About Me

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Nashville, TN, United States
I am a mom to amazing twin girls, a wife, and I work full time. I battled infertility for 2 years and over the course of treatments, a twin pregnancy, and raising twins I managed to gain about 80 lbs. I’ve lost about 50 lbs so far and would like to lose another 50 in my quest to become a hot mama.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

PCOS wins again

I am so blessed to have my two beautiful daughters.  Words cannot describe how grateful I am for these miracles.  But PCOS has taken something else from me...the ability to breastfeed. 

After struggling for weeks and thinking "just wait,  your milk supply will come in," it turns out it won't. I spoke with a lactation consultant who suggested that my infertility is likely the reason for my low milk supply.  After looking it up on the internet, it seems that this is a common problem with women with PCOS.

I tried all of the supplements, teas, power pumping, nursing on demand....you name it, I tried it.

Currently all I am able to pump is about 1oz....2 if I am lucky.  The only time I get more than that is at 3:30 in the morning.  I'll get about 3oz during that pump.

I am still nursing the girls. I nurse one baby at each feeding...alternating every time.  So I will breastfeed which ever babies turn it is...then give her a bottle...then pump.  The whole process takes about an hour to an hour and a half.  It is so frustrating to do all of that and know that I am giving my girls so little breast milk.

Society has made this whole expreience quite difficult and traumatic for me.  I have been made to feel like I am not doing enough.  Like I am not trying hard enough.  It sucks.  There is nothing more that I want than to be able to breast feed my girls and I feel like that precious experience is being taken from me. 

So for now I will continue to pump and give them the very little breast milk that I can produce, but at some point I will have to decide when the output is not worth the payoff.  Right now their bottles are about 1/3 to 1/2 breast milk...but as we continue to increase the amount of formula, this amount becomes less and less.

I'd love to hear from anyone that had low supply issues and how long you tried to breastfeed for!

18 comments:

  1. They told me that IVF in general can mess you (me) up because of all the hormones and stuff. My milk never fully came in. I was able to keep with half her feedings being breast milk and half formula until she started eating more and then it became pumping 4 times a day to get one bottle. It got to the point where I was so discouraged by my low supply, I would cry after I pumped, realizing I had only gotten 1/2 ounce. I decided then that it was doing neither of us any good to continue. We made it one month. So you are already ahead of my game there.

    The world does make you feel like a monster for not breast feeding. And when I say "I tried and it didn't work out..." I can feel their judgment and know they're thinking "yeah, right - you just didn't try hard enough" But you have to let that go and do what's right to keep the girls healthy and YOU healthy (physically and emotionally). When she recently got her first cold, did I think that it must be because she wasn't getting breast milk? Yes. But that's the stuff we just have to get over. Now that I'm not pumping, feedings are much more happy and she's thriving.

    As with everything having to do with the IF journey, screw the haters!! =) Do what you need to do. (It does suck though...we already feel defective and then for that to not work either is insult to injury...)

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  2. Ask your doc about taking Metformin. I took it after both of my previous pregnancies to help with my wacky PCOS hormones to help my body produce breastmilk.

    That being said. It doesn't matter how you feed your baby as long as you feed your baby. You can bond with both of your babies when bottlefeeding. I'm expecting number 3, yes I'm a PCOS miracle, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to commit to breastfeeding this time because of a lot of outside life things going on that I have no control over, namely my husbands impending deployment overseas.

    At the end of the day, if babies are fed and thriving, mom has her sanity, and mom is at peace with her decisions as a parent.... Everybody wins.

    You are a great mom!

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  3. No advice, just sympathy...even without a PCOS diagnosis, at twelve weeks out I'm still averaging only about 2 ounces per 20 minute pumping (3 is a freaking miracle) and Little One is currently (at 12!? weeks) taking in 4 oz per feeding. It's so frustrating to have to pump twice for one feedings worth of milk.

    I seriously doubt that I'll keep going past 6 months, my current long-term goal. My short term goal is to reevaluate at every month birthday.

    It's completely not fair that after struggling to have our precious babies, we have to also struggle with feeding them.

    (Also, the cost of preemie formula? Ouch! Thank goodness for coupons from the formula companies!)

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  4. Fellow PCOS-er here that could not make milk hardly at all. it was a joke, no really we joked about it a lot. I breast fed my daughter for 11 days, yep that's it. I pumped every hour on the hour day after day in an exhausted stupefying state where in a 24 hour period I could only make maybe 4 ounces which really wasn't enough at all. Our daughter's weight began to drop and then she hit a growth spurt and we ditched it all together. Best decision I ever made, I was able to get more sleep, it was amazing. People could enjoy her company and also share in the joy of being able to feed her and my husband and I took turns at night which meant I got more sleep. Nobody seemed to care as much about it as I did. Our daughter is super healthy and rarely gets sick. My only advice with formula is until infants reach about 3 months old it tends to constipate them a little so you may have to add an extra ounce of water.

    I say focus on the positive we don't get to pick and choose which body parts that get to function the way they are supposed to but we can be grateful to be a mother.

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  5. Breastfeeding is going surprisingly well for us right now, so I'm lucky in that regard. However, I feel guilty that I can't get my baby to accept a bottle and that she's still sleeping in our bed. People keep saying that I'm going to regret it and that I better fix that now or she'll be there forever.

    I think some people just want to judge you. And they don't know how to empathize with someone if they haven't experienced the same problem. So I'm trying to learn to shut them out and deal with things my own way.

    Formula is great food. Babies do so well and it will save you so much stress. Do what you gotta do and know that you're doing a great job at being a mom!!!

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  6. There is a Canadian drug called Domperidone. My American dr. prescribes it for gastroparesis (which I suffer from). If you have heard of Reglan/Metoclopramide, this treats the same condition, but is not black labeled, as it has NO side effects. Like Reglan, it is proven to increase milk supply. My sister used Reglan with her first child as her milk supply didn't come in. With the second child, and a new doc, they acted as if they had no idea what she was talking about, and she never produced any milk. With the birth of my son, and the continued use of Reglan (before the blacklisting occurred), even though I suffer from PCOS, I WAS able to breast feed. GOOD LUCK!

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  7. I don't have PCOS but my lactation consultant also suspected that my infertility issues were the reason for my lack of milk. I started supplementing formula at 2 weeks. I mostly pumped for the next couple of months since that helped keep my supply up more than breastfeeding did. however, at 3 months, Jr. hit a growth spurt and I just couldn't keep up. At that point, nursing was more of a comfort thing. We still did it before every bottle but he would still take 6 - 8 ounces of formula afterwards so he obviously wasn't getting much. If I pumped I got less than an ounce. We went on like this until 6 months when he decided he didn't want it anymore. I did find though that even if he was just getting a little breastmilk a day it helped with the antibodies...it was motivation to keeep going.
    I really wish someone had told me BEFORE he was born that I was at a higher risk for having breastfeeding problems, I wouldn't have set my goals as high and then wouldn't have beaten myself up as much when I needed to supplement.
    3 years later my mostly formula fed baby is happy and healthy.
    Good Luck with everything!!

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  8. I'm sooo happy for you! Not sure if I've said that, but I am! Twin girls - so much fun!!!

    Wow, does your post bring back memories!

    I don't have PCOS, but the lactation consultants said that my lack of production likely stemmed from my infertility. I tried for about two weeks, tried fenugreek, supplementing through a syringe, and I needed a nipple sheild because I have flat nipples. It was painful.

    They were in the nursery for about two weeks anyway, and were bottle fed before I was even out of c-section recovery. They were frustrated with the breastfeeding because I wasn't producing much and they had gotten used to the bottle, flowing out milk. We were all frustrated, so I switched to formula and I don't regret it one bit. Life got easier, a LOT easier after switching. I think unless you're a momma cow producing lots of milk, nursing twins is a monumental task anyway.

    Most people "get it" about not nursing. My mother in law didn't (but frankly, I don't care), and one of my friends didn't get it.

    My sitter had three girls (not twins though), and she breastfed them all. She's been bottle feeding my girls and she likes that you know exactly how much they have had, and that they can definitely go longer inbetween feedings.

    It's all such an emotional thing, and then the postpartum hormones really make it worse. I hope that you can find some peace soon, and just enjoy those babies. :)

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  9. this is something I'm nervous about since I have pcos as well. But I'm not pregnant yet so I'm no help. I figure you are doing the best you can and feeding your children, so that makes you a good mom. Screw the mean people.

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  10. i have pcos and was actually able to bf my twins. (they just turned one in september and we're weaning now). it has been a long road with many ups and downs. in the beginning we were just like you. the whole feeding and pumping process took forever. after awhile we got the hang of it and were able to exclusively bf. when i went back to work at 4 months my supply dropped significantly. i immediately tried reglan but didn't have any increase. i tried domperidone and fenugreek and had a moderate increase, but not back to what i was making before. i'm currently tapering off of the domperidone as well.

    bf'ing is hard. if you can do it-great. if not-don't beat yourself up about it. it's hard enough having two little ones to care for. don't make yourself miserable trying to feed them. formula is so good these days, not like when we were little :)

    btw: i'm a new reader from double blessings. :)

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  11. I ended up only being able to breastfeed until our twins were 3mo. They got breastmilk in the hospital and then as much as I could at home. It was heartbreaking. BFing was such a big part of my hopes and dreams and to have it taken away... It was crushing. I was able to take More Milk Plus and that helped until mastitis robbed me for the final time.

    I'm sorry. I know this is a tough pill to swallow.

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  12. hi there, i'm exactly like you! my son was born on the 26th of august. i have PCO. my milk didn't start to come in till the end of day 4 and it's pathetic. he had to have formula and it felt horrible cause i wanted to exclusivly bf.

    the gave me domperidone (sp) it's an anti nausea drug that helps lactation. i think that helped some but 1'd only get 50mls (i think thats 1.5oz) from the 2 of them combined. i'm trying fenugreek now and taking garlic oil capsuals cause it's suposed to change the flavour of the milk making the baby suck for longer and so stimulation more milk production. i pumped a week ago (he's 5wks now) and got almost 80ml (i think almost 3oz)which shows improvement. i gave up pumping for supply, i just put him on the boobs whenever he wants food then if they're not enough he gets a bottle. he was on 4 or so bottles a day, now its about 3, the other day he just had 2, so i think its getting better slowly. i just plan to keep this up for as long as he takes it. i think some is better then none and he loves his boobas just as much as his bottle. the boobas feed him, make him happy, sooth him and he gets to snuggle. the bottle fills him up fast and that makes him happy so our combo works for us even though i hate that hes on formula he's happy.

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  13. I am sorry you are going through this now.. I have been told that having had IVF can cause trouble in terms of breastfeeding in general. As I am still waiting I don't know how this will impact my chances but I hear you. I am already thinking that if it does now work formula will work brilliant too as it has done for millions of babies around the world! You are a great mommy no matter whether you breastfeed or not.. don't let anyone tell you otherwise!!!

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  14. I had tons of trouble breastfeeding Henry but attributed it more to the breast reduction I had 10 years ago. But now that you say this it totally makes sense that infertility and difficulties BFing are related. I attempted to BF and pump every 2-3 hrs for the first week with very little output so most of his intake was formula. The next week I power pumped with a hospital grade pump twice a day and took More Milk Plus. My total for the day never topped more than 2 oz. After 1 week of this (so he was 2 weeks old) and I was going to be on my own during the day I stopped pumping. It was so stressful and I felt that others were feeding and enjoying him and I was alone in my room pumping and occassionally crying. Once I stopped the pumping I felt so much better and was able to relax and actually enjoy this motherhood thing. I definitely had to get over those "I am a failure" feelings and all the negative stereotypes I had about women who formula fed. Because ya know, BFing is natural-its what ours bodies are made to do. What a crock!! Do it for as long or as little as you can and feel good about your efforts! A boob isn't the only thing that provides love and bonding to your beautiful babies!

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  15. I'm so sorry you're having those feelings! I have PCOS too and I for some reason made tons of milk. But it made me very sick for some reason. As soon as I quit bfing I felt better and sure enough, the babies are doing great!

    Don't let anyone make you feel guilty about it. If this is stressing you, you will feel so great when you can just enjoy being a mommy (as I did). Besides, breast milk doesn't make you healthy, yes it is great stuff, but if you have a weakened immune system that you were born with no ammount of breast milk will change that. If you are predisposed to illness or your environment causes it, despite what people will try to tell you, giving your child formula will not change those things.

    You have beautiful babies and you are a great mom!

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  16. I'm dealing with the same stuff, as you know from my blog last week. I am just posting to say (again) that it sucks that PCOS impacts breastfeeding as well.

    At this point I am still pumping and supplementing with formula (we are at about 50/50 for his daily intake right now) -- and he is getting all of it from a bottle because BF, bottle, pumping was too much for me to do when I'm on my own during the day and in the middle of the night. I don't know how long I'll continue with the pumping. I'm trying to take things day by day and not set goals (because then I just run the risk of feeling like I am falling short again if I don't make it). Right now I'm operating under 2 rules:
    1. Feed the baby
    2. I won't listen to the baby cry for the sake of getting a pumping session in

    Anyway, the whole thing is hard and it sucks that we have to process this new disappointment right after birth when everything is in upheaval -- especially our hormones and emotions.

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  17. Ugh. I wrote all about my issues:
    http://babysmiling.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/breastfeeding-part-1/
    http://babysmiling.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/breastfeeding-part-2/

    I kept going for 6 1/2 months, almost the whole time was exclusive pumping. It was really important for me to keep going, but at the same time, it really took a toll on me. I have no idea how much difference it made for the babies, since they got so little breastmilk, but they have been wonderfully healthy and more than made up for their prematurity size-wise so I don't regret all the effort I put in, but I think I would have enjoyed those 6 months of motherhood more if I'd been able to spend all those hours every day with the babies instead of that pump.

    Whatever you decide, you are doing the right thing for all of you. Good luck.

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  18. I just went through this. Read about it on my blog. So sorry uoure hoing through this, it was really tough on me.

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