Is it ever physically impossible to breast feed?

(276 Posts)
ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 06:44:06

I know that there can be a lot of mental barriers to breastfeeding but what are the physical ones? Is it ever possible for someone's milk not to come in?

signet Tue 30-Jul-13 06:48:44

Yes. My milk never came in for all 3 of mine. No idea why but it meant I couldn't breast feed mine which was very sad for me.

Onetwothreeoops Tue 30-Jul-13 06:48:48

I don't know why but my milk didn't come in with my DD. I gave up when at almost a week old she had lost too much weight according to the midwife. The actual moment I gave up though was when she sucked so hard she burst a blood vessel. I had blood pouring out of my nipple and she had it all over her face.

I was gutted and felt like I completely let her down.

MrsKoala Tue 30-Jul-13 06:51:03

It was physically impossible for me to breast feed from the left side as i have an inverted nipple. My sister couldn't feed from either side as both are inverted. Mil would have come in if the had have been the demand but the babies couldn't latch so couldn't provide the demand. I tried pumping everyday for hours but it didn't work.

Fortunately old righty filled up and i was able to breastfeed on just one side till ds was 8mo and then he self weaned.

Why do you ask? Are you struggling?

wintersdawn Tue 30-Jul-13 06:53:49

yes I have a condition where I simply don't have the right tissue in my breast to produce milk, can't remember the technical term but during puberty my breasts grew (slightly) but the glands never developed.

Carolra Tue 30-Jul-13 06:54:22

Be careful asking this question, it could start a massive debate. As far as I know, it's very rare for it to be impossible to breastfeed, but it's really common for it to be so fucking hard that its better for all concerned to stop. Dd and I were in the latter category, I know we could do it, because on one occasion, a very expensive lactation consultant managed to get her latched on properly and we could all see it working. But for the rest of the 9 weeks we tried, we never managed it again even with the same consultant. Dd had not gained weight for a month and we all agreed it was best to move on to a formula/expressed milk combo. It was heartbreaking at the time.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 06:57:53

No luckily for me but I want to volunteer as a BF peer support and wanted to get a better picture of the physical barriers. When I have BF my DCs at toddler groups I have had numerous people comment that they wanted to BF but couldn't but I didn't want to pry into the reasons

thegoldenfool Tue 30-Jul-13 06:57:54

at this exact moment reading ´what to expect if you´re breast feeding - and what if you can´t´

"i do believe that not all women can breast feed (even after help) as our bodies are not perfect and do not always work as well as they should. Breasts are like any other part of our body and nature can no more guarantee they will always work perfectly than for example everyone will have perfect eyesight . . . "

though lots of things to check first, I reccomend this book if you are having problems

thegoldenfool Tue 30-Jul-13 06:59:22

cross posts, good to get an idea of problems!

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 07:01:23

Thanks thegoldenfool and everyone for sharing your experiences, some really tough times there

wintersdawn Tue 30-Jul-13 07:04:55

just remembered it's called hypoplasia glandular tissue.

thetrackisback Tue 30-Jul-13 07:06:15

I bf my son for 2 years produced enough milk to feed a small town. When my twins were born the cupboard was dry. There was just no milk. I had hyperemensis throughout the pregnancy, I lost a lot of blood was physically exhausted and it just didn't happen. I also had one baby with me and one in special care and I wasn't allowed to take the other baby with me so that was another barrier. I wasn't physically getting the rest I needed.

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 07:07:56

About one in ten women will have some physiological problem which will make breastfeeding more challenging (PCOS, inverted nipples, other hormone issues). 2 in a hundred will be unable to breastfeed at all.

With ds1 my milk came in but wouldn't let down or so the mw told me, I later found out it was because ds1 had tongue tie and problems latching. Although we tried and tried and tried again ff was the only way.
With ds2 my milk came in, it took a while to get the latch right, mw was much more supportive and because of my tiny nipples and trouble latching she suggested nipple shields which we got on great with. Apart from the fact that despite also getting up to pump twice during the night, my supply was not meeting his demand. We mix fed, till he got ill with brinchiolitis when he was about 16 week's and couldn't suck at all. He was admitted to hospital and I carried on pumping but was barely getting 10ml after pumping for an hour. I decided to make the difficult decision and guilt filled one to give up and carry on ff.

heidihole Tue 30-Jul-13 07:24:25

I was unable to breast feed. My milk didn't come in. Nothing. Not a drop. It stumped the midwives, they took blood tests to see if it was a hormone deficiency, they checked for retained placenta and they had me pumping day and night as well as baby sucking constantly (poor starving creature).

Milk just didn't arrive. It was so odd. Loads of people checked the latch including the breast feeding counsellor in the hospital and it was fine. Totally unexplained. Totally devestated me and overshadowed the whole first few moths with my baby. The guilt was horrific. Especially when people poo poo people saying the cant breast feed and make out they're lazy or lying.

Souredstoneshasasouredpebble Tue 30-Jul-13 07:32:48

Yes. Loads of things can. Birth trauma and retained placenta, inverted nipples, medication, mastectomy, medical issues...

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 07:35:20

Wow, I think the quote that goldenfoal posted is so true it does stand to reason that a breast can be just as fallible as any other part of the body

I know a lady whose milk never came in. We hosp for our births, our kid in scbu, hers was losing weight fast. Her baby had a great latch, but no milk came.

This thread will prob go wrong, OP. You would do better, to read up on this topic perhaps under guidance from your peer suppprt organisation rather than ask women on here to reveal their upset or display judgyness.

NotYoMomma Tue 30-Jul-13 07:39:02

mine was mental - triggered anxiety attacks at feed times and I was not enjoying my dd

which I think is JUST as valid a reason

bitchalphaparent I'm looking at you and your 2% obsession

AnonYonimousBird Tue 30-Jul-13 07:40:10

Well, I had milk and I suppose technically, somehow, perhaps with the lactation consultant, I could have breastfed. But DS chewed my nipples so badly, and so quickly, they were both scabbed right over, so there was noway the milk could get out, so by then, yes, it was physically impossible for me to breastfeed. I was also suffering a very high fever and was delirious, which made it tricky too even if somehow the milk could have squeezed through.

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 30-Jul-13 07:43:23

Genetic hypogalatia my mum had though I only knew this after I was diagnosed. When she told me she cried and asked could it have been what she had had as she had been told never to discuss it with her daughters so as not to 'project her failure' on to usconfused. After so research we have an extensive family history of this, but my mum felt it had been her failure for 31 years!

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 07:44:24

I think the mental side is just a valid a reason as well but I have personal experience of that side of it so am quite confident with that. I don't expect anyone to feel they have to share their experience with me but appreciate those who do as I think hearing it directly from those who have been through it is the best way to learn

MrButtercat Tue 30-Jul-13 07:51:29

The human body can malfunction in all areas,bit hmm as to why breasts are regarded as 100% fault proof. Well only on MN anyway.

MoominsYonisAreScary Tue 30-Jul-13 07:55:07

Some people have medical reasons why they can't bf, others find it difficult because it can be so bloody hard. I never managed with ds3, he was prem and became distressed quite quickly whenever put to the breast, which is not what you want with a prem baby. They just become tired and go to sleep without eating.

I think some babies arnt that hungry at birth and can be quite happy being put to the breast and not getting much for the first few days, others want lots of milk now and become distressed when they arnt getting it. Ds4 was like that he was awake trying to feed most if the first day and night and cryed alot. I cup fed him for the next few days, and he seemed more content and happier at the breast.

Once my milk came in things Improved and i stopped cup feeding. He's the only one still bf at 6 months and I was lucky never to have sore nipples or any problems with my supply.

My dsis really struggled, my dn cried alot, wasn't putting weight on and the last straw was when her nipples started to bleed and the baby was covered in blood, at that point she stopped. She really struggled with not bf even 3 years on it upsets her.

iamadoozermum Tue 30-Jul-13 07:57:25

With DC3, I had problems producing milk to begin with. Midwife said it was because I'd had a major PPH and lost so much blood that my body was having difficulties because it needed to boost my blood production first. After a blood transfusion and iron tablets then I was producing again.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 07:59:59

That's really interesting iamadoozermum

primallass Tue 30-Jul-13 08:01:46

I think some babies arnt that hungry at birth and can be quite happy being put to the breast and not getting much for the first few days, others want lots of milk now and become distressed when they arnt getting it. Ds4 was like that he was awake trying to feed most if the first day and night and cryed alot. I cup fed him for the next few days, and he seemed more content and happier at the breast.

This was the same for my DS. He was a big baby and needed food straight away. I managed to mix bottle and breast feeding for months, but never just breast.

BrennieGirl Tue 30-Jul-13 08:04:09

I had no milk for either of my babies. Not a drop. I pumped for 4 weeks on both of them but there just wasn't anything there.

I had a difficult last few weeks on pregnancy one (severe gestational diabetes) followed by a very long labour and emergency section. I was in recovery for about 9 hours because of bleeding. I then had to have a blood transfusion. Midwives suggested that stress was the reason I had no milk.

However on pregnancy/birth 2 everything was relatively straight forward and I still didn't produce any milk. I managed to get the baby latched on and thought I was feeding her for 2 days but the day we were due to go home the poor little thing was dehydrated and jaundiced so I had to give her a bottle. Despite this I still used the pump after every feed for 4 weeks hoping my milk would come in. But it never did.

I had been so looking forward to breast feeding. I felt so disappointed and guilty but in the end I conceded defeat for the sake of my mental health and decided to be thankful that at least my baby was being fed somehow and that she was perfectly healthy.

So yes it can happen. I also had 2 other women tell me that they had no milk including my GP.

meditrina Tue 30-Jul-13 08:05:35

I think you only have to look in the Infertility or Miscarriage sections to see that bits of female bodies go (sometimes heartbreakingly) wrong and go not produce what they are meant to.

Yes there are medical conditions which make it impossible - or dangerously inadvisable - to feed, plus there are issues which complicate breast feeding to the extent it becomes unachievable.

I had the problem that as soon as the milk came in, the let-down was accompanied by a rush of sadness and terror. Every time. I persisted, but quickly began to dread every feed. Breastfeeding was preventing me from bonding with the baby and I ended up with severe PND and had to be admitted to hospital.

It never worked for be either. I followed all instructions I attended clinics I pumped and had her sucking near enough all day. There were no problems with the latch or anything. No idea what it was that stopped me producing anywhere near enough milk. It just didn't happen and it was sooooo painful and I just couldn't cope with it. Especially when she chewed a chunk out of me and left me bleeding.

I didn't even bother with dd2 and I never even leaked even sleeping on my tummy pads were dry. I guess I just dont produce.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 08:12:42

Most of the above replies focus on the woman, but breastfeeding is very much a two person job.

I was overflowing with milk like an expensive milk cow and but dd was hypotonic and not strong enough to suckle. Not really any stranger than the fact that at the age of 9 she wasn't able to walk much and there were periods around the ages of 11 and 12 when she wasn't able to sit upright.
As goldenfoil and MrButtercat said, when pretty well every other function of the human body has been known to malfunction, why not this one? In dd's case it was all part of a much bigger problem, but we didn't know that until many years later.

Dd still had breastmilk, some fed the conventional way, some by bottle, some squirted into her by syringe. And is now (16 years later) on strong painkillers to enable her to do the other clever little things, like walk...

So that might be a tip for you, Powerof3- remember it may not always be something to do with the woman; there is a baby involved too. But the woman will be taking it all on as her failure. I nearly broke down and sobbed with relief 10 years later when a physiotherapist pointed out that dd's condition will have caused our problems. Dd was 10 years old and in a residential rehabilitation clinic to learn how to bloody walk and that's how strongly I still felt about "my failure"!

Januarymadness Tue 30-Jul-13 08:13:20

I assume due to birth trauma my milk never came in. I produced colostrum (sp?) And tried to give my baby that to encourage production but she was a vert big and very hungry baby. In the end the breastfeeding consultant said "I think that baby needs a bottle" it wasthe kindest thing anyone could have said. She tookthe guit away. I still tried to mix feed but as I said my milk didnt come in, even after the blood transfusion.

sashh Tue 30-Jul-13 08:13:30

I doubt it's possible after a double mastectomy.

Fakebook Tue 30-Jul-13 08:13:49

My sister's milk didn't come in with her first baby at all. Second and third time it did. It was weird.

wonderingsoul Tue 30-Jul-13 08:16:22

with ds1 no milk came at all.

ds2 i didnt "get" milk to the second day he was born.. i twas quite funny really.. due to ds1 i assumed it would be the same with ds2 imagine my shock on day 2 when i woke up and my boobs where huge.. it looked like i had a boob op over night.

i wasnt confideant enough to breast feed, though i tried for a day or two.. i just couldnt get my head around it and felt v unerable so gave up, which for ds2 may not have been a bad thing due to his size he was 4lb and was on special milk to help him put weight on quick.

MiaowTheCat Tue 30-Jul-13 08:18:21

Boobs worked, baby didn't get the memo. The saying about taking two to tango rings very true. Oh and when the breast pump motor burnt out from overuse (for I was running myself ragged trying to Do The Right Thing) - I took the hint that some things for us were never meant to be.

This WILL go to hell very shortly when the usual suspects arrive and women start being called liars.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 08:19:40

I was going to say that, sassh: in these days of cancer survival, it is a bit of a big assumption that any given woman will have breasts at all.

LAlady Tue 30-Jul-13 08:22:02

Yes, after a very difficult delivery (failed forceps, emergency section) I tried and tried My DS ended up jaundiced and my midwife advised me to start bottle feeding as I had no milk (this was 7 days after the birth).

"Insufficient lactiferous tissue" is one reason.

I have inverted nipples so DS1 couldn't latch. I pumped instead until they were gradually drawn out. With DS2 I had a weird sucker thing to pull them out before a feed.

If 1% of women physically can't bf, that still represents hundreds or thousands a year. We shouldn't be surprised to encounter them. And whatever we might think about national policies and aims, it is none of my fucking business why any particular woman did or didn't bf.

The sense of failure is

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 08:26:12

Medication is another one to consider. Doctors will be unlikely to advise breastfeeding if you are using a new drug which is not yet known to be safe- but you may need this drug if the baby is to have a mother at all. The fact that the drug may later be pronounced safe doesn't mean it wasn't worth being cautious before that was known.

When ds was little betablockers were such a drug, not yet around long enough to be declared safe. I had very bad reactions to the only blood pressure lowering drug known to be bf safe in those days and my GP rightly judged that I was a greater threat to ds carrying him around in my zombie-like state than formula could ever be. And coming off drugs altogether at that stage might well mean that ds would have to grow up without a mother. So I stopped breastfeeding when he was a few months old.

When I have told this tale later, some women have reacted as if I was making feeble excuses: but we all know that betablockers are safe. Yes dears, that may well be, but the GP was not psychic: she had to go on the information known then.

Overwhelming though sad takes years to realise that it's not that important really and a loved happy baby is what matters

kungfupannda Tue 30-Jul-13 08:27:04

Cory - that's a really good point.

BFing didn't work out too well with DS1 - he just wouldn't stay latched for more than a minute or so before coming off screaming hysterically and refusing to re-latch. We had a specialist HV, a specialist MW, a BF consultant and various other people trying to work out what was going on, but there was no obvious physical cause.

The general consensus was that it was just an unfortunate combination of a not terribly plentiful supply, a very slow let-down, and a very impatient baby who wouldn't persist long enough.

We managed to mix feed until 4 months when it gradually fizzled out.

DS2 was BF for nearly 9 months, with a hiccup around 4 months when an undiagnosed tongue-tie suddenly started causing problems (very similar to DS1's) and he stopped feeding altogether. It was snipped and the problem resolved, but the MW who dealt with it said that it was possible that DS1 had also had a mild tongue-tie which wouldn't have helped.

So in DS1's case, BFing wasn't impossible in itself, but exclusive BFing was.

Although to listen to a few random mothers I encountered, apparently I should have just persisted hmm

Treagues Tue 30-Jul-13 08:27:31

Although I have the breast/bottlefeeding topic hidden and wasn't expecting something like this in AIBU for obvious reasons...I was going to say what Cory said.

I did produce milk, probably quite enough, and expressing worked.
I had a baby with tongue tie and I have small nipples (no chapel coat pegs here) and there was jaundice involved and early birth etc etc.

My baby could have breastfed (when not sleepy from the jaundice) from someone with bigger nipples.
I could have breastfed a baby whose mouth was differently configured.

So 'is it ever physically impossible?' isn't really a clear-cut question unless you just want to know about the milk supply. Taking the mother/baby pairing into consideration, sometimes it is, or nearly is.

Years on and I am happy with how things turned out (expressing and formula feeding) but I am filled with contempt for the simplistic way breastfeeding problems were talked about on MN at the time and women like me (and, I suppose by extension, babies like mine, since it takes two to feed) were outright sneered at in the name of wrong-headed 'awareness raising'.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 08:27:35

HorryIsUpduffed Tue 30-Jul-13 08:22:22

"If 1% of women physically can't bf, that still represents hundreds or thousands a year. We shouldn't be surprised to encounter them."

Wise words there.

greeneyed Tue 30-Jul-13 08:27:35

6 weeks of hell, hungry baby feeding for one hour out of every two, agony nipples and couldn't leave the house then tongue tie was diagnosed. He could have had it snipped and gone through a period of trying to teach him how to latch on properly but by this point i had lost the will to live. Doc said bottle feed. Mum and baby hugely relieved. Months of guilt, now I can't believe we both suffered for so long and I didn't give up earlier.

greeneyed Tue 30-Jul-13 08:29:20

Yes I came on MN at the time and was crucified.

DeWe Tue 30-Jul-13 08:30:03

I think actually physically impossible is unusual.

I have a friend who just produced no milk, when she looked into family history there was obviously something genetic as there were several relatives that had had the same. She used to joke that surely that was a gene that ought to have died out. wink

I didn't know inverted nipples was an issue, dm had that and she bf fine at a time when they were encouraged to bottlefeed. She said latching was hard, but once they'd latched the nipples popped out and it was fine. But maybe not all pop out in the same way.

There are drugs people can be taking that are life savers, but pass into bm so bf is not advisable. Plus I know if your HIV+ you're not advised to bf, plus Hepatitis as well, I think.

Some people try and just find it very hard at a hormonal time. If it's not going well, having your baby hungry and screaming is not going to help is it? Then things like mastitis, cracked nipples etc. just add to the stress.

I always reckon I was very lucky. Dd1 came out seeming to know how to latch on and feed. And she put on considerable weight-HV used to joke I produced gold top. grin
Dd2 didn't know how to, but now I did, and ds I got cracked nipples and all sorts-he was also inclined to clamp on and turn his head which wasn't pleasant.
I think if dd2 or ds had come first when I didn't know how to do it. then I migh well not have tried with the others.

Lambsie Tue 30-Jul-13 08:30:37

I produced milk but my son was unable to latch on. He was prem and we know now has low muscle tone. I did expressed milk/ formula for 6 weeks but by that time was so miserable due to no rest never mind sleep that I switched to just formula.

Kveta Tue 30-Jul-13 08:30:40

I think that anecdotal evidence, whilst interesting, doesn't really answer your question. FWIW, a mum I know has had a double mastectomy, and still somehow tandem feeds her 2 children!

It would be worth doing some research on this if you are really interested - perhaps ask the person training you as a peer supporter for places to go to find out properly researched answers.

And most importantly of all, remember that even if physically it would be possible for a mum to breast feed, she may not actually want to - so don't judge her for it! It's not compulsory... Peer support should be about providing support for mums who want it, not judging those who don't or trying to 'convert' those who have decided it isn't the right path for them.

kungfupannda Tue 30-Jul-13 08:32:51

That's the other annoying thing - as Horry says, there are a lot of people in that 2%, and yet there are some people out there who seem entirely unwilling to believe that any given individual they encounter is unable to BF.

So where are these 2%? Locked away in some dungeon for the milk-less?

Even if you are encountering people every day who are saying "I couldn't BF" - and to be fair, a lot of people do say that when they mean "it was prohibitively difficult", which isn't much different, or when they feel understandably defensive because of other people's reactions - you have no way of knowing whether they are one of the 2% or not, so the compassionate and courteous thing to do is to accept them at their word and not start on the "well, everyone can BF" spiel.

I think a lot more women would find the support they needed to push through the difficulties if they weren't made to feel that they were failing at something simple and natural, and the relatively small number with a complete inability to feed would feel much less judged and disbelieved.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 08:33:59

In retrospect, dd's failure to feed is part of the same genetic condition which has caused my bowel to sink into my vagina this summer causing me to cancel my holiday and waddle around like a malfunctioning duck. But not even the surgeon at the hospital, anxious as they are to save money for the NHS by talking patients out of unnecessary operations, has suggested that this wouldn't have happened if I had only studied enough diagrams of bowels and vaginal walls.

eatmydust Tue 30-Jul-13 08:36:05

I couldn't breastfeed DC1 - he just constantly refused to latch on. I do have one inverted nipple, but he would refuse the other breast. Maternity Unit wouldn't discharge us because of his refusal to feed. It was just awful. After five days of constantly trying, and him crying all night, one of the midwifes just said 'give that child a bottle of Cow and Gate' and he drank it straight down and started on a second one.

It is just one of those things, but I felt a total failure. Sadly, a lot of people are very judgey about bottle fed babies, without realising that unfortunately it isn't always possible to breastfeed.

With DC2, after talking through with midwifes and my GP about the experience with DC1, I didn't even try and she went straight onto a bottle.

It's surprising common in countries where there is no access to formula/bottles for a sister or other female relative to wet nurse a baby that the mother is unable to feed. So, based on this alone, the answer is yes.

Disclaimer: I fed my second DC for 2 1/2 years, but managed only 5 days with my first. He became jaundiced and dehydrated. I spent the first 4 1/2 months of his life on heavy duty antibiotics for a breast abscess. It's fair to say that if we were a breast feeding culture there would have been a better chance that our myriad of problems could have been addressed, but I was very grateful for formula milk and, having seen some very weak and scrawny babies on their travels around the world, my parents (despite being staunch bf supporters) were very grateful too.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 08:39:15

What anecdotal evidence does imo is suggest a series of possible causes which you could then go out and investigate, or simply keep an open eye to.

Masectomies are not all of the same magnitude: sometimes they take more, sometimes they take less.

Another thing to bear in mind is there may be an undiagnosed physical cause. And then neither the mother, not the breastfeeding advisors will have anything to go on. As I said, dd was 10 when we found out.

(But then we had to wait until just before her 9th birthday to find out why she was often in too much pain to walk: before that, the doctors had simply told us she was attention seeking.)

Jaynebxl Tue 30-Jul-13 08:40:17

I produced milk and all seemed fine except my DS refused from the start. I saw bf counsellors and various midwives but nobody could persuade him to do it. He wasn't tongue tied and about once every 3 days would astound us all by bf'ing then refuse again the next time. So there was a physical problem somewhere in that he just wouldn't do it.

When DD was born I was even more determined and made the hospital staff wheel me up to her in nicu to try. She actually bf and I was over the moon ... for about 3 weeks til she refused too. Again various experts came and poked around but we just couldn't make her do it.

Both times I had been determined and tried really hard. It was horrible to have so many successful bf'ers tell me I must be doing something wrong.

BalloonSlayer Tue 30-Jul-13 08:40:26

When I was having DD there was a lady in the next bed who had had a breast reduction after - she thought! - completing her family. She had been told she would not be able to breast feed but couldn't care less as she was not planning on having any more children. One unplanned pregnancy later . . . she was very sad about not being able to breast feed. sad She said that her boob doctor had said that just about any breast surgery messes up your chances to breast feed, because the milk-producing mechanism of breast is so complicated.

I had no problems bf but I was FAR to tense to express. I just couldn't do it, the let down just wouldn't happen properly. I tried all the things they say - a photo of the baby, thinking of the baby - all I could ever get was about 1 oz. The more I tried the tenser and more upset I became and the worse it got. I can totally believe that if people get stressed and tense about trying to breastfeed then nothing comes out.

treaclesoda Tue 30-Jul-13 08:42:44

I have had breast surgery which made it extremely difficult to start with, But in my first pregnancy I did experience the physical sensation that something was 'happening' in my breasts. And after the birth there was the sensation of the milk coming in. I tried so so hard to feed, but was really only able to produce a few drops of milk.

In my second pregnancy I felt no changes at all to my breasts. Nothing. And after the birth there was no sensation at all of milk coming in, and not a drop of milk appeared to be produced.

Having felt the physical difference between the two experiences, I feel certain that I know the difference between not producing much milk and not producing any.

Naturally, I've been told plenty of times that it was all in my head and I just didn't try hard enough. hmm Fortunately for my sanity, I can console myself with the fact that my boobs are attached to me and I know what they were doing, and I try to remind myself that random sly dig person does not.

Edendance Tue 30-Jul-13 08:44:03

I have hypoplasia breasts too and am not sure if ill make any milk at all. It's likely I'll make a small amount but not enough- wont know until I actually have a baby!

When I had DS1 my milk didn't come in. I had colostrum, but even after 3 weeks of trying I had no actual milk. A friend is a BF counsellor and she gave me loads of support, but without actual milk there was nothing that could be done. They put it down to the fact that I had had an emergency c-section under GA (it was a proper emergency, we both could have died) and that the milk producing hormones just hadn't switched on as my body was in shock.

I went on to BF DS2 and DD (despite DD having tongue tie) successfully.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 08:46:03

My SIL survived breastcancer. So surely all women should be able to manage that? Except my friend didn't sad

PenelopePipPop Tue 30-Jul-13 08:46:10

The other thing anecdotal evidence does is give you a little insight into how experiencing physical barriers to b-fing may have a psychological impact on mothers. We aren't just mental causes and physical causes. Lots of posters have said the challenges of dealing with tongue-tie or supply problems caused by medication interacted with their confidence when dealing with a tiny newborn etc etc. Sensitive peer support could be the difference between stopping/not stopping. Or stopping feeling like a positive decision made to make parenting better or a failure. I always feel sad when I hear mothers talk about how they 'failed' to breastfeed. No one fails.

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 08:46:20

"and yet there are some people out there who seem entirely unwilling to believe that any given individual they encounter is unable to BF."

That 2% are medically unable to breastfeed, even with top notch breastfeeding management, is lost because there is another 60% who believe they can't breastfeed.

If in real life we encounter 100 women who initiate breastfeeding, statistically the likelihood is that 90 of them will stop breastfeeding within a few weeks, and that 30 or 40 of these women will sincerely believe they 'can't' breastfeed - mostly because they feel they don't make enough milk. Is it any surprise that the 1 or 2% who have intractable medical problems that make normal breastfeeding impossible, even with good management, get lost in the crowd?

tiktok Tue 30-Jul-13 08:46:59

I don't recognise a mumsnet that judges people for using formula, or who denies that some women are physicallyunable to breastfeed - there are individuals who pop up with these ideas, but they are not especially common and it's certainly not part of the 'culture' of mumsnet. It's important to get that clear, otherwise people who have questions about formula/difficulties in bf may worry about posting.

There are real physical conditions that affect breastmilk production from the start, or which cause milk to 'come in' very late indeed, and there are conditions affecting the baby which make it difficult/impossible to breastfeed, and combinations of problems in the mother and the baby that mean it's effectively sabotaged. For some mothers and babies, it's not that they cannot breastfeed at all, but the 'full supply' doesn't happen.

I am always sceptical of figures stating that x or y or z per cent of women cannot breastfeed. It's a guess only.

MiaowTheCat Tue 30-Jul-13 08:49:16

The trouble with saying "do your research about this" is that by the nature of the issue - lots and lots of what is online is published with a certain agenda... so there's tonnes of "anyone can if you try hard enough" and similar, and this wretched 2% figure that's bandied about - and anyone pointing out any other issues which led to things not working out for them gets pretty much judged as being a liar or not dedicated enough or similar.

And like so many people are saying - it's not just a matter of the boobs being fully operational. DD1 just physically couldn't get and stay latched on for various reasons (she was prem and NG tube fed, the tongue tie I mentioned, jaundice-drowsiness) - DD2 was simply getting pissed off and frustrated, and was running into real trouble with her blood sugar and after my DD1 experience of trying desperately to do all the right things and make it work, and spending so much time chained to a breast pump that I didn't get to enjoy this beautiful tiny baby... I wasn't going to put us all through that again. I drew the line beyond which I wasn't prepared to cross - and I'm happy enough with that decision... sadly others seem to view it as their duty to scrutinise if I "tried hard enough", if my excuses are "acceptable" and to basically stick their noses in.

Treagues Tue 30-Jul-13 08:49:32

Oh here we go. <hides thread and gets on with life>

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 08:49:56

I think some people feel that a physical inability to breastfeed is more 'accepted/justifiable' than if they are struggling with it for other reasons or finding it difficult in general. I think that's quite sad. People should be able to get the support they need regardless of the reason behind it.

I think this can also have a negative effect in that it gives the impression that there are lots of physical barriers to breastfeeding and people start to worry that there is something physically 'wrong' with them when they are just experiencing 'normal' gettingtogripswithit issues.

jeanmiguelfangio Tue 30-Jul-13 08:50:06

One of mine doesn't produce, never did. In fact when I was encouraged to pump, only blood came. Very weird and the hospital said they had never seen it before. The only thing they can think is the excessive scar tissue I have on that nipple caused by a skin condition has something to do with it.
Ok the other one, it came in a bit but I could never pump more than .5 an ounce every 2 hours. All a bit pointless in the end because DD wouldn't latch. No tongue tie, no other issues, just lazy apparently.
Being a peer supporter is great, good for you, a lot of people are very successful. The biggest thing I had an issue with was the guilt. It is huge.

My nipples are so flat DD physically couldn't latch onto them. She didn't even know something was in her mouth. Tried nipple shields but the nipple could only be drawn halfway up.

Starved (and dehydrated) my daughter for five days. She was having violent attacks of shaking. I now know it was low blood sugar.

Midwives were stumped. I could not have persevered for a moment longer. Switched to formula and don't feel a twinge of guilt.

MiaowTheCat Tue 30-Jul-13 08:53:51

Oh and while we're on the subject - fucking ante-natal classes.

The breastfeeding one. Bring out the knitted breasts in various amusing shades of wool (if mine went like the blue and cerise one I'd be seeking medical advice) and the dolls to help practice positioning. Only we didn't have enough dolls of an appropriate size and someone ended up with a teeny tiny one. Lots of jokes about "oh you got the premature baby huh huh huh" and comments about "ok so we'll ignore your doll as no one's ever going to have to breastfeed one that size."

DD1 was born "that size" and no one fucking bothered to help make sure that I was confident dealing with attempting to feed a baby in extra small. Not in the NICU, not in the post natal ward, not out in the community.

If I could go back and find the woman running that ante-natal class I'd bloody well deck her for sniggering about the size of that doll and the comments.

jeanmiguelfangio Tue 30-Jul-13 08:54:47

I'm adding something else probably controversial but never mind- ill live on the edge for a bit
I cannot BF due to all sorts as I've explained. I was offered all sorts of help. I chose not to take it in the end. I was stressed to the nines and it was no good for me or my DD. I if you like chose to FF. and if I'm honest, I think I would chose it again. If they worked another time, I think the emotions now linked to BF would cause problems. It would be nice to have encouragement from a peer supporter in that sense.
Moot point because I am never doing that again!!!!!

Altinkum Tue 30-Jul-13 08:55:38

My ds2 is allergic to casein, so breast milk was a killer for him.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 08:55:46

You are quite right to point out that the general MN culture is supportive of struggling breastfeeders, tiktok, and you do a great job. But it is still the case that if you post that you are unable to bf, somebody is bound to shoot back a reply to the effect that this is what x % of women think- making you feel as if you are making your problems up.

I am sure 99 point something children are also able to walk on their 10th birthday. But if I had posted in the SN section for support, I wouldn't have been particularly comforted by having that pointed out. What I would want is not statistics but ^practical suggestions^: have you seen this type of specialist? have you tried this? what about if you were to...?

FobblyWoof Tue 30-Jul-13 08:57:48

It's possible for it to be impossible. For me I had the odds stacked against me but it perhaps wouldn't have been impossible long term.

My milk didn't come in after losing an awful amount of blood during labour and my nipples remained completely flat whenever DD tried to latch. No matter what I tried I couldn't get them erect, including the midwives showing me how to use nipple shields. Once I made the decision to ff my milk came in four days later angry . But DD had lost a lot of weight and I was not prepared to carry on.

Who knows, if I'd waited until my milk finally came in then maybe something would have clicked, or maybe DD would still have been completely unable to latch due to my uncooperative nipples. Who knows?

But yes, it is definitely perfectly possible to be unable to breastfeed through physical reasons.

IdaBlankenship Tue 30-Jul-13 08:58:23

I never produced enough milk, literally drops came out. With my second I was given a hormone spray to encourage let down, but again I only produced a tiny amount of milk. I was extremely upset by it and persisted breastfeeding for 3 weeks with my first and 2 weeks with my second, but obviously had to mix feed. On both occasions I stopped when my milk dried up even though I was still attempting to breastfeed.
It made me feel like a total failure as a mother and took me a long time to come to terms with it - even worse was the horrid judgey comments I was given when people saw I was bottle feeding.

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 08:58:44

Cory, but most people do go on to offer advice. Quoting the 2% figure is probably to reassure you that it is more likely not a physical problem and so you could potentially overcome it.

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 09:03:22

"I am always sceptical of figures stating that x or y or z per cent of women cannot breastfeed. It's a guess only."

Well I'm as guilty of bandying that figure around as the next person. <red cheeks>

I suppose it would be impossible to know unless you could find a society where women's births and early parenting experiences weren't interfered with in a way which impacts on lactation. Can't imagine that these days this would be easy to find.

I'm just constantly flabbergasted at the extent to which culture impacts on the likelihood of success of a normal physiological act. I think the subject of breastfeeding is fascinating and controversial because of the way it is shaped by culture - in a biological as well as emotional sense.

I think stress plays an important part too. I did / am BF both of mine but one night when I was really stressed out I just couldn't let down. It just didn't happen. And you can easily see how that would be a vicious circle.

tiktok Tue 30-Jul-13 09:04:01

cory, I agree that if someone posts they are 'unable' to breastfeed, someone will ask them to 'unpack' that - not because they think the mother is making stuff up, but because it is often the case that they are mistaken and that they might indeed be able to breastfeed after all.

To take one example. It's a more or less weekly occurence for someone to say she needs to use such and such a medication and she has been told she cannot breastfeed because of the medication....and it turns out there are no problems with it at all (or fewer than she assumed).

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 09:07:16

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 08:49:56
"I think some people feel that a physical inability to breastfeed is more 'accepted/justifiable' than if they are struggling with it for other reasons or finding it difficult in general. I think that's quite sad. People should be able to get the support they need regardless of the reason behind it.

I think this can also have a negative effect in that it gives the impression that there are lots of physical barriers to breastfeeding and people start to worry that there is something physically 'wrong' with them when they are just experiencing 'normal' gettingtogripswithit issues."

Cuts both ways though.

We had to wait nearly 10 years to get a diagnosis for dd's undeniably physical condition because everybody assumed that I was just clinging to that explanation because I felt it was more acceptable/justifiable.

If you spend time on the SN boards you will find the mothers whose physical concerns for their babies have been dismissed as maternal anxiety and the need to explain away their own inability to "get to grips" with things.

There is pressure on mothers with no physical issues to "get to grips with things" which can drive them to seek a physical explanation.

But there is equal pressure on mothers whose children do have physical issues, or whose children might have physical issues as yet undiagnosed, to stay out of the debate because it muddies the waters, because it might make others pay too much attention to physical issues, because it might make physical issues seem like something that could happen to anyone- and nobody wants that. It is a lonely place.

And the loneliest place of all is the one where you known that there is a physical issue but nobody wants to hear about it.

BionicEmu Tue 30-Jul-13 09:07:35

BFing never worked out for me either with both DCs. I produce colostrum but it just doesn't turn into milk.

DC1 was prem & in SCBU, I tried & tried but all I could do is syringe colostrum which I gave him, he ended up being tube-fed for a couple of weeks with whatever I could express + formula. I gave up trying to express after 3 weeks when I was only managing to express a few mls of very yellow milk after 30 mins of pumping.

DC2 was induced 3 weeks early (although yay! A full-term baby!) She ended up in SCBU as well though, due to suffering very bad withdrawal from meds that I had to take (& whilst I still feel awfully guilty about failing to breastfeed, it doesn't come close to the guilt I still feel about making her so ill). Again she was tube-fed, & again I had no milk except colostrum. Gave up trying to express after 2 weeks with her cos again, hardly anything would come out. The day I decided to quit was when I hadn't managed to express anything for over 48 hours - the tiny drops which were coming out got lost in the workings of the pump.

MrButtercat Tue 30-Jul-13 09:07:44

So should I "unpack"(kind of patronising)my infertility or any other bodily malfunction?

Why is it just bfing one has to justify?

PenelopePipPop Tue 30-Jul-13 09:08:16

I agree with Cory. There is loads of social psychology lit on stigma and social attitudes which has identified that what changes peoples behaviour in the face of negative social attitudes is not the majority but the nasty minority. A person with a history of mental disorder only has to believe that one person they meet will judge them for that attribute to permanently hide their history, even if they believe (rationally because the survey data says this is true) that most people have open-minded attitudes to mental disorder.

Similarly on Mumsnet we may be a community who are largely sensitive to the challenges of parenting a baby. But you just need one dipshit to turn up on a thread saying 'I bet you aren't really physically incapable, you just didn't try hard enough' for a vulnerable and guilt-ridden new mother to feel she cannot ask for support about bottle-feeding here. We are much more sensitive to negative than positive messages.

Which means that whilst I agree these people are not part of the culture of Mumsnet they are a real problem.

TripleRock Tue 30-Jul-13 09:11:11

OP, physical / medical barriers to BF should form a chunk of your peer supporter training e.g. breast surgery, glandular conditions. Drugs that might not be safe for BF. HIV status.

There are also things that can in many cases be overcome (and sometimes not) such as flat/inverted nipples.

BF is a funny thing. If you take TT as an example, sometimes a massive obvious one causes little or no problems. Other times a tiny and easily missed one means the effective end of BF.

Each mum and baby is unique, there will be natural variations on 'the norm' (if that even exists).

ReallyTired Tue 30-Jul-13 09:11:42

Sometimes the baby is unable to breastfeed even the mother's nipples/ milk supply is fine. In particular tongue tie is a major problem and some doctors are reluctant to snip the tongue of a baby with tongue tie.

I have a completely unstantiated pet theory that prehaps years on the contraceptive pill might affect a woman's long term ablity to breastfeed.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 09:12:22

tiktok Tue 30-Jul-13 09:04:01

"To take one example. It's a more or less weekly occurence for someone to say she needs to use such and such a medication and she has been told she cannot breastfeed because of the medication....and it turns out there are no problems with it at all (or fewer than she assumed)."

But the same response is given if the medication issue was in the past- because posters don't realise that the guidance on medication changes all the time. When dd was born nobody knew that the medication I needed would be fine, it hadn't been around very long, so I went through a horrendous time taking a medication with ghastly side effects. So it may have been an unnecessary precaution seen from the 2010s but perfectly justifiable in the 1990s.

MrButtercat Tue 30-Jul-13 09:14:15

Also on MN there is an awful lot more than unpacking re inability to bf and a whole lot of flat right refusal to acknowledge.....and judging.

BabyMakesMyEyesGoSleepy Tue 30-Jul-13 09:14:19

I reckon that stress plays a huge part in women being unable to bf. Stress as we all know can have physical symptoms so it would be ludicrous to assume it wouldn't affect breast milk.
How many times do we see posts from stressed pregnant women on MN? There's such pressure piled on mothers nowadays to be perfect and anything less is a failure. And don't forget some women may have MH problems and need to take medications which they probably don't want to explain to strangers.
I bf my first 3 dc but dc4 was an emergency section and I was extremely ill afterwards and in intensive care. After almost three weeks in hospital we finally got home and I realised that I did not produce one drop of milk. No full breasts,nothing.

MrButtercat Tue 30-Jul-13 09:14:32

Thankfully not so in RL.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 09:15:35

I wish somebody would come and unpack my vaginal wall. Things seem to be sliding into the glove department that don't belong there.

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 09:16:03

"Why is it just bfing one has to justify?"

You don't if you don't want to!

But there clearly IS a problem with how we manage breastfeeding in a medical and social sense, if 90% of women are stopping breastfeeding before they intended to, because (for the most part) problems which are amenable to intervention.

I think acknowledging that our culture puts emotional and physical barriers in the way of normal breastfeeding is important - it should be reassuring to mothers who are struggling with feeding their baby to understand that the difficulties they are having are common and are not their fault.

tiktok Tue 30-Jul-13 09:17:25

Buttercat, 'unpack' = invite to explain in more detail. As sometimes happens on a know, when someone asks for help, making an assertion that might be explained better with more information, so the help on offer can be more effective.

I don't see what's patronising about that, and its not confined to fertility or feeding issues, either!

You might post something like 'my dh is unable to drive and [insert problem here that might or might not be related to this]' and someone might ask for more details of how/why the dh is unable to drive eg permanently or temporarily.

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 09:19:46

"Also on MN there is an awful lot more than unpacking re inability to bf and a whole lot of flat right refusal to acknowledge.....and judging"

Even the briefest analysis of breastfeeding threads here would show you are wrong. Judgemental and unsympathetic voices are very rare.

The fact you believe there is so much more unkind judging than the evidence on this site shows there to be, demonstrates how much personal perception of other people's attitudes is distorted in relation to this subject.

SacreBlue Tue 30-Jul-13 09:20:01

When I had my DS I bfd - in our family it is just the norm, we all did (even helped me bond with one of my GM who had previously been a bit off with me). In my ward there was an absolutely lovely mum of four already who had extended bfd all and obviously wanted to bf the fifth.

It was really difficult for her with this child &, while still prepared to try on an ongoing basis, she did use a bottle. Thankfully the hospital we were in promoted bf but supported bottle if that's what mum wanted - the mum said to me she felt awful about having to use bottles but at least she wasn't made to feel bad about it by staff.

I really didn't think much about my experience of bfing until hearing about 'bad' experiences - now I think how lucky I was to have had my family, hospital staff & hv behind me whatever I was doing.

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 09:20:45

Cory, I'm not saying that you should stay out if the debate or that genuine physical issues should be ignored but is it better to assume the worst (in this case, that you are physically unable to bf) or to consider that yes, it might be the case BUT it is more likely to be something that can be overcome.

KatyN Tue 30-Jul-13 09:22:10

just putting my twopennies worth in. My milk came in but wouldn't come out. incredibly painful.
Might have been because my boy was in SCBU, I didn't see him for 5 hours, didn't hold him for 48. Then tried feeding (I had been expressing before). Also by that point we'd been moved to a different hospital and were 50 miles from home

not sure if that makes it a physical problem or a psychological one!!

good luck with your trainig if you do become a supporter.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 09:23:12

I think the difficulties come partly in remembering which audience you are addressing. A struggling tearful mother doesn't need the same approach as a committee on national health, a group of expectant mothers might need a different approach from the lonely mother in SCBU. What I often find on MN is that an individual (the OP) is addressed as if she were a committee. Of course MN is an unregulated forum and should remain so. But if you (generic you= we) want to actually achieve something, then it is vital to think about how information is targetted at individuals. I find the SN forum are generally much better at this sort of thing.

miemohrs Tue 30-Jul-13 09:24:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 09:24:53

"You might post something like 'my dh is unable to drive and [insert problem here that might or might not be related to this]' and someone might ask for more details of how/why the dh is unable to drive eg permanently or temporarily."

If we treated husbands being unable to drive in the same way we treat breastfeeding the responses would be like this:

"My DH can't drive either. We decided not to beat ourselves up about it - it really doesn't matter when you can drive or not, the most important thing is that you're happy".

Followed by three dozen posts from other people saying how they felt really judged that their DH was unable to get behind the wheel of a car. Judged by people whose husbands were formula 1 drivers and who couldn't even imagine what it's like to have a non-driving DH. Others would chip in with tales of being on the bus and getting the evil eye from the woman sitting in the passenger seat of a car next to the bus.


cory Tue 30-Jul-13 09:27:49

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 09:20:45
"Cory, I'm not saying that you should stay out if the debate or that genuine physical issues should be ignored "

That is another thing that one learns on the SN forum: the fact that babies don't come out neatly labelled with "genuine problems", "no problems".

That often one has to wait for years to be told. That during those years, as the mother and often the only person who knows there is something wrong, you feel as if you are going insane because you see a different reality to everybody else.

No, I don't have any solutions. Except the general one of keeping the information for the committee on the back burner when addressing individuals.

neunundneunzigluftballons Tue 30-Jul-13 09:28:57

I have inverted nipples and ds had really bad tongue tie so it was extremely difficult to breastfeed but not impossible. 20mths later he is still bf. However with those same conditions on my first 2 babies it was impossible to breastfeed because we were unable to come in contact with HCPs who knew how to overcome those conditions. I went to LLL on number 2 and the tt was not spotted but I knew something was not right as I was beyond in agony. On number 3 I finally met the right lactation consultant she referred me on to almost the only doctor in Ireland who routinely cuts tt (yes there really are very few) and she gave good advice about the inverted nipples. Meeting the right person and getting the right support and bags of tenacity can help with most, not all, physical breastfeeding problems the real problem can be finding the right support in Ireland, though I imagine the UK is better, as I found it was nearly impossible.

MrButtercat Tue 30-Jul-13 09:29:33

Judging on MN re bf rare- ha,a!grin

PenelopePipPop Tue 30-Jul-13 09:29:56

"The fact you believe there is so much more unkind judging than the evidence on this site shows there to be, demonstrates how much personal perception of other people's attitudes is distorted in relation to this subject."

Yes but this in itself is the problem. We can be as pro-women as we want to be, if just 2% of us behave like dicks 2% of the time that will be the stuff that people remember because it hurts desperately.

Has any research been done into the effectiveness of breastfeeding support online? I do peer support in real life but never participate online (except recently on a thread where it was pretty obvious what the answer the poster needed was and she was clearly very confident). In real life you have so much information from the person you are with about their feelings just be being with them and you can easily just sit and listen and let them explore everything in their own time.

Online that is so hard. You don't know if the person will interpret 'can you unpack that?' as 'justify what you are doing' or 'I just need some more information in order to help'.

So it might be that online support in the absence of adequate real life support is the next best thing. Or it might be much better because people raise issues online they'd never raise in real life. Or it might be that it actively deters some women because it is so hard to tailor sensitive responses to the demands of the situation. Can we know that without research?

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 09:30:49

Cory, the thing is, with bf you have a small window of opportunity to get things working. If you assume that you have something physically wrong rather than thinking that it might be a temporary problem that can be overcome then you could miss that window. I'm not saying that it is in Any way ok that it took years for you to get a diagnosis just pointing out that it's not really the same situation.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Tue 30-Jul-13 09:32:12

I couldn't bf as I didn't have any milk. I didn't realise until DS lost a load of weight very quickly and just screamed as he was starving.

I had a PPH and was anaemic, saw midwives at the bf clinic (who were fab) who told me that the reason DS fell asleep and wouldn't latch was because there was nothing there for him. Any little milk I did have he took then fell asleep.

I pumped at every feed, got nothing more than an ounce a day! That was on a good day, it was heartbreaking. I was feeding, pumping and topping up at every feed, it was exhausting. Plus I was being told to rest by the midwives as I was so anaemic. I took fenugreek, nothing helped.

A year later I got diagnosed with an under active thyroid, which if left untreated can inhibit milk production.

I felt like an utter failure. Doesn't help that on here there are a few mn'ers who feel they have the right to tell people they should have just tried harder. hmm

I hope to try and bf no.2.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 09:32:25

And what's wrong with those car driving responses, Minifingers? grin

In fact, they are not at all dissimilar to the responses I have received when I have posted about my own non-driving (eye sight issues).

The only difference is that there isn't the same emotional intensity, not the same suggestion that I am letting down the statistics and that my non-driving is an issue of national importance.

miemohrs Tue 30-Jul-13 09:34:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rumbleinthrjungle Tue 30-Jul-13 09:35:37

Yes, possible. I had a double breast reconstruction for medical reasons and had severely cystic breasts anyway, and while that doesn't always inevitably mean the ability to produce milk is lost, it did in my case. It was enough of a risk to keep the blood supply unaffected and not to totally lose all sensation. I did lose over 50%.

No idea what my natural capacity for BF would have been without the surgery, but post surgery it was definitely gone unfortunately.

Yes my milk didnt come in so I was unable to breast feed dd

HaPPy8 Tue 30-Jul-13 09:38:38

"it's very rare for it to be impossible to breastfeed, but it's really common for it to be so fucking hard that its better for all concerned to stop."

This exactly i would say. Nail hit head.

miemohrs Tue 30-Jul-13 09:39:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 09:40:52

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 09:30:49
"Cory, the thing is, with bf you have a small window of opportunity to get things working. If you assume that you have something physically wrong rather than thinking that it might be a temporary problem that can be overcome then you could miss that window. I'm not saying that it is in Any way ok that it took years for you to get a diagnosis just pointing out that it's not really the same situation"

Not really the same situation as .. what? I was one of those new mums struggling with breastfeeding. I was somebody who would have asked MN for support if MN had been around in those days.

Are you saying I should have peeked into some little crystal ball and said "ah, investigations conducted years from now will reveal that actually you are the mother of a child with SN and they are Different, you don't belong here, go off to the other forum"?

This is the reality for a large proportion of parents of children with SN/chronic health conditions: they don't know, they are not told, they have to muddle along like the rest, using the same support and the same channels of information. My situation is not unusual. People think that the doctor will take a quick look at the newborn and then gently draw the parents aside to break the news. This happens in a few cases, with certain types of SN.

curryeater Tue 30-Jul-13 09:44:38

And a million people saying "Well all my children got the bus, never had a day's illness in their lives, won Sports Day every year and now go to Russell Group universities"

curryeater Tue 30-Jul-13 09:45:13

sorry very late a million cross-posts

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 09:45:37

No, I'm not Cory. Are you suggesting that everyone who struggles with bf should assume that their child has SN or that they have a physical problem that will make bf impossible? I don't think you actually are saying that but I'm wondering why you are taking issue with my responses that are basically saying 'don't automatically assume the worst until you have explored all other options'.

Pigsmummy Tue 30-Jul-13 09:47:01

I have issues with my left breast, my right was two cup sizes bigger as that one was producing milk well! I ended up with mastitis on day 3, had antibiotics then had it again a further 3 times before baby was six weeks old! It was awful, baby had terrible diarrhea from antibiotics and I think that the issues I have (fibrocystic breast) in left breast were causing pressure in the wrong places causing blockages and poor production so I gave up (severe mastitis can lead to having to have breast removed). I supplemented with formula and stopped breast feeding at 11 weeks.

If you are having issues get your GP to refer you to a breast specialist (not just breast feeding clinic, although that's worth a visit too) and they can ultrasound your breasts. Mark Kissin in Surrey is very good as is Mr Beechey Newman in London.

Bogeyface Tue 30-Jul-13 09:47:37

I will never forget when I had DD2, my DC3. I went to NCT antenatal classes for the social side as I didnt have many friends at the time. BF was mentioned and the teacher asked if anyone wasnt planning on BF. I was the only one who put my hand up (angry now that she even asked, why make an issue of it?) and when asked why I said that it was physically impossible for me to BF but that I was fine with that.

Then another woman, who was on her second DC and had been a BF mentor in her previous town for NCT went on and on at me at how every woman can BF, that there is no physical reason why I shouldnt, I needed help, confidence, blah blah. She went on and on and I was getting more and more embarrassed and then I got angry and said that I appreciated her input as I hadnt realised that I would still be able to BF after having radical breast surgery that removed 80% of my breast tissue removed.

The silence was deafening. I left and never went back.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 09:55:23

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 09:45:37
"No, I'm not Cory. Are you suggesting that everyone who struggles with bf should assume that their child has SN or that they have a physical problem that will make bf impossible? I don't think you actually are saying that but I'm wondering why you are taking issue with my responses that are basically saying 'don't automatically assume the worst until you have explored all other options'."

I don't see why we can't have any middle ground between "don't automatically assume the worst" and "don't even allow the thought of the worst as a possibility".

That is what would have helped me as a new mum, keeping the various possibilities open! Somebody saying "well, I don't quite know what is happening here, it could be x or y or x; anyway how about trying this?" Somebody biting their tongue and not telling me everything else that worried them about all other mothers failing to breastfeed. Somebody concentrating on the issue at hand and not attempting to explain things she couldn't explain.

Actually, there was one such person. It was the NHS breastfeeding counsellor I saw a couple of times when dd had been admitted to hospital. She didn't spout statistics at me or talk to me about the importance of national breastfeeding. She just gave me practical advice about syringes and expressing and hindmilk.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 09:56:46

Sorry for deserting my thread there. Thanks so much for sharing all your experiences and ideas, Cory is right about the baby being a major factor in the BF and how it pans out. This thread just reaffirms with me how strong we all are and we should be a lot kinder to ourselves. I gave up BF my first due to PND and have been lucky enough to go on to have an easier experience with the subsequent two. I just hope to be able to help people through and if that means going on to FF well I hope I can help with that too

WireCat Tue 30-Jul-13 10:03:01

I still hate myself for this now, nearly 14 years later.

I just assumed baby would pop out, would put her to the breast & she would feed.

Baby didn't pop out like I was told in anti natal.

Breast feeding did not happen like on anti natal.

I had no milk. None. My breasts didn't change.

We had nothing ready to formula feed a baby. I felt like an utter failure. I had no idea that my body could fail me & my baby.

Anyhow, with baby no2, he was born by emergency section & I was under a GA. But I'd already put on my maternity notes that he was being formula fed. I couldn't face that failure again. It led to such hideous depression. So he had a bottle by the time I'd come around. So I've no idea if I'd have breast fed him.

Bay 3 came along 7 years after baby2. I decided I would try to breast feed. Told midwife my previous problems. It won't happen again. I did take cartons of formula with me just in case. Glad I did no milk again. Nada. Nothing. No idea why.

It still upsets me. Everyone I know who wanted to breast feed has done so with ease.

All those I k is who chose to bottle feed never felt guilty.

I'm sure it's played a part in my depression.

I never talk about it. I never get involved in the breast/formula debates.

WireCat Tue 30-Jul-13 10:04:10

All those I know*

Shrugged Tue 30-Jul-13 10:04:20

Is it appalling of me to say I find this thread very consoling? I was so guilt-stricken at the fact that my milk never came in (some colostrum, but somehow never turned into milk) that I ended up having a minor breakdown and being referred to PIPS. I will still have to fight back tears if someone brings it up, and I am far from a weepy type.

I pumped and pumped round the clock for eight weeks, used a supplemental feeding system, and nipple shields to correct my flat nipples, saw NHS, La Leche League and private BF consultants, went to BF support groups, my baby was as healthy as a puppy, hungry and had a good latch, I had hormone tests to try to figure out the cause - nothing. 'Primary Lactation Failure' and a question mark is on my notes.

I found all the consultants/BF consellors, while very nice, worked on the assumption that I was having latch or confidence problems, or that DS had an undiagnosed tongue tie. When they became aware if was none of those things, they were stumped, and I was left feeling alone and a total anomaly. I do wish that BF professionals were given more training or education on this. It was an experience I wouldn't wish on anyone.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:05:26

I didn't have any antenatal, do they inform people that this sort of thing can happen?

Marzipanface Tue 30-Jul-13 10:06:10

Some women find it easy so the assumption is that everyone else must find it easy. This is a ridiculous notion. They are lucky not to encounter the issues and problems listed on this thread.

I found bfing my first really really hard. My milk took an AGE to come in due to a massive haemorrhage resulting in blood transfusions and so on. Midwives bottlefed dd for a while. Once milk was in she would NOT latch on. Bfing support kept telling me DD was able to latch and I needed to ry harder. She would go on the nipple for all of a minute before she came off again and we would try for ages to get back on whilst she got more distressed and I sweated and ached. In the end I expressed for weeks getting hardly anything out until I gave up.

DS was a dream to feed. Latched on straightaway and have bfed ever since.

So I know it can be really really hard and also really easy.

BeingMoreDog Tue 30-Jul-13 10:06:50

DC1 - it was an absolute painful, guilt-inducing, depression-contributing nightmare! And I still feel bad about it [ridiculous]. Probably not impossible, but it felt it. With more support it may well have worked.

DC2 - wriggled in a biological nurturing way to the boob and hasn't stopped since 9mo later.

Guess which one has rashes, chest infections and tummy upsets? Yep. DC2 (anecdote I know, but makes me siiiiigh!).

biryani Tue 30-Jul-13 10:09:21

My dd was born very prem at 29 weeks and I didn't get any milk.

Why the fuss about bf? I just don't get it...

Jenny70 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:13:06

There is the common statistic of 2 percent cannot breastfeed - referring to mother's issue physically. Which equates to a lot of women, nearly 50 per day in uk. Add to this babies that can't/won't feed and it would be hundred or so, at least.

But as a future counsellor you don't need to know how many or why other women don't bf, it is up to you to help someone who wants to bf do all they can to successfully bf. Giving them confidence they are doing the right things, checking baby is content and hydrated rather than focus on weight alone etc. Giving them ammunition to blast those close to them who tell them to give up - being supportuve when noone else is.

Focussing on those who can't or didn't bf might lead you off the supportive role, IYKWIM.

WireCat Tue 30-Jul-13 10:13:07


They are not allowed to say that breast feeding may fail as they have to promote breast feeding. Which is fair enough.

I can't argue with that.

Trouble is, that didn't help me.

I genuinely didn't know that breast feeding could fail. Had to send a bewildered husband out for formula, bottles & steriliser. Back then the hospital did give formula so she was able to have a feed in hospital.

pigletmania Tue 30-Jul-13 10:14:43

Reading some ofte responses is quite releaving, and makes me feel so much better about not being able to bf. lie any other part of t body they can wrk inefficiently or fail, it's not fully perfect. Yes rather like some people having 20/20 vision and some not! In poorer countries, if the mother is not able to bf, female friends or relatives take over

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 10:15:09

"I found all the consultants/BF consellors, while very nice, worked on the assumption that I was having latch or confidence problems"

This is something I found in a lot of professionals too: if x% (rather high percentage) has problems because of y, then it follows that your problems must also be caused by y.

I wonder why they don't transfer this logic to the rest of the medical profession: 75% of the patients who came in tonight had a headache because of incipient stroke, it is therefore most likely that your headache is also caused by a stroke (frantic relative: "but he fell off the roof!").

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 10:17:18

"Focussing on those who can't or didn't bf might lead you off the supportive role, IYKWIM."

I think the only safe way is to focus on the individual mother you have in front of you. And try to find out what kind of support she most needs.

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 10:17:23

Cory, but I did say that in my post of 9.20 and you ignored it and came back criticising the idea of 'genuine' physical issues.

I'm sorry to have to say this, but it is coming across a bit as if you have an axe to grind and it's not really going to matter what I say, you're just going to jump in with 'well, that wasn't the case for me' and ignore the fact that it might be the case for most people. Maybe it isn't intentional but you are coming across like that a bit.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:19:16

It just seems very unhelpful, my DS was 10 pounds at birth and screamed literally all night through hunger bit I was paranoid that one FF would make it impossible to BF. I just think people like to know that they aren't alone in their experience

Google tubular hypoplastic breasts and make sure you a familiar with the way they look (some are more extreme than others) as not one professional ever identified mine when I was failing to breastfeed. It would have been such an incredible relief if someone had just told me what was wrong with my breasts and reassured me that I wasn't doing anything wrong. The failure to produce enough milk, despite doing everything right on paper, was awful and if I had understood why I would have gone on to formula much sooner and avoided DS failing to gain even a single ounce for the first six weeks of his life.

curryeater Tue 30-Jul-13 10:19:24

cory, they totally do! It is one of the most infuriating things about GPs that they do exactly that!

paperlantern Tue 30-Jul-13 10:20:05

Dd1 never latched on properly (despite 3 days in hospital and the midwives telling us how well we were both doing) so milk never came in. 5days in i was told she must drink in the next 6 hours or she would be hospitalised. Formula saved her from that and possibly worse. She was that ill.

I'm sure physically it is is possible to restart milk supply. But my daughter would have been on a drip in hospital. Biologically possible is a nebulous concept

faceboo Tue 30-Jul-13 10:21:57

I have Poland's Syndrome and have milk ducts missing from one of my breasts.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:23:27

I will do that, thanks EhricLoves

IdaBlankenship Tue 30-Jul-13 10:26:12

WireCat Your experience sounds similar to mine. I genuinely didn't know that it was possible to just not produce milk. I would express for 40 minutes to get a couple of mls of milk. One HCP told me I just wasn't trying hard enough - thanks for that! I was confused, really guilty, had bleeding sore nipples and was incapable to feeding my hungry child.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 10:29:06

"I'm sorry to have to say this, but it is coming across a bit as if you have an axe to grind and it's not really going to matter what I say, you're just going to jump in with 'well, that wasn't the case for me' and ignore the fact that it might be the case for most people. Maybe it isn't intentional but you are coming across like that a bit."

I am sorry if that is how I come across bumbleymummy. What I am trying to say is, every individual has to be treated as a new case to some extent, with all possibilities open. No one individual is "most people".

Statistics work like that. When I toss the coin there is a 50% chance it will come down heads. But the fact that it came down tails last down does not mean I can predict that it will come down heads this time. Statistics work for populations, not for individuals.

When dh came down with Reyes syndrome his GP had never seen a case before. Statistically, it was very unlikely. But it still needed treating for what it was: a firm understanding of the statistic unlikeliness would not have saved dh's life.

Statistically, it is unlikely that a woman PowerOf3 encounters in her antenatal classes will have had 80% of her breast tissue removed, but I bet Bogeyface's antenatal teacher wished she had been open to the possibility. Because by definition, the statistically unlikely will sometimes happen- and if you hadn't allowed for it you may make a prat of yourself. Or do real harm to the self esteem of some vulnerable woman you are supposed to be supporting.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Tue 30-Jul-13 10:29:28

I think, pre/historically speaking, if breastfeeding failure was anything like the rates suggested on this thread, the human race would probably have died out.

Imagine living 500, 1000, 2000+ years ago, and watching your baby fade away because you couldn't feed it. It must've been the most horrific thing.

I honestly think it is amazing that millions of years of evolution hasn't made 1). giving birth, and b). breastfeeding much, much easier and more efficient. confused

Why are both of these perfectly natural things so painful and, often, traumatic? I mean, a few 100 years ago, you were lucky to even survive childbirth.

Thank goodness for human intelligence, so that childbirth is relatively risk-free these days, and formula is available for those who need/want it.

mrsjay Tue 30-Jul-13 10:31:21

I tried for a week with dd1 no milk came in I didnt even try with dd2 it was too distraught with my first attempts i couldnt put myself through that again and dd2 was in babycare I had other things to worry about

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 10:32:43

"I just think people like to know that they aren't alone in their experience"

Given that the majority of breastfeeding mums are using formula within 2 weeks of birth, and most have stopped breastfeeding altogether by 8 weeks, do you really think women DON'T know that other women find breastfeeding?

"And what's wrong with those car driving responses, Minifingers?"

Well there's nothing wrong with those responses IF the DH in question and his partner had chosen not to drive, and were happy about not driving and genuinely couldn't be taught to drive!

"The only difference is that there isn't the same emotional intensity, not the same suggestion that I am letting down the statistics and that my non-driving is an issue of national importance."

No - because non-driving doesn't impact on the health of babies. Not breastfeeding does. It's as basic as that. It's about the health of babies as well as being about the well-being and lifestyle choices of adults. That's what makes it such a fraught subject. Obviously when we are talking about counselling and individual support with problematic feeding this doesn't need to be referred to - but when we having a wider discussion of the issue outside of an individual counselling or support context, it shouldn't be ignored.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:34:13

You only have to read this thread to see that a lot of people do find it helpful to know they're not alone Minifingers

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 10:36:10

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Tue 30-Jul-13 10:29:28
"I think, pre/historically speaking, if breastfeeding failure was anything like the rates suggested on this thread, the human race would probably have died out."

If you are looking at it from a Darwinian perspective, evolution does not require all individuals to survive. If you give birth to 10 children and 2 survive, that will be enough to keep the population going. Or if one woman does really well and keeps all her 8 alive, that will be enough to cancel out the fact that some other woman didn't manage to keep a single one. sad

Then there is wet nursing. Plenty of historical evidence, and evidence from modern hunters and gatherers that women shared breastfeeding duties and that a child that could not be suckled by one woman would feed from another. In fact, in the Renaissance it was so rare for upper class women to feed their own babies that books were written to try to rekindle the idea.

WestieMamma Tue 30-Jul-13 10:36:22

I am autistic and have hypersensitivity. Basically the pain signals to the brain are routed incorrectly. Some things which should be extremely painful don't even register and other things which should be painless are agony. I wanted to breastfeed and gave it a try but it was excruciating, worse than labour pains.

Someone on another thread told me that this wasn't a physical reason for not breastfeeding, that with proper counselling and trying harder I could have done it. Yep, apparently counselling can correct defective neuro-pathways in the brain. hmm

AnnabelleLee Tue 30-Jul-13 10:36:43

Yes. But not nearly as often as people will tell you.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:38:27

I think that person was trying to upset you for want of something better to do westiemama

paperlantern Tue 30-Jul-13 10:39:11

Incidentally I was sp traumatised with breast feeding dd when ds was born I wanted to express as well sp I could see milk getting in. Hospital refused to help me saying it would stop me breastfeeding properly

We did breastfeed but I was convinced ds wasn't getting enough. even i was unsure whether it was past trauma or real. He took hours to feed and. breast pump was producing next to nothing, I was told baby was more efficient than the breast pump. years later he was diagnosed with low muscle tone and sn, the breast pump was probably more efficient.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 10:39:12

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 10:32:43
"Obviously when we are talking about counselling and individual support with problematic feeding this doesn't need to be referred to - but when we having a wider discussion of the issue outside of an individual counselling or support context, it shouldn't be ignored."

You are right of course, and this thread is a good place for it. But it does seem to make its way into many threads on this subject where the OP is obviously a vulnerable person asking for individual support, which is where I am less convinced it's helpful.

DragonPaws Tue 30-Jul-13 10:41:03

I really hate the myth that its always physically possible to breastfeed. It is another stick to hit new mothers with when they are battling to feed their newborn and to make them feel inadequate.

It is definitely possible for it to be physically possible not to be able to breastfeed, although I had to make my health visitor put that the reason for me stopping physical on a form. I fed no problem initially but then very little milk came in. I fed and fed and fed and then tried to express in between feeds but no more than 20ml ever came out (and often less). Baby dragon was losing weight so I was told I had to switch to formula.

I lost a lot of blood at the birth but have been told that my mother was unable to produce much milk either so it could be genetic.

I think that the lack of advice around formula feeding is ridiculous, as is the way some health professionals treat new mothers who don't (for whatever reason) breastfeed. New mothers, particularly first time mothers, have just gone through a life changing experience which is physically and emotionally demanding. They should be given support regardless of their choices and to me this means been given correct and full information on formula feeding.

mrsjay Tue 30-Jul-13 10:43:30

some people genuinely can't get their head round non bf they think all you need to do as pop baby on and away they go and it is all blissful and happy for many many women it just isn't like that at all,

Shrugged Tue 30-Jul-13 10:43:53

DonDraper, but until fairly recently, there was nothing like our current taboo on women feeding other women's babies, and presumably groups of women would be able to feed one another's children when necessary. And of course using a wetnurse was pretty common among the more privileged classes in this country and elsewhere, I think originally (at least among the aristocracy) partly so that the women weren't prevented from conceiving rapidly again. And at times with significant infant mortality, there would have been an over-supply of lactating women.

x2boys Tue 30-Jul-13 10:46:25

My grandma could nt breast feed her first child [this was in the 1930,,s] he died at two weeks old badly under nourished. with her second he was completely bottle fed with my mum and my other uncle she tried for a few weeks but gave up as they were also becoming undernourished so breast feeding was certainly a problem for her, incidentally grandma died over ten years ago her remaining three offspring are all in there late 60,s early 70,s I ignore people who say anybody can breast feed as its utter crap would they like to be left with a dead baby like my grandma because of their principles?

gobbledegook1 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:47:10

I started off BF with no issues at all but once my DS got to about 10 weeks he just never seemed to be full for long and feeds got closer and closer until at 12 weeks we were barely going 15 minutes between feeds and he just always seemed hungry, I started trying to express in between but was barely getting anything out. I was going through a very tough time and my Health Visitor advised that it seemed like my milk had probably started to dry up which can be known to happen in times of extreme stress and given what I had been going through she was surprised I had managed it for as long as I had but said that maybe it was time I considered changing over to formula. I swapped to formula and the the difference in how much more full and thus content he was was almost instantaneous, within just a couple of days he was sleeping through the night 8 - 7 most nights and my milk very rapidly vanished altogether.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:47:45

That's so sad

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 10:48:02


cory Tue 30-Jul-13 10:49:43

"And at times with significant infant mortality, there would have been an over-supply of lactating women."

That's a good point.

Even I donated to the hospital at a time when I was still struggling to get it into dd; my supply was just ridiculously high. smile

In olden times there was a greater openness towards the idea of matching supply and demand.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Tue 30-Jul-13 10:49:58

I acknowledge all of those factors, shrugged, but they're all interventions implemented after the fact to compensate for something that is so fundamental to human survival. Yes, I'm sure women did rely on other women feeding their babies, and yes, of course infant mortality was much higher than it is now.

It just seems odd that humans have to go to such lengths to ensure their infant offspring are fed, in a way that other mammals don't seem to have to.

hurricanewyn Tue 30-Jul-13 10:51:39

I didn't BF either of my two DC.

I tried with DS - I couldn't get the latch right, and he was starving. Screaming hungry. Because the latch wasn't right, I had blisters and scabs on my nipples and they bled every time he fed and it was agony. I gave up after a week as the only support I got was to be told by a midwife that if I was on a desert island I'd find a way to do it hmm

DD arrived early, not much (was 8lb 4 when born and we were both discharged within a day) but early enough that my milk hadn't arrived. I didn't notice at the time, but when I was expecting DS in late pregnancy I would wake up with slightly leaking breasts and my bra stuck to me etc and this didn't happen with DD.
After being sent home the community midwife noticed my BP was dangerously high, so I was readmitted to hospital but there was no room for DD - it was too important for me to wait for a bed space for her, so I went alone while DH & my mum looked after the DC. My milk arrived while I was in hospital but by the time I was discharged, she just wasn't interested at all.
I think I had PND at the time & I was definitely struggling to bond with her after the separation so I didn't express. I had no support and I wish I had persevered now. I don't feel guilty anymore (DC are 9 & 11 now) but I did for a long time - I felt ashamed, which I now think is daft.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Tue 30-Jul-13 10:54:15

Please don't get me wrong though - to reiterate, I fully, 100% support women choosing (or defaulting) to whichever feeding method they want.

I put HUGE pressure on myself to breastfeed, and even though I succeeded, I believe it was what contributed to me teetering in the edge of PND.

PenelopePipPop Tue 30-Jul-13 10:56:25

Presumably our ludicrously big brains and inadequate pelvises are in some way to blame Don Draper? Our babies are born young and comparatively stupid when contrasted with other mammals, so we have to do more of the work of looking after them after birth and our wider social groups have to do more of the work of looking after the mother in order to make this possible.Thankfully we are social animals with strong kinship ties which makes this possible.

Whothefuckfarted Tue 30-Jul-13 10:57:11

Haven't read all the posts so sorry if it's been said already.

I can't find the link to the facts/study/article but I remember clearly the percentage of women who can't physically produce breast milk stands at around 2%.

There are a lot of other factors that come into play when a woman doesn't succeed when she wants to though. Lack of correct advice, and lack of support from those around her to name a couple.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 11:02:36

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Tue 30-Jul-13 10:49:58
"I acknowledge all of those factors, shrugged, but they're all interventions implemented after the fact to compensate for something that is so fundamental to human survival. Yes, I'm sure women did rely on other women feeding their babies, and yes, of course infant mortality was much higher than it is now.

It just seems odd that humans have to go to such lengths to ensure their infant offspring are fed, in a way that other mammals don't seem to have to."

Mammals can struggle with breastfeeding too; it is not at all uncommon for primates to struggle or for fox cubs or piglets to succumb to malnutrition. (or indeed for pigs to eat their offspring rather than feed it- at least humans don't often do that).

And when we come to survival rates of offspring of the lesser vertebrates, they are often in the 0.x percent range.

SarahAndFuck Tue 30-Jul-13 11:03:29

I don't know what the IABU part of your thread is OP.

Breastfeeding didn't work for us, a combination of lots of things that nearly saw us both back in hospital. It was the breastfeeding support midwife that advised us to just use formula in the end.

I'm not even sure we'd have managed it with better support, but the only support that was available to us was a forty minute car journey away, longer in heavy traffic, and that's just not sustainable several times a day.

skrumle Tue 30-Jul-13 11:05:25

first time round i had placenta accreta and didn't deliver all of my placenta till 9 days after the birth. i also needed 3 litres of blood transfused. i had virtually no milk and gave up even attempting to mix feed after a couple of weeks because i was exhausted and stressed out of my skull trying to do both breast and bottle.

second time round i just had 2 litres of blood loss but my milk still didn't come through properly - after 4 weeks i was told i had to either take medicine or supplement with formula. taking medicine meant going to hospital 25 miles away when i still wasn't driving following CS so i used formula. still mix-fed till 6 months though.

in both cases my milk came in but just not enough!

tiktok Tue 30-Jul-13 11:05:31

meimhors said, ''The thing is with b/f - everyone feels they have the right to 'judge'"

This is just not true.....'everyone'??? A tiny minority only, and if anything judgmental is said on a mumsnet thread, it is jumped on very quickly. Even people who have breastfed without problems know, on the whole, that feeding babies is emotional and sensitive territory and that no one should be judged.

But the myth that large nos. of people go around judging persists. A thread last week accused people of judging and criticising when there was not even an inkling of it. A couple of people asked the 'accuser' what they meant, which words, which posts, which poster, was criticising, and never got a response.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:06:13

You're right SarahAndFuck the thread is in the wrong place I think, how about IABU to ask if or am I BU and nosy!

mrsjay Tue 30-Jul-13 11:06:13

mammals can have babies that die from lack of milk they can get all the problems women get and the mammal babies die,

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 11:06:21

Come to think of it, doesn't James Herriot spend half his time in soggy fields giving ewes injections for their milk to come in?

JsOtherHalf Tue 30-Jul-13 11:06:26

My milk never came in properly ,thankfully baby cafe midwives came across some research around pcos/ivf/thyroid causing problems for some women. I did everything I could ( pretty similar to shrugged ; DS did feed using the supplemental feeding system, but I really do not know how much milk he got.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:07:10

So true MrsJay

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Tue 30-Jul-13 11:08:25

Presumably our ludicrously big brains and inadequate pelvises are in some way to blame Don Draper?

Yes, presumably. Given that this is widely known and acknowledged.

Again, it's just odd that millions of years of evolution hasn't corrected these things...

I'm just musing, really. If I didn't know better, I'd assume our supreme Maker was a man. wink

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 11:13:17

Evolution is a trade-off, Don. If one feature gives a better overall chance of perpetuating the species, then it will be maintained at the cost of another feature that is important but not quite so important.

Remember evolution is not about the survival of the individual, it's about the adaptation of the species to changing circumstances and sometimes that will come at a high cost to individuals. Evolution doesn't care.

Big brains mean that 5% die in childbirth but 7% are protected from predators that would otherwise have killed them before they had a chance to reproduce= big brains are here to stay.

(random figures)

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Tue 30-Jul-13 11:17:08

I understand all that. smile

It's just a bit crap that we women really got the fuzzy end of the lollipop on the design flaws front, re childbirth and breastfeeding.

tiktok Tue 30-Jul-13 11:18:36

Indeed, cory....and the big brain means we can figure out what might help when the feeding goes a bit awry....I mean we don't say (like Mrs Other Mammal) 'sod that one - it can't feed, so I will abandon it/let the siblings crush it/eat it'


guiltyconscience Tue 30-Jul-13 11:19:19

It is when you are so ill post birth you can't even lift your head off the pillow due to the epidural going wrong or due to the rip roaring infection or the fact I needed 3 pints of blood or that they tried everything to get dd2 out and then gave me a c/s after 9 pessaries and countless days of pain no sleep and worry also ventouse and forceps when suddenly they cottoned on that they needed to get her out asap so yes to answer your question yes when the mother is really ill post birth . Bearing in mind I b/f my first for 6 months and wanted to b/f my second also but hey I must not be bitter we are still here 17 years later.Oh um sorry rant I didn't realise I still felt that bad about it after all these years.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 11:19:35

Not as fuzzy as giraffes though: imagine giving birth to those horrid long-legged things with sharp hooves. Apparently, birth complications are very common.

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:20:31


ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:20:48


storynanny Tue 30-Jul-13 11:26:12

Unfortunately I was unable to breast feed any of my children due to inverted nipples. Irrationally have always felt disappointed about it 30 year On. Does make me cross though when the breast is best advocates say everyone could breast feed and it gives baby the best start in life. I always felt second best and as if I was letting my babies down, especially at 1980's NCT groups. I remember asking a host if she would put my bottle of formula in a jug of hot water for me ( that's what you did then according to the right practise at the time!) and she held the bottle in the air and loudly said " ooh what's this I don't know what to do with it" guaranteed to make a new mum feel useless!

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 11:27:05

very true, tiktok smile

though not foolproof, not enough for x2boys' poor grandma sad

wouldn't have been enough for me either except that evolution had done its work on the brain of the consultant paed, if not on mine, and he had dd admitted to hospital

looking at the photos in retrospect I realise I could easily have ended up like x2boys' grandma

ThePowerof3 Tue 30-Jul-13 11:29:00

Thank goodness we have an alternative

fairimum Tue 30-Jul-13 11:33:36

I had severe preeclampsia which effected my milk coming in and the BP med's don't help that at all, after a week of going back and forth to HDU I needed stronger medication to control my blood pressure and prevent me fitting which wasn't safe to breast feed on so i had to stop expressing - was getting less than 1oz a time despite expressing for over an hour

Just marking my place, as another peer supporter, these stories are all very interesting. smile

hurricanewyn Tue 30-Jul-13 12:13:51

fairimum I had severe preeclampsia which effected my milk coming in - I had this too with DD, and no one ever explained that to me. I never knew that - just thought I'd failed.

bumbleymummy Tue 30-Jul-13 12:19:45

Cory, I didsay be open to the possibility BUT it is good to be aware that it is more likely to not be a physical barrier to bf so don't assume the worst and explore other options (with relevant support).

mrsjay Tue 30-Jul-13 12:30:43

I follow a rescue place on facebook and a mother chimps milk dried up so another lactating mother took over for her I thought that was great if the baby and other mum didnt get on well the baby would have died

mrsjay Tue 30-Jul-13 12:31:27

well it wouldnt have as the rescue would have bottle fed I suppose

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 12:35:44

That would have done me nicely, bumbleymummy smile

But I don't think anyone I saw in those early days had been trained at all to acknowledge the possibility of SN; it was all about latching and confidence and having the right attitude.

(Perhaps they might have talked about lactation if I had ever been able to undo my bra without squirting the ceiling; to do them justice I don't know that they wouldn't).

They only talked about problems to do with me, so I assumed they knew the problem had to be something to do with me.

Of course if I had known, I might have put them right and asked to be transferred to a specialist in SN bf'ing. But that's just it, I didn't know.

ICBINEG Tue 30-Jul-13 12:43:00

I hadn't realised the obvious connection between blood loss and BF issues. I actually had to have a transfusion but didn't have milk problems so it has been very educational to discover that I was perhaps unusual in that respect and that for so many others it has been a major factor.

ICBINEG Tue 30-Jul-13 12:56:17

Ahh the judging of FF mums.....

There is certainly a lot of perceived judgement....

I have been accused of judging FF mums by:

1. stating the statistical facts on increased SIDS risk of FF (facts don't judge...they just are....)

2. describing how I overcame a particular challenge to a poster who asked for advice on that challenge. (implying it might be worth trying is apparently a judgement of all those who didn't...)

3. countering myths that 'not having enough milk' after BF is established is common (yes we all agree, especially on this thread, that it happens...but it isn't common).

4. asking for a formula advert to be removed from MN (it is against their policy).

There is also a a lot of actual judging...but it is, in the vast vast majority of cases, a FF mum judging herself to have been a failure in some way. It is all over this thread too. People who feel they failed, or could have tried one replying agrees....certainly none of the BF supporters....but that doesn't matter, everyone is too busy feeling judged to notice.

I think in the whole time I have been on here I have once seen ONE poster recurrently imply that someone actually should have tried harder before switching to FF. They were soundly jumped on by everyone else...and possibly even banned.

ICBINEG Tue 30-Jul-13 12:58:06

Oh one final is as utterly dumb to imply that BF is easy and always works smoothly as it would be to imply that childbirth is easy and always works smoothly.

I really really pisses me off that antenatal classes still take this utterly obtuse approach.

PeriodFeatures Tue 30-Jul-13 13:02:07

Of course. I guess Some women's boobs might not work, just like some of us have had to have assisted fertility, wear glasses etc. This is an interesting perspective on some of the pychological barriers to BF. Particularly the right brained/left brained stuff.

Loa Tue 30-Jul-13 13:26:34

Regarding the medication angle - my friend with a heart condition had a sympathetic consultant who found bf friendly combination of heart medication for her - unfortunately either she was in the % of people that pills didn't work for or the further damage her heart suffered despite excellent care meant it didn't work. Her extreme exhaustion contributed to her pnd.

There was no choice but to stop and go back on her life saving but bf incompatible medication.

She did get to feed two months and as she'd pumped got to supplement for another month - but she still got upset despite everyone telling her she'd bf longer than many and had no choice but to ff.

Idocrazythings Tue 30-Jul-13 13:29:36

OP. can I recommend you get the book Making more milk by Diana West. It is a fascinating read, will answer all your questions and be a great resource for you in the future. I think it is written in a way that is suitable for both health professionals and women/families. You will definitely make good use of it.

Loa Tue 30-Jul-13 13:38:21

3. countering myths that 'not having enough milk' after BF is established is common (yes we all agree, especially on this thread, that it happens...but it isn't common).

My milk was late coming in and our first and DC was showing the first signs of dehydration.

I had an excellent community MW team and one to one care - as soon as they spotted the signs they came every few hours at our house to check on us - gave us the advice to wake her at least every 3 hours for 24 hours feed her and how to stimulate her awake - and got me pumping and making sure she took what I got out on a special spoon. Within 24 hours my milk had come in and we were both fine.

It wasn't till we moved that we realize that level of care wasn't universal or even standard. I could have easily have walked away with the idea I wasn't producing enough milk and not have gone on to bf all of our 3 DC all well over a year.

I don't know how you can separate case like mine where the correct support would mean milk does come in in sufficient amounts from cases where it will never happen.

ICBINEG Tue 30-Jul-13 13:41:48

loa yes this is why I usually bother to try and counter. People hear so often that others couldn't make enough milk. And sometimes it IS true, and nothing could have helped, but in the vast majority of cases it could have been helped.

If people at least know that it is rare then they can keep demanding help until they exhaust the possibilities....

Loa Tue 30-Jul-13 14:00:47

I think ICBINEG demand help is just one aspect though - the MW attitude was vital for us.

If we'd had the MW we'd had with our 3rd DC, different area with low bf rate, I don't doubt we'd have been told horror stories of how serious dehydration could end up as they did this with other aspects of that pg that hadn't raise eye brows with previous pg. In which case we'd have ff straight away rather than risk any possible harm.

We were lucky to be in bf friendly area that did more than pay lip service and the MW were calm,informative and very supportive.

I think just being demanding especially as first time parents wouldn't have been enough.

Certainly when I had repeated bouts of mastitis with second baby in the new area - being demanding just got me really crap incorrect advice form MW, GP and HV. Having bf once I knew I could again and I suppose I was demanding and knowledge enough to know the advice was wrong and did thanks to good web sites and time get past it.

Junebugjr Tue 30-Jul-13 14:28:34

As already mentioned, even if the breasts are up to the challenge, things like birth trauma and any problems with the baby, can make bf nearly impossible.
Dd1- 2 days in labour, emcs, blood loss, infection etc etc coupled with dd being in obvious pain after birth so difficult to feed, weight loss etc, had me packing it in after a few weeks.
Dd2 - straightforward birth, dd2 breast fed easily, no issues apart from oversupply which saw her piling on the weight.
The same breasts but different outcomes. I don't think anyone should flog themselves over not bf for any reason, i cant see any difference between my daughters despite being fed differently, but help needs to be there to support women who do want to carry on.

RandallPinkFloyd Tue 30-Jul-13 14:29:17

My DS had a traumatic birth (for both of us) yet when I finally got to hold him about 2 hrs later he latched on straight away. It was just instinctive for both of us and he fed from both breast perfectly.

By the next morning (3 hrs later hmm ) he just wouldn't feed. He latched on perfectly but just wasn't drinking. After a few hours. The midwives started to get a bit worried as his temperature was dropping and he was becoming listless. A HCA came over to try and help but he was latched perfectly, he just didn't seem to have the energy to drink.

The only option was to try and pump or give him formula. Pumping didn't work as I wasn't engorged enough so he had formula. Tiny tiny amounts at a time but it worked and we went home later on the next day.

4 days later when my milk finally came in I was in hospital with a post dural puncture and so separated from my baby. It was agony. My breast were so engorged they were rock hard, just turning over in the bed was agonising. Unfortunately as DS wasn't there I couldn't feed him, I also couldn't effectively pump as I had to lie completely prone in the bed, raising my head even slightly caused pain I cannot describe.

So basically it was physically impossible for me to BF but because of a combination of factors and situations. It's not just a simple case of 'are your breasts physically capable of producing and expressing milk or not'. There are countless variables which all play a part.

prissyenglisharriviste Tue 30-Jul-13 14:31:50

I could breast feed, but dd2 couldn't. She was born with no suck reflex.

I expressed so that she could be tube fed. smile

DuelingFanjo Tue 30-Jul-13 14:32:26

RE the judging of Formula feeding... I am always confused that so many people feel that this happens so much, particularly when it's breastfeeding mothers who get told to leave cafes or get off buses for breastfeeding. Weird.

DuelingFanjo Tue 30-Jul-13 14:34:13

Also - everyone is different. One person may give up breastfeeding because of a difficult birth experience and others like me manage to keep breastfeeding. Even after days of labour, rough birth and baby in special care for ten days I still managed to get him to breastfeed exclusively (pumping at first) once I was at home.

ChrisTheSheep Tue 30-Jul-13 14:36:41

I tried to BFAR with DS1: started by diligently harvesting colostrum, and managed, over about a month, to collect 30ml. M breasts were bruised with the force I'd had to use in expressing, and I ended up (accidentally) inducing labour at 37wks due to all the nipple stimulation. DS was born by EMCS after a very long labour, and, though I tried to feed him, he was clearly getting nothing. I was also getting sicker and sicker, and, by day 4, was vomiting every time I held him (combination of anxiety and PND). I think my milk probably did come in a few days later (I certainly had engorgement, swelling, hot skin) but by this point I was pretty much bedridden as I couldn't even keep water down, and DS had been given formula as it seemed it was the only way to keep him from starving. MW thought I should have persisted trying to BF, but I honestly think we'd both have been hospitalised. I still feel immensely guilty (failed to give birth properly, failed to feed properly etc etc), and am having all sorts of fears about how I'm going to feed DC2, with whom I am currently pregnant.

Most people were lovely and supportive: they knew how much I had tried to BF, and how much I hated having to FF, but being harangued as an irresponsible mother by random strangers hurt a lot.

Edendance Tue 30-Jul-13 14:38:36

I guess for some people it's technically possible but at what price?? If its too stressful or too much of a hassle for whatever reason then on balance it may not be the right option even if theorically it could be done.

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 14:43:42

"There are countless variables which all play a part."

But don't you have to ask why these 'countless variables' in physical terms seem to matter less than your age, social class, or which country you're born in when it comes to working out the chances of you succeeding with breastfeeding?

twinkletoedelephant Tue 30-Jul-13 14:57:09

I bf my Dr to 10 months when the twins came along after a planned c section I tried I really did I had soooo much milk I could easily pump 18 oz in one sitting but the dt's were both severely tounge tied mw were bringing me the bottles of formula in hospital even the bf advisor who came to the ward ignored me and the twins

So we ended up ff even at age 4 both still have slightly forked tongues sad

Mamf74 Tue 30-Jul-13 15:06:59

DD was born by EMCS, then I got an infection and was put onto heavy duty abs after having 2 lots whilst in labour (Group B strep had been diagnosed). DD was then diagnosed with a tongue tie. All of which added up to her having problems latching on, and possibly lead to me producing no milk and having no milk come in.

I was expressing a bit for the first 2 days then the amounts were dwindling - was told that was because my milk was coming but after 5 days and DD losing weight a new midwife suggested I ff her which she took to like a duck to water. Poor wee sod drank SO much in the first 24hrs of ffeeding!

Fair play to the midwives, they were SO encouraging but I do wish I'd formula fed earlier as it was so miserable for DD, she was constantly crying as she must have been literally starving.

As a mumsnetter, second time mum and peer supporter, when I was told I'd have to stop bfing to take the meds I need, I put up a fight and sorted it out (the meds ARE NOT incompatible with bf by the way, the consultant was wrong. DS2 is still breastfed)

But if I'd not had that training and support, I could have been thinking that, thanks to needing medication, I was one of these women unable to breastfeed.

If doctors don't have the adequate training to give the right answer, they should be referring you to someone who does, not making it up.

Dueling - completely subjective, but as someone who did both, I always felt far more self conscious FF in public. And I was someone who used to BF my toddler on beaches, theme park rides, you name it.

rallytog1 Tue 30-Jul-13 17:24:51

DD was born by emcs, during which I nearly died (thanks to a scalpel-happy surgeon) and lost most of the blood in my body. I needed further surgery under general anaesthetic immediately after the birth to repair the damage (by a surgeon flown in from another hospital as he was the only person they could find who knew how to repair the mess).

I was physically unable to bf for the first 24 hours because I was so weak and unable to hold DD or stay awake. She was fortunate enough to get donor milk during this time.

After 24 hours I was well enough to try to bf but my milk never came in, not even a drop of colostrum, and after 3 weeks of attempted bf I was advised by various people including MWs, infant feeding co-ordinator and lactation consultant, that I should give up as my body had obviously decided not to play ball. This was after trying everything to get my supply going - expressing, herbal supplements etc etc

One mw said to me that she thought that in some cases of severe birth trauma, your body's subconscious self-preservation instinct can kick in - ie, my body decided that its priority was keeping itself alive, not keeping someone else alive, despite what my head and heart wanted it to do. That kind of makes sense to me. So I would say that in some cases of birth trauma, it is physically impossible to bf after.

QueenMaeve Tue 30-Jul-13 17:35:30

I fed all 4 of first dc no problem. Premature birth with 5th dc, zero amount of milk, pumped, tool meds, ziltch.

StiffyByng Tue 30-Jul-13 18:03:41

Sorry, this may be long.

First, as someone who also mix fed, I also felt better bfing than ffing in public, but that's about me I think!

I also have breast hyperplasia. With DD I thought feeding was going fine until her weight gain started bothering people. She got back to birth weight at around five weeks and was very slow. My HV diagnosed PTT, and it was the rather unsympathetic lactation consultant at Kings TT clinic who told me I had tuberous breasts and 'wouldn't be able to breastfeed'. Added to that, my HV told me I was starving my baby, so I ended up mix feeding, with largish formula top ups. I live in an area with fantastic support (although sadly my otherwise amazing midwives had never even heard of the condition) with a choice of bf cafes every day, and I saw three very supportive LCs. I also took fenugreek, goat's rue, domperidone, and did endless heartbreaking pumping when I'd get 20ml at most over the course of a day. I felt absolutely dreadful about my 'failure' and in fact have never since been able to think of my breasts as 'proper breasts', even sexually. I can't wear nice underwear without feeling like a fraud.

Reading so many accounts on here really does help. Whoever asked why that would be because so many women ff, it's because lots of them are perfectly happy about that and never wanted to bf. It's different to know about other women who passionately WANTED to and couldn't.

Anyway, I'm now a mother of two and my DS is 11 weeks old, bf with top ups of donor milk from Human Milk 4 Human Babies (a resource worth knowing about), and also still feeding DD, now 2, once a day. I also still cry about my condition about once a day!

I'm also about to start training as a peer supporter. One thing that two LCs have told me is how often women with hyperplasia now have breast surgery, because alongside low supply they can also look rather odd, and therefore present at first sight as 'normal' breasts. It's always worth gently asking, if you know there's been surgery, exactly why the operation was done.

Sorry to rattle on. A subject close to my heart. But just to add, while I wholeheartedly believe in bfing, that is my personal drive. I think comments about it being best for the health of babies is best kept out of online support. It can make women feel beyond dreadful.

candycoatedwaterdrops Tue 30-Jul-13 18:56:45

"*I have been accused of judging FF mums by:*

*1. stating the statistical facts on increased SIDS risk of FF*"

Why would you even state those facts? Is it even necessary? A mother is struggling to feed her baby and feeling guilty and you announce there is an increased risk of SIDS. That would make any parent feel like utter shit. There is just no need. confused Never mind being judgy, it's downright cruel!

gettingeasiernow Tue 30-Jul-13 19:11:40

I couldn't, partly I was so massively stressed (useless dh was leaving and making life even more difficult than when he was around, was basically completely on my own), had terrible pain in my shoulder due to tension all the time which didn't help, and am former anorexic so uncomfortable around feeding. It was the worst experience of my whole life, and I know people laugh when I say that, but honestly it was so truly dreadful I can well up just thinking about it 11 years later.

MrButtercat Tue 30-Jul-13 19:16:06

And the increased "risk" is miniscule.

Vey few babies thankfully die from SIDS.When you factor in the fact that most babies are ff and if you use a dummy,don't smoke,co sleep etc on top your baby is highly unlikely to get SIDS well it's pretty obvious that comments like that from Ice are scaremongering at it's best.

My milk did come in, but it never seemed to nourish my dses. Ds1 was topped up with formula in hospital - they told me he needed it because he was jaundiced and it was getting worse not better, even with phototherapy (i didnt know enough to argue and was so worried about him, that i just did as i was told) so by the time we went home, and I tried to re-establish breast feeding, I couldn't. Even pumping didn't seem to boost my supply, so ds1 was formula fed.

Ds2, home birth, no jaundice, ebf from the word go, dropped 10oz from his birthweight and hadn't regained more than an ounce or two by 6 weeks - despite feeding all day, every day. HV visiting daily/every other day, putting pressure on - "I want him to,have gained an ounce by day after tomorrow" etc, and suggesting I top up with formula. I resisted as I had seen where that had led with ds1 - "Ah, bit I have to think of the baby's best interests" says HV - so I told her to leave my house at once.

Ds2 ended up in hospital with a mild chest infection, but they kept us in because of the weight issue - basically he only put on weight when supplemented, and they weren't going to let us out until he had gained some weight, so I introduced formula, and the bf quickly faded.

With ds3, I mixed-fed from very early on. He was ebf during the day and had a bottle last thing at night, and one during the night. As long as he was getting two formula feeds a day, he gained weight. If he only had one for a few days, he stayed the same weight.

I have come to the conclusion that I make crap milk - skim, where everyone else makes gold top. But over the years I have spoken to a number of people who have given me the impression that I SHOULD have been able to feed them - I had just failed to do something that would have solved it, because 'everyone can breastfeed' - and that left me with a big feeling of failure.

MsMunch Tue 30-Jul-13 19:35:12

Some people can't bf but their difficulty is so often compounded by hcps who don't know much about the more unusual bf complications.

Rallytog1, your experience sounds so tough and massive postpartum blood loss is a factor that can result in a complete failure of milk production ... Everyone you worked with should have known this and with your situation should have been extra attentive to your problemssad

Stiffybing, I wish you too had met a rather more sensitive ibclc at kingssad
Keep reconciling. With your body, I hope with more distance yet you feel better about it all. You will be so fantastic at supporting the many mothers who find unexpected challenges.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 20:29:10

I am among the lucky ones because I did have a sympathetic bf counsellor and was able to continue bf'ing and eventually bring dd back to a healthy weight and then carry on bf'ing.

It is just that the cost to me in terms of physical exhaustion was very, very high. And my health was not brilliant from the start. And I was taking risks with my health through staying on medication that wasn't controlling my BP very well at all.

If I had known that this was only the first stage in a long exhaustion battle with SN, then I would not have put myself through it: I would have said that it is better that I look after myself so I can have the energy to look after dd. She will need a support and advocate for many years to come.

cory Tue 30-Jul-13 20:36:41

Minifingers Tue 30-Jul-13 14:43:42
""There are countless variables which all play a part."

But don't you have to ask why these 'countless variables' in physical terms seem to matter less than your age, social class, or which country you're born in when it comes to working out the chances of you succeeding with breastfeeding?"

I am Swedish, so grew up surrounded by breastfeeding. Because I had my babies in the UK I refused to top up with a bottle when dd wasn't getting enough, because I had been told this is the slippery slope. So dd got weaker and weaker and that could easily have spelled the end of my bf'ing.

When ds was born and started showing the same weak sucking reflexes I did what my Swedish family and friends have always done: topped up as and when.

They couldn't understand what the fuss was about.

sandberry Tue 30-Jul-13 21:18:43

Personally I think most breastfeeding problems are solvable but for some solving them would require so much effort and energy for that mother and baby that the choice to formula feed is the right one for them.

I think we often do write off breastfeeding too soon I worked with a woman who finally managed to get her baby to attach to the breast at four months (and went onto breastfeed for two years). I think as long as you have a well fed baby and keep the milk going, you will get the two together at some point. I think health care professionals often write off breastfeeding by forgetting one of these two points. Pushing breastfeeding which isn't working well until you have a weak and dehydrated baby who needs more intensive help or give a bottle to prevent the above but forget about the keeping the milk going part. Also sometimes successful breastfeeding isn't about fully nourishing the baby on breastmilk, it is about providing a breastfeeding experience for the mother and baby and some of the benefits of breastmilk.

I think it is sad when women feel bad or guilty they didn't manage to breastfeed, for me it means they didn't get the help they needed. I have worked with many women where they have reached the point they are ready to give up and that the energy required to solve this breastfeeding problem isn't feasible for their family and they have never felt bad, sad sometimes but not guilty, they know they have done what they can and that they are making the right decision for them.

goldenlula Tue 30-Jul-13 21:27:16

Apologies as I haven't read all the replies yet but thought I would share my experiences of my three 'failed' attempts to bf.
Ds1 was born by em c-section after a failed induction and lots of stress. He showed no interest when attempting to bf, never latched on and only opened his mouth when 'forced' to. No milk came in, thi was put down to stress from the birth.
Ds2 tried to latch on but his tongue was always on the roof of his mouth, so the nipple went in under his tongue and when he tried to suck, it was pushed out by his tongue coming down. Nipple shield tried, every position for feeding was tried, nothing changed where his tongue was, it was always at te roof of his mouth, even when not trying to feed. Ended up having to put he bottle in from the side of his mouth in an upwards direction to go over the tongue, then bring the bottle round to the front. It was like this for at least 2 months.
Dd, well no idea, she just wasn't interested. Refused to allow her to have a bottle in the hospital, she was cup fed 30mls of milk at the most in the first 2 and a half days and a few mils of hand expressed colostrum. She was admitted to the children's ward and had lost almost a lb in weight in that time. I gave in and bottled fed her and she was a nightmare to bottle feed to for some reason, infact I was the only person who could feed her properly for a few weeks and after that it was only my mum and dh at a push that could.

MsJupiterJones Tue 30-Jul-13 21:34:19

It was physically impossible for my baby to bf as he had tongue tie. Unfortunately this was only discovered at 11 weeks following constant bf workshops, appointments & advice from mws, HVs, bfcs & paeds. He looked like he was feeding normally but wasn't gaining weight, no-one could work out why. Five mins with a TT expert and they said he was 'latching' with his mouth and triggering a let-down but his tongue wasn't able to do the necessary action to bring any more milk. Breaks my heart to think of it.

They snipped it and there was immediate improvement but he was so small by then I had to supplement with formula. We mix fed till 8mo. He is now healthy and bouncing (and loves solids!)

During those 11 wks I really believed I was doing something wrong and it wasn't possible not to be able to bf.

IneedAyoniNickname Tue 30-Jul-13 21:50:00

I'm a trained bf peer supporter, so had been taught that the amount of women who physically cant breastfeed is minimal. Now of course the figures we were taught may or may not have been biased.

BUT what I do know is that my friend physically can't breastfeed. Her nipples are too big. When she told me I was so confused, and we both thought that the nurses in the hospital where she had her dd1 were making it up. Then she had dd2 in a different hospital and was told the same thing. We were both shock and I spoke to my bf tutor about it. she said its a real, yet rare problem.

I've since seen friends nipples, and can see the problem.

op enjoy the supporter training, I know I did. And physical barriers were covered on the course I did. (BfN)

StiffyByng Tue 30-Jul-13 22:53:47

Sandberry, I know you mean extremely well, but phrases like 'the energy required to solve their breastfeeding problem' are the sort of thing that actually upsets me, because there IS no solution to my physical problem. I have put immense amounts of energy into my breastfeeding, and had amazing support from caring lactation consultants, but ultimately my body fails me in a fairly fundamental way, and some days I can now deal with that, and be thankful that I could have my children and they are healthy, and other days I feel despair. I don't think anyone could have found the words to make that go away.

Xmasbaby11 Tue 30-Jul-13 23:06:41

My milk did come in but after 6 days and it wasn't much at all. My breasts never got bigger and although DD's latch was perfect, she couldn't get much milk, lost a lot of weight and I supplemented her with formula right from day 1. This was very hard for people (including myself) to understand because I could partly feed her, and did this for 6 months. My health visitors had very little knowledge of mixed feeding and couldn't really help. Which made me feel even worse. I think there is this massive assumption that everyone produces enough milk - but I don't know what evidence this is based on.

storynanny Tue 30-Jul-13 23:23:08

Sandberry. So just out of interest how could a woman with completely inverted nipples breast feed? Ps did try all the gadgets throughout pregnancy to pull them out. Didnt work.

AnnabelleLee Tue 30-Jul-13 23:46:13

I've seen women with inverted nipples breastfeed. The difference seems to be that no-one told them it should be a problem, and most of the time it wasn't. It can be, but not necessarily.

FreudiansSlipper Tue 30-Jul-13 23:50:39

my milk came in but i produced very very little milk

it is rubbish that your body will always produce enough milk, some cultures bf is shared because some women produce more than others

i had to have an emergency csection so if i was unable to give birth naturally why would i not be able to produce enough milk

MummyPig24 Wed 31-Jul-13 06:43:25

The odds were kind of stacked against us. It was a combination of things. First dd was very sleepy and congested when she was born and not interested in feeding (no drugs so I don't know why, shocked from quick birth?) My milk came in but dds tongue tie was so bad she couldn't latch, she kept slipping off. My nipples were ripped to shreds and bleeding. I have big boobs and apparently flat nipples! By the time dds tongue tie was cut at 4 weeks my milk had reduced significantly and we never managed to get it going again.

I still feel bad and feel I could have tried harder but I had a small toddler too who needed me. This time my children will be 4 and 6 so I will have more time to concentrate on getting it right whilst they are at school and pre school. But I won't beat myself up about it if it doesn't work out like I did last time.

CheungFun Wed 31-Jul-13 06:58:53

My friend couldn't breast feed because of the medication she had to take for bi-polar. I suspect this can happen quite often that the mum is on medication that isn't suitable for breast feeding.

hazeyjane Wed 31-Jul-13 07:07:11

I don't know if raynauds or nipple vasospasm has been mentioned - it doesn't make breastfeeding impossible, but is extremely painful and can be a big enough hurdle to put an end to breastfeeding, especially when combined with other factors like poor latch, mastitis, tongue tie etc.

I breastfeed ds1 for over a year & ds2 for over 2 years. I was absolutely staggered when I couldn't feed ds3. With ds1&2 I had milk pouring from me. Hardly any with ds3. I could hardly express any either. I was anaemic after he was born but he also wasn't great at breastfeeding & I couldn't sit & feed him all day as I had two other young children including a severely autistic 5 year old who needed constant supervision. I tried mixed feeding (so would feed until nothing coming out then top up with formula) but after 8 weeks I had pretty much no supply.

hazeyjane Wed 31-Jul-13 07:19:05

Yes family dynamics are a huge factor, as is the babies ability to feed.

tiktok Wed 31-Jul-13 08:55:29

StiffyByng, your story is one of massive energy and motivaton and dedication - when someone says some people decide not to direct all their energy to overcoming bf probems they don't necessarily mean everyone who ff is in the same are hurt and upset at an observation that did not even include you sad

In any case, it's ok for women to decide not to direct all their energy to this 'thing' - breastfeeding, for most women (NOT ALL!!!), is a question of letting it happen without the interference of expectation of what babies 'should' be doing, and when problems arise, a quick support from a knowledgable person can fix. However, expectations are often unrealistic, and good support is often lacking.....

When a situation requires more than a spot of realism and a quick fix, then some women choose to switch - because they decide to use their energy (mental, emotional, physical) on other aspects of their lives.

cory Wed 31-Jul-13 08:58:40

The point made of physical impossibility v. cost to mother in terms of exhaustion etc is a good one.

It would have been physically possible for me to go to work when I had pneumonia. But not likely to do my health much good and quite possibly injurious to my overall efficiency as a worker during that period.

Mothers who are in poor health, have suffered severe blood loss or PND and/or responsible for more than one vulnerable child (e.g. in case of SN) have to weigh and balance various risks.

"muster the energy required" sounds very simple- but sometimes that energy has to stretch a long way and you have to weigh your duties towards more than one person.

When I was struggling with dd's feeding my FIL had a heart attack in our lounge. Fortunately, I did not have to get involved in his care, as MIL and dh were there, but if things had been different then that would have been another factor to weigh in. Or if dh or dd had fallen seriously ill- you can't just not look after an older child because you have a baby.

StiffyByng Wed 31-Jul-13 09:08:49

Tiktok, I completely agree that great support and encouragement could help a lot of women who end up not breastfeeding for fixable reasons. Obviously I do, or I wouldn't want to become part of that support network. I had amazing support myself luckily which is how I've come as far as I have.

But lots of people on this thread are saying that on MN there can be a sense that everything can be overcome with enough effort, and that, I suspect, is the result of online support, where advice is given without, for example, knowing what shape a woman's breasts are, or the baby's tongue, or any of the many variables. And that this message can be hurtful if you have an insuperable problem. So I wanted to make the point that if Sandberry and others are only talking about some women when they're talking about needing more support etc, they could make that clear because otherwise it does sound as if that think all problems are fixable.

I share the frustration of many when women say they gave up because, for example, no one ever explained cluster feeding to them, and they thought they were starving their baby. The lack of support which underpins the government health messages is producing a lot of very guilty feeling people.

tiktok Wed 31-Jul-13 09:16:50

Stiffy, read sandberry's post again. She said 'some' women don't have the energy, and then described a view about the need for help and support which is your own (and mine, too, probably). You read it as indicating you did not have the energy etc etc and you were upset.

This is understandable in some ways, but you are about to be trained as a supporter for other women, which is a great thing. But you will need to work through the sensitivity and defensiveness in order to help other people, and if you have a good tutor this will happen smile

StiffyByng Wed 31-Jul-13 09:27:06

Tiktok, you're right, and I apologise to Sandberry. I had read an awful lot of posts all in one go and picked on her post when it was a cumulative effect.

I do take your point, although I am not actually hurt or upset right now. I think I felt was taking up the shield for others, and as you know, it's easier to say things owning that you don't say in person! I sit patiently and smilingly through the advice I regularly get from hcp and well meaning people who have never heard of my condition. I'm going to train because the LCs who run the breastfeeding cafe I go to to get my son weighed have said I would be good at it, so I hope I am already capable of giving advice without seeming sensitive or defensive. I would very much like to work through the sadness I still feel with someone as part of my training.

tiktok Wed 31-Jul-13 09:53:11

smile Hope you enjoy the training, stiffy

cory Wed 31-Jul-13 10:03:35

cross-posted with tiktok, that was exactly what I wanted to say smile

though sometimes I suppose it doesn't feel as if you are really choosing as a mother: if e.g. you give up difficult b'ing so you can look after a very ill older child you might feel the word "choose" isn't exactly what you were looking for

ICBINEG Wed 31-Jul-13 10:59:14

I agree that 'choose' has the wrong 'make a decision in the best interests of your whole family'....

cory Wed 31-Jul-13 11:46:27

That sounds like a perfect definition, ICBINEG. grin

I'm always reminded of my poor mother, ordered bed rest with pre-eclampsia when expecting my little brother, husband and older son both struck down with flu and high temperatures, elderly parents too frail to be exposed to contagion, son needed constant nursing and I was not the kind of toddler you could safely leave unsupervised for 5 minutes... My mother is 81 but the memory is still fresh.

x2boys Wed 31-Jul-13 11:56:53

I have found this thread in the main surprisingly non judgemental I read one thread a while ago about a women wanting advice on the best formula,s and others experience of it most people replys were I fed my babies, COW and GATE ,SMA APTIMIL . or whatever some nasty sanctimonious cow came on and said so you wont be breast feeding then bearing in mind the op had asked for advice on formula feeding breast feeding had not been mentioned OP replied that no she would nt as she had had radical surgery in both breasts rendering her unable to breast feed, whilst this thread is surprisingly non judgemental why cant some people accept that for whatever reason people choose to bottle feed and leave it that?

sandberry Wed 31-Jul-13 12:07:58

I apologise too for upsetting you stiffy. It was definitely not my intention to imply that all breastfeeding problems are fixable. Which is why I mentioned sometimes success is not about exclusively nourishing a baby on breastmilk but achieving the best compromise.

I recently worked with a women with hypoplasia and who had had a poor experience last time and we managed to achieve this time a compromise solution of breastfeeding using an at breast supplementor which worked well for her but might not have worked for someone else in the same situation

Thank you to Tiktok for managing to articulate better what I meant, which was definitely not that mothers who choose to move to formula are 'not trying hard enough' but that there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to direct your energy elsewhere when a breastfeeding problem is going to require a lot of work to solve and equally there is nothing wrong with choosing to channel a lot of energy into that breastfeeding problem if that is what works for you.

Oh and you can definitely breastfeed with two inverted nipples for whoever asked but it can take some work at the beginning.

tiktok Wed 31-Jul-13 12:09:57

x2boys, it is a myth that mumsnet is judgmental about feeding.....that does not mean you don't get occasional individuals making unwelcome and judgmental comments, but when they do, other contributors handle it just fine and it is quickly resolved.

storynanny Wed 31-Jul-13 12:11:46

Pleased that things have moved on from giving birth in the 80's then as I repeated sought help for inverted nipples and breast feeding to no avail.
Fortunately all my children thrived on formula and have no allergies so alls well.

storynanny Wed 31-Jul-13 12:13:21

Hope nobody in real life makes non breast feeding mums feel awkward these days though.

I agree 2boys i always think, no matter what method chosen, whether it be breast feeding advice requested or recommendations for bottles /formula etc, That anyone who posts asking for the advice clearly loves their baby and wants to do the best they can. What lucky babies they all are that so much thought has gone into what and how they are fed so that they can make it as easy on the baby as possible and know what to look out for if the breast feeding doesn't work or the formula doesn't agree. There are children out there with nothing in homes. The babies talked about on this forum really are lucky. Because agree or disagree with what's posted the parents care enough to ask for the advice and really want to do what's best for their family.

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 13:18:11

Tiktok sorry it may not be the maj of posters but it is waaaay more than the occasional individual so not a myth by any means.hmm

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 13:20:17

Oh and I class scaremongering and stat twisting posts at best judgy and more often than not just plain unpleasant.

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 13:29:01

The having "ishoooos" accusation to belittle an opinion always make an appearance too and is equally unpleasant.

ThePowerof3 Wed 31-Jul-13 13:37:55

I love that one, if you object to X then it must be because you did Y and feel guilty for it!

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 13:41:40

Yes I love that. grin

tiktok Wed 31-Jul-13 13:49:09

This wouldn't be the same MrButtercat who told a poster she was 'foolish' for wanting to breastfeed a toddler (who had been told - incorrectly - that bf was incompatible with the meds she was going to get)? Just last week? And that it was 'common sense' not to even have paracetamol (safe when bf, as it happens) when bf? And who made unfunded assertions about stats and research which, when challenged for a source, said 'Google' smile smile ?

No. It couldn't be the same one. Because that would have been judgmental, and it would have been twisting stats....and she clearly explains these are Wrong Things to do.

So it must be someone else using the same nickname.

You should report this, MrButtercat. Someone is making you look extremely contradictory and confused.

confused or hmm

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 16:05:45

Pointing out that avoiding bfing when you don't have to when you are taking heavy duty drugs is sensible (particularly when a later poster highlighted the not insignificant side effects ) is hardly the same.

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 16:29:47

Also said had posted in aibu re disagreeing with her consultant who had said not to,as she asked for an opinion I was saying I personally avoided all drugs when bfing including paracetomol and would go with consultant advice particularly as re science and drugs you never know what is round the corner.

Not the same as judgy posts re ff causing obesity,SIDS,less bright kids and a whole host of other ills.

If I was hypocritical on that thread then sorry but so was every other pro bfing poster many of whom turn up on every bf thread going merrily stat twisting,linking and scaremongering with gay abandon.

tiktok Wed 31-Jul-13 16:40:45

OMG - you are the same person, MrButtercat, who scaremongered on that other thread about the risks of bf once a day with meds that were considered (after research) to be safe, and who judged a 'foolish' mother for bf a child 'who didn't need it' and who twisted stats and information (at least you didn't commit the terrible sin of linking to your sources - you just said 'Google' grin)

Come on, MrB. How can anyone take what you say seriously? smile

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 16:57:12

Erm I didn't like the tone of that thread which was to disregard RL medical advice in order to bow down to the altar of bfing. It was v anti consultant.Thankfully somebody highlighted the side effects further down.

As I said the thread was in aibu asking for an opinion.I gave one based on my personal experience and opinion.

I still stand by it.

As I said if that is being hypercritical than sorry but a whole host of posters on there were guilty too as they regularly turn up on bfing threads linking all manner of "research" gleefully scare mongering when posters haven't even asked for an opinion.

(They are talking about my thread btw)

Somebody did not "highlight the side effects", they gave a possible reason which the consultant could have had. Which I said, if they were correct, was a perfectly justifiable reason. But they weren't correct, the consultant told me that he would not prescribe it as the drug would definitely be passed over and would definitely immunosuppress my child. This is 100% incorrect.

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 17:06:26

As I said you posted in aibu,I gave my opinion as one is supposed to.Why would you start a thread on there if you don't want opposing views to what you want to hear?confused

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 17:08:18

Personally I still wouldn't have taken the drug and bf incase of further research down the line.<shrugs>

And as I said on there, I have no problem with your opinion. I do however, have a problem with you misrepresenting me on a separate thread and making me sound like someone who, in your words, "disregard(s) RL medical advice in order to bow down to the altar of bfing"

It may have been "anti-consultant" but I have researched the drugs. The consultant was wrong.

tiktok Wed 31-Jul-13 17:16:43

Nope. Still not managing to take you seriously, MrB .

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 17:21:04

Wasn't so much you it was some of the other posters giving "advice".

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 17:22:07

Couldn't give a monkey's Tiktok tbf.

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 17:24:54

Oh and the thread about a thread which I thought was frowned upon wasn't started by me Beyond.

Oo, I didnt even see that! Is it still around or was it deleted?

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 17:28:55

No this thread is now a thread about a thread- I think.confused

MrButtercat Wed 31-Jul-13 17:29:22

There is no other

Oh MrButtercat talking bollocks about breastfeeding again

Ahh, I see smile
Dont think it counts as a thread about a thread, so much as a thread that got sidetracked a little grin
Apologies OP!

tiktok Wed 31-Jul-13 17:33:28

blush It was me blush Uncharacteristically, I broke a mumsnet rule and started talking about another thread...

It was in the interest of truth and honesty!

But it should prob stop now smile

wickeddevil Wed 31-Jul-13 17:35:23

I fed DC 1 and 2 very easily. They enjoyed it, I loved it and was lucky that I found it very easy. I could not for the life of me understand why people chose not to breast feed.

Roll on DC 3. She didnt actually seem to like it, she wriggled and jiggled and never seemed satisfied. I found this so hard, it felt like a rejection. We struggled on for 6 months because I was bloody minded enough, but to be honest it wasn't a pleasure and I was relieved to finally stop.

My point is I now know I should not have judged ff mothers without knowing their circumstances. I found out the hard way. I would urge others too to consider more and judge less.

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