Feature Archive

A Mother's Dilemma

Not enough milk?

WebMD Feature

July 31, 2000 -- Breastfeeding my first son Julian hadn't gone as I had planned. For months I prepared, just like all the moms I knew. I attended a breastfeeding workshop, selected a pro-breastfeeding pediatrician, hired an ardent breastfeeding advocate to be our birth and labor coach, and read up on the subject in many pregnancy and parenting books.

All to no avail. After Julian was born, I immediately knew something was wrong: My breasts didn't engorge or leak milk. I couldn't hear Julian swallow. And he never seemed satisfied after feedings. The problem, I discovered, was that my milk simply failed to come in. That discovery launched a confusing and emotional struggle to provide my son with the benefits of nursing while making sure he got enough to eat.

Between Two Camps

At first, everyone pooh-poohed my concerns. But within days they agreed there was a problem. Julian was rapidly losing weight, and he wasn't peeing or pooping. The hospital strongly recommended supplementing with formula, and I reluctantly allowed them to do so in 1- and 2-ounce increments, remembering all the dire warnings I'd read about the evils of supplementation. It was a slippery slope that would lead to more bottles and less nursing, then to less supply and, ultimately, to what the pro-breastfeeding experts called the worst of all possible fates -- "premature weaning."