What I want you to know about having Hypoplasia

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Anonymous.

When I was in 6th or 7th grade, I read The Body Book while at a friends house. You know, the American Girl book about your changing body. One of the topics was about your breasts and how it is common to have breasts that are different sizes. Well, once I finally started developing, mine seemed to be different shapes and sizes from each other. It wasn't that big of a deal for a while, I just wore padded bras. But once I got into my 20's and gained some weight, it became very noticeable. My right breast is a DD and "normal" looking while my left one is an A-B. It looks relatively normal on the top/above the nipple, but underneath there is hardly any tissue.

This was an annoying and embarrassing problem but not one I thought about that much until right before I gave birth to my son. A few weeks before, my midwife mentioned to me that she thought it looked like I had hypoplasia of the breast or insufficient glandular tissue. This means that instead of having mammary tissue in my breasts (used to produce breast milk) I just have fatty tissue. So not only do my breasts look weird, but they don't function normally either.

We didn't know what type of impact this would have on breastfeeding. Based on all the books I read on breast feeding and stories I have heard, I naively assumed that I would be able to breastfeed my son. Before and after he was born, I pumped and pumped hoping to get something. After about 4 days I got about 1/2 ounce of milk and was so excited. I kept pumping and breastfeeding him, because I was told that's what I should do to get my supply built up. However, he was not getting enough. It took way longer than it should have for me to realize that this was not the best thing for my son, because he wasn't being fed what he needed. We eventually started supplementing with formula and I kept pumping and nursing him too until he was 6 months old. Then I finally gave up and just gave him formula.

I'm pregnant with our second child now and want to go straight into giving him or her formula and not deal with the stress and feelings of failure that come from attempting to breast feed. I don't want to have another child in the hospital for 3 days with jaundice because they weren't getting enough to eat.

I want you to know that I would love more than anything to be able to breast feed my children. I feel like a failure as a mom and like less of a woman for not having "good boobs" and not being able to breastfeed. I want you to know that your well meaning words of advice ("increase your frequency of nursing," or "pump every hour for 30 minutes" etc) are more hurtful than helpful. If something worked to allow me to breastfeed, I would. I want you to know that just because a mom is giving her baby formula doesn't mean she wants to. It might be her only choice and is the best way for her to care for her child. Please don't judge a mom who is taking care of her baby - whether she is breastfeeding in public or giving him a bottle in public. We need to support and affirm each other.

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