Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

12 Reasons Why I Blamed Myself For Having Undersupply

Ad failed to load

In an effort to promote exclusive breastfeeding as the optimal way to feed babies, we seem to have forgotten that it's not always easy or even possible for some people to do it. Unfortunately, in our "breast is best" culture, we hear a lot about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, but little (or nothing) about what to do when it doesn't work out. As a result, I blamed myself and struggled with depression and self-hatred over what was and was not coming out of my breasts. Sadly, there were many reasons why I blamed myself for having undersupply.

It never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to produce enough breast milk to feed my babies. Literally everything I read about breastfeeding said that undersupply was rare. Books, articles, classes and websites about breastfeeding cite statistics that seem so small (usually 1 percent or 5 percent), implying that those statistics mean that undersupply is "rare" and not likely to be something new moms have to worry about. It turns out that this figure is bullsh*t. I'm not joking. Seriously, there's no way to measure how many people will not be able to produce enough breast milk, because lactation is complex, requiring the right physiological conditions to exist (in both mom and baby), and can be impacted by so many things, including medical conditions, social pressures, previous trauma, support, mental health, sleep, time, nutrition, and hydration, just to name a few. Some experts estimate that 10 to 15 percent of women suffer from overt lactation failure, and as many as 40 to 60 percent of moms experience undersupply. However, if you think about it, even if it's true that only 1 percent of people who try to lactate have undersupply, that figure could represent millions of people.

We need to talk about undersupply, not just because it's a reality for so many people, but because the myth that it is rare and that almost anyone can breastfeed is really ableist, privileged, and anti-feminist. It can be really damaging and dangerous, causing moms to accidentally starve their newborns and seriously impacting their mental health. Above all, moms deserve to know that their ability as a mother is not measured in ounces of breast milk or the physical ability to lactate. It's just not. I don't blame myself for needing contacts, being short, or having rheumatoid arthritis, but for so many reasons I blamed myself for having undersupply. This has to stop.

Ad failed to load

Everyone Said It Was "Rare"


When I couldn't produce enough breast milk, I felt so alone and like there must be something wrong with me. Now, years later, I have heard from thousands of people who had undersupply. It's not rare, and repeating this lie when someone is expressing fear, asking for help, or telling you about their experience is a form of gaslighting. It wasn't until I had my second child that I was diagnosed with insufficient glandular tissue and was told that no matter what I did I would not produce enough. That diagnosis allowed me to forgive myself.

I'd Been Brainwashed By "Breast Is Best"

I thought I had to breastfeed my daughter or I was failing at being a mom. I tortured myself for months to produce a couple of ounces of breast milk a day. It was not worth it, but I thought I had to do what was "best," even when breast wasn't best for us.

I Felt Like It Was My Fault My Baby Starved

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

In her first five days of life, my baby didn't get enough to eat. Everyone told me my latch was perfect, and she was getting enough, but then she lost 20 percent of her birth weight and had to be admitted to the NICU. I felt like it was my fault. I had failed somehow.

Ad failed to load

I Supplemented With Formula

All of my friends said that formula would ruin my baby, ruin our "breastfeeding relationship," ruin my supply, ruin her tiny tummy, and ruin her health. However, and regardless of those messages, I had to supplement to nourish her. I thought those few bottles of formula she got at the hospital caused my undersupply. As it turns out, research shows that babies who receive supplemental feeds in the hospital are often breastfed for longer. And, as I discovered when my son was born, it's possible to combo-feed with both formula and breast milk in the long term.

I Was Too Tired To Keep Up With Triple Feeding

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I still shudder when I think about the months I spent breastfeeding, pumping, and supplementing with a supplemental nursing system about every hour. I did this around the clock to "boost" my supply. It was exhausting, and I couldn't keep up.

Everyone Had Advice

Everyone who learned that I was supplementing with formula gave me advice about how to increase my supply. Many times one person's or professional's advice directly conflicted with another's. It was impossible to do everything and at a certain point I gave up trying.

Ad failed to load

I Couldn't Afford More Supplements And Prescription Drugs To Boost My Supply


I literally spent hundreds of dollars on herbal supplements, foods, beverages, and even a prescription drug that is restricted by the FDA due to side effects to increase my supply. Ironically, I spent way more money trying to breastfeed than I did on formula.

My Chart Literally Said "Lactation Failure"

There's nothing quite like seeing your midwife write, "stopped breastfeeding due to lactation failure" on your chart. I cried for days.

I Eventually Stopped Breastfeeding

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I eventually decided to switch to formula full-time, but when I did, I heard words like "gave up," "failed," "should have tried harder," and "bad mom" from my friends, co-workers, family members, and the voices in my head. I even heard these things from other moms with undersupply who chose to continue breastfeeding.

Ad failed to load

I Thought Breastfeeding Was All Or Nothing

I didn't know combo feeding was a thing that people did, even though by the time their babies are 6 months old, almost 80 percent of breastfeeding moms supplement with infant formula. Why aren't we talking about this and offering them advice and support on how to combo feed? I pretty much made it up as I went along, didn't tell many people that I wasn't "exclusively breastfeeding," and even hid in the bathroom to give my daughter bottles.

People Told Me How Selfish I Was


It's hard to imagine a situation when you'd call another person selfish for having a medical condition, but people did it all of the time when they learned I had undersupply,. Then they questioned whether or not I actually had it.

Depression Lies

Postpartum depression was a lying b*tch. She told me I was a bad mom and convinced me that my undersupply was caused by one bottle of formula, one dose of Benadryl at the hospital before my milk even came in, and ultimately not trying hard enough. One contributing factor to postpartum depression, for some people, is breastfeeding not working out.

This doesn't mean that we should stop trying to breastfeed babies. I love breastfeeding, it just means that we need to start talking about undersupply, letting moms know that they aren't alone, and offering practical ideas for safely feeding their babies. Maybe then moms with undersupply will stop blaming themselves, and realize that babies thrive on love and can be nourished in many different ways. Fed is best.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

13 Unique (& Totally Not Mainstream) Mother's Day Gifts For The Hipster Mom

Hipsters thrive on being outside the norm and not really digging anything considered "mainstream." Whether it's in their fashion, what music they listen to, the books they read, or how they enjoy beverages, there's just something that makes them dist…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills