How to help milk let down during pumping! Help!

Robin - posted on 04/25/2009 ( 6 moms have responded )

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Hi-

My baby is 6 mo and I have breastfed with no formula so far. However, her weight percentage has been going down steadily since 2mo and now the Dr. would like to supplement some formula. (about 1 bottle worth a day) I trust this Dr. (I work with him) and agree with his counsel. However, I would like to continue to feed, which he says is great. However, when I go to pump, I have problems with my let down, letting down! It's like I will get some, but not nearly what I know is there. I believe my production isn't what it should be (thus the weight percentage going down...) but I am not pumping much. Like 3 oz. When I know I feel full and have gotten more before.

Any helpful hints??? The other thing is, my let down doesn't let down easily, EVER. When I am in the store and hear babies cry, nothing. When my baby cries, unless I am FULL, nothing. I haven't had to wear nursing pads, b/c I NEVER leak! It's weird sounding I know but it's true. My reflex seems to only let down when I put her to the breast, except sometimes at the pump, when I am reallyyy full.

Any helpful, uplifting advice or ideas would be helpful.
PLEASE NOTE:
Please know this is difficult for me emotionally, and I would like to avoid "you aren't trying hard enough" comments. Please keep those to yourself. I have tried things such as cluster feeds, blessed thistle, frequent nursing and pumping and my supply has not increased. I wish it would, but it hasn't, so I truly feel this is necessary. Thanks for understanding... :)

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Angela - posted on 04/26/2009

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Hi, I have had similar issues to yours (no real "let-down" feeling when pumping or feeding, getting only small amounts when I pump, etc.), and I've heard many women say the same thing. You're not alone in this, and a huge BRAVO to you for sticking with it! The fact that you're breastfeeding still in spite of the challenges speaks volumes about how important you feel this is. No matter what, you should feel really good that you have given and are continuing to give your baby such a great start!

As for your questions, the two biggest things I have found that help are lots of water and relaxation. Another mom posted the same thing -- stress will affect your production (now don't go and stress more about the fact that you've been stressing about it! =). Truly if you can take some deep breaths, listen to quiet music (or whatever is best to lift your mood), close your eyes and imagine some peaceful place ... whatever it takes for you to wind down a bit ... it should help with your production and pumping.

I also have a great anthroposophic doctor who highly recommends tea as the best "supplement" you can use to help with production. Several companies sell lactation support teas (Weleda is a brand he likes), but I buy my own herbs in bulk and make a pot every day that I drink throughout the day. My recipe is mostly raspberry leaf with some fennel seed and a little hops leaf (not much since it isn't very tasty) mixed in. I also add a little chamomile for relaxation and some lavender for taste.

Another thing that a midwife recommended to me is "saving" one breast overnight. My baby and I co-sleep, and I feed her only on one side at night so that when I get up in the morning (usually before she does), I can pump one pretty full breast. If I only get a couple of ounces and still have an hour or two before she wakes up, I will pump again (both breasts that time). I still never get loads of pumped milk, but if I repeat the same thing whenever I get a chance (during a long nap, after she's sleeping in the evening), I can pump enough to make sure she has bottles for when I'm at work. And because she's more efficient at getting the milk, even after I've pumped she still has milk when she wakes up.

I would also reiterate that getting plenty of good quality food is very important. It's easy to get overwhelmed and skip or shortchange your own meals, but that's no good for either you or baby. Make sure you take the best care of yourself, and your baby will get the best care from your body.

Best of luck and many many blessings to you!

Anna - posted on 04/26/2009

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Hi there - I agree with all of the great advice you've been given here, and would only add that perhaps using a double pump will help you to get more milk. With my first child I had a manual, single pump and at about the 6 month mark I found I could no longer keep up with his daily demands, so ended up supplementing with half a bottle of formula mixed in. My second child was premmie, so I had to pump for every feed right from the start, and I was advised to buy an electric double pump. My daughter is now 7 months old, and I have found that I only experience a 'let down' if I am pumping both sides at the same time - even if one breast is almost empty.

Some other advice I was given was to spend time looking at my baby (or a picture of her) before pumping, and to think 'baby thoughts!' This still helps me now, as, like you, I have never leaked unless extremely full (which is never now), and have never let down easily.

You are doing a wonderful job, and you should be extremely proud of yourself and your daughter despite the difficulties you are having. Good luck!

Rhonda - posted on 04/25/2009

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what kind of pump are you using? I have a lansinoh manual pump and was using it wrong at first, and then I read that you have to mimic how baby sucks at the beginning of the feeding - two or three short pumps and then hold it on the last one - just watch your daughter's jaw when she starts to feed and mimic that with the pump. If you have an electric pump, maybe it's just not the right one for you.

just keep nursing, you are doing your best for your daughter and don't let the stress of it all to get to you because that can effect your milk supply too.

Good luck!

Carly - posted on 04/26/2009

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I have tried several pumps some quite expencive then I found the advent isis I love it. it has a silicon liner that massages the whole breast to stimulate let down. I had the smae problem with no let down some time I would get 1 or 2 oz other time 9 oz on one breast this pump comsistantly leaves me with full bottles

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Rebecca - posted on 04/25/2009

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3 oz is a good amount for the pump :=)

Advice:

Relax

Feed baby on other side.

Pump after every feed for 10 minutes even if you don't get any milk for the first few days

look at picture of baby or hold baby

massage breast while pumping

check the fit and position of breast shields of breast pump

pump first thing in the morning.

drink lots of water

Also, as your supply evens out with your baby you won't really have that Full feeling, that does not mean that your supply is going down that means you are becoming more efficient.

Supply = Demand so be very cautious with the formula because it is a slippery slope. The easiest way to increase supply is to feed baby on demand. It is very rare that a woman can keep her supply going with only pumping on a continious basis because the pump is just not efficient as her baby in completely draining the breast so you will start producing less milk.

(Also, I know you are trying and I really hope that something I have said will help. Good luck.)

Lori - posted on 04/25/2009

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You are doing a great job. I am glad to see you not give up! If the let down is the problem try massaging the breast with a warm wash cloth, or during a hot shower.



I don't let down for babies crying either, sometimes not even my own. Other times I let down for no reason at all, but also rarely leak.



Here is a GREAT tip... make sure you are getting enough calories in your diet. I have made caration instant breakfasts a regular snack b/c my production has been low. I would love to get Ensure shakes all the time, but simply can't afford it. I don't have much of an appetite and have trouble forcing my self to eat enough to keep up with my daughter. Be sure to have lots of protein and drink as much water as you can stand. I don't know if this will help, but I hope it does.

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