You will have listened actively and passively if you have just become a mother or are going to be one soon: “We can all give the tit.” You may have even received words that were meant to be encouragement if you couldn’t give it: “Keep trying, stimulate yourself more. Have you tried the breast pump?” It is a mantra repeated ad nauseam that may have made sense at the time to favor breastfeeding over formula milk. But that has ended up becoming a punchy phrase that can generate feelings of guilt in those mothers who cannot or do not want to breastfeed. And that, furthermore, is not true. Because no, not all women can breastfeed.
“So much tit?” “And that baby, is that you didn’t have milk?” This is how it is to put up with the opinions of others when you breastfeed your baby
There are multiple reasons for choosing one way or another to feed a newborn baby. Pain, choice, unavailability, comfort … All should be freely chosen by the mother and respected. Among these reasons, a still little known problem may also enter: hypogalactia, which consists of having a low or no production of breast milk. Although there are few studies, it is estimated that it affects between 4 and 5% of women. The causes can be multiple: hypothyroidism, fertility problems, polycystic ovary syndrome, breast surgeries or hypoplastic breast [un crecimiento irregular de los pechos y poco tejido mamario] are some of the determining factors in this pathology.
“The mantra of ‘We can all breastfeed’ is not real. There are women who cannot breastfeed and that is not why they are less mothers,” explains Alba Padró, lactation consultant and co-founder of LactApp. “Hypogalactia is a fact, it is there; there are still few studies, but there is an incidence of between 4 and 5% of women who suffer from it, related to other types of poorly addressed diseases,” continues Padró, who defends that the decision breastfeeding should be exclusively from the mother.
“To begin with, not all women want to breastfeed and that is very good. But even if they want to, sometimes it is not possible. Good because they cannot bear the pain, although in that case it would be necessary to see what it is. is causing, or because they have to return to work. The problem with hypogalactia is that many women want to breastfeed with it, and we have been sold the message that we can all when that is not true, “he says.
The pressure on women is what most worries Pilar Lobato, a retired midwife from the public system. “Of course, hypogalactia is a reality and in the consultations we should know it. One of the most common causes is hypothyroidism, but not only. There may be psychological or hormonal components,” he says. In her consultation she attended to many women in this situation and what stands out the most is the need to relieve tensions: “It seems that a woman is only a mother if she breastfeeds to infinity and beyond, and that is not the case. Too much pressure on women with the tit. If your option is another, they will crush you and you will have a bad time, “he denounces, and goes further:” As always, it is a very unknown subject, which has not been investigated because what affects women is of no interest or less interest “.
The diagnosis that does not arrive
In many cases the diagnosis never comes. This is the case of Marta Azabal, mother of two twins born almost four years ago. They never told her about hypogalactia but she noticed that breastfeeding was not working. “I had very little milk, hardly anything came out. The girls had mixed breastfeeding scheduled from the beginning and I tried to put them on my breast, but nothing came out there. With the breast pump it came out very little. So I endured breastfeeding for about a month and a half, no more. For me breastfeeding was a horror, “he says.
Beatriz had the same negative experience, although in her case she was diagnosed: “Although it is difficult to confirm everything indicates that I have mammary hypoplasia and a very low milk production. I tried with all my might to give exclusive breastfeeding but I did not succeed. I didn’t give up until the evidence on the scale: my baby was losing weight, “she says. Even so, she had to put up with all kinds of comments: “I heard a lot of advice about what to try, the breast pump, powerful extractions and books from pediatricians who never breastfed or never had a woman around with hypogalactia,” he says.
He also believes that Irene del Nuevo may have hypogalactia, although it was never confirmed to her. “After my son was born, it took a long time to raise my milk. He took me out with a breast pump, I even took drugs to increase production … but nothing. I spent two months setting the alarm clock at night to express milk,” he says. Despite the fact that she told the medical staff, they never even told her about the possibility of having hypogalactia. “I kept taking the shots, I was determined to get it, they did tests and everything but things didn’t work and they never diagnosed anything. But I’ll keep the good part, which is having been able to breastfeed my baby even a little bit” reflects Irene.
In Alba Padró’s breastfeeding consultancies they receive many cases like these, although she herself admits that it is a biased data because women who have problems with their breastfeeding attend especially. This expert points out that, although health personnel are more and more trained, there is still a lot of room for improvement: “Now there are more midwives and professionals who prepare well for breastfeeding, but there is still much to improve. We need a system that puts into practice the center to women and accompany them in their decisions, “he defends.