As many know, I am a breastfeeding advocate. Little did I know, I knew so little. A friend of mine who has always been supportive to all breastfeeding discussions on my website and fan page on facebook let me have a look into the world of IGT. IGT stands for Insufficient Glandular Tissue or Hypoplasia. I beg of anyone who has ever thought they are not producing enough milk supply or having problems, read this interview and reach out for help! It is not as uncommon as one might think. Breastfeeding in itself is a hard task to take on and takes tears and dedication to say the least. I now know more and hope I can help others look into options as new Mom’s if they seem to have trouble with their breastfeeding.
Thank you Tyne for talking to us today about IGT Breastfeeding and your story. To be honest even as a breastfeeding advocate, until I saw you talking about IGT, I was 100% clueless. Let me first make the readers who may not be familiar with the term IGT (as I was not myself) clear on what it is. IGT is Hypoplasia/Insufficient Glandular Tissue. This means that the breasts for one or multiple reasons, maybe not be producing enough milk let alone any milk for your newborn to breastfeed. This does not mean that breastfeeding can not occur. With a little research, some support, and guidance, it can be done very easily and keep that bond between Mother and child.
Please introduce yourself and your son to the Mommy By Nurture readers.
“I am 30 years old and Sammy is my first baby, born on April 6th, he is almost 5 months old. I am a conservation biologist, and worked with rehab manatees before going on leave to have him.”
Now, I know you are very “all natural” when it comes to having and raising your son. Did you know anything about IGT before becoming pregnant or before your son was born?
“I had heard about it once, but was not very familiar with it.”
I know the first few week, sometimes months, are difficult for breastfeeding Moms. How soon did you realize something was not quite going right with your feeding sessions? Were you formally diagnosed?
“Sammy is a good eater, he has a great latch and did not have lip or tongue ties, but he was extremely fussy the first 2 weeks, and when we went to his 2 week check-up with the pediatrician we found out he was only 5lb 12oz, a pound under his birth weight. He was very skinny in appearance.”
“I was not formally diagnosed, but researching IGT and seeing images it is very clear that is what I have. I will say I was very surprised that over the years of annual exams and asking about my breasts it was never mentioned that I might have IGT. From reading discussions in the IGT/Low Supply support group it sounds like many other women have faced this as well. It’s not well known.”
I have read that lack of growth in breasts during or after pregnancy can mean signs of IGT, did you personally have any growth you noticed while pregnant or any signs that are normally listed on IGT resource websites to even hint breastfeeding might be a challenge?
“I had no growth during my pregnancy, the only change was that my nipples got slightly darker. I was able to hand express small drops of colostrum during pregnancy.They also did not grow after giving birth, my milk came in about 3-4 days later. I was able to hand express a few drops and they would drip sometimes, which I think is a let down. I don’t get any sensations for let downs.”
What were your first reactions to realizing you were suffering from IGT? How was your husband there to support you through this?
“I was heartbroken to know that I could not exclusively breastfeed. In order to sufficiently feed my son I was going to have to supplement. One of the great things about breastfeeding is once you get the hang of it, it’s relatively easy, there is no mixing, measuring or warming, no washing bottles, you have what you need on you at all times!”
“Fortunately Kyle has been very supportive, especially about using donor milk. Not everyone is comfortable with that. He was also helpful when I was learning how to latch Sammy and make sure the tube was in his mouth which is difficult with a wiggly and fussy newborn.”
I know you have support from Nyssa Retter who also blogs about the topic, how were you originally put in contact with her? How has she been able to help you with the topic of IGT?
“Haddie, one of the midwives who delivered Sammy, put me in touch with her. She has been a great help in answering questions and being supportive of our challenges.”
You are very open and willing to share about this topic, did you at any point feel isolated and alone? Has your family been supportive of your breastfeeding in general?
“My family has been supportive of breastfeeding, my sister-in-law exclusively breastfed my niece, who is now almost 7.”
Was there any time you felt like giving up, if so, what got you over that barrier?
“Yes, the first weeks and months are challenging enough, especially with your first baby, and I was very tired and would easily get frustrated and upset that my body was not working the way it was supposed to. But I know that breastfeeding is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your child, and “selfishly” I know there are benefits for me as well. Also, I’m just stubborn and don’t give up easily.”
At one point you had made a mention that Medela who makes breast pumps, made the supplemental device. What is this called and how do you go about getting this? Is it covered by insurance or available as easily as regular pumps?
“I am not sure if it’s covered by insurance, but I bought my SNS on amazon.com and had it delivered the next day. This was the day of our 2 week check-up, I didn’t want to use bottles before we had established breastfeeding. You can even make your own. I have some feeding tubes and you can use a milk storage bottle with a tube running through the lid and it will work in a similar manner.”
We are including some beautiful photos of you nursing your son, how long does it take you to set up feeding with this device, taping on, and prepping? Are you currently using a formula, donation milk, or your own? Do you or have you ever pumped?
“Usually what takes the longest is waiting for the donor milk to warm up, so it can be up to 10ish minutes. I try to always wash the SNS when we finish a feeding so it’s ready to go for the next time. I am very fortunate to live in a great community with Rosemary Birthing Home (where I had Sammy) and the midwives have been great with helping me locate mommas with donor milk. I have had to use formula, the first time I did I cried, but we were low on donor milk and Sammy has to eat.”
Do you still feel that connective bond to your son with the tube? Some women are so nervous of not having a bond they feel an overwhelming devastation if breastfeeding does not “take” right away, yet I’m sad to say most may never have been diagnosed with IGT and therefore missing out on learning there are options.
“I do feel very close to him, and fortunately he’s good at eating and doesn’t mind the tube, just as long as he’s getting fed! The best moments are when I can feed him without having to use the SNS. My right side produces much better, so I don’t have to use the SNS when he nurses on that side. I love being able to cuddle him and feed him at the same time.”
What have you personally learned from living this experience? Will you continue to use the supplemental device until Sammy weans?
“I have learned that there are things I can do during pregnancy to potentially grow more tissue and hopefully not have to supplement as much. I am not sure if we will continue to use it, I am hoping that when he starts eating solid foods maybe what I make will be able to sustain him, or that we won’t have to supplement quite as much.”
“Also, that I don’t like taking pills! I take a lot of herbs in addition to prenatal vitamins. I take fenugreek, alfalfa to help with let downs, goat’s rue to help grow tissue and Domperidome (a drug with the side effect of increased milk production).”
Do you currently keep him to a feeding schedule or feed on demand? Do you only use the supplemental device at home or do you take it on the go with you?
“We feed on demand, which can be hectic when he gets hungry and fussy, and we have to wait for the milk to warm up. Depending on where I’m going I will take it with me, since there is a bit of set-up involved if we are going out to a restaurant I will bring a back-up bottle. I do pump but not that often, I prefer to nurse. I let him breastfeed first and if he’s still hungry offer the bottle. If I’m going to family or friends I take the SNS.”
Now to the part we all love the most while supporting our breastfeeding mothers, what is the most ignorant thing someone has said to you about breastfeeding or IGT as a topic? I love how supportive you are for my campaign to bring social awareness to the topic but we all know we have the haters out there!
“Why didn’t I just bottle feed since I couldn’t breastfeed. Sigh, very hurtful. Also many people would say, well, I didn’t make enough milk, it’s no big deal, you just give them formula. But it was a big deal, I wanted to be able to EBF.”
If there is one thing you wish you had known before giving birth about breastfeeding as a whole, what would that be?
“I do wish I had been better educated about the potential issues. I think they do not want to scare women ahead of time and try to encourage a positive attitude, but I feel like we might have been saved some heartache to know ahead of time that I should be looking for donor milk, and that way my son wouldn’t have been hungry the first few weeks of his life.”
Thank you so much for sharing your story and allowing us to view the beautiful photos of you and your son! I appreciate you letting me learn about the topic so I can help educate others. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
“Stick with it! what ever your breastfeeding challenges may be, it’s worth it to keep at it!!”
Author: Nichole Arnold
I’m the owner of Mommy Needs a Bottle . I’m a 30- something wine enthusiast that resides in Tampa, FL. I love family traditions, traveling, cooking, baking, reading, fashion, tattoos, beauty products, and being a Mommy! I have a background in marketing, public relations, copywriting, and sales.