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I am working on a guest post for Donielle full of resources for boosting milk supply and what to feed baby when you must supplement. Before I share these resources, though, I wanted to share my story in the hopes that it might help and encourage other mamas. Because this is so personal and raw, I had to put it in this space.

Here is my story:

I have been a breastfeeding advocate since I found out I was pregnant with our first son. When I began to research all of the benefits of breastfeeding I knew I wanted to breastfeed as long as possible – 2 years or more.

So why would someone like me feed their baby a bottle of formula and then let him wean at 7 months of age?

I have a low milk supply. Since the birth of my first son I have yet to fulfill either of my two sons’ need for nourishment.

For seven weeks I nursed my firstborn on demand for 60 minutes or more at a time, with 30-60 minutes between every feed. Day and night.

At seven weeks old our midwife weighed him – 7 lbs. 11 oz. He had lost 9 ounces since birth. I burst into tears.

For weeks I watched him get skinnier and skinnier. I couldn’t understand it. I was nursing constantly, just as I was told. I was told he had a great latch, that he was nursing like a champ. Maybe it was his tongue tie, maybe his pallate, maybe his suck. All of these were fixed or found to be fine, and yet there was still no improvement.

I read that everyone worries about their supply, but only in “extremely rare” cases does a mother truly have a low milk supply.

I am that extremely rare case. Are you? I hope not.

I pray that no mother will ever know that look of desperate hunger in their baby’s eyes. I pray that your baby will find you a place of nourishment and comfort, not frustration and pain. I pray that you never ache for more milk… never cry every time you nurse that sweet babe… never hear the inconsolabe cry of hunger that you just can’t soothe.

Doctors. Midwives. Lactation consultants. Osteopaths. Round the clock nursing. Co-sleeping. Marathon pumping. MotherLove supplements. Mama’s milk tea. Homeopathics. Lots of water. Goat’s Rue. Shatavari. Oatmeal. Beer. Quinoa. Iron supplements. Raw milk. Seaweed. More good fats. More protein.

Besides prescription medication, I have tried every piece of advice we’ve been given. Twice.

That I can not feed my babies is one of the great heart breaks of my life. Whenever I talk (or write) about this I choke back tears. Sometimes I can’t choke them back. They flow because my milk won’t.

I have come to a place of acceptance. After two babies and two very similar experiences I have not given up, but accepted that for now I can only make so much milk. If we are blessed with another baby I will try again. I will give it everything I have and throw every resource I am given at this challenge. Again.

We have had the most supportive doctors, lactation consultants and midwives. But they have only heard of women with my struggles. They have never actually come across it themselves.

Understandably, they have a hard time believing you at first. You are telling them that the solutions that have worked for countless women aren’t working for you. They can’t accept that you are, in fact, doing everything they tell you to do.

When the tears flow and your desperation equals that of your baby’s… only then can they believe you.

Eventually your baby knows that it is easier to get nourishment from a bottle than from you. He starts to get frustrated, crying every time you pull him to you. You cry too. You plead… “please, not yet. don’t give up yet.” But he will. He doesn’t realize that there is no replacement. Nothing is as nutritious as mama’s milk. He will choose the easier option.

That is where we are now. I nurse when he is willing and pump every chance I get. He is now six months old and I am praying for more time. I would like to at least get through the winter and cold season. I am hopeful that we will make it to one year.

Pumping many times a day leaves you in a constant state of discomfort. It can eat up hours per day, leaving your home in a state of chaos. I have mastered the art of relaxing through pumping while reading to my toddler.

At times I want to give up. It is then that my husband encourages me. I see a bottle full of my milk and know it is worth it.

After exploring many different reasons for a low milk supply, I am currently researching hormone imbalance. I have already been diagnosed with minor hypothyroidism, but medication hasn’t boosted my milk supply. Now we are looking into my progesterone levels, specifically while I am pregnant, which I am not.

With as little sleep as I get, I still lie awake some nights wondering if I have done enough.

If there is something I can do to change this situation, I must.

So we will wait until, Lord willing, I am pregnant again to test those levels. We will continue our search for the why behind it all.

Ultimately, though, I know it is in God’s hands, not my own.

If anyone is interested in sharing their nursing stories – victories or defeats – and especially any resources that helped you, please contact me. Because this topic is so close to my heart, I would love for this space to be a place of encouragement and resources so that every baby can get every drop of mama’s milk possible.

 

55 Responses to My Breastfeeding Story: Low Milk Supply

  1. Denise says:

    it’s so odd that you post this today as my husband and I were just talking about this last night. I was not able to breast feed due to low milk supply. My son cried for two weeks straight when he was born. I kid you not – straight. It was so disheartning that I didn’t even try with my other two. I will say they are all extrememly healthy children regardless. I know your desire though as I had it too ~

    Denise’s last blog post..guest photographer

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  2. jess says:

    o my goodness, I FEEL for you! I did not run out of milk, but I did worry about having a low supply, and though it eventually evened out I can remember the fear and stress . . . I can’t imagine nursing every hour like that! It must have been excruciating. I am so sorry about your milk, and tho it is the best source, one of the big purposes of breastfeeding is to promote attachment, and your commitment to your child and determination to do what is best for him admirable. I am sure that is what will endure thru much more than just breastfeeding, and is undoubtably even more valuable and nourishing to your child than breastmilk.

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  3. Anna says:

    While I was able to fully breastfeed both of my first 2 children, I know that I will absolutely not be able to breastfeed any more future children at all. The idea of formula is so…well so many things at once. Scary, foreign, inferior and yet so very many perfectly happy healthy people were fed on formula. I’ve been researching the possibilities in the event that we are blessed with more children and am very interested in the idea of making my own based on the Weston Price recipe. I’d love to know if others have had success with making their own and if not what some good options are. I’m sorry for the troubles you have had and hope that your future experiences wil be better…the Lord is able to do that which exceedes all our expectations and imaginations.

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  4. Crayl says:

    I struggled, I cried, I tried everything legal.
    I used the excuse that the first time it was due to twins, and the next time because my son was born over 10 pounds and just needed more…but I know, I just didn’t produce. Thank you for posting this.

    Crayl’s last blog post..In all fairness

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  5. Hugs to you! I totally could have written this post as well. I have the exact exact same story. I chuckled when I looked over your list of everything you’d done because I did those things too! Including the domperidone, which worked slightly, but not enough to justify the $80/month for only a slight increase in milk supply. I was actually planning to post my own journey in the next few days! It’s a long story, but the encouraging thing is that inspite of my low supply, I am still nursing both of my children (4 yrs and 20 months!)

    I supplemented both of them with a lact-aid. With my second, I was blessed to find out about raw goat’s milk formula, which I made for him each morning. This allowed me to say to myself “I am making enough milk for my son!”

    I also had to come to a place where I let go of trying to constantly increase my supply (after months and months of trying every new miracle cure!) and be thankful that I was able to give my son the next best thing.

    The best thing was seeing how healthy and robust he grew on the raw goat’s milk and also seeing how much he still loves to nurse, even though there’s not much there!

    Thanks for posting this tender, honest, heart-felt blogpost.

    Hugs,
    Carrie
    http://oreganicthrifty.blogspot.com

    Carrie Thienes’s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday: Fridge & Pantry Cleanout!

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  6. I wrote a comment that got lost in cyberspace…sigh!

    Anyway, Hugs to You! This is exactly my story; I could have written it myself! Everything…including domperidone…but nothing worked. I also have a minor thyroid issue (subclinical, so even the doctors couldn’t validate it), but my naturopath did. I also have hypoplastic breasts (type 3) which my lactation consultants and midwives failed to notice, but it’s probably why I have trouble nursing. It’s due to “insufficient glandular tissue”. This probably stems from an underlying hormone imbalance….unfortunately there’s just not much money in breast supply research, so there’s really a lot of questions left unanswered.

    I’m planning my own breastfeeding journey post, and I’ll let you know when it’s up!

    Thanks so much for sharing such a vulnerable, heart-felt post!

    Hugs,
    Carrie
    http://oreganicthrifty.blogspot.com

    Carrie Thienes’s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday: Fridge & Pantry Cleanout!

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  7. Becky says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and letting me know that I am not alone! I have had 3 children and have not yet been successful. I ‘ve tried numbers of things and just had to go to the bottle so that I could nourish my children. I too wonder daily if I did enough and feel guilty. I’m having a harder time getting over it with my third who is now just 3 months old.
    Thanks again for sharing. I understand!!
    Becky

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  8. SarahMay says:

    Just found your site through the Real Food Wednesday carnival… am looking forward to reading more, but had to comment on this as it’s so close to my heart, too!

    I will spare you all the details here, but I also know the heartbreak of low milk supply. My second pregnancy was TWINS, and trying to breast-feed them was the hardest thing I’ve ever done! Like you, I tried everything (metoclopramide landed me in the emergency room) and had great lactation consultants, moral support, etc.

    I don’t know why it helps to know that others have struggled so hard, too… but it does! So thank you for sharing on this very emotional topic.

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  9. Judi Hall says:

    Just look at all this response. I cannot believe there is a lactation consultant who has not worked with and yes, cried with a mom who does not make enough milk. I am probably a lactation consultant because I had all that bad advice with my first child. Just feed, go to bed with the baby. I was nursing 20 out of 24 hours per day and he was crying when he was not nursing. To go to the doctor and find my child was losing so much weight was a day only those who have been there can feel.

    It is not about what you tried, it is about how much glandular tissue is there. What an amazing woman to keep giving all the breast milk you can to these babies. How blessed they are to have a mother like you. All the herbs and medications will only help if your prolactin levels are low, not if the glandular tissue is not there. Some people do not make enough insulin, some have deficiencies in other hormones. We have bottles and formula. If you look back in literature, wet nurses have always existed. There have always been some women who could not fully feed their babies. My firstborn is 26 and I am still sad that he received a lot of formula, but I have turned my grief into helping women breastfeed and deal with issues that hinder breastfeeding. blessings to you and your family. There is no limit to the love when the milk is limited and the babies are going to thrive on love and caring.

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  10. jodi @ bpr says:

    What a tender post – my heart grieves with you, though I can’t begin to imagine all you’ve been through. My first nursed very successfully til he was 16 mos and then quit cold turkey – a few months later I was pregnant with our little girl who is just now 5 weeks old. So far, she is also doing quite well.

    I can remember with my first so wanting to make it to at least 1 if not 2 years and always being afraid that I would lose my milk supply…I always figured with the 2nd that those fears would go away because I had done it before and knew better how nursing worked, but already I can tell that the fear is back…I can’t even begin to imagine what it would feel like to have walked in your shoes! Thanks for sharing your story!

    jodi @ bpr’s last blog post..Yummo & Then Some!

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  11. CHEESESLAVE says:

    Hi, Shannon,

    I went through the exact same thing.

    I actually think that this low milk supply thing is not an “extremely rare” occurrence anymore. I think it’s quite common.

    My mom was in the La Leche League in the 1960s and she said low milk supply was extremely rare back then. She was shocked when I started having trouble with my milk supply when my baby was 4 mos old.

    But I hear SO MANY stories of women today having trouble with low milk supply. It’s become very common.

    I don’t know what is causing it but I am convinced that it is something to do with the changes in our food supply in the past 30-40 years. I suspect trans fatty acids and soy.

    Soy is the bigger one that I am suspicious of. Almost everything has soy in it these days. Doughnuts, french fries and chips are fried in soybean oil. Animals are fed soy so the meat and dairy we eat is based on a soy diet. Soybean oil and soy lecithin is in almost all packaged foods.

    Like it or not, and whether we are aware of it or not, we are all eating a lot more soy today (even if we never touch soy milk or soy margarine).

    Now, it’s a fact that soy is a goitroten. A goitrogen blocks iodine uptake.

    Iodine is stored in the thyroid, ovaries, and breast. If you eat too many goitrogens (or consume other things like fluoride, bromide – in bread, and perchlorate – rocket fuel in our water), you will end up deficient in iodine. I think most people in America are idodine deficient.

    When you are deficient in iodine, the thyroid cannot produce enough thyroid hormones.

    I wrote this post almost a year ago:

    http://www.cheeseslave.com/2008/04/22/low-milk-supply-related-to-iodine-deficiency/

    I truly believe there is a connection between iodine deficiency and low milk supply.

    I found this statement on a website: “Thyroid hormones are essential for maximal secretion of milk.”

    Go and read that post on my blog.

    If you are not already, I highly recommend you take Iodoral.

    I know someone who was having low milk supply and her naturopath suggested she supplement with iodine. Her milk really started to flow after she started taking that!

    Unfortunately I did not know about iodine when I was still breastfeeding. I had already stopped when Kate was 9 mos old. And it was when she was around 12 mos old that I found out about iodine. I tried to restart breastfeeding but it didn’t work (of course I didn’t try for very long and I also decided that since my heavy metals were so high — I was off the charts in arsenic — it was best to stop and give Kate raw milk formula instead — I didn’t want all those heavy metals going into my milk).

    If I were you, I would also get tested for iodine deficiency. I did it with Dr. Flechas (he also tested me for the heavy metals):

    http://cypress.he.net/~bigmacnc/drflechas/index.htm

    He has me on 50 mg of iodine (Iodoral) per day for one year. In April we will retest again and he may drop my dosage if I am not deficient any longer.

    I truly believe that breast feeding my next baby is going to be a lot easier since I’ve been supplementing with iodine.

    More info on iodine deficiency:
    http://www.cheeseslave.com/2008/11/25/notes-on-iodine-deficiency/

    Also, Spinner, I wrote in that post above about how you can breastfeed adopted babies.

    CHEESESLAVE’s last blog post..Real Food: A Natural Cure for Arthritis, Allergies, Chronic Fatigue, Melasma, Cradle Cap & Cavities

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  12. Marianne says:

    I ran across your site and I am enjoying reading your ideas on nutrition and parenthood.

    Regarding a low milk supply, I can relate to your heartache over it. I had the same problem mostly due to retained placenta and the subsequent removal of it. I pumped six times a day just to get the bare minimum of milk for my daughter. However, I found something early on to help me and I had great success – fenugreek. I took six tablets in the morning and was engorged by mid-afternoon! After that I found my correct dosage, and it has the added benefit of making you smell like maple syrup. (My husband used to walk around saying how much he craved pancakes all the time!)

    Anyway, thanks for all your great ideas.

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  13. Leyda says:

    I truly feel for you. I have a friend that is having low milk supply and I know from experience how it feels!
    I wrote some post about my story in my blog in a way to share and get it out of my system and because I was always surfing the web for solutions and wanted to put in one place all I learned.
    I nursed my son (now 5) until he was 1yr 4months (if I remember well) and I still remember his last nursing time…. he hitting my breast because nothing was coming out!

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  14. daalny says:

    I too was diagnosed with “low supply” and was never told about it since “it’s so rare.” I remember that my husband and I made plans to trek to the herb place the next day. However, 7 hours later I fell with our son and snapped my leg in three places so he’s been a bottle baby. (Blood thinners and painkillers are not good for infants)

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  15. Kimberly says:

    Wow. I am dashing out the door, so don’t have time to read the comments, but I can totally relate. First son was supplemented from birth, though I did nurse him until he was nearly two.

    Second son (who is almost six months old) has just started supplementation with homemade formula….would love to share my story.

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  16. Jessie says:

    I am struggling with low supply with my first daughter who is now 10 weeks old. It took her 5 weeks to get back to her birth weight and she only reached it because of formula supplements. My heart would break each time I would take her to the hospital for a weigh in and she was still under her birth weight. I was trying so hard but nothing was working. I felt like I had no support from the lactation consultants at the hospital. I felt they were more interested in helping the women who weren’t having supply problems. I went on reglan and it doubled my supply and I began pumping 1-1.5oz as compared to 5-10ml I was pumping before. But it also came with side effects so I discontinued it. My doctor said there is nothing else they could do or check… they would not do a thyroid check or anything else. I feel like they did not want to help me solve this mystery. I have not been officially diagnosed with low supply. I still have times of total breakdown where I cry as I wonder what my problem is. I am praying that I will be able to exclusively breastfeed my next baby. I am breastfeeding my daughter and then supplementing with formula at every feeding. All I want is to be able to put her in a “milk coma” like a friend of mine is able to do. I keep trying things as I hear of them. I am currently waiting on my More Milk Plus Special Blend to come in the mail. We’ll see if it works. I am not ready to give up hope yet… I want to keep trying things but I don’t know how much more I can stand.

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  17. Debbie says:

    Ladies, thanks for sharing your stories. I have had low supply at times, not as severe as many of you. However I have been overwhelmed by feelings of failure at those times which makes it all worse because usually stress got me there in the first place. We all know breastfeeding is best for nutrition and bonding. We all are driven to be the best mothers we can. BUT we can’t be good mothers when we are severly stressed and exhausted. With our second child I’ve learned to pump when I can for freezer storage and use a bit of formula if necessary. In addition to chronic low supply I have had 2 blebs for at least 4 months. I keep nursing on that side to keep supply up and try to stay calm and nuturing while nursing on that side but the pain is intense during and for several hours after. Hang in there everyone. It is our nature to second guess ourselves bue we truly are all doing the best we can.

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  18. rebecca says:

    I cried reading this post and cry often these days. I also suffer from chronic low milk and could never fully breastfeed my first child. When I had my second baby, I was determined to try everything under the sun to be able to build a good supply. I didn’t want to go through the same thing again- nusring every two hours and then giving formula to a screaming baby.
    I had a baby six months ago was able to solely breastfeed for nearly 6 months before I almost completely stopped producing. I have taken everything out there… fenegreek, milk thistle, oats, hops, shatavari……… I had a terrible dystonic reaction to Reglan a few weeks ago and am awaiting my last effort with Domperidone tomorrow. I finally found a pharmacy wiling to compound it and am hoping for the best. I cannot explain the sheer horror and frustration of not being able to satisfy my babies need for food. I am tired of hearing how great it is that I have given 6 months of breastmilk; it feels like no one understands the disappointment. I also feel that no one is willing to take the effort to find out the cause of a sudden low supply. I pump after every feeding with a hospital grade pump, nurse every two hours………. I’ve done it all. It may be worth noting that I do have Lupus and am hypothyroid. However, I do take synthroid and my levels are fine.
    This is the first time that I have felt like someone understood my situation, fully. Thank you so much for posting your story. One day I hope that research is done to find out why some women struggle so hard with nursing.

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  19. anne says:

    I feel so much better reading this post. I could have written it myself. I’m struggling to feed my third son. I’ve yet to be successful in nursing. it’s always a struggle. I always feel so alone and isolated since all my friends are easily able to feed their babies and I can’t. I’ve gotten to the point where it hurts to much to be around other nursing moms and I just can’t do it right now. I’m going to try an iodine/kelp/seaweed blend soon in hopes of helping. I’m already taking domperidone and while it helps, it’s not cutting it this time. I look forward to your post with Donielle! she has a great blog :)

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  20. Misty says:

    I find it so unsettling that so many of us have low milk supply isssues and yet it is supposed to be “very rare”. I had twins 12 years ago and hemmoraged afterward and was always told that was why, we had decided for many reasons not to have more children so that was just then end of it until last year when I quite unexpectedly found out I was pregnant. Then to only have pretty much the same experience with breastfeeding. I have worked with a great lactation consultant and tried all the pumping, went on the domperidone all with very little effect. I have had to supplement my sweet Juliann since before we even left the hospital. Through much research I have now been feeding her for the last 2 month the Weston Price homemade raw milk formula with some success. I do still produce a small amount and my little trooper still nurses, she’s almost 6 months old, but I know she gets at most about an ounce at each feeding. I recently had to get an IUD to help with an underlying condition in my uterus and am very concered that the progesterone is going to dry up what little milk I have! After reading all the comments I am wondering if I should try the Domperidone again and also have my iodine levels checked. Its such a desperate thing to want to provide food for your baby and not be able to, and to be in that constant state of “did I do enough? is there one more thing that would have worked?” At times I am at peace and feel I just had to redefine what success looked like for me, but many other times, like when my sweet babe is spitting up again, or is having very firm stools…again- that I just am so frustrated!

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  21. Val M says:

    I found your site through a comment you left on http://www.bestforbabes.org/2010/10/risk-of-invalidating-moms-who-say-they-cant-breastfeed/

    Thank you for letting us all in and sharing your story. My Daughter found ourselves ina a very similar situation. We now nurse and bottle feed, but the nursing is basically non-nurtiative suckling. Here is what I shared on the other site:

    As with many other Moms here, I find myself in the breast/formula twilight with little support. I am tired of hearing “Well, have you tried blah…” when talking about low milk supply. I have tried everything except prescription drugs to increase my supply. I now nurse my 10 week old daughter when ever it is leisurely for us and then follow that nurse with a bottle of formula. Each feeding takes us an hour if we nurse together. I am blessed with this time, however I do just bottle feed her with formula too. She is getting sustenance from the bottle and nurture from the breast. This is how I define my success.

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    Shannon Reply:

    Val – Thanks so much for sharing that. I think it is absolutely important to reevaluate “success” when your body simply does not make enough milk. I have gone over this a thousand times from every direction and I simply was not able to make enough milk. Maybe next time, but for now I will be thankful for what I did give to my baby.

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  22. Michelle Lubbers says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, I have had a very similar experience. I thank God for the few ounces of milk I can provide, but as I type this I am in tears. There is nothing I would love more than to be able to exclusively nurse my baby.

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  23. Nicola says:

    Hi Shannon.

    I found your blog last week and the first couple of pages caught my interest so I went and found the first post and I am working forward. I am throughally enjoying your blog. Since I am at the beginning of our real food journey, I am picking up lots of great info.

    I wanted to let you know that I had massive problems with milk supply too. With my first baby, I was very naive and had no friends (old or young) who had breastfed so when my 8 week old was feeding constantly and still just a couple of lbs over her birth weight and screaming with hunger, I did not know what was wrong so gave in & gave my baby formula.

    When my second came along, I felt I knew more & was more prepared for breastfeeding but straight away I had major issues with getting my baby to latch on and again with my supply. After 2 weeks of doctors & lactation consultants, nothing was working. I came across Dr. Jack Newman on-line. He has a breastfeeding clinic in Canada. Out of desperation, I e-mailed him and asked for help. After asking a few questions, he sent me a detailed step by step email telling me exactly what to do. Among other things, I started taking 3 fenugreek, 3 milk thistle and 3 domperidone (which is an over the counter medication for stomach upset here) 3 times a day. After 2 or 3 days, I could see my baby was feeding. My daughter is 17 months this week & I am delighted to be still feeding her. I never had lots of milk but I managed to get enough to satisfy her & help her thrive. There was a couple of times, during growth spurts, that I had to start the tablets again but after a couple of days I could feel my milk increase.

    I do not know if you have another baby yet but I hope that one day you will be able to solve your milk supply issues.

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    Shannon Reply:

    Nicola – Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I have heard from several women about Mr. Newman and will definitely be checking in with him. I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles, but am glad that you found improvements. Were you ever able to feed without supplementation? I am very interested to know.

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  24. Dianne says:

    I went through low milk supply with both of my children. Medical professionals told me to quit. It was very upsetting. The lactation consultant I had with my first son was horrible and she never told me about herbs. With my second child I saw a lactation consultant in a larger city and she told me how helpful herbs are. She also told me to go online and order Breastea. You drink it several times a day. Although I was exclusively pumping, I started to see my milk supply increasing in the first day. Eventually with regular pumping and Breastea I was able to make enough breastmilk to stop using formula and even started freezing breastmilk back. This is a wonderful product. I hope that it helps other moms out there.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Dianne – I will definitely be looking into that tea. Thank you so much for commenting!

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  25. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you. This is my story as well. It is hard to explain how painful this loss has been for me. I have done everything, including the medication, and never could produce more than 2 ounces. What supply I have is dwindling now, as is the girls’ interest. I am still trying to accept that I could not breastfeed but am thankful to have a nursing relationship with each of my daughters (one did not quite get her latch until she was 2.5 months). As I face letting go of nursing I am feeling the pain of this loss sharpen again.

    [Reply]

  26. leslie says:

    this is my story as well… i am hoping to one day get to a point that i can forgive myself, even though it was not my fault. i feel as if i have missed out on one of the best things in life.

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  27. Cindy says:

    My sons and I had great success nursing, my oldest son until age 2 and my youngest son unti 3.5. My daughter was a completely different story in the beginning. She couldn’t latch and I didn’t seem to have a whole lot of milk. I used nipple shields for a while and gave her one 6 oz bottle a day(until about 5 months). I tried not to get frustrated and just accepted thats how it was…… at that time. I prayed about it a lot and tried to support my body with lots of good food and water. I also drank mothers milk tea and took Maxi Milk from http://www.mountainmeadowherbs.com which I think helped greatly. Everytime my milk let down I prayed in gratitude. When she seemed to like the ease of the bottle, I sotopped giving it to her because I was producing more and she started some solids. My supply continued to grow. She is now 21 months and still nursing all day and one or twice during the night. After what we went through, I’ll never complain of losing sleep because of nursing. I want to add also that I miscarried two months before concieving my daughter due to low progesterone. I used the cream while pregnant with her and my levels were fine. I did not have trouble with that when I had my boys. I have struggles with having c-sections when what I really want is home births, but thats a whole other story. I really enjoy and appreciate you blog. May the Lords blessings be apon you and your family.

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  28. Karen says:

    Have you tried Lymphatic Therapy to help support your Immune System, especially during pregnancy? It can help confirm and address if you have any issues in the upper torso, liver, kidneys, adrenals, spleen, and breasts. I have also taken seaweed supplements to help support my thyroid and balance my hormones. Hope this will help if you have a future pregnancy.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Karen – I have not, but I will be looking into that. Thanks so much for your comment and advice.

    [Reply]

  29. Stephanie says:

    Crying here because I’ve been there. My son stopped growing at 9lbs (less than 1lb bigger than birth weight), then started loosing. He stopped latching completely at 6 months (even using the sns).

    My daughter and I only lasted 19 days She was my first, and a c-birth, and had other complications. I forced myself to believe the supply problems I experienced with her were all in my head (after all, it’s normal to not be able to pump a lot…and I told myself I just hadn’t had the time to build my supply).

    It still hurts. I had a hard time being around the local natural parents group until he was over a year and was taking milk from a cup. I didn’t want to have to explain that my body had failed me.

    I think there need to be more mothers open like this. There’s a stigma that talking about low supply will perpetuate the feeling that more women have supply issues, but I don’t think that’s true. When you’ve seen real supply issues, when you’ve experienced it or heard a mother talking about it, nothing compares.

    My heart goes out to you. One thing I’ve been told (if I were to have another) is to take progesterone before conceiving and during the early months. Just a thought.

    [Reply]

  30. Sara says:

    Hello Shannon,
    I found your story online while looking for encouragment. I just gave birth to my first child intending to breastfeed her for the first full year. She is now a month old,and just now regained her birth weight, due to formula suppliments of about an ounce every feeding. I am working with a great lactation consultant, having to pump after every feeding, plus taking finugreek and goats rue. I am really praying that things will get better. I never thought it could be so painful to not be able to provide enough milk. I have found myself wanting nothing more than to just be able to nurse my daughter.

    [Reply]

  31. daalny says:

    I posted awhile ago about my low supply for my son. I recently had a daughter and this time the lactation people were much nicer to me. Since I have now have osteo arthritis (from 4 surgeries on my leg) my medications preclude me from breastfeeding and wouldn’t you know my milk supply was insane! I had zero for my son when it was feasible to nurse and a ton for my daughter when I can’t. Life is full of mysteries.

    [Reply]

  32. Karen says:

    Thanks for writing this post (even though it’s several years old)! I also had low milk supply with my daughter, in spite of trying all those remedies, and the anti-breastfeeding health nurse told me I need to give her formula since she wasn’t gaining weight. In my frustration and pain, I gave in, but also continued nursing her. Thankfully she took both breast and bottle and has been a very healthy child. Now pregnant again, I’ve been thinking a lot about what could be wrong. I found a bit earlier about thyroid-related low supply, and am happy to have these other resources, since I do have thyroid issues, but not enough for medication.

    [Reply]

  33. Veronica says:

    So touching… you describe it perfectly. My almost 1 month old baby lost too much weight the first week after birth and we were told to suplement. He adores to be breast fed but gets very relaxed and (too often) even asleep. So we don’t know if the problem is the amount of milk or his “laziness” and sleepiness. When the medecin told us to suplement I was shocked, but then I felt relieved when I saw how we drank his first bottle, peacefully but completely awake, and seemed to be satisfied. Since then he has regained weight and everything’s fine. For the moment I give him my milk every time and he continues to like it. We’ll see how this adventure evolves.
    Thank you for your story and the resources in the Natural Living Mom’s post. Some of the items featured seem to me a bit difficult to find in my place, but I’ll try to.
    Regards,
    Veronica

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Veronica – I’m sorry to hear of your struggles, but thank you for sharing your story. I pray things go well for you.

    [Reply]

  34. Katie says:

    I loved your post! I could relate to so many of the emotions and experiences you shared. I’ll share a few of my thoughts in case it helps someone.

    I struggled to nurse my first two, trying everything I could. Both ended up on formula. With my third child I spoke with a neighbor who has an amazing intuitive ability. She did her “muscle testing” and told me I did have the ability to make enough milk but not to worry about it this time–my baby would be just fine on the Nourishing Traditions homemade formula. I was baffled. I had tried everything. How on earth could I make more milk? I let it go though as she had advised, and my baby transitioned well to formula.

    I had the same struggle again with number four and asked for my neighbor’s help again. She repeated that I had the ability. This time though, she said to toss the herbs and medications, toss the fears of failure, toss the belief that nursing would be hard again and just believe. I did it, relying on prayer, and in 24 hours I was literally having milk shoot out of me and landing 5 feet away during let down. I had never really leaked before. I prayed and thanked the Lord for this blessing, but felt Him say that this was temporary. I would only nurse my baby until 6 months of age. I wondered how this could be and hoped I had heard this incorrectly.

    A few weeks before she turned six months I was admitted to the ICU with pneumonia complicated by septic shock. Nursing was over again. And guess what–it was okay. The baby was just fine on formula, just like all my other kids.

    I have realized a few important things from this. First, even though I anticipated that I would nurse and it would be easy, deep down there were some fears that I wasn’t even aware of. I had seen my mom struggle with two premature babies and an obnoxious hospital pump. I hadn’t thought much about her experience as I began nursing my first, but I believe subconsciously I was fearful, and that fear was stronger than any medicine, herb, relaxation technique, pumping schedule, nursing schedule, lact-aid, etc. I had even tried on my own to “just believe” that I could nurse when it wasn’t working well and this had not fixed the problem. I really need a friend and a higher power to overcome this issue. I also believe I needed the experiences of the first three kids. I had prayed before and the problem was not fixed. Healing came when the Lord knew I had learned what I needed to learn and when I was ready.

    Second, I learned to accept my nursing challenges somewhere between my first and fourth child. This was good. Not everything in our lives needs to be done to perfection and that was an important lesson for me. I cried hard, felt like I was an inadequate mother and then finally came to the realization that the best I can do in this life is give my most perfect love. I can’t give perfect circumstances.

    Third, I learned the power of belief and of healing. The Lord can help us overcome false beliefs and fears. And while I overcame the fear, crummy circumstances circumvented what I thought would be best. In the end, I have four beautiful kids ages 3 through 11 that survived all this! Nursing is good, but giving the best you can give, whatever that may be, truly is best.

    I hope no one reading this thinks I am saying that if you have a low milk supply that cannot be corrected with supportive measures that you must have an underlying psychological issue. But I did, and I hope this post might help someone else in similar circumstances.

    [Reply]

  35. Emily O says:

    Thank you for sharing. I cried the entire time I read your post because I am in the midst of struggling with low milk supply. My little guy is 6 months old and this has been a struggle since he was born… I have done everything you’ve done with exception to the Shatavari&goats rue. In replacement I take a ridiculous amount of Fennugreek and Blessed Thistle. I have noticed the SLIGHTEST increase but am still having to supplement 8-12oz per day.
    I used to be in the boat that formula was “the devil” and was judgmental of mothers who bottlefed. It’s ironic how that evil formula now aids in nourishing my child. And I thank the Lord everyday that I don’t live in a third world country that doesn’t have these advances. If we did I would have lost my son by now. He went from 45% to 2% in three months and I remember just last week before supplementing, the desperate hunger in his eyes.
    Thank you for sharing, there is comfort knowing I am not alone.

    [Reply]

  36. Alison says:

    I could relate to the heartache of not being able to breastfeed as I had trouble breastfeeding our 1st child. My problem was mainly out of ignorance – I really didn’t know what I was doing and by the time I figured it out, it was too late. Nothing I could do would bring my supply back up and our son was totally formula fed by 4 months of age.

    With our second, I was determined to have a breastfed baby with lots of rolls! Although she was breastfed (with no formula supplements) for 18 months, I was still disappointed that she hovered around the 2nd percentile in weight.

    Before our 3rd baby was born, I prayed and gave over my rights as a mother to breastfeed to the Lord. I told Him that even though I wanted with all of my heart to exclusively breastfeed our baby that I would give it up right away if I had trouble with nursing, as my personal routine of trying to build up my milk supply was time consuming and emotionally draining to me (and everyone else, too!). I also promised the Lord that I would joyfully give up breastfeeding this time if our baby wasn’t gaining weight instead of trying to hold onto it with all of my might like I had done before.

    For me, this surrendering of my rights (because I did feel it was my right to breasfeed as a mother) to the Lord was the key. Our little girl is 6 months old now and still exclusively breastfed (no formula). I just started her on solids this week. She has breastfed beautifully right from the beginning and has lots of fat rolls, just like I wanted!

    I do NOT think that this issue of surrender is the problem for others who have trouble with breastfeeding, but it was for me. Thank you for sharing so openly on your blog. I found you through a search for “crock pot yogurt” and have enjoyed looking around.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Alison – Thanks so much for sharing this. It has been a huge spiritual struggle for me as well and I think I needed to read your story. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  37. I just stumbled upon your blog searching for low milk supply success stories. I have been struggling with low milk supply and recently posted our journey so far: http://kimbrookins.blogspot.com/2012/06/my-breastfeeding-story-0-4-months.html

    I see that you recently had another baby, and I wondered if you are having a different experience this time around?

    [Reply]

  38. Julianne says:

    I couldn’t help but cry as I read this as well. My daughter is 4.5 months…I can only pump.75 oz per pumping session every 2 hours. She doesn’t even want to nurse from me anymore because there is not enough there to be worth her time. My doc says its okay he had to give his kiddos formula as well and to not feel inadequate- but i can’t help it. I’ve done it all too- fenugreek until i REEKED of maple syrup (my husband asked if i had spilled some on me or something), water to the point where I swear i peed more than anything else. I ate a whole serving of oatmeal at every meal, went to accupuncturists, drank some Chinese herbal tea and all the rest…nothing. I’m still suffering through the pain and the whole “acceptance” thing seems like a far stretch. I am at a loss but knowing i’m not alone- knowing that there are other people out there who hurt like i do helps. I love you for posting this, and i love you for giving it your all.

    [Reply]

  39. Denise says:

    I hope I won’t repeat a previous comment…don’t have time to read them all. I didn’t have much help and support with my first child so I learned a valuable lesson far too late. My first was not being nourished after hours of nursing. Mine was a problem of not letting milk flow, it was blocked. After becoming engorged to the point of pain, I decided to use my hands to remedy the problem. I cupped both hands around each breast and squeezed the blockage out
    by pulling inward toward my chest until they unblocked themselves. Feeling so relieved from the pain, I didn’t think to empty into a container and I must’ve lost a quart of milk from each side. I was inexperienced, sore, exhausted and had already started my baby on formula, so I didn’t continue to breast feed. I regret that now. Just try massage and pressure to see if you have blocked milk ducts too. Hope this was helpful. Take care.

    [Reply]

  40. Leigh says:

    You basically wrote my story. I’ve never met anyone else that understood the heartbreak of low milk supply. I as well did everything I was instructed to do and nothing was wrong with the baby. I always thought that if there was a will there was a way, but just like you my first son continued to lose weight and at some point you have to introduce formula into the equation. Looking back I probably should have supplemented much sooner than I did, but I just kept thinking the next thing I tried would increase my supply. Thank you for sharing your painful story as I don’t feel as alone anymore. I’m struggling now with my 3rd baby and trying everything once again. I’m not as resistant to formula this time around as I’ve been here before.I’m just doing my best and hoping to hang on as long as I can.

    [Reply]

  41. Shannon says:

    Anna – We have been using the homemade formula recipe for 6 months now and our baby has done so well. I would highly recommend it over commercial formula.

    [Reply]

  42. Shannon says:

    Crayl – I’m so sorry to hear that. Thank you for sharing your story.

    [Reply]

  43. Shannon says:

    Jess – Thank you for bringing this up. I forgot to mention that it is just as important as a relationship as it is for nourishment.

    [Reply]

  44. Shannon says:

    Denise – I’m sorry to hear that. I know what you mean about crying for two weeks straight. I’m so glad your children have had no health problems. I definitely believe that children can be perfectly healthy even when not breastfed.

    [Reply]

  45. Shannon says:

    Denise – I’m sorry to hear that. I know what you mean about crying for two weeks straight. I’m so glad your children have had no health problems. I definitely believe that children can be perfectly healthy even when not breastfed.

    [Reply]

  46. Spinner says:

    I’ve been doing research on how women make the WAPF formula. I’d love to read a post about that! Do you use the liver or raw milk formula? For us, it looks like adoption may be our only option for children. That kind of rules out breastfeeding, too.

    Spinner’s last blog post..Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day

    [Reply]

  47. Shannon says:

    daalny – yikes. I can’t imagine breaking my leg after giving birth and struggling with milk supply issues. That must have been such a challenge.

    [Reply]

  48. Bethany says:

    I have an 11 week old and only produce about 1/3 breastmilk, and supplement using the supplemental nursing system with formula. I also pump after each feeding – I was using the hospital pump (medela symphony) but by chance tried my medela freestyle pump the other week….sure enough, I get more milk from the freestyle. My lactation consultant thinks there is something not right with the latest Symphony pumps, so might want to check your pump. Also, I order Domperidone from a pharmacy in New Zealand, it’s WAY cheaper. Here is the link: http://www.4cornerspharmacy.com/ I got it in about 2 weeks – used compounded from a local pharmacy unti then. Best of luck, this is hard work and so frustrating!

    [Reply]

  49. DebG says:

    I, too used a newer Symphony model pump at first and then switched to an older Lactina model with much better results. I suspected that the first pump was inferior after the switch, but now I know for sure after hearing others have experienced the same. My hypothyroidism us under control with meds and I still only produced small amounts of milk for my three babies. It’s heartbreaking, but at least I know I’m not alone. Tried mother love with minimal results. Reglan works well, but it has scary neurological side effects for mom and baby! Wish I could have tried domperidone, but my 4 month old has already given up on me. Hugs to all of us for trying and trying!

    [Reply]

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