Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I Have Undersupply, & Seeing Your Breast Milk Is Honestly Triggering

Ad failed to load

When my daughter started to prefer the bottle to the breast and decided to self-wean at six months, I was devastated. I had hoped she would follow in her brother’s footsteps and breastfeed for at least a year. But while losing the breastfeeding bonding time was hard, what I found even more difficult was the fact that breast milk was out of her diet for good. Once I stopped nursing her, no matter how often I tried to pump, I’d be lucky to get 6 ounces after a whole day of trying. I could pump a few ounces here and there, but certainly not enough to keep up with her appetite. I would see friends post pictures featuring freezers full of breastmilk, and it filled me with disappointment in my body and envy over theirs. I was insanely jealous of moms with oversupply because I couldn’t produce enough.

Breastfeeding had never come easily for me. I thought I had it made when my first baby latched before we were even in the recovery room, but it turned out that was simply a patch of good luck in a very long and rocky road ahead. I watched the newborn chubbiness fade within weeks as I struggled to breastfeed. We dealt with an abnormal amount of cluster feeding, which a nurse said could be linked to the baby trying to increase my supply.

As soon as I heard this, it filled me with doubt about my body’s own abilities. I had always heard that you would be able to produce enough for your baby, and there was no need to worry that they weren’t getting enough. Even the nurse assured me that the cluster feeding should help him start getting what he needed. But whenever I needed to pump a bottle when I was going out for an evening, it was nearly impossible. How could he possibly be getting enough when I was only able to pump a four-ounce bottle on the absolute best of days — and usually got no more than two ounces?

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Gemma Hartley

I convinced myself that I was probably just one of those moms who couldn’t pump for one reason or another. To a degree, that was true: my body didn’t respond the same way to a pump as it did to my baby, and I seemed to produce more when I was actually breastfeeding. But how much more? I would wonder. Is it enough?

I wished I didn’t have to worry about my tiny babies every time a stranger remarked that it “didn’t look like I was feeding that kid.” I wished I had oversupply. I wished for it often.
Ad failed to load

My babies always stayed on the low end of the growth chart. My daughter, who was the most voracious of the three, was only in the 25th percentile. My sons always lingered in the 10th to 15th percentiles, making me sick with anxiety every time they went on a feeding strike or became ill with a cold that tamped down their appetites. They never had the sweet baby rolls and chub that I saw on my friends’ babies. There was hardly a single crease on any of them.

Their pediatrician never showed any worry with their low weight because they stayed on their growth lines, always healthy and getting ever so slightly bigger at every check-up. Yet I couldn’t help but wonder if they should be this small. If I didn’t have such low supply at the beginning, I wondered, would they be bigger?

Courtesy of Gemma Hartley
Ad failed to load

I saw friends who complained about oversupply. I looked at their roly-poly babes and wondered how on earth they could complain about such a thing. I could see the downside, of course, and I know that many of my friends have struggled with the uncomfortable effects of oversupply, but wasn't the benefit of having a visibly healthy baby worth it? I wished I could grab a bag of milk from the freezer to give my babies when they were sick and refusing the breast. I wished I had the option of going out of town for a few nights without worrying about buying formula and wondering if my supply would completely dry up overnight. I wished I didn’t have to worry about my tiny babies every time a stranger remarked that it “didn’t look like I was feeding that kid.” I wished I had oversupply. I wished for it often.

Had I simply focused on my own body and my own babies without comparing myself against others, I would have made it through those first years with a lot less heartache and insecurity.

I knew my jealousy was irrational. My babies were fine. They were growing. Even though my daughter had given up breastfeeding, she was formula feeding and perfectly content. Yet it was still hard to give up the insecurity I felt about not producing enough. Those freezers full of milk photos posted jokingly on Facebook with quips about being a dairy cow felt like a slap in the face. Why can’t I do that? I would think.

Ad failed to load

I wish, looking back, that I had never fed into that comparison game. There was no point in being jealous of another mom’s milk. It feels silly now to even say it out loud. Had I simply focused on my own body and my own babies without comparing myself against others, I would have made it through those first years with a lot less heartache and insecurity. My body did just fine. I only wish I had realized it sooner.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Umm, Toys "R" Us Has A BOGO 50 Percent Off Deal So You Better Stock Up

After the holidays, you were probably hoping that your kid's massive toy collection would keep him entertained for a little while, at least. But that was wishful thinking, wasn't it? Because now that a couple of months have passed, all those must-hav…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

A Hot Mess Mom's Guide To Surviving Winter

As I sit here at my home office in Connecticut, it's cold. Damn cold. Winter is a rough season in New England and it's even worse when you're a parent and have to manage cooped up, restless children. It's even worse when you're a hot mess as it is, u…
By Jamie Kenney

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

8 Reasons I Let My Toddler Play Outside Unsupervised

I'm not a helicopter mom, but I'm not exactly a free-range parent either. I like to think of myself as safely ensconced somewhere in the middle. I insist on certain safety measures, like car seats and helmets. I prefer to keep my 2-year-old in my sig…
By Kimmie Fink

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack