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127. IGT Insufficient Glandular Tissue: Navigating Breast and Bottle Feeding, When There Isn't Enough Milk

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Read the full transcript here:

Welcome to the Breezy Babies podcast, where we talk about all things boobs, babies and breastfeeding. This is episode 127. Insufficient glandular tissue. I'm brie the IBCLC and I made Breezy Babies with you in mind to help ease your transition into parenthood. Becoming a parent changes your life and every way imaginable. Bumps in the road are going to come up as you move into your new role, but my goal is to help smooth out those bumps and help you become the most confident parent you can be. With good education and support, I know you can meet your breastfeeding and parenting goals. Let's do this together. Hey there, friend. How are you? How's it going? I hope you are having a great week. We are full on into Christmas mode here at our house. Thanksgiving was just yesterday and all this morning my kids have been decorating the tree and decorating the house and just blasting Christmas music, which they haven't pretty much this whole month, so that's nothing new. But it's so funny, I just let my kids do all the decorating. I'm not a huge fan of decorating for Christmas. I feel like it kind of cluttered my house and I'm always like, oh, we're just going to have to clean this up in a month. So I just handed all over to my kids one year and I said, hey, you guys, you decorate the tree, you decorate the house, you do whatever you want. And they love it and I love it because then I don't have to do it and it works out pretty well. So that's what we're doing at our house. I took a little break from all the Christmas festivities to come and record this podcast episode for you. I am happy to share this episode with you because I feel like this is another topic that's not discussed a whole lot. And you'll see that even my guest for today, she had no idea about this while she was pregnant. Even after having her baby, it took some time to kind of figure this out. Have you heard of IGT before? It stands for insufficient glandular tissue. Now, I'm going to explain what this is if you haven't heard of it before, but first, I want to read this Google review from the Breezy Baby's website. It says, I'm a first time mum and things were overall going well, but we wanted to see what could be done better to make mine and baby's breastfeeding experience more enjoyable. Holly came for an inhome consult and it was so incredibly helpful. We were able to get a much better latch, which took away any pinching or discomfort on latch as well as get to other questions answered. Plus, she was so personable and it made the experience so comfortable. Thank you, Holly and Brezy babies. That was from Megan McRacken of Google Review. Thank you, Megan, for leaving that Google review. I'm so glad that Holly on the Breezy babies team took good care of you. Send me an email brie atbreazybabies.com I would love to send you a free digital download for leaving a review for us. And in case you didn't already know, the Brizy Babies team has three IBCLCS now and it is so fun. I love having other consultants to work with to bounce ideas off of, to help cover consultations to get clients in sooner and it's just been so enjoyable. And just listen to that review. They are doing awesome work. Lex and Holly on my team are doing such great work helping people, helping families just crush their lactation goals. So I love it. Now, before I introduce today's guest to you, I want to tell you that this is a mom who's just like you, which you noticed. I've had a couple of those on my podcast lately, which I love. I love having healthcare professionals on here as guests as well. But sometimes I just love having moms, regular people who are going through this who are in the trenches of breastfeeding. And I think it's so valuable for you to hear from people who are going through the same things that you are or something similar, and it's just so valuable to know that you are not alone in this journey. So my guest today, I'll introduce you to her, but she is seven months postpartum and she is still breastfeeding and she is doing a little bit of combination feeding. So some time at the breast and some time with the bottle. If that sounds like a situation that you are in, then you are going to want to stick around and listen to this podcast episode. She has a great story about how she learned to maximize what she could give to her baby as far as breast milk goes and still find joy in breastfeeding her baby. I am going to introduce you to her. But before we do that, I do want to tell you that today's episode is brought to you by one of my favorite companies in the Lactation Space series. Chill series is a three in one breast milk chiller that makes pumping, storing and feeding a breeze. If you've ever had to pump your milk at work in the middle of the night or while you're away, you know that the frustration of juggling storage bags and frequent trips to the fridge or freezer it can be such a pain. Cerius is a sleek storage system that stores all your milk in one place. It keeps your milk cold for up to 20 hours without any bulky ice packs or Insulated cooler bags. You have to go to the series website just to see how beautiful and durable the double walled stainless steel is. This chiller can hold up to 34oz at a time. It's dishwasher safe, TSA approved. It's even compatible with all major breast pumps so you can pump directly into the chamber. All my pumping friends agree it's truly a game changer. If you pump and store breast milk on the go and I have a discount code for you, you can use code breezy 15 for 15% off@serieschill.com or click the link in the show notes that's cereschill.com. Last thing I want to mention really quick that Lisa, the owner and creator of series, has the biggest heart. She has even been a guest here on the Breezy Babies podcast before. I know you're going to love her products. That's really shaking up the pumping space. All right, let's talk insufficient glandular tissue. Now, if you have ever met with an IBCLC or a lactation consultant before, you may know that sometimes as part of your health history, they will ask you about your breast size while you are pregnant. Before you're pregnant after giving birth, they will ask about things like breast changes. And there's a reason why. One of the major reasons why we want to know about your breast shape, your breast changes throughout pregnancy and after is because of something called IGT or insufficient glandular tissue. Now, if you look up the definition of IGT, if you were to search it, it would say a disorder in which the milk making tissue of the breast does not develop as expected, either in utero, during puberty, and or during pregnancy. It's caused by a variety of factors, including endocrine disorders during any of those life stages. That's from the La  Leche League website. So they want to say if you have several of the following physical signs together, you may have a higher risk of milk supply problems due to IGT. So these are some signs that you could watch for. Number one, if you have more than a four centimeter flat space between breasts. Number two, if one breast is naturally much larger than the other. Number three, if you have tubular shaped breasts, what that means is a breath that has a narrow base and is long rather than a round shape sign. Number four, that you might have supply problems due to IGT is overly large areola, which is that darkened area that is around the nipple. And number five is no breast changes in pregnancy, after birth, or both. Okay? Now, you may have one or more of those signs and you still could have an amazing milk supply. You could have no problems at all. So just because you're listening to this and you're like, oh, yeah, a couple of those apply to me, that does not mean that you for sure are going to have troubles with your milk supply. These are just some things to watch out for. And especially if you're having trouble with your milk supply after giving birth, your lactation consultant is going to look a little bit more closely at IGT, and it may be that for you, a full milk supply is not possible. So if you're listening to this, I want you to hear the story that my guest is sharing today. Her name is Emily and she's going to talk about her personal journey with IDT. Isn't that the best way to hear about it from someone who is personally going through this, personally dealing with it and learn how she is navigating her journey? So I am going to turn the time over to Emily. I don't have a large introduction because like I told you, this is a regular mum like you who's listening to this and I know you're going to love her story. Here is Emily. Hi. My name is Emily. I'm from Jacksonville, Florida. Born and raised. It's one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. It's becoming kind of rare to say you were born and raised. I really enjoy long walks on the beach. I work part time at my church as a college campus missionary and worship leader. I met my husband through campus ministry and we've been married for about three and a half years now. I had our first baby in April this year and she is just amazing. We're absolutely in love. Her name is Kennedy. So my breastfeeding journey started off about as rocky as it can get. I had a very healthy pregnancy, very few symptoms, but my breasts didn't grow. They've always been smaller and I honestly never really thought much about it. My doctors weren't really asking about breast growth during puberty or during pregnancy and so I just wasn't really paying attention, to be honest. I knew nursing would be difficult. I took an online course online, so I had a pretty good understanding of what I was getting into and I just assumed it would work fine eventually. And after getting used to it and everything, after I gave birth to Kennedy, we cluster fed for 6 hours through the night. I knew that was fairly normal, but something didn't seem quite right and I had assumed it had something to do with the tongue and lip tie they did tell me she had that. She was later admitted into the NICU for 24 hours to watch her oxygen level, something unrelated. She ended up being fine, but they had to formula feed her every 3 hours to keep them to keep her on the schedule. They have the babies on a three hour clock and my milk could not come in and I still needed, you know, to top off all of my feedings. And it was just really hard for me. It was stressful. I felt like I needed to catch up to what she was taking in in the NICU. And I really didn't get a good grasp or understanding of how to pump or a pumping relationship, what that looked like with Nicky babies and all that stuff. I was given like a crash course right when they were telling me that we were going to be in the NICU. So I was pretty scared and hormonal and emotional, so I really just wasn't paying attention. I was discharged from the hospital and baby was transferred to NICU. I would nurse and pump occasionally while in NICU, but again, we'd always needed to supplement. Well, we ended up taking her home and still, you know, we cluster fed again for a couple of nights. And, you know, usually by 04:00 A.m., my husband and I, we just looked at each other and decided to go ahead and give her some of the formula we had and she would just gobble it down so quickly. And from there I tried for several weeks to nurse and pump around the clock, but I could never seem to get my supply up enough. I tried all of the foods, I tried the cookies, I power pumped, I triple fed. And finally a fall active consultant. We had lip and Thai tongue revised. She prescribed me some herbs and they didn't work. Nothing worked. Finally, after trying every method to increase my milk supply, she asked about my breast history. Did they grow much during puberty? How about pregnancy? And they didn't, honestly. And that was really the first time that I thought about it or heard like I knew they were supposed to grow. And I remember having some tenderness, but not a ton. It wasn't something that, like, I was commenting on all the time. So she mentioned IGT or insufficient glandular tissue, suggested that I try some go through, which didn't end up working out, unfortunately. So, you know, once that kind of settled in, I have the markers for it. I have the wide set breasts and they're not very round, they're kind of cone like. But honestly, if you look at the pictures and you look at mine, I honestly for a while was like, no, I think they're just small. I don't think that it is IGT, but that's why I think it went so undetected for so long, as I never thought anything of it. But if you've never heard of IGT, you may have heard only two to 3% of women simply can't make enough milk. Well, I am that 2% to 3%. I've read some studies that say that it might actually be a higher percentage because it goes undiagnosed. And many are assuming that it just didn't work out. It was honestly really heartbreaking. I come from a very pro breastfeeding culture, and it was extremely difficult to receive that diagnosis. I became depressed and struggled with so much self hatred. I know I mentioned I work for a church, so I have a relationship with God and I really gosh I really struggled with that. If he created me, then why was I created like this? Why was I created faulty? I may never know that answer, but God works in amazing ways and he hears us. I have a village. I had people showing me that breastfeeding doesn't have to be all or nothing. Combination feeding was possible and a very good option for me. I had many friends donate any of their extra breast milk. And eventually I found a friend who makes so much milk that she was able to donate everything that I am not able to make. So though I can't breastfeed exclusively, my baby is exclusively breastfed for all intents and purposes and I am very, very thankful about that. Meanwhile, I've been on the search to find out more about IGT and to make more aware of this condition. People don't know about it and it's really, really difficult for them to understand it. I can't tell you how many people told me, you should be able to do it. Just drink coconut water. You're probably dehydrated. And I'm thinking like, Yo, it's not dehydration, OK? I promise they're not working right. They don't do that. But I am seven months postpartum and still nursing, which I didn't think I would be doing. I was positive that Kennedy would start to prefer the bottle at this point, but she doesn't. She still uses her mouth to hit me in the shoulder to try to nurse. She still loves to nurse. But it's these key tips that helped me to keep going, even if it's not IGT and you are struggling to make enough milk for another reason, or you've just decided combination feeding is better for your mental health, these tips should still help. So the first tip is this is a basic one that you maybe already heard. If you spend a lot of time in the lactation space and our combination feeding, or just bottle feeding with your pumped breast milk, it's premium and paste feeding. So this alone with a Dr. Brown bottle, I have a brand preference, but that's just me with a premium. And this alone may have saved us. It's something we learned really early on. When you breastfeed, your flow is a little bit slower than with a bottle with a size one nipple. And I've seen those drip it's fast. And mine is probably even slower because of the IGT. Another option is if you want, well, the premium, sorry, I had myself, the premium slows down the flow from a bottle. So if you wanted to use a bottle while combination feeding, highly, highly recommend the premium if you are really wanting that breastfeeding nursing relationship, because I hate pumping if I can avoid it at all costs. That was the one thing I said. I don't want to exclusively pump. That's just me. I know some people love it, I don't. But the other option is the SMS or supplemental nursing system. I had this suggested to me as well, and I did like it for a while, but it can get a little bit tricky and a little bit annoying, so it's not really for me. I stopped using it a while ago. But that is another option if you want to keep baby at breast at all times, is to have the SNS. And it's what it is, is a bottle or a bag connected to a tube and you can sort of control the flow a little bit, but essentially you're able to attach the tube to your breast and have baby suckle at breast, but also getting the supplementation through the tube. And so that was a really good option. Again, I used the bottle. Once I figured out that she was going back and forth between bottle and breast really well, I said, okay, we're okay. My second tip is to come up with a good schedule for when you nurse and when you bottle feed. I recommend to not bottle feed at every nursing session. Once I figured out how many ounces I can make per day and how many she needed supplemented, I decided to divide that into four bigger bottles throughout the day and nurse at separate times, sometimes even in separate spaces. Like nursing in her nursery right when I pick her up from a nap and then moving into the living room to take a bottle. But like I said, I would do four bigger bottles and then I would nurse eight to twelve times throughout the day. You start the day nursing and end the day nursing and then just kind of every hour and a half, 2 hours. It helped me emotionally not feel like I was topping off every time I nursed because that was really hard. That was destroying my mental health. Once those bottles were starting to get pretty big, I was like, I do not want to feed her a four ounce bottle right after I nurse. You know, that was making me feel, no pun intended, insufficient, but it was also ensuring that she gained enough weight, stay on her curve, and helped us discover an extremely satisfying and gratifying nursing relationship. It made it so much more than just feeding and calories, but it became like a really sweet relationship between us. And I'm so thankful that I ended up continuing to nurse. And then also, along with the same tip, I kind of learned my breasts. I figured out when to maximize when I'm making more milk, because those sessions are going to be a little bit more enjoyable, they're a little bit longer. As opposed to these the evening sessions or late afternoon sessions that are, you know, I'm not making as much, they can be a little bit more frustrating. I know that milk is fattier or thicker maybe, and so it's just harder for her to draw it out. So, you know, I kind of space that one out longer and then I nurse more frequently in the morning during the day. And then my third tip is to choose your mental health every time. Kennedy is a good sleeper. With or without swaddle in or out of our room. She slept through the night pretty early without a sleep training. We really didn't do anything. I knew once she started sleeping through the night that my milk supply would go down even more and that I would need to continue to pump in the middle of the night or wake her up. But here's the thing. I'm already dealing with the fresh trauma that there's a chance I could never breastfeed exclusively like I want to. I'm dealing with either regular postpartum depression and healing from that from postpartum anyway. And on top of it, I'm sleep deprived. And if I knew that I would be able to produce a full supply, then it would be no question I would wake up and pump and deal with it. But, you know, I chose sleep and I chose my mental health. In this situation, it might not be for everybody. You might be able to deal with the sleep deprivation and have healthy mental health. But I knew for me, it certainly wasn't helping to wake up. So I chose my mental health and it made a difference. I call it my consolation prize. I had to sleep through the night. At least with this baby. I chose to be thankful for that. And what's better is that through trial and error and experimentation, I discovered that I didn't drop as much as I thought I thought I was going to. And so I'm able to do our first feeding with no top off. And I don't have to introduce a bottle until like the mid to late morning after her first nap because she's satisfied in that first two, three nursing sessions. And I just relish in that. And then I start to introduce those bottles and we move on with the rest of our day. But I just had to pick my wins. I had to take those and be thankful for them and be thankful for those sweet moments when she's holding my finger with her whole hand and we're nursing. And those moments were important for me. So I am thankful that I am still nursing despite all of the challenges we've been through. But if you're struggling to make enough milk, I hope you can take these tips with you. I hope that these help you. I hope that you can find sufficiency in knowing that you are everything that your baby needs and more. You've been given everything that you need and you are enough. So I hope these tips helped you. Thank you, Brianne, for having me on. Okay, goodbye. Okay. Isn't Emily so great? I loved her recording so much. Even the very end, I just couldn't even edit or change the ending because I loved everything about it. So hopefully after listening to Emily, you have learned that, yes, some women cannot have a full milk supply to exclusively breastfeed their baby. But I hope that more importantly, you learn that it's not all or nothing. Okay? Combo feeding can be a great option. I love how she had a friend who donated her breast milk to fill in the gaps. That can be a great option for some families. And sometimes people don't even know that that is an option. So I love hearing about her experience again. Those top three tips for number one, pace bottle feed. Number two, balance nursing and bottle feeding for you. And number three, choose mental health every time. I love it. Thank you so much for listening in to the Breezy Babies podcast today. I will be back next Tuesday for more goodies. If you love this podcast, I would so appreciate if you could leave me a review in Apple podcast that would help me out so much and I hope you have a great week. Of course I'm going to leave you with. You are strong, you are smart, you are beautiful, you're a good friend to all. Talk to you next time. Bye.

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