Nine years ago, I had a breast reduction. At the time, I was told I may be able to breastfeed, I may not, I would just have to just wait and see. Two children in, I have found little information about women who provide breast-milk for their babies post-reduction; most of what I have found are most of what I found were either notes at ends of articles about how most women who think they have a low supply really don’t that said, “many women who have reductions are able to breastfeed their children,” or an occasional article where everything went perfectly (birth, baby’s latch, etc.) and the woman was successful with very little struggle. It seemed as though you either successfully exclusively breastfed post-reduction, or you didn’t. Since that hasn’t been my experience, I thought I would write a bit about what my experience has been, and later, things that worked for me or that I found helpful, in case others were looking for more women’s personal experiences as I was.

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With my first child, I decided I would try to breastfeed and just see what happened. And what happened was I had virtually no supply. When I made my most, which only lasted a week, I made 9 ounces over the course of a day. And the next week, when my baby was six weeks old, I was only getting an ounce. Over a whole 24 hour period. At that point, my son received only formula.

Now, there were other factors at play in this scenario. I hemorrhaged after his birth, which can cause supply issues. My son was also jaundiced, which made him sleepy, therefor harder to get to eat, and thus creating supply issues. He also had a receding chin, another factor which makes nursing harder for babies which can also cause supply issues.

I have no recollection if his latch was good or bad, only that he hated to latch. I have vivid memories of trying to get him to latch in the middle of the night while he screamed and cried and I just cried. After about his first week, the hospital lactation consultant declared he needed to be supplemented due to a weight-loss of about a pound. I was to nurse, give him a bottle of formula, and then pump to completely empty my breasts and try to stimulate them to make more (I also took three different herbs to this end). Once he had a bottle, he was totally over nursing. At the lactation consultant’s  suggestion, I decided just pumping would be the way to go, and continued pumping seven times a day until I dried up.

The second time around I decided I would try again. I have a friend who has not had a reduction, but had a low supply and a story just like mine who went on to successfully nurse her second, and now third, babies. While I didn’t think I’d end up providing all my baby’s milk, I hoped I would be more successful the second time around. And now, seven weeks in, I have been!

Like before, I tried exclusively nursing first. And my second son gained weight! It wasn’t enough weight for him to really grow well, but it was something I never accomplished before. Still, we ended up needing to provide him with supplementation and I needed to pump after as many nursing sessions as I could.

Besides the reduction, we didn’t really have any other factors that can cause low supply to worry about this time. And, while he wasn’t adverse to latching like his older brother was, he did not have a very good latch. When I first saw the lactation consultant with him, I had large plugged ducts because he was not an effective nurser. We changed his position and worked to fix his latch, which required me to get him latched as best I could, then have my husband come and fix his latch. His latch never got better, and having my husband with me constantly was not a long-term option, so again we decided to exclusively pump.

But, I’ve had days where I double what I made with my first son, and he has had anywhere from two-thirds breast-milk to just over half breast-milk, depending on how much he’s eating. At the moment, he’s getting just over half of his calories from breast-milk.

Pumping and supplementing is really working for me. It may not be the most conventional method, and it may be a bit more time-consuming than nursing, but I’m still providing my babies with as much breast-milk as I possibly can, which was ultimately my goal.

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I’m planning on posting some things I’ve found helpful in the next couple of weeks as well as post updates as things happen. You can read about some things that have helped me be more successful both when I was nursing and now as I’m pumping here. Hopefully this will be helpful or encouraging to someone like me! And, if you’re not interested, I really do plan on posting on other things here, once having two kids isn’t kicking my butt.

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