Understanding how Women with Low Milk Supply Experience Breastfeeding
Background. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 20 women worldwide are unable to successfully lactate and provide adequate nutrition for their infants through their breast milk alone. This resultant failure of lactation puts the infant at risk for insufficient growth as well as for serious and potentially disabling and life-threatening complications. The purpose of this dissertation is to summarize the known risks associated with lactation failure that can preclude successful lactation despite adequate maternal motivation, knowledge, support, and breastfeeding technique; and understand how women with low milk supply experience breastfeeding. Although there is no clear way to predict who will experience lactation failure, this knowledge better enables healthcare providers to identify the known primary causes of lactation failure which may help prevent early failure to thrive in the infant and be able to better care for the mother-baby dyad when it occurs. Purpose. To understand how women with low milk supply experience breastfeeding. Methods. Using a phenomenological approach in this qualitative study, one-time in-depth interviews were conducted with 11 participants who were recruited by purposive sampling via a support social media group, “IGT and Low Milk Supply Support Group”. The interviews were analyzed using van Manen’s hermeneutic methodology to uncover themes among the interviews. Results. Experiences of breastfeeding with low milk supply revealed six thematic categories: loss of an expectation; the emotional aftermath; failure of my body; searching for answers; the hamster wheel; and making it work. Conclusion. The experiences of these mothers reflect the importance of acknowledging the frustration, disappointment, guilt, and self-blame that mothers may feel when confronted with a diagnosis of low milk supply and the importance of the healthcare provider’s role in supporting and caring for the mother.
low milk supply