Why some mothers do not produce milk

Emobileclinic Trending Topic:Lactation Failure

It is not uncommon for a woman who just gave birth to have difficulty in feeding her new born baby with breast milk; this condition is often referred to as primary lactation failure. It occurs when a mother’s body does not make an adequate amount of milk for her baby, even when everything else (including but not limited to: latch and positioning, breastfeeding frequency and exclusivity, mother and baby are kept together, baby’s oral anatomy is fine – no tongue tie, cleft palate) is in order. 


Previous thoracic or breast surgery that severs critical nerves

Polycystic ovarian syndrome or thyroid abnormalities; and a condition in which mammary tissue simply did not develop during adolescence. 

Tubular (or tuberous) breast deformity.

Hypoplasia of the mammary gland. 

Why some mothers do not make milk?

Lactation failure can be classified into three categories:  Preglandular, glandular, and postglandular.  

A preglandular cause for low or no milk production is directly related to hormonal issues such as a retained placenta or postpartum thyroiditis.  

Postglandular causes of insufficient milk production are those things that happen after the baby is born that get breastfeeding off to a “bad start,” like a baby who cannot properly transfer milk at the breast (for whatever reason), or poor breastfeeding management, such as scheduled feeds, extended separation of mother and baby. 

Glandular causes for low or no milk production can include previous breast surgery, or hypoplasia/IGT.  Often, glandular lactation failure is accompanied by one or more preglandular and postglandular factors. 


Tubular shaped breasts

Underdeveloped breasts

Widely spaced breasts (more than 1.5” apart)

Breast asymmetry (one breast noticeably larger than the other)

Large or puffy areolas

Absence of noticeable breast changes during pregnancy or after birth

It must be noted that any or all of these signs do not always indicate that a woman is unable to produce milk, but they should prompt women and their health-care providers to be aware of potential problems and have a plan of action to overcome them. 


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