I’ve posted about our breastfeeding issues and how it has made me feel. What I didn’t post about was the neurotic desire to find the answer; to find out WHY my babies haven’t thrived as they should from breastfeeding alone. I don’t have a definite diagnosis but I am fairly certain I know why I am unable to exclusively breast feed.
Breast Hypoplasia or Hypoplastic Breasts or Micromastia or under-developed breasts or tubular breasts or IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue) Breasts. Whatever it is called, it is obvious to me that the condition is little known but can be devastating to a Mum with a dream to breastfeed… Not to mention the body image issue that arises from it. There’s plenty on Google about them but little actual medical information… not even my GP knew what I was talking about.
Breast Hypoplasia has no definitive diagnosis but a combination of markers point towards it and my breasts display most of them:
- A large gap between breasts (of more than 1.5”).
- Breasts that are noticeably different in size.
- An empty sac appearance to the breasts (droopy if you will)
- Disproportionately large areolae.
- A lack of breast changes during pregnancy and afterwards.
- Few or no prominent veins.
I have found an amazing post on Diary of a Lactation Failure about Breast Hypoplasia and there are even images from women who are far stronger and braver than I am.
Breast Hypoplasia may very well go unnoticed until an attempt is made to breastfeed… The main indicators for me were:
- A distinct lack of fullness – aside from the day my milk ‘came in’ I never experienced engorgement. My breasts were forever ‘empty’. Even pumping, I could get no more than 5-10ml out of each breast. Even now, Comma may not latch on for 8/9 hours and I will still get a maximum of 60ml from each breast.
- Failure to thrive – I hate those words but it’s true – Comma did not thrive.
I am lucky, though. Some women with IGT produce no milk at all. I at least have part of the experience.
Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to encourage lactation in this case. I tried everything… but funnily each pregnancy may be different and just because it didn’t happen in one, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the next. (At least that’s the hope I’m holding on to!)
I am still grieving over the loss of my exclusive breastfeeding relationship, and also coming to terms with finding out the reason my breasts have never been pert and have always been saggy. I would have shared a photo of them but am still gutted that they are broken. Maybe, one day, I will come to terms with it and be proud of my breasts.
Supporting Mothers with Mammary Hypoplasia from La Leche League
This post was written for Pinkoddy’s Health Hop