Don't have enough milk

Angel - posted on 10/24/2010 ( 23 moms have responded )




Sorry if this is long but I want to give a little background info. Please share your tips and advice!

My first son only nursed for 3 weeks during the day. then for 3 months he only nursed at night. and one night he just refused. I wasn't educated, didn't have a good pump or any support and gave up on myself. After a month of not nursing I regretted it and went to Milk Works, rented a pump and tried to relactate but my bub wouldn't latch on.

I wanted to try harder this time around. I lost a baby and then had a partial placenta abruption with my third pregnancy and was put on bed rest. My may 19th baby was born 5 weeks early and was in the NICU for two weeks.

I pumped every 2-3 hours because he couldn't latch! I had a freezer full. at 2 months I realized he was tongue tied and after it was clipped he caught on to nursing, within a week elminating all supplemental bottles. so i stopped pumping. I needed sleep! i started school (7 hours away from him 3 days a week) I thought with what I had frozen if I pumped in the morning, once at school and after his first feeding at home I would be okay and easily be able to keep up. But I can't

While I'm away he usuallly drinks 12 oz and I can only pump 7-9. I started taking fenugreek pills and pumping on my days off to try to stock up but i'm unable to get ahead. I currently have NO bags in the fridge and am not sure how i'm going to be able to come up with 12 oz by Tomorrow when I have class. I am afraid I am going to have to buy formula and I know that once I start that cycle it will be hard to end. Oh and what's worse, he doesn't even seam to want to nurse at home. he gets so frustrated and constantly pulls away. It takes him an hour sometimes to get full.

Should I just give up and use formula? Or do half and half? He's almost 5 months old and has only had formula the first three days in the hospital. I think I've done good and i don't want to give up but I don't know if it's worth the frustration. How do I get my supply back up?!

Sorry so long!


Tricia - posted on 10/24/2010




My advise is to pump more when you're away at school. I had the same problem when I started work, so I went from pumping 3 times a day to pumping 5 times a day (in the car going there, during my morning break, at lunch, during my afternoon break, and in the car on the way home). It totally solved my problem, and I even ended up with a surplus after a few months.
As for him not wanting to nurse when you're home with him, try nursing lying down in a dark room. Sometimes it's just too distracting. And with your schedule you can probably use the rest, too!

[deleted account]

You don't have to resort to formula!!! You need to get in touch with a La Leche League, who can point you in the direction of a good lactation consultant!

Also, maybe try one of these:

I have recently started drinking this, and I noticed a difference:

Don't give up! Breastfeeding can be difficult, but the sacrifices and frustration ARE worth it. Formula does not provide the health and immunity benefits that breastmilk does.

Jenna - posted on 10/30/2010




Hi! There was a great article on the Dr Sears website that addressed pumping and upping milk supply. There were lots of good tips but the one I found most helpful was to simply pump more times during the day, even for short (say 5 min) sessions. Just stimulating the breast often but not necessarily long will help milk supply. Maybe you can squeeze a quick pumping session in the car between classes? Good luck and don't give up! :)

Merry - posted on 10/30/2010




You can try to pump the opposite breast when he is nursing. The let down is stronger when he is latched on so the pump can pull more then. Also definately pump mote at school that will help, and drink more. I'd say don't give up, you will only think back and wonder if you quit too soon, you don't need regret :( he could be going through a growth spurt and might soon go down in ounces. That's quite possible, give it a week and see. Also make sure whoever feeds him the bottles isn't encouraging him to Finnish it, let him be done when he is done because bottles are harder for him to stop on!

Emily - posted on 10/30/2010




I had a similar problem with my son. My midwife had me take both Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle and prescribed me Domperidone. I made sure that I pumped after every feed to make sure that I was totally empty. My son is now 12 weeks old and we haven't had to use any formula for two weeks and I have managed to freeze quite a bit of milk.

You might want to ask your doctor for some Domperidone. It can take 2 - 12 weeks to reach it's full potential though so I would suggest using formula to supplement until that time. You don't need the stress of worrying about having too little milk - stress isn't any good for milk supply either. If you are concerned about formula, you could try to find and organic milk based one (that is what I used). I found that I was less stressed about my milk supply the minute I had formula in the house.

Good luck!


View replies by

Artemis - posted on 02/28/2016




I have used mother's tea and also ate different lactation cookies, but finally increased my milk supply through using healthy nursing tea by secrets of tea.

Inga (Uttara) - posted on 11/02/2010




If there is insufficient milk try to get tea called Mother Milk or make tea from fennel seeds. Another formula to increase breast milk is almonds milk. Soak 10 almonds overnight in water. In the morning , peel them and blend them in the blender with cup of hot water or hot milk. Add 1 tsp honey or date sugar, and pinch each of ginger, cardamom and saffron. Drink twice a day.

Cinda - posted on 11/01/2010




Let me start by giving you a little background where I'm coming son will be 2 in Dec & we are still nursing. I've had issues with ups & downs in my supply over the last 2 years. I've tried all KINDS of things to increase my supply & the 1 thing that worked the BEST for me was Mother's Milk Tea. Drink it SEVERAL times a day. It was a bit strong for me w/ only 6oz of water so I would use 8 or more. I would also re-use the same tea bag 2-3 times to get the full value from it & I liked the weaker tea it made better than the full strength. I know how limiting time can be while going to school but if you can find the time to pump twice during the day while you're away from him, that will help too. Good luck. I hope you're able to keep nursing.

Heather - posted on 10/31/2010





I can not tell you what to do, because I am in the same boat. My son was born via cesarean, and had low bs and a stool in utero. So, he spent 5 days in the NICU. The first two he was NPO (nothing by mouth). i pumped every 3 hours in the hospital, and then when he was able to eat, I would try to get him to latch on to suckle (even though I wasn't producing yet). I finally got my milk coming in, though only drops, 5 days after birth. I drink anywhere from 150-190oz of water a day. I have taken Fenugreek and it increased my supply only slightly. I have continued to get up in the middle of the night to pump, even though my Son now sleeps through most nights. I have asked and received much advice as I could handle. I started drinking raspberry tea, when someone said it helped. I started eating oatmeal almost everyday because I read that it has helped others. My Son is now 19 days from 6 months. At his 6 month birthday I am going to cut down on my pumping and try to start sleeping through the night myself. I look at it this way... many women didn't give it such a hard try, didn't stick to it as long as I have with all the obstacles. I have done very well, and even though I wish I could continue to BF, and I am jealous of those mothers of whom can, I did the best that I could. And again, i stuck it out much longer then many other women have, and it sounds like you have done the same. Oh, I also wanted to say that my son use to latch on great, but he is very inquisitive and after he was 2 months he wanted to just look around and not eat. I then fed him only at night. After 4 months he didn't want to eat at night anymore either. He just doesn't have the patience and bottle is much easier. I sometimes found that when he wouldn't latch a nipple shield sometimes helped. Just make sure you manually expel some milk into the shield for him to get a taste to latch on. I as well did not have any support, so if you would like to have someone to talk to about it, please send me a message. Take care and good luck, and remember, you are doing great. Most women would have stopped a long time ago.

Jordan - posted on 10/31/2010




I agree with most of what other mothers have said. Above all, do what is right for you and don't make any major decisions without 100% conviction. I used fenugreek for a while, in pills, teas...anyway I could get it. Then I was told about Motilium. It's a Rx medication, but IT WORKS. It sounds like you really want to continue, so it might be worth asking about. My daughter has a milk allergy and I want to keep her away from soy as much as possible, so I am trying to BF as long as possible. She is 28 months and I think I would have "dried up" long ago while going to work and school if I hadn't had the meds. Good luck! I hope it works out for you. It is a wonderful experience that I think every mother should experience, preferably without all of the stress that occasionally comes with it!

Alison - posted on 10/31/2010




I would try to pump more while you are way. It is all a supply and demand. Also try a slow flow nipple if you are not using one. If he is 5 months is he taking any solids because that would help with the amount you need while you are gone. I found with my first daughter the day care did not follow her eating queues and I had to do both but with my second daughter they daycare she is at now they follow her feeding queues. She usually takes between 7-9 oz while I am at work and has a jar of food for lunch. Babies do go through times when they don't want to nurse try nursing in a dark room with no distractions.

Jacquelyn - posted on 10/31/2010




For me pumping doesn't work well unless I am nursing on the other side - try that when you get home and see if it helps you, also could who ever is caring for him try and ge thim do take less milk? The rule is an ounce an hour so really he would only need 7 oz and could get more from you when you are home. Good luck I hope it helps.

Tamara - posted on 10/31/2010




Im sorry your having such a rough time -although our circumstances are different, i can relate with the frustration and time to pump.
I do not produce enough milk for my son. I have to supplement regardless.
He did not latch on until 3 weeks of age. I bought a medela pump and ofcourse when we pump we get less out from the pump than the actuall baby nursing. (I went to a lactation class and saw a couple specialist when my son was born.) I drink mothers milk tea, which helps some. Anyways, many said there would be nipple confusion would cause him to not breast feed. My son will breast feed, except when he is way to hungry to wait, some days he does refuse the bottle and wants to breast feed at first. then when he runs it dry, i offer a bottle and he takes it willinging.
, if your feeding him pumped breast milk already, he will take the bottle formula or breast milk. Maybe he will have a little troulbe at first who knows . My son, is like clock work iif he has a growing spurt he cries and fusses when I offer to nurse, but he drinks the pumped milk just as quickly as the formula. Once he is off the growth spurt, the following days he drinks less forumula and nurses more and is satisfied with less. Ok. sorry this is so long-I know it is difficult to feed the baby that man made formula-and we all want to give our nutrients to our children. Just remember there are millions of babies out there that never breast fed and are healthy. good luck with your decision(s.) At least your baby can have some of your build immunnity!

Laura - posted on 10/31/2010




I have tried everything as well. Here is what has helped me:
1. Acupunture
2. Rent a Hospital grade pump- pump after each feeding and every two hurs while you are away from the baby.
3. Take Blessed Thistle 1000 mg three times a day and Fenugreek 1000 mg three times a day

Rebecca - posted on 10/31/2010




Kudo's to you for trying so hard. I had a lenghty list of issues with my 3rd child and breastfeeding. Are you able to get motiliem? I am not sure where you are and where it is available but, it really works. It sounds like you have worked so hard to nurse your little one. Give yourself some credit and don't be too hard on yourself.

Sometimes we have to think about what is best for baby. Having time with you is most important. Stressing yourself out is not ideal for either of you! I understand how torn you are.

Best wishes!

Jessica - posted on 10/30/2010




Good on you for getting this far with breastfeeding while studying! I had supply issues too and found pumping enough quite difficult. The advice I got was: have a photo of baby to look at when you pump, as thinking about them will help you let-down more milk; massage boobs before, during and after pumping; pump one side until the flow stops, then the other, then repeat to make sure both boobs are empty. If taking fenugreek you have to take a LOT - until you start smelling of it! I was on three capsules with every meal, but of course depends how strong the version you take is.
When you're at home with bub, offer him feeds at every excuse - twice as often as you have been, if possible. I know that's a pain when he just wants to play, you'll probably feel like he's constantly on and off (they do get so distracted at that age!), but more sucking = more milk.
If you do have to supplement with formula for a bit, don't beat yourself up. As someone above said, it might only be for a month or two until he can eat solids instead. You have done so well getting this far, and introducing a bit of formula now won't necessarily mean the end of your breastfeeding relationship if you keep up the feeding when you're at home with him. Best of luck!

Sara - posted on 10/30/2010




Good for you for trying, I know how stressful it can be. I find that without extra trying, I generally pump 70-80% of what my baby needs each day: 1 pumping session on one breast first thing in the morning (he eats off the other, since both are so full!), then 3 pumping sessions during my 8-9 hours at work. I usually don't pump after he goes to sleep unless I need to. But if you need to get ahead, that's a good time to increase demand, although I find you generally don't pump as much at night. I also only feed him on one side at night (he's generally only up once), which makes the other side that much fuller in the morning.
Definitely pump in the mornings on weekends. Oatmeal for breakfast is also really helpful for me. It's a natural galactologue and really easy to add into your schedule.
And of course, in general, pumping as often as you can... an empty breast produces more milk more quickly than a full one. Don't worry about only getting an ounce here or there, your body should respond to the increased demand.
I also know that distractability starts to increase around 5-6 months, so minimizing distraction is helpful, but even sometimes walking around while you are nursing can help. The movement sort of makes them need to concentrate on nursing.
Good luck and good job momma!! Hang in there! Hope some of these suggestions from these ladies help!

Shawna - posted on 10/30/2010




Can I just say that you have done awesome. You should be commended for your effort and not beat yourself up. You clearly love your son and are really trying which is all anyone can ask of you. Lots of good advice in the other comments. Take your herbs, pump more, drink water. I found granola made me produce more milk, but I'm an over producer (has it's own set of problems).

My little one did go through a phase where she was too distracted to eat (was about five months too if I recall correctly...she's a year now). We picked a quiet place to put her rocker where there wasn't much stimulation and I just feed her there now. After she realized there wasn't anything to look at she calmed down. Try that or the dark room someone else suggested and it might help.

Good Luck! You sound like a great mom.

Amanda - posted on 10/30/2010




I was unable to produce more than 2 ounces a day, so unfortunately I was not able to breastfeed. However, the lactation consultant I saw told me that there is a suppliment called Goat's Rue that for some people is more effective than Fenugreek. Might be worth a shot. You can also take it in conjuction to fenugreek. There is also a liquid Fenugreek tincture that you can take orally that is supposed to be more potent and faster acting than the pill version.

Elizabeth - posted on 10/30/2010




I wonder if you've got more milk than you think you do. Do you take your baby off when you're done feeding, or the other way around? If the latter,I highly suspect he's getting plenty.

I went back to work at 3 months, and had similar concerns, but it wasn't actually my supply that was the problem, it was that you never get as much pumping as the baby gets feeding directly. The necessary hormones are just missing.

Anyway, from your story, I don't think the problem is your personal ability to produce milk, but rather the pain in the arse of pumping for little reward. If it's something dear to your heart, I'd do a few things:

1) pump what you can, probably 2x a day. Your baby won't keel over if his one meal out of a bottle a day is 9 instead of 12 oz. He can make it up in a later meal when you're onhand.

2) Don't completely substitute breastfeeding with pumping - pumping is just too hard, and I expect your frustration levels will just soar. You'll keep your milk with just one or two solid feeds a day directly from the breast.

3) The latching problem sounds like mild nipple confusion from going back and forth from boob to bottle. Your tyke will get over it once he learns both are equally viable.

4) Should you continue...? Well, my personal opinion is that it depends on how it's affecting you. If you're too frustrated and are unhappy... if it will make you resent and/or unable to relax with your boy... I'd give it up. Your sanity will be very important for his long term prospects, as much as breastmilk would be. Alternately, if it's that important to you, and you feel this is a drag, but maybe you can get over the hurdle... as you said, you've come a fair way, and maybe a few snags just means some patience for a new routine needs to set in... then keep it up!

Feeding via pump is just downright harder than fulltime, direct from the breast. It also takes a lot of planning (to make sure you have enough on hand) and dedication.

As you mentioned, you might do okay with a half and half (or one-a-day formula whilst you're at school/work and you pump there) until your stock is up. Given that some kids are entirely formula fed and are fine, a meal or two won't make a huge difference. Just watch your own stress levels, 'cause the lower they are, the better you'll both cope.

Jennifer Ann Saunders - posted on 10/30/2010




Drink lots of water! Pump often will get the supply up. Also, if you pump after you nurse, you will empty yourself promoting more milk. There are supplements that promote production (like Phenugreek - it comes in a pill or tea). Try and relax. Stress promotes less milk. You are doing great and are ahead the curve just on effort along.

Don't give up. You can alway supplement with formula if it helps you de-stress.

[deleted account]

Definitely pump more when you are away from your baby. Also, when you are pumping, pump both breasts at the same time and keep going for a good while, you might have two or three let-downs.
Is your son frustrated at the breast when you are nursing him or is he just distracted with all that's going on around him? Maybe try nursing him in a baby-carrier, that always worked for my daughter.
You might also want to get in touch with your local La Leche League Group. They can be of such great help when it comes to breastfeeding issues.
Don't give up just yet! You've been doing so well so far and I know you really want this to work. You'll probably be introducing solids in a months time anyway and if he takes to them, you mightn't need to leave that much milk for him anymore and just nurse him more when you are at home. But if all fails and you end up having to give formula anyway, I'd just give as little as possible and keep up the breastfeeding. Any amount of breastfeeding will benefit him. Good luck!

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