When I found out I had Insufficient Glandular Tissue, I wanted as much information as possible. And I wanted to hear from other mamas who had been there before. I am hoping that my posts on this issue will help some other mamas out there who want to breastfeed, but are struggling to produce enough milk.
When I had K, I didn’t find out until several weeks in that I had insufficient glandular tissue (IGT). It was disappointing and overwhelming. Then we had issues with her preference for the flow of the bottle and refusal to take the breast. Man, that was difficult! The second time, I was prepared. I knew that I would have low supply again, but I also knew that my efforts with K might have grown some more milk-making tissue for this time. Most importantly, I knew what to do to maximize my supply. You can see my preparation post here.T breastfed for 2 and half years. This is huge for me! I was never able to produce enough to exclusively breastfeed him, but I made more than with K, and he preferred the breast to the bottle. Here is what we did the second time around!
- Good latch and skin-to-skin: From the beginning I made sure that he had a good latch and put him on the breast as much as possible. When he wasn’t breastfeeding in those early days we did lots and lots of skin-to-skin. I recommend these things to any breastfeeding Mom. They will help set you up for a good supply and good breastfeeding relationship. Part of what made this work, was I was more comfortable being “selfish” by holding on to the baby more, not giving him to family members much in those early days.
- Herbs for me: I had made a mother’s milk tea blend, and stocked up on galactogogue herbs and foods before T was born. In addition to the usual galactogogues, I used goat’s rue, which specifically helps grow milk tissue (but is NOT to be taken while pregnant). Soon after birth I started drinking my tea and eating foods good for milk production. I also tried to drink plenty of fluids and rest – as much as is possible while caring for baby 😉
- Saw Our Lactation Consultant Early: We saw our lactation consultant when T was 4 days old. This gave us a good idea of what was going on at a very early stage, but after my milk should have come in. We then frequently followed up with her by phone and in person. (I love my lactation consultant. Please contact me if you are in the DC metro area – I would be happy to give you her information.)
- Started pumping early and used a hospital-grade pump: The first few days, I focused on skin-to-skin and putting the baby to the breast to stimulate milk production, but it wasn’t long before we started pumping. This time we rented a hospital-grade pump from our lactation consultant for several months. It was more powerful and smoother – I think it made a difference.
- Used supplemental nursing system/at-breast supplementer: We used the lact-aid for supplemental formula as soon as we knew we would need to supplement. Once we figured out how to latch with the tube (it took a couple days, and some frustration) it worked really well. Our lactation consultant recommended we still use a bottle for one feeding a day, so that he would be willing to take a bottle later. And our pediatrician expressed some concern that the supplemental nursing system may not be safe – however, she didn’t share any studies and I never was able to find anything to indicate that they were dangerous. I recommend doing your own research if you are thinking about it. I was nervous that he would have the same bottle preference that K would have, so I was really hesitant to give him a bottle. We waited a week or two and then introduced the bottle every once in a while – it actually took him longer to figure out how to drink out of the bottle than the breast!
We had some extra difficulties thrown at us since T had digestive problems when he was very little. After several stressful trips to the hospital for testing, I ended up doing an elimination diet – eliminating dairy, soy, and eggs – and supplemented with hypoallergenic formula. This seemed to clear up his issue. We also endured a weekend without nursing (I pumped the whole time) so that we could see if that was the problem. It was so stressful and didn’t really show us anything. With these difficulties I kept trying and we managed to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. At one year old, he would pull at my shirt to tell me he wanted a snack. At two years old, he no longer used a bottle, and would still breastfeed at bedtime and in the early morning, and he continued his night-time and morning feeding until he was past two and a half. I am so grateful for the ability to nurse him for as long as I did. The first few months were rough, but the journey as a whole was so rewarding.