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Do you think low milk supply is not as big a problem as everyone makes it out to be?
November 20, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Low Breast Milk Supply Isn't Even a Real Thing (Usually)

by Adriana Velez

breastmilk movieMaybe it's just because I live in a city with a lot of stressed-out women, but it seems like I've known a lot of women who felt like they couldn't produce enough breast milk. Most of us -- oh yeah, I'm including me -- went through the bother of pumping with hospital-grade pumps and using other remedies and torture devices to try an up our supply. But did we really need to? What if, all along, we were making enough? What if we just needed help getting our babies to access the milk we were making?

In Ricki Lake's new documentary, Breastmilk two Australian moms question what seems to them an American obsession with pumping and milk supply. One of the moms says something I think cuts deeply into the issue. 

To be honest, I see it as an assumption that woment's bodies can't possibly be good enough by themselves, that you need to supplement it, that you need to control it, that it's unmeasurable and you don't really know. And so therefore there's this ignorance and this fear associated with it.

Wow, I'd never really thought about it that way. I think she may be right. Low milk supply -- is it a myth?  We actually don't know the exact number of women with low milk supply. "You cannot find a number for this," says Marianne Neifert, a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. She says it's probably around 1 to 5 percent of Western women.

More from The Stir: 5 More Breastfeeding Myths You Probably Believe Are True

But that idea that our bodies are not enough -- that definitely rings true. I think we feel that way about our bodies for so many other reasons. Why wouldn't it also apply to how we feel about breastfeeding? I think back now to when I first doubted myself. It was when my pediatrician said my baby wasn't gaining enough weight fast enough. She told me to supplement with formula -- and you know what? That turned out fine. My son caught on to breastfeeding and I did dump the supplements.

But what if I'd known that low milk supply isn't really all that common? What if my first pediatrician (yeah, I switched) had recommended a lactation consultant instead of formula? And what if my health insurance had covered lactation consultants at that time, like they all effing should? Imagine the difference this would make.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Do you think low milk supply is not as big a problem as everyone makes it out to be?

Replies

  • MidwestMama55
    November 20, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    I think it is a real problem, that does affect some women.

  • svolkov
    by svolkov
    November 20, 2013 at 10:23 AM
    I think people who think they have low supply are either misinformed or having other problems....like pumping issues/not eating and drinking enough.

    When babies go thru growth spurts it often feels like u are having supply issues... even when its perfectly normal
  • art.diva
    November 20, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    I think that it is a real problem, but also a matter of unnecessary concern that goes unaddressed.  What I mean by that, is many women do fear that they aren't making enough milk when they first start nursing.  But many of those women ask about it, and find out that they do indeed make enough.  The other women, well, keep worrying.

  • svolkov
    by svolkov
    November 20, 2013 at 10:24 AM
    I also think a big problem(which can't be avoided many times) is a breastfeeding mom having to work and pump....putting the baby to the breast is the best for supply. Also the obsession with babies "sleeping thru the night" and not waking to nurse can also cause supply problems
  • StarLight23
    November 20, 2013 at 10:26 AM


    It is a real problem. Not a problem that's properly addressed. It could be a fear that women don't make enough when they start nursing, but there are some that are legitamite.


    Quoting art.diva:

    I think that it is a real problem, but also a matter of unnecessary concern that goes unaddressed.  What I mean by that, is many women do fear that they aren't making enough milk when they first start nursing.  But many of those women ask about it, and find out that they do indeed make enough.  The other women, well, keep worrying.



  • mom2the.rescue
    November 20, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    The books (that I read) don't teach feeding on demand.  They also don't teach that it may hurt at first.  They teach to feed every 2-3 hours and that it shouldn't hurt at all and that baby should eat for 20 minutes.  If those things don't happen, it's natural for a woman to think something's wrong with her boobs, her supply, or her execution of it all.  

    We should be taught to follow our instincts.  If we did that, I don't think so many women would have this 'low supply' problem.  Those first few months need to be feeding baby on demand to get your supply right.

  • art.diva
    November 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    I know, that is what I said.

    Quoting StarLight23:


    It is a real problem. Not a problem that's properly addressed. It could be a fear that women don't make enough when they start nursing, but there are some that are legitamite.


    Quoting art.diva:

    I think that it is a real problem, but also a matter of unnecessary concern that goes unaddressed.  What I mean by that, is many women do fear that they aren't making enough milk when they first start nursing.  But many of those women ask about it, and find out that they do indeed make enough.  The other women, well, keep worrying.




  • TSNDDY
    by TSNDDY
    November 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM
    Of course there are women who do have this issue. It seems like nearly every mother I have known to try and nurse has claimed they weren't making enough though. So many women are simply misinformed about the first few weeks of breastfeeding.
  • egyptian_mommy
    November 20, 2013 at 10:28 AM
    I think it can exist. But women in our society are uneducated about the true nature of breastfeeding. Women don't seem to know how to gauge their supply. They're conditioned to think "Oh my baby isn't X size, must be low supply" "My baby nurses a lot, must not be getting enough" "My baby cried, must not have enough milk" when in reality their milk supply and baby are normal and just fine.
  • Anonymous
    by Anonymous
    November 20, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    I think the problem is lack of support and information, not low milk supply.

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