During pregnancy, not once did I think about breastfeeding being a struggle or me having no milk supply. Everyone in my family had an easy time breastfeeding! And being the oldest of 6, it seemed so natural to my mother to breastfeed, I thought it would be a walk in the park.
Boy did I not know that walk in the park would become attempting to scale Mount Everest.
But enough of the intro, you want to know what happened.
So here is my story…
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A Good Start
I gave birth to my beautiful daughter at the end of May and all was good and perfect. I had a tremendous birth experience and was filled with pure joy when she came onto this world.
About an hour after birth I got to experience trying to breastfeed for the first time.
With a little bit of help and a few tips from my amazing midwife, I was set to go.
“You’re a natural!” I remember her saying.
Hah. Little did she know she would be dealing with me much more these next few weeks.
Everything was good in the hospital, and even though my nipples were on fire after starting to breastfeed, I seemed to have a good latch and my baby did not lose too much weight. So, all seemed good and we were discharged after 24 hours.
But then it came. The next morning my baby was fussier than ever, and I could not calm her down. She didn’t sleep well, eat well, and I was losing my mind. She seemed hungry, so I breastfed, and fed, and fed, and fed.
I called and texted my mom and my sisters-in-law, asking them if this is normal. They all told me the first few weeks seem as if you are breastfeeding constantly. But little did they know I was breastfeeding over 10 hours a day. That is not normal.
I even begged my midwife to come over and have a look, and lo and behold, my baby was losing more weight than she should.
I was scared. It seemed as if I had no milk supply, so I was begging for help and answers. However, my midwife ensured me my milk would come in the next few days and she would gain all the weight right back.
So, I followed her tips and got a pump, and pumped about 5ml out of each breast. How humbling.
I tried any and all breastfeeding tips, like these time saving pumping tips to pump more, in less time. But nothing seemed to work! And I was getting frustrated.
I still breastfed, and fed, and fed. After feeding my baby from 11 pm to 3 am one night I broke down. I couldn’t take it. My baby was hungry, and I didn’t have enough milk to feed her. So, I grabbed a sample bottle I got in the mail of infant formula and gave it to her. After that, hours and hours of peace and quiet.
I was broken. As a new mom, I wanted to do everything right. Yet not being able to breastfeed? That’s not possible.
You Can’t Breastfeed
I called and emailed my midwife again, and she squeezed me in for another visit. After convincing her that after 6 days my milk still has not come in, she told me it seemed I was not able to breastfeed.
How that crushed me. We were a young couple with my husband still studying and living from my maternity leave and savings. We would be very tight if I had to feed my baby with an expensive formula.
After breaking down and her comforting me, she prescribed me a galactagogue.
What is a galactagogue? It simply is a substance that promotes lactation in women.
Reluctantly, I took the medication, and after 2 days of taking it, and implementing these other natural methods, I noticed my baby needing less and less formula after I breastfed her. I went from no milk supply to fully breastfeeding in a matter of a week!
I was ecstatic! Finally, I broke the chain and my body started producing enough milk. Boy, was I thankful to have midwives by my side who supported me in every way they can!
I breastfed my baby until she was over 10 months old; when she became disinterested and a phenomenal eater. Looking back, I have no idea how I survived those first two weeks.
So, what was the Problem?
After months of googling and doing my own research, I came across something called “Mammary Hypoplasia” or “Insufficient Glandular Tissue”
This hit me hard. This was me. All these symptoms and stories were me.
I was likely born with a condition that caused my breasts to never fully develop. And the glands responsible for creating milk never fully grew in, hence, the no milk supply issue.
Even though by looking at me, you would never know, it was what was inside that was the problem. I wouldn’t consider this a medical condition or “disability”, but rather my body being different than others. Just like some have blonde or brown hair, my breasts may be a little different on the inside.
After becoming pregnant with my second child, I visited my midwife again and told her what I had discovered.
After a questions back and forth, she indeed confirmed it seemed I had IGT. Even though not confirmed 100%, it was such a relief to know it was not in my head that from puberty on, my breasts had been different. They looked different and never changed throughout pregnancy.
Luckily, my milk ducts were underdeveloped and didn’t miss them completely so I could still breastfeed. However, only 39% of women with IGT go on to breastfeed, so I definitely consider myself lucky.
I may one day go ahead and get it confirmed, but for now, its enough for me to know I may or may not have IGT.
How did I Overcome it?
I simply accepted it. There was no way of treating this or fixing it, so what is the point in worrying and putting myself down?
I love my body, even though it may need a push, or more like 10 pushes to get breastfeeding going.
At the moment, I am unsure of what this second baby will bring in December 2020, if my body will remember breastfeeding (it will be 10 months of breastfeeding break) or if I will have to take the medication again.
I’ll definitely keep updating you in the process.
If you are curious about how this story continues in the next while, why don’t you stick around a while? I would love to have you on board.
Until next time,
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