Why is Breastfeeding Like a Hot Wing Eating Contest?

I am so very grateful to be able to share this guest post from a wonderful and inspiring woman, Nyssa Retter, who took my classes in her third pregnancy and has inspired me ever since. Please check out her blog which chronicles her journey with IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue).

Breastfeeding Problems:

Why is Breastfeeding Like a Hot Wing Eating Contest?

I can’t remember where I read/heard/saw this, but a study was done using chicken wings. One group was told to eat as many chicken wings as they possibly could, and were left alone, the second group was told to eat as many wings as they possibly could, and they had an audience cheering them on. The group with the cheering section ate TWICE as many wings as the group without a cheering section.

Now, apply that to breastfeeding. Or more specifically, apply it to breastfeeding when mom or baby is experiencing problems. How long would you keep going without anyone cheering you on?

Here’s my story:

When I found myself unexpectedly expecting at the age of 19, breastfeeding wasn’t even a question. I KNEW I would breastfeed, I’ve always known I would breastfeed. I assumed breastfeeding would come naturally; I was a mammal, after all. And thinking things would come naturally, I did nothing to prepare.

My son was born at 41 weeks, and latched on like a pro right from the get-go. But then, he became jaundiced, and his bilirubin numbers just kept rising despite constant nursing. I was discharged from the hospital, but my baby had to stay behind.

I had a single manual pump, and I pumped my little heart out, but I got more blood (gag!) than milk. I was only able to visit my son once a day because I was at the mercy of others to bring me to the hospital, and once I was there, I was only able to hold him and nurse him for half an hour before he had to go back under the lights.

An eternity (or a week) later, his bilirubin levels were low enough for him to come home! Armed with a starter-SNS, my pump, and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, I attempted to rebuild my milk supply. We spent hours skin-to-skin nursing, but my supply wasn’t getting any better. To make matters worse, I was living with my boyfriend’s parents, people I hardly knew, and my boyfriend’s mother didn’t believe breastfeeding was enough and would slip my month old son 8 oz. bottles of formula while I was in the shower! I had no one in my corner. Discouraged by my low milk supply, I gave up breastfeeding entirely by the time my son was 2 months old, and sank into a deep depression.

Fast forward 4 years later. My husband and I were expecting our first baby together, and I was determined to get breastfeeding right this time. I read all the books. I bought a double electric breast pump. I made sure I met with a lactation consultant before I left the hospital. When I noticed my daughter was becoming jaundiced, I almost had a panic attack! But her jaundice wasn’t nearly as severe, and she was able to come home with me.

But, once again, problems arose. I found “brick dust” uric acid crystals in her diaper, and she wasn’t pooping. Worried about her bilirubin levels, I started supplementing right away. I couldn’t get in to see the Lactation Consultant because she was on vacation. Nursing was excruciating, but I managed to power through it for 8 weeks, when the pain miraculously stopped. I was still experiencing low milk supply, and haunted the hospital LC. She couldn’t give me any answers. I asked for an SNS, and she told me not to bother. I choked down hand-fulls of herbs. My husband was supportive in his way, allowing me to buy whatever concoction I thought might help my milk supply, but I could have used more encouraging words. I had no breastfeeding friends. I was all alone in my struggles. I weaned by 8 months.

Ten months later, and I’m pregnant again. Once again determined to make breastfeeding work. I was choking down handfuls of herbs already, hoping to grow some more breast tissue (because I suspected I had IGT and wasn’t taking any chances.) Found a midwife, because I knew if I planned a hospital birth, I would give in to the epidural, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with breastfeeding. I worried the entire pregnancy about milk supply, praying it would just WORK this time. Bought a better pump. Had a wonderful natural birth, latched my new daughter on right away. We still had issues with low milk supply, but things were so much different. I was, and still am, surrounded by people who care and keep me motivated! I have breastfeeding friends to talk to, and friends who have donated milk to us. I have my own cheering squad at Maternally Yours. I have my online support group. I have support, and lots of it. My baby turned 1 a few weeks ago, and we’re still going strong!

If you are breastfeeding, I urge you to seek out support whether you have problems or not, but ESPECIALLY if you’re having problems. Find a La Leche League group, try your local hospital or birth center (many have group meetings for new moms), or even find a group online! There are many facebook groups devoted to specific problems such as low milk supply or tongue-tie or oversupply. Here’s my low supply group on Facebook: IGTMamas.

Bottom line is: Find someone to stand in your corner. It will make all the difference.


Find Nyssa online here:




Did YOU have good support when you were breastfeeding?


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19 thoughts on “Why is Breastfeeding Like a Hot Wing Eating Contest?

  1. I would love to find an oversupply group! Can anyone point me in the right direction. I need people who will understand that pumping 15 oz in 10 minutes is not a blessing..

  2. I was wrong, there aren’t any over-supply support groups. But you could make one! Making a facebook group is really easy, too. I bet there are tons of moms out there wishing for a support group.

  3. I just happened upon your page while looking for some facebook timeline photos for my facebook page. What a wonderful page you have here! I am looking forward to following your doula journey.

    • You can relactate, but it’s a lot of work.You need to get a hoapstil grade pump and pump every 2 hours for 15-20 minutes.You need to get baby to nurse as often as possible. Baby may become frustrated because there is no milk there, so I would suggest getting a supplemental nurse (medela has one, and so does lact-aid) or (I liked the lact-aid one better) It is an investment though whereas the medela one is cheaper and may be available from an LC.Take fenugreek (3 capsules 3 times a day) or blessed thistle. You can also get an RX from you obgyn called Reglan. (or you can order domperidone but much harder to get)You can also order More Milk Plus from motherlove.com (It’s a combo of herbs that may help than just the single ones.I would also try. They have a whole list of herbs to take to help milk supply.I would google relactation (www.kellymom.com has a lot of info. Or Dr. Jack Newman does too)Eat long cook oatmeal. (It really will help)The more you stimulate the more you will make. You may not have your full supply back, but it will be close.I tried to go back to nursing after strictly pumping and she refused because my milk was so slow. You may have better luck.Email me if you need any more info

  4. , pump pump pump, as much as you can with an electric pump.I had a low splpuy and this did it for me. If you try now it may not be too late. I had to keep pumping until around 4months, when finally my milk splpuy adjusted and I got to where I needed to be to exclusively breast-feed my baby.If you are comfortable with it and can do it responsibly, you could ty co-sleeping with the baby as the night-time feeds stimulate milk production more than any other time of the day. Prolactin is higher in the early hours. You could try breast-feeding lying down, that’s what we did anyway and baby and you both go back to sleep with baby attached.Breast=feeding releases a hormone that makes you feel sleepy so that you go back to sleep when baby wakes for a feed, but it also releases a hormone that stops you entering the 4th stage of sleep, the very deepest sleep, to stop you from rolling onto your baby.Anyway, I digress, good luck with it, hope you get it back

    • When I had my first child over 15 years ago, I didn’t know anyone that batesrfed. I did it for 6 weeks, and then basically gave up because I had no support.When I had my next 4, starting 8 years ago, I tried breastfeeding again, and loved it. Having a sil who was also breastfeeding plus access to support online helped immensely!

  5. Thanks for the tips, but these are all things I have already done, to no avail. My low supply is caused by a lack of glandular tissue (primary lactation failure), not mismanagement of breastfeeding (secondary lactation failure.)
    You can read more about it here: http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lviss2-3-2009p4.html

    No amount of pumping, herbs, medications, water, cookies, has given me even close to a full supply. I’m still nursing my third child, with the help of an SNS, at 14 months with no plans on stopping until she is ready. :) When she turned a year old, I stopped all the herculean efforts of trying to get a full supply, and decided to just enjoy it. The SNS helps me do that, though she also nurses throughout the day without it. :)

    • I found out about the BRC through a couaglele at work who is very passionate about the organization. I know what it’s like needing an ear at 11pm because your child won’t latch or just need to talk to someone who can relate. A very worthy non-profit in our area that is an excellent resource for Moms.

  6. Also, she’s been co-sleeping since birth, and for the first 6 or 7 months we nursed throughout the entire night (switching sides every hour or so.) It was pretty exhausting. At 14 months, she still nurses a few times a night. I love bed-sharing, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    • I totally agree. Breastfeeding is one of the hardset and least supported part of being a new mom. There is actually a GREAT lactation consultant in the Forest Hills area names Kathy Genna who helped us out a ton.

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