A bit of a back story to how my breast implant surgery lead to failure in breastfeeding. I have never had “nice looking” breasts. Anatomically there was something always not quite right about them. I had a couple years of weight gain and loss, but nothing too major. 7 years ago, I decided that it was time to get something done about the way they looked and saw a plastic surgeon. I opted for a full breast lift, evening of asymmetry, and 450cc implants. I already had a double d cup size, but the doctor said that after the surgery I would not change in cup size.
The doctor gave me a diagnosis of severe ptosis (sagging) and uneven breast tissue.
Three years later I found myself with a botched job, and found myself back at a new plastic surgeons office. He suggested revision surgery. So yet again, I had another full lift, an “internal bra” sutured in and new silicone implants that were 600cc.
The second doctor did a beautiful revision. I had no complaints of the new surgery. Little did I realize, I was completely unaware of how the breast implants and surgeries would affect my future milk supply.
My son is born
Fast forward a couple years later, I met and married a wonderful man and had a baby boy!
He was born at 6:58am and by 7:00am the doula put him on on to my breast to nurse and he and latched right away. I had already planned that I was going to be an exclusive breastfeeding momma. I was going to breastfeed for as long as I could, around one year old was my goal.
A week after he was born and we were at home, the community nurse came over for a check up to weight him and watch us nurse. Everything was going well, I was recovering and my son seemed healthy. He had no tongue tie and was an excellent latcher. The nurse weighed him, and told me that he was down .8 ounces. While watching him nurse, she noticed he was sucking but not swallowing. She told me she didn’t think I was producing much milk. To prevent further weight-loss I was to start to supplement him with formula.
Shocked and scared, I didn’t know anything about bottles or formula. I did not want him to have ANY formula. I went as far as thinking formula was poisonous crap that would have negative effects on him later in life. It would affect his immunity, growth and weight later in life.
She referred me to a lactation physician. During my first appointment, my son nursed at the beginning until the end of the visit. They weighed him to see how many ounces he gained. — He lost weight during the time I was nursing him.
I struggled very hard with breastfeeding my son. It destroyed and effected me more than I could have ever imagined. The inability to feed my son brought me down a shameful path of guilt and depression. It was hard to come to terms with not being able unable to breastfeed my son.
I was then prescribed Domperidone. Domperidone is a prescription stomach medication with an off label use to increase breastmilk. She suggested I take many other over-the-counter herbs. I was given a supplemental nursing system, and told pump to pump every 2-3 hours
Medication and supplements I started to increase my breastmilk supply
- Domperidone 10mg 4 times a day
- Fenugreek 800mg 4 times a day
- Alfalfa supplement
- Blessed thistle supplement
- Red raspberry leaf tea 6 cups a day
- Fennel supplement
- Brewers Yeast Powder
- Lactation cookies
- Fennel oil applied each and every pumping
- Oxytocin nasal spray before each pumping session
- Goats rue supplement 3 times a day
- Mothers milk tea – many bags a day
Excited, I felt like I would over come this challenge and be an exclusive breastfeeder. I took my pills and pumped every 2 to 3 hours day and night. I baked boat loads of lactation cookies and ate them by the fists full every day. In addition I ate galactogenic foods. ( soups, oatmeal) And even went to acupuncture for a couple of very painful and bizarre sessions. I was in a once a week three hour breastfeeding support group. I put all waking effort into figuring out how to breastfeed my son with my low supply.
With all this effort my son continued to loose weight. I had to increase the amount of formula I was giving him. It started to slowly exceeded the amount of breast milk he was getting. This killed me as I was planning on only breastfeeding him.
I was pumping every 2- 3 hours, and my son was feeding 8-12 times a day. It was time consuming, overwhelming, and exhausting. I was getting .3- 1.5 ounces every 30 minute session. The pump was attached to me for 3 hours a day, not including the time it took cleaning and setting it up. I ended up with painful sores under my breasts as the constant pumping rubbed me raw. I even rented a hospital grade industrial breast pump. That did not make a difference. It was as effective as my Medela in style pump.
Medications were not working
This went on for two months. After the first month, my son started to get very frustrated at the breast. The bottle delivered more milk at a faster rate than I could ever give him. He fussed and cried or would fall asleep. He eventually rejected me, and I cried and cried. So I exclusively pumped and formula fed him. I did everything I could to increase and even maintain my supply, but it kept decreasing. I was getting less than 3 ounces with 100% effort each day. He was eating 3 ounces a feeding.
I hit an emotional and physical wall. I stopped all medication and supplements and pumping cold turkey. And I cried and cried. I cried as I continued to leak. I leaked the same amount at the peak of my pumping. Leaking meant nothing to me other than a sick tease my body taunted me with. By four days I was completely dried up. I continued to mourn the loss of breastfeeding my son.
During my struggle I spent hours on the internet researching what was wrong with me. Was it a let down problem? Was it a supply problem, was it both? I had no answers. I wanted to request a ultrasound on my breast tissue to see if I had a tissue issue. So extreme, I know. But I needed answers so I can fix this problem.
Reasons why I had a supply/letdown issue
It could me familial. My mom told me out of her four kids, she could only breastfeed me, her youngest.
It could be a breast tissue problem I was born with. I chose to get breast surgery to fix severe ptosis and asymmetry. Perhaps it was due to faulty breast function even before my surgeries?
It could be from my two breast surgery I had years ago. I had two implant, and two full lifts surgeries. My let down nerve could have been severed and my tissue could have been severely reduced and damaged.
What did not cause my breastfeeding trouble
Lack of trying. I used galactogenic foods, supplements, medications, and acupuncture. I pumped 6-8 times a day, and even tried a supplementary nursing system. (SNS)
For my next children, I plan on not changing a thing. I will pump, I will take medications, I will give it my all. And for the greater good, when and if it comes down to it, I will supplement with formula.
Do you have any stories to share? Any suggestions for women struggling?
Chat below in the comments.