Situations like mine are slowly eroding the denial of lactation failure in the medical and lactation community. I’ve been told by doctors, doulas and lactation consultants themselves that LCs are more and more likely to be kept, um, abreast, of these very real, if rare, medical conditions, and that their training more and more includes information on breast hypoplasia. Lactation consultants aren’t regulated by any governing body, though, so training is not standardized, and anyone can call herself one (you should look for certification from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners if you need one).
But in the meantime, thousands of women each year are experiencing the confusion and terror that I did. So let me take a moment to allay your fears. If no milk materializes from your breasts despite how much and how long you’ve tried, and your baby gets nothing but formula from a bottle (or banked, pasteurized breast milk from somebody else, if you can find and afford it), for her first year of life, she will be fine. Three years after my fiasco, I’m happy to report that my own formula-fed daughter is vivacious, smart, and has a terrific immune system.
I will always regret that I couldn’t breastfeed, but what I regret even more is the cloud of misinformation that continues to swirl around breastfeeding. Lactation failure is real, yes, but the real failure comes from mistreating women who experience it.