Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So I guess that makes me a unicorn?

I've worked very hard to take good care of my baby during the first few months of her life, so while I was searching for how much I should be feeding her sometime back I found a respected website that it is a myth that many women can't supply their baby's needs in breastfeeding.  As I read in baby books, online, and even searched for a lactation consultant I found this sentiment repeated over and over with authors either glossing over supply issues with a trite "true breast milk supply issues are very rare" or in one case going so far as to say "well you've already messed up because you supplemented your baby with formula."  This makes me incandescently angry.

As I have struggled to feed my baby I've found that there are several things that can significantly hurt breast milk supply including:
Long Labor - I think my 38 hours in labor would qualify.
Under-active thyroid - If your body doesn't make enough thyroid hormone to support a healthy metabolism then it's probably not going to support breast milk production very well either.
PCOS (Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome) - I've read that PCOS is THE most under-diagnosed condition in women in the US and that it can affect anywhere from 1 in 10 to 1 in 4 (depending on the source) women.  That doesn't sound very rare to me at all!  In fact I read that many of the same conditions that can cause a woman to have trouble getting pregnant can also make it hard for her to breast feed, so if you had to have fertility treatments you might as well plan to work at this.

And these are just the issues I've personally had to deal with.  Some other causes of low supply are:
Anemia - My sister ran into this one, and though I never was technically anemic my iron levels have been very low.
Delivery through C-section - will ALWAYS delay your milk coming in, and can also lead to it coming in slower, so you're constantly playing catch-up
Exhaustion - and who isn't exhausted taking care of a new baby?

And supply issues are a myth?  I'm not saying that EVERY woman who suffers from PCOS or thyroid disease will have supply issues, but these are not uncommon conditions!  I have to think that supply issues deserve more than a one line dismissal in any treatise on breast feeding, especially since there are things you can do to help, and the earlier you start the better.  Come-on LaLeche League, instead of declaring me a non-issue, how about putting some information out there to help and some validation that my issues are REAL!