PCOS and Breastfeeding — The Bump
Pregnant after IF

PCOS and Breastfeeding

Hi!

I went to my hospital's breastfeeding class last night. One thing I found out that I did not know was that women with PCOS may have issues breastfeeding. They didn't go over in detail, just a passing statement... so of course I immediately went home and had a google freak-out session. Apparently the hormone imbalance that comes along w/ PCOS can affect the way the breasts were formed during puberty (lack of glandular tissue). Also the hormones can affect prolactin signals in your breasts after birth, causing you to not produce enough milk. I can't believe I've never heard this before!

If you have or suspect you have PCOS, I recommend educating yourself. Now that I've calmed down a bit, I've been scouring the internet for useful info and creating a plan. I am also going to ask my OB about what she recommends. I read that 1/3 of women with PCOS have low milk supply and out of that group, only 1/3 (1/9 of total population with PCOS) have almost no milk supply. Hopefully none of us will fall into this group, but knowledge is power. I found this site to be the most usual so far: http://www.mobimotherhood.org/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-and-breastfeeding.html

You can also reach out to a lactation consultant or your local La Leche League Leader for help. Good luck!!
*TW - Pregnancy mentioned*
Me: 28 DH: 33, Married May 2014
3 failed IUIs Dec '15 - Feb '16
IVF April/May 2016 - 1 failed fresh transfer. 11 snow angels.
1st FET 7/29/16 = BFP
Lawson arrived on 4/24/2017 at 7lbs 15oz, 21 1/2 inches long!
Surprise pregnancy!! Baby #2 due 10/11/18 <3
JWatt5

Re: PCOS and Breastfeeding

  • This freaked me out too!! I had convinced myself I wouldn't be able to breastfeed but surprisingly no issues . I've had dips in supply due to dehydration and stress but have been able to get supply up with herbs and lactation cookies . So far so good . I know it's so frustrating to read another issue with PCOS :( hope you don't have any trouble but if you do there are so many great resources out there ! 

    **BFP and loss warning**

    Me: 29
    DH: 29
    Us: Married Valentine's Day, 2015
    DH: No issues.
    Me: PCOS, unexplained infertility (whatever that means!!)
    June 2015 Medicated TI cycle: BFN
    July 2015:  Medicated TI cycle: BFN
    August 2015: IUI: BFP. Chemical pregnancy :(
    October 2015: IUI: BFN
    January 2016: Egg retrieval: 10 frozen embryos!
    March 2016: FET Cycle- 2 embryos transferred!: BFP !
    babylonghorn16
  • @babylonghorn16 I addressed some of this in our 3rd tri thread, but let me just add this here. I do not have PCOS but did suffer from severe low supply with DS1. I did not know until after the fact that IF is connected to low supply problems. It's good to have a plan going into BFing just in case this happens to you - as hopefully you will be able to troubleshoot as @mskeenan did! For many women, these methods to boost supply work very well!

    However, if troubleshooting does not work (extra pumping, supplements, etc.), then it is OKAY to shift to formula feeding. One of the LCs I worked with was adamant that I not quit BFing, even though her advice was to nurse my baby at least 10 times a day and follow up pumping afterwards each time. I was also constantly making foods to increase supplies, taking supplements, and my LC even encouraged me to order meds from New Zealand (not available in US) that were supposed to increase supply. That meant that I was spending much more than half of any 24 hour day BFing, pumping, and trying to increase my supply, all while handling the world of being a new mom to a newborn. In retrospect, I can see now that this sort of advice is just unreasonable, in my opinion.

    My life was misery just BFing and pumping all day long hoping that something would change. But it didn't. And I had to find a way to forgive myself and to quit, for my own good and for the good of my baby. Hopefully this doesn't happen to you. Failing at BFing felt like going through the devastation of IF all over again, and it was really hard to get over feeling like I was a failure or an inadequate mom.

    So my advice is to be prepared and to have a plan going into your BFing experience, but to also be kind to yourself. Not every LC is going to give you the best advice, but many out there are wonderful. Also, formula feeding is NOT the end of the world, despite today's strong stigma against it.
    *** Trigger Warnings ***

    TTC #1 since March 2011
    Dx = Unexplained IF
    1 medicated TI cycle & 4 clomid IUIs = all BFNs
    June 2013 IVF #1 = 6 frosties + BFP!
    DS1 born 2/14

    TTC #2 since December 2014
    May 2015 unassisted BFP ended in m/c at 7wks
    April 2016 FET #1 = BFN
    June 2016 FET #2 = c/p
    August 2016 FET #3 = BFP!
    DS2 born 4/17
    babylonghorn16nellin-2Polythene Pammandmplus1
  • @BlueEyedDreamer Thank you - I needed to hear that. I think knowing this can happen before hand will help me. Getting blind-sided by this news would be awful. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Thank you for sharing your story!

    @mskeenan thanks for the reassurance! Helps to know that other PCOS'ers have had success!
    *TW - Pregnancy mentioned*
    Me: 28 DH: 33, Married May 2014
    3 failed IUIs Dec '15 - Feb '16
    IVF April/May 2016 - 1 failed fresh transfer. 11 snow angels.
    1st FET 7/29/16 = BFP
    Lawson arrived on 4/24/2017 at 7lbs 15oz, 21 1/2 inches long!
    Surprise pregnancy!! Baby #2 due 10/11/18 <3
    BlueEyedDreamer
  • @blueeyeddreamer I'm so sorry you went through that . The stigma surrounding formula is total BS. A lot of lactation consultants I've spoken to act like it's the end of the world and it really shouldn't be that way . Of course they aren't all that way - but it seems some do have unrealistic expectations of what's feasible with a new baby . Our  sanity and health is what is important bc babies are depending on us . 

    **BFP and loss warning**

    Me: 29
    DH: 29
    Us: Married Valentine's Day, 2015
    DH: No issues.
    Me: PCOS, unexplained infertility (whatever that means!!)
    June 2015 Medicated TI cycle: BFN
    July 2015:  Medicated TI cycle: BFN
    August 2015: IUI: BFP. Chemical pregnancy :(
    October 2015: IUI: BFN
    January 2016: Egg retrieval: 10 frozen embryos!
    March 2016: FET Cycle- 2 embryos transferred!: BFP !
    BlueEyedDreamer
  • I have PCOS and have tried to mentally prepare for issues, but @mskeenan is right about the stigma of formula feeding. One thing I have heard about breastfeeding as well is that no one knows if it is the breast milk or the close contact during breast feeding that provides the increased benefits....so having lots of skin to skin contact while formula feeding might close the gap, just a thought for those who choose or are forced into that route!
    ******TW*****
    Me 39 DH44
    Married 8/2/14
    TTC 9/14
    Dx: PCOS, blocked L fallopian tube, suspect poor egg quality
    MFI (low #, poor morphology)
    IVF #1 9/15 Failed
    IVF #2 12/15 Failed
    1st DE FET  5/16-BFN :(
    2nd DE FET 7/18-BFP :)
    8/17 Baby HR 140/min EDD 4/6/17
  • Your story felt partly so familiar to me @blueeyeddreamer only I am lucky that I was in great hands.

    I tried breastfeeding, and my little girl was one angry little eater. She was sooo frustrating. At the hospital at day 1,5 they had given me a nipple cap that was too small ruining my nipples, having a little girl that sucked and stopped and sucked and stopped didn't help. I did both breastfeeding and pumping to get supply going.
    At the night of day 10 I could NOT wake up my little girl. She'd be awake for a few seconds and fall back asleep. Something was wrong, I could feel it.
    As I live in the Netherlands we have maternity care at home the first few days, so when mine arrived in the morning I was in full tears, she ran upstairs with me and called my midwife. I had to give my LO 80cc formula right at once. She drank it in a heartbeat. She was underfed.
    I then only start pumping and gave formula. I'd pump a whole day to have only 20cc!! 
    On day 12 my midwife came to check how we were doing, and saw how exhausted I was. My LO ate every 1,5 to 2 hours. Which meant I was prepping a bottle, change her, feed her, clean bottle, start pumping, clean pumping, and almost start all over again (am a single mum) so sleep was hardly happening. On top of this my LO cried and cried (turns out she has cowsmilk allergy)
    My midwife decided for me that enough was enough. She had asked at day 10 what I wanted and I said I'd try to get it going. But at day 12 she said I've tried enough. I needed to think about myself.
    Im glad she decided for me (of course I could still continue, but having someone to make that tough decision for me was what I needed)
    I still find it emotionally difficult as I feel like I can't do yet another thing a woman should be able to do, and reading every formula box is definitely feeling like I'm a horrible mother as they all say 'bf is best'.
    But like my midwife said, babies do grow with formula too! And boy does my LO grow!
    Having had the support from my midwife, maternity care, my mother, sister, .. I could and can handle it better. 
    My midwife also mentioned that it doesn't mean I can't bf with maybe a second child. PCOS does strange things. Some women even have way too much breastmilk! It was either my PCOS or my extreme blood loss that made me not having the supply needed.

    During the day anyone may give my LO a bottle. My nieces love it. 
    In the evening, night and early morning it is always me. We used to sit in a comfy chair and I'd hold her close. Now we lay down just like breastfeeding and she lays close to me, makes it easier for me to smell and kiss her. It's our time and for me it's actually more intimate and perfect than breastfeeding as she's calm and relaxes and isn't that frustrating little girl that didn't get any food.

    I was very 'If it works it works, if not it's ok too', yet I was not prepared that it still would suck emotionally. I don't think one can prepare for that. 
    Just know, that you want your LO to grow, and trust me, you do not want to see your LO like I saw mine at day 10. So should one end up giving formula, try not to feel guilty, you do what is best for your LO

    Sorry for the book report! 
    Im still processing it, writing it down helps :)
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Daisypath Happy Birthday tickers


    BlueEyedDreamerbabylonghorn16
  • @BlueEyedDreamer I don't have pcos but your story was so similar to mine. Why I feel strongly to just go with the flow and trust YOUR gut. I had excessive blood loss during my daughters delivery and thankfully the nurses changed gears from "you will only breastfeed!!" to "your body needs to heal and formula is probably going to be a part of that" (milk supply is hurt by trauma like that). But still there's a pressure which is terrible. So I'd nurse, then bottle feed when my LO screamed from still being hungry, then pump to up my supply while my daughter cried more, just wanted to be held. 6 weeks of my life revolving around trying to force breastfeeding to work... 

    it took my OB and pediatrician both telling me IT'S OK!!! Snuggle that sweet girl and give her formula and give your body a break. I never looked back. 

    Moral of the story, a fed baby is best, and a well taken care of mama is best :) it can be a beautiful natural thing but you're a wonderful mom no matter what! <3

    i already said that for my current pregnancy, I'll certainly try again but if it becomes a stress and I'm pumping around the clock instead of snuggling a baby and playing with my 3 year old, I'll think hard if it's worth it. Our sanity matters too :)
    BlueEyedDreamer
  • Hey ladies, late to the discussion but I can tell you this: A good LC will be able to tell you if you have "normal" breast tissue development or not!! I saw one last week and she felt and measured and said I was good.

    Because my babes are preemies, it makes it a bit more of a challenge. At 21dpp I pump about 750mLs per 24 hour period (my trio eats ~1024mLs total every 24 hours), and that is with all three still in the nicu so limited skin-to-skin (which helps boost supply). They get the rest as formula, and if when they're all home it's too overwhelming to care for everyone and pump 8-10 times a day, then I'll stop and be okay with formula feeding.
    About us:
    Me - 28, Lean PCOS
    DH - 31
    Married June 2010, TTC since March 2014
    Blog: ourbinarystar.com

    FET cycle #3 Transfer July 28th 2016, Triplets born healthy on February 26th 2017 at 33w1d!

  • The whole pressure to breastfeed is a really complicated issue. It's really important to encourage mothers to try if possible and that if you are able it is the best option but also not to pressure or judge those that can't BF (for whatever reason). 
  • Thank you all for your stories and words of encouragement!

    Hoping that I can breastfeed, but it's nice to know that many women go on to formula feed for whatever reason, and their babies are fine! I imagine that I will have some emotional difficulty with that reality, but I know that a FED baby is best. My hubby was not breastfed bc his mother has issues, so I'll be able to talk to her about that as well. I'm sorry that some of you went through hardships, but at the end of the day your babies are perfect and healthy! That's great!

    Thank you again! Y'all are all such strong mamas, and I appreciate your support and advice!
    *TW - Pregnancy mentioned*
    Me: 28 DH: 33, Married May 2014
    3 failed IUIs Dec '15 - Feb '16
    IVF April/May 2016 - 1 failed fresh transfer. 11 snow angels.
    1st FET 7/29/16 = BFP
    Lawson arrived on 4/24/2017 at 7lbs 15oz, 21 1/2 inches long!
    Surprise pregnancy!! Baby #2 due 10/11/18 <3
    tvh1982BlueEyedDreamerAandDM2014
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