Low supply of breastmilk: give up or ask Doc for help?

Amber - posted on 03/29/2010 ( 21 moms have responded )

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After going back to work when my son turned 3 months old, it got harder to keep up my milk supply. He is now 7 months old and I barely get 8 oz of breastmilk a day. I feel like I have already given up, is there any hope of continuing?

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Jennifer - posted on 04/03/2010

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I really feel for you. With my first born, I tried breast feeding. I had such a low milk supply that my daughter was actually losing weight. Doctors and lactation consultants suggested that I pump to make sure that I was actually producing and so I could monitor the amount I was giving my child. They put me on fenugreek and brewers yeast, and I rented a hospital grade pump. And, after weeks and weeks of producing very little, I quit. She was mainly a formula baby, and she has turned out just great. My second, I was bound and determined to have a good milk supply. I was terrified of breasfeeding and starving my 2nd like I did my first. So, I rented a hospital grade pump right off the bat, and started pumping the day my 2nd was born. At first, I was pumping nearly 30oz per day, and then around 3 months, I went back to work. And, my milk supply disappeared. I bought mothers milk tea, which the lactation consultant recommended and also brewers yeast. The lactation consultant also told me that is incredibly difficult to increase your milk supply once it decreases. After a month of struggle, pumping nearly every 3 hours, and getting only 6-8 oz per day - I quit... once again. 6-8 oz was just not worth the time I was dedicating every day.

At first I felt incredibly guilty, but then, I thought. . . she had breastmilk exclusively for the first 3 months. I was very proud of that! She's on formula now, and she is perfectly fine. I no longer feel guilty.

The thing is. . . some women are die hard breastfeeding fanatics. I agree that breastmilk is probably best, at least at the beginning, which you've already done. But, some women just have a very difficult time with breastfeeding/pumping. You've already provided your child with a ton of antibodies and nutrients that only breast milk can provide, but if you are stressing out more than anything --- it will also decrease your milk supply.

Bottom line - do what you feel is right for your baby. Formula is a wonderful thing, otherwise it wouldn't be on the shelves. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty if you take that route. People formula feed their babies everyday ---

Good luck!! And, if you continue pumping, and are able to increase your milk supply, let me know how you did it. I'll keep it in mind for my next child!!

Michelle - posted on 04/02/2010

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I found that if you pump while at work on a reagular bases (on my Breaks) it really helped with keeping my supply at a normal level

Sareeka - posted on 04/02/2010

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the more you pump the more supply you will have ..try fenugreen capsules too

Mizu - posted on 04/02/2010

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don't give up. I used to be in ur place.i can't hardly get 5 0z per session. but try drink a lot of water and milk. it did help me. maybe it could work for you.

Michelle - posted on 04/01/2010

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I too had that and tried many things to get the supply back up, it just didn't work and the added stress was unhelpful in all other areas. So I decided she could have formula during daycare hours and breast milk morning & evening. That worked beautifully and we continued that until she self-weaned (a little over a year old).
It became much more of a bonding moment than an stressed feeding moment which in the end I think was truly beneficial. My daughter happens to be autistic yet she is fully bonded & affectionate with me and I think that breastfeeding becoming a special time rather than a stressful time helped a lot with that.

Pam - posted on 04/01/2010

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Try Fenugreek, It works. The peditrician told me about it , the only side effect is you smell like maple syrup. If you can handle that, it'll help with your milk supply.

Michelle - posted on 03/31/2010

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if you really want to there are things the dr can give you to increase your breast milk.

Bianca - posted on 03/31/2010

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Ask your doctor first before you give up. Better yet ask the lactation nurse, I visited an office who help moms with breastfeeding problems. It's a free service the hospital refer me to them. You can ask your hospital for a referral.

Mary - posted on 03/31/2010

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Have you taken a look at Kellymom.com? There's lot of good advice. Also, don't forget about lactation consultants that are more than happy to help out. It's hard enough being a working mom, pumping takes a lot of work, so you should be proud of yourself for doing everything you can to give your little one the best nutrition possible!

Amber - posted on 03/31/2010

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Thank you all for your thoughts, and help! It is really nice to get an "outsider" point of view! I think I will just keep going with my routine, and feed my little one what I can because it's true that a little is better than none! Thanks so much!

Dana - posted on 03/30/2010

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It also could be that he's getting more milk from his few feedings because he's hungrier and better at getting the milk (all the milk) out of you. He can be cluster feeding and really really hungry so it's really good you saved a lot of your milk from before you went back to work. Sometimes your breast have to get "use to" the pump your using. Is the shield too small or big for your breast? What pump are you using? Did you try the playtex embrace? Did you try using a pic of him while pumping? Even if you do supplement him (which you should do last resort) You can still feed him at night if he's interested and in the morning. Some is way better than none. It seems to me you don't want to give up so easily or you wouldn't be asking for our help. I hope you can make it work so your not dissappointed in yourself! Good Luck!!!!

Hellen - posted on 03/30/2010

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there is dont stop if you enjoy doing it cant you take a bottle to work and just express a bit every now and then it will get your milk to build up even if you do it when ever you go to the loo...

Cheyenne - posted on 03/30/2010

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dont feel hopeless i went through the same thing was told i wasn't drinking enough water and to stimulate let down more

[deleted account]

I would have to agree with the rest of the ladies. It is worth giving it another try. After going back to work it was difficult to maintain the supply and for me it was stress and lack of fluids. Some would say it is an old wife's tale, but I firmly believe that peace of mind is the key. I also made it a routine to have a cup of tea with milk after every pump session and plenty of water through out the day. I pumped every 2 hours. My employer was not happy with frequent breaks but I did not care...you know what I mean? I HAD to do it. Just hang in there. Give it another try.

Elizabeth - posted on 03/30/2010

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Absolutely hope! But speak to your local lactation consultant/ breastfeeding support group rather than G.P.

Dorothy - posted on 03/30/2010

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It's so hard to work and have a tiny, breastfeeding newborn! I applaud you. I was able use a breast pump on my "break time". I talked to my superior and just told him the situation. (He was a gentleman--he looked me only in the eye!) We worked it out that I could pump at around 12 noon. I had an insulated bag I carried. I think it varies how much milk you produce sometimes. I noticed I produced more with my first baby than my second. You need to drink a lot of fluids, and keep breast-feeding or pumping on a regular schedule, which is very, very hard. Your baby has benefited greatly from your sacrifice of breast feeding already. Talk to your doctor and they might have suggestions, too. There is definitely hope of continuing if you want to continue. My mom had all but weaned my brother (this was almost 50 years ago!) when it became medically necessary for her to return to breastfeeding. She was able to start back up, and it greatly helped him, as he was undergoing surgery. The breast milk has much smaller curds than formula or cow's milk. You are doing great to have done it this long! I hope I have encouraged you a little. I really know how hard it is.

Amber - posted on 03/29/2010

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The first 3 months after he was born I pumped in between feedings to save breastmilk for daycare, and suddenly at 3 months, I could no longer pump extra in between. Since then things have only been more discouraging. I am only producing enough to fully satisfy him for his morning meal. After that its 2 oz every time I pump. I choose to pump the 2 oz and save them up to make a full bottle because he gets frustrated that there is no more and hurts me while trying to eat. I just can't shake this hopeless feeling, and wonder if that means I just need to stop.

[deleted account]

Don't give up. You can do it. My doctor told me it was ok to take sudafed for a cold while breast feeding a newborn. It almost completely dried my milk up. I was pumping 6+ ounces per side per session at the time. After taking the sudafed I couldn't even get two ounces. I was in tears. But I contacted a lactation consultant and we worked to get my milk supply back up. Power pumping described in the other post and letting my baby nurse as much as humanly possible while we were together was what worked for me. I never got back to my former production levels. But I expressed milk at work for a full year and continued breastfeed my daughter at home until her 2nd birthday.

I know how hopeless it can feel. But don't give up. You can do this.

User - posted on 03/29/2010

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If you were doing fine before, there's no reason why you can't keep up your supply (according to the lactation consultant I partner with for my Breastfeeding Moms Going Back to Work classes.) Could be due to stress, fatigue, etc. Suggest calling an LC. Also, I recently met a mom entrepreneur who makes cookies that can increase your milk supply. Here website is: www.milkmakers.com

Amy - posted on 03/29/2010

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If your supply was good for the first 3 months there defiantly is hope! It could take a lot of time/effort to get it back up though.



There are some herbs you could try, but there kind of a hit or miss for many women (fenugreek is one, if you google herbs to increase your supply I'm sure you'll find a lot of info). You also want to pump a lot. I know it's hard when your working, but try to pump as much as you can during work, then when your put your little one to sleep try "power pumping" where you pump for 10 min, rest for 10, and continue that as long as you can.



Do you know why your supply dropped? Are you still pumping when you normally would feed your baby? Did you get sick? If you were pumping when you normally would feed your baby it's possible your body just isn't doing well with the specific pump you have, so maybe trying another one would help? Or even renting one from the local hospital.



If your worried, I know theres a pill dr's can give you to help increase your supply, however from what I've heard most won't give it to you unless you've tried everything.



I gave up at 6 months because my supply decreased too much, I was given the wrong birth control and it killed my supply after 2 months of breastfeeding, I tried everything including pumping every 2 hours for 30 min and only got about 4 oz a day. There will come a time when the amount of pumping your doing and the little amount of milk your gitting will just not make it worth it. I'd say give it a little longer, try talking to a lactation specialist and/or your dr. That way you when you stop you don't feel like there was more you could have done. I think I waited a full month of making sure I wouldn't regret it, and with how low my supply was it didn't hurt to stop at all.

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