that look like tubular breasts, so it is possible!

2) A blog post about one mother's struggle to breastfeed - baby was born in May, and she was supplementing with formula until August; after that she breastfed exclusively for quite a few months.

Good luck, and congratulations!
posted by mandanza at 9:29 PM on September 20, 2010

I just wanted to say hi to another Edmonton mom! I can't specifically answer your question about tuberous breasts, although I do know what it is like to struggle with breastfeeding due to the size, shape and extreme sensitivity of my breasts! Breastfeeding is much harder than many people would have you believe, so be kind to yourself if it just doesn't work. It took two months for it to stop being painful for me, but I am still nursing my almost seventeen month old son. It can get better, don't forget that both you and baby are learning this together, and the learning curve is steep!
Other posters saying that the pump is not necessarily reflective of your milk supply are right. I had tons of milk at first, my breasts became painfully engorged a week after delivery, and still the most I could pump was an ounce. Are you using a manual pump? The only women that I have known to have success with pumping used the electric ones.
Anyway, I hope your delivery went well and all the best for a speedy recovery! Don't forget to drink lots of water, it really does help. And if you're looking for some real life commiseration, there's some great groups on Take care!
posted by meringue at 9:37 PM on September 20, 2010

At 8 days, nursing hasn't settled in well. It's still difficult, frustrating. You're getting weird, conflicting advice that would make me feel terrible. It took me several weeks to get comfortable with nursing, and in my case, I(we) ended up loving it. I hope you can hang in there and have that experience, and I'm amazed you've made it this far.
posted by theora55 at 10:11 PM on September 20, 2010

I had a breast reduction many years ago and, despite being told by my surgeon at the time that it would be ABSOLUTLY IMPOSSIBLE, have managed to breastfeed ToddlerTaff and BabyTaff.

BUT... and it''s a BIG but....

I take a lot of domperidone.... and fenugreek pills (2 pills three times a day).

I have no idea how much you've been told to take but I took 2 pills 3 times a day of the 25mg for about a year. I continue to take 1 pill three times a day... and if I ever forget to drink enough fluid or I feel my boobs aren't feeling very full, take an extra one.

Apart from a small amount of supplementing in the early days, I haven't had to do it since. BabyTaff is now 21 months and still breastfed.

All the very best of luck. The early days of breastfeeding are fraught and everybody has different advice.
posted by taff at 4:27 AM on September 21, 2010

One piece of advice:

Hospital grade pump.

If you do not have a hospital grade pump, get one ASAP. A standard pump like the Medela Pump in Style is not enough to increase supply. Those pumps are good for MAINTAINING current supply.

You want to get:

Medela Symphony
Medela Lactina
Hygeia EnDeare

Or another of that ilk.

If you do not have a hospital grade pump, get one STAT. You should be able to rent one from a hospital, and you're insurance may even cover a three month rental.

I know all about supply issues and how much they suck. And people can tell you that formula feeding is fine and good and doesn't make you a bad mother, but those statements do nothing but piss me off.
posted by zizzle at 7:44 AM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

"I know all about supply issues and how much they suck. And people can tell you that formula feeding is fine and good and doesn't make you a bad mother, but those statements do nothing but piss me off."

But they are still true.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:47 AM on September 22, 2010

I know all about supply issues and how much they suck. And people can tell you that formula feeding is fine and good and doesn't make you a bad mother, but those statements do nothing but piss me off.

I'm not sure why that statement should piss you off. The reality is that not every woman is able to breastfeed - sometimes due to issues with mom, sometimes due to issues with baby. However, as I said above, the important thing is that the baby gets enough nourishment.

I had surgery on both my breasts when I was 18. I was never able to produce more than a few ounces of milk at a time. If we had not been able to supplement with formula, my baby would have died. End of story.

No one here is denying that "breast is best" but zizzle, its attitudes like yours that make lots of women feel enormous guilt and emotional pain that they have somehow "failed" their child when they are unable to nurse. We, as mothers together, need to stop judging each others choices and be more supportive of the educated choices we make.
posted by anastasiav at 8:58 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I hear you, but I'll bet you five dollars what's annoying to Zizzle (and I totally get this) is that, invariably, when a new mother who really wants to breastfeed and is having a rough time but is still very committed to working it out asks for help, you'll get a bunch of people saying "It's okay to formula-feed!"

Of course it's okay. And it's great that formula exists and we aren't still using condensed milk and Karo syrup or whatever. I don't think a mom who tried to breastfeed and for whatever reason decided to formula-feed/supplement should feel like a bad person - of course not.

But that's not what this mother is asking. She's asking for help in making breastfeeding work. I don't see how "Formula is fine." is an appropriate answer to her question.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:08 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

PS - I don't mean that you were saying "Breastfeeding questions? My answer: switch to formula!" - just that I have run into that pattern many times, both on the internets and in real life, and for someone who's having a hard time breastfeeding but really wants to work through it, that can be an unhelpful (and depending on how tired and desperate you are) sabotaging response. And I thought that's where Zizzle was probably coming from.

Also - it totally sucks that so many women feel crappy about how they're feeding their babies (you nurse too often! you formula-feed! you weaned at a year! you're still nursing at two! all terrible and guilt-inducing...), and I wish the conversations about it didn't cause more bad feelings! I apologize if my poorly-edited response above bummed you out at all. :(
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:16 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

A great resource if you continue to pump is the PumpMoms Yahoo Group:
posted by bq at 1:14 PM on September 23, 2010

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