As with my children before, this time wasn’t different. And I didn’t really expect it to be. I just didn’t look forward to dealing with the chronic low milk supply that I have. But, at the least, I knew what it was going to be and mentally prepared myself for that.
Breastfeeding is a natural process that provides numerous benefits for both the baby and mother. However, for some mothers, producing enough milk to sustain their newborn can be a significant challenge. Low milk supply, also known as lactation insufficiency, is a common struggle among breastfeeding mothers.
One of the primary challenges of low milk supply is the inability to meet the nutritional needs of the baby. Babies require a certain amount of milk to grow and develop properly, and when the mother is unable to produce enough milk, the baby may experience slow weight gain or even malnourishment. This can lead to health complications for the baby, but most of the time can be remedied by supplementing with donor milk or formula.
In addition to the physical challenges, low milk supply can also take a toll on a mother’s mental health. The stress and pressure of trying to produce enough milk can cause feelings of guilt, anxiety, and inadequacy. Mothers may also feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and even hopeless, especially when they’ve tried all the recommended strategies to increase milk supply, such as increasing frequency of nursing or using breast pumps. It can also lead to post partum depression or anxiety.
Low milk supply can also interfere with bonding between the mother and baby. Breastfeeding is a special and intimate experience that allows for skin-to-skin contact and promotes the release of bonding hormones. When low milk supply prevents successful breastfeeding, mothers may feel like they are missing out on this essential connection with their baby. This is especially true if the mother is pumping frequently, as it takes time being away from hands on with baby.
Finally, low milk supply can also impact the mother’s decision to continue breastfeeding. If the struggles continue for an extended period, some mothers may feel discouraged and choose to switch to formula feeding. This decision can also trigger feelings of guilt or shame, which can further worsen the mother’s mental health. Even though there is help out there for mothers, sometimes it is not easy to reach out for it.
Low milk supply can be a significant challenge for new mothers, affecting not only their baby’s health but also their mental and emotional well-being. Mothers should seek support from lactation consultants, peer groups, and healthcare providers to navigate this challenge and find the best solution for their unique circumstances. There are local branches of the LLL internationally, and can be a great resource to mothers. A wonderful and knowledgeable lactation consultant can do wonders for the mother and baby.