We all know that I have had milk supply issues. Up until recently, I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to how rare true supply issues are and what the underlying cause may have been. At first I didn’t know if it was a true supply issue or something I had done wrong (we really do hang on to that mommy guilt, don’t we?). But I have learned enough about breastfeeding since then to know that it wasn’t anything I did wrong.
In my (in no way professional) opinion, a lot of women do worry about their supply. Some then start to supplement unnecessarily, which in turn hurts their supply because the best way to increase supply is to increase demand (i.e. nurse more). That means the less you nurse (since you’re supplementing instead), the less milk you make. It is a downward spiral for a lot of women. We did everything we could to avoid that. When we were finally forced to supplement, hubby gave supplement bottles after I nursed and I pumped while he did that. I wrote about having to supplement here. I also took Fenugreek for several months.
I knew that I had supply issues. And I knew that they weren’t my fault. But still, every time I heard about Insufficient Glandular Tissue, I immediately dismissed it. My boobs are pretty huge, so I must have sufficient tissue. Until last week. I heard about it again and decided to look into it a little bit. I couldn’t find any information at all in my usual go-to places (kellymom & Ask Dr. Sears). So I dug deeper.
I came across this page with symptoms of Insufficient Glandular Tissue. My comments are italicized.
Strong Indicators That You May Have Insufficient Glandular Tissue:
1. You did not experience any changes in your breasts during puberty/pregnancy. – This doesn’t apply, my boobs got much larger during puberty and pregnancy.
2. You did not experience postpartum breast engorgement. – None. I have never been engorged no matter how long I have gone without feeding.
3. Your baby is not gaining weight. It is abnormal for a newborn baby to lose more than 10% of his birth weight. Also, newborns should be back up to their birth weight by the time they are 3 weeks old. While this is the NUMBER ONE symptom to indicate a lack of milk supply, this symptom alone is not enough to indicate IGT. It would be necessary to rule out other reasons for the lack of growth such as poor latching, underlying conditions of the baby, poor nutrition of the mother, etc. A baby scale can be helpful for you to determine your baby’s exact milk intake during a feeding. Baby scales may be available for use at your local hospital or from a local lactation consultant. – Yes! The Gnome lost more than 10% of his birth weight and did not gain any back until we started to supplement with formula.
4. You do not hear any swallowing sounds when you breastfeed. - Looking back now, I know he wasn’t making any swallowing sounds. I actually didn’t hear him swallow until he was over a month old. I just didn’t realize it at the time because I didn’t know what to look for.
I had additional symptoms as well:
- I had no evidence of my milk “coming in.” I never felt engorged, never had an increase in flow, and I never felt let down.
- My baby was insatiable. He nursed until he passed out, slept for 20 – 30 minutes, and then woke up ravenous again. It was a never-ending cycle that exhausted all three of us until we finally started supplementing with an ounce of formula after each feeding.
- Very few wet diapers. Dark urine and urea crystals in diapers (looks like “brick dust”).
From mobimotherhood.org, which stands for Mothers Overcoming Breastfeeding Issues (again, my comments are italicized):
Breast shape is listed as one of the risk indicators for low milk supply due to insufficient glandular tissue (IGT). While there is no one breast shape or kind of tissue that always indicates a reduced ability to produce milk, certain physical characteristics may indicate a problem with milk supply. Having irregularly shaped breasts, one breast that is dramatically smaller than the other (yes!), breasts that are very widely spaced on the chest wall (yes!), breasts that lack fullness (yes!), and other characteristics may be diagnostic.
Diagnosis of IGT is often done by an IBCLC examining the breasts. Women with this diagnosis frequently do go on to develop a milk supply, though not always a full supply.
Severe IGT can lead to the production of very little or no milk. The most reliable sign of severe IGT is the complete lack of breast changes during pregnancy and after birth.
In researching Insufficient Glandular Tissue, I’m learning more about it. Like, it can take up to a month to establish your milk supply if you have it (check!). That my boobs look the part. That taking Goat’s Rue would have been more effective than taking Fenugreek. Also that I will most likely have more milk with subsequent babies.
I should have been more persistent when I got brushed off by the lactation office at the hospital where I delivered. I shouldn’t have been shy when it came to asking for help. I should have demanded an appointment to see them. I will be looking for an IBCLC. I need to know what my problem was, even if it isn’t Insufficient Glandular Tissue. It is something & I would like to be better prepared for the next baby.
Have you heard of Insufficient Glandular Tissue? While rare, women do experience true supply issues. Have you experienced any? Do you have any links to additional information on IGT? If you enjoy reading about The Gnome & his family, like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter! While you’re at it… check out our Networked Blogs box in the right sidebar and consider joining through Google Friend Connect, will ya?