A Mother's Dilemma
Not enough milk?
A New Strategy
With this realization, and hazed by my first experience, I determined to do
things differently the second time around. I decided that I'd give it
everything I had for four weeks and then give myself permission to quit,
guilt-free, if breastfeeding wasn't working and if I was miserable. I amassed
the paraphernalia I'd need: a breast pump, a baby scale to monitor the baby's
weight gains and losses, a new supplemental nursing system, and yes, clean
bottles and fresh cans of formula powder. I informed everyone around me of the
plan and insisted on their support, both for the up-front effort and for
whatever I decided afterward. I was ready.
Things got off to a good start with an easy birth, and brand-new Eliot came
home with me the second day. On day three, my milk came in, and I was actually
thrilled by the aches and pains of engorgement. Nevertheless, I still didn't
make enough milk to exclusively breastfeed. The difference this time, though,
was that I was content in feeding him what I had. I no longer saw supplementing
with formula as a failure of motherhood.
My new lactation consultant was not only knowledgeable on the issue of low
milk supply but compassionate and supportive as well. She also armed me with
information about Reglan, which I persuaded my doctor to prescribe for me.
(Reglan, a prescription medication ordinarily used for gastrointestinal
problems, is reported to be an effective lactation-inducer.)
With that extra boost I made it to the end of my one-month "trial"
period with a well-established, though not exclusive, breastfeeding
relationship, which my 1-year-old and I still enjoy today.
A support group called Mothers Overcoming Breastfeeding Issues (MOBI)
connected me with a large number of women whose experiences were almost
identical to my own. I also learned about treatments, like Reglan, which could
help promote milk production.
While resources like MOBI and my lactation consultant helped the second time
around, no woman should endure the guilt trips I suffered. Women who want to
and can breastfeed deserve every support -- medical, societal, and legislative
-- to do so. But breastfeeding is not the be-all and end-all of motherhood.
Women who can't or choose not to nurse also deserve support and respect.
Feeding your children enough -- and with love -- is what really matters.
Naomi Williams is an editorial production manager for WebMD.