pumping and supply problems

Megan - posted on 06/16/2011 ( 17 moms have responded )

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Need advice from other pumpers out there- my son is 3 weeks old and he has some oral motor difficulties (we're working on some physical therapy to help his problems, but we won't see results for 3 weeks or so) and cannot feed exclusively at the breast. I've been pumping this whole time, every two hours, and suddenly my supply has dropped. I was getting about 2 ounces per pump until a couple of days ago- now it has dropped to half that. And most of what I get is from the right breast- the left only lets down at most a quarter ounce. I don't know what else to do- I'm taking motherlove more milk plus capsules and staying on a strict pump every 2 hours regimen, but still my supply seems to be dropping. To make matters worse, my son is apparently going thru a growth spurt and is suddenly eating twice what he was a few days ago. I was able to feed him throughout the day and supplement with formula just a couple times a day, but now he's getting more formula than breastmilk because I just can't keep up. Anyone else have this problem? What do I do?

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Nan - posted on 06/19/2011

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This is normal. Your supply is adjusting to what your baby is able to take out. My suggestion would be to pump on one breast while he is feeding on the other. The extra stimulation will help.



As a side note, I have successfully breastfed 3 babies, all up to nearly 3 years of age. They all thrived on nothing but breast milk. I was never able to express more than about 1 ounce at a time. Pumping is just never as effective at getting milk out as a baby. The amount pumped is not a sign of how much milk baby is getting.



I want to add to this. If he isn't able to breastfeed at all right now, you could try holding him near your bare breast while pumping. His scent and nearness to your breast could stimulate you to release more milk.

Gretchen - posted on 06/21/2011

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I took Fenugreek to help with my production. My son just didn't like to breastfeed, but I pumped him breastmilk til he was 6 months old. I also suggest snuggling him skin to skin to help with your production. Even if he isn't suckling from you, his being close and snuggling with you should help your production. Try not to stress too much about it, stress decreases production too. Both my kids were raised on breastmilk and formula and they are hardly ever sick. Do the best you can and just love him. Everything will turn out ok. *hugs*

Nadine - posted on 06/20/2011

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I had this problem with my first baby he would never latch so I had to only pump but never had enough milk either so had to supplement with formula too, I agree with the other poster that it could be a clogged duct if you have those symptoms but also make sure you are drinking enough water and eating enough, on days when I know I didnt drink enough water I would see my supply decrease also I have a few friends that had decrease in supply when they tried to diet to much while breast feeding. I was only ever able to get at most 3 oz at a time so had to mix with formula I can thankfully exclusively feed my 2nd baby now and never had problems but I feel as long as he gets some breast milk is better than nothing:)

Karianna - posted on 06/19/2011

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Hi Megan i haven't read all the responses above but those i have are all full of good advice. Certainly pumping at night is important because you have a natural high in hormone prolactin at night which is responsible for milk synthesis. The other thing i would suggest is that after milk comes in and using pumps for a while -the size of your nipple/areolar area change and you may need to adjust Flange size. You can know if you need to by how far down in the flange neck the nipple reaches during pumping... at the bottom is too far and also if you have a White Ring of constriction appear during the pump at the base of nipple to areola which you can also easily see through the flange. This can dammage the ducts and cause inflammation which will stop milk flow. The other thing i will mention is that your milk will be changing now in constituents... so quantity is not always so worrisome -quality is whats important. Size of breast is also a factor =small vs big breasts can produce the same amount in 24hrs but with more pumpings/feedings re the smaller storage capacity. Not sure if this applies to you though! Skin to skin with your baby has been shown to really help milk production and letdown during sessions and you should be practicing putting baby to the breast anyway to encourage latch education. Babies with motor difficulties of all ranges eventually breast feed successfully love and whatever the problem is you may overcome it sooner than you think. If it is an issue with cleft lip or palate or other then you can try the "Dancer Hold" which is great for helping control and aid with creating the seal and negative pressure needed for sucking at the breast... babies often do better directly on the breast like this than with shields. Anyway for supply you should defo be pumping at night and checking the adequacy of ur pump and it's bits... (hosp grade pump achieves 60cycles/min) Breast massage during pumping is associated with 48% increase in daily milk output! I would advise you to contact either a lactation consultant privately or call ur nearest branch of La Leche League to set up an assessment because that can really help =to eliminate all the question marks. the LC can aid you in advice about using galactogogues aswell if appropriate. Take care and good luck. My daughter is 2 and still boobing... am a midwife and LC xxx

Chloe - posted on 06/19/2011

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I had your problem. I would pump every 2 hours for an hour and only ever got about 70 mls at most. I did this for 5 weeks getting no more that 2 hours sleep in 24 hours. I tried everything but my baby just did not latch and because of this my milk supply slowed and stopped. I think for a decent supply you need the baby to latch on. It broke my heart but in the end I put him on formula. He is/was very health. Not ideal but then again your situation is not ideal and not like everyone else. So my advice is buy some bottles and a tin of formula just in case it doesn't work. You sound like you a trying your very best what more can you do? If your baby is hungry I think it is a mums instinct to feed it and if the breast is not available, you will feel better giving him the next best thing.

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Roxanne - posted on 06/22/2011

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Same thing happened to me. Unfortunately, the pump will never get the same suction that I baby can do & that's why your supply is decreasing. I had to call my dr and ask for a prescription for "reglan" to increase my supply. Just be careful with it b/c it does cause some depression. Koodo's for you for continuing to try and provide your son with your milk, most people would have given up by then. Keep at it & good luck

Amy - posted on 06/21/2011

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Megan I would take a check of how much you are eating and drinking. It is imperitive to eat the proper amount of calories and drink twice as much water as you would prior to nursing. In the early weeks after my babies, I can recall eating in the middle of the night (a peice of string cheese wrapped with canadian ham - all protein packed!!) just to meet my requirements. I pumped after each time I nursed too.

Jami - posted on 06/20/2011

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I had to pump and give my daughter breast milk in a bottle because of some of her issues with how she suckled. What actually helped my milk supply was something I bought at whole foods called Lactate Support...I feel your pain, since I had to do that the whole time. Kept it up for 6 months. I did have to pump for about 20-30 minutes each time, though to build up my supply. Found a wonderful "bra" that let me pump hands free. It's kind of like a zip up corset with holes over the nipples that holds the cones in place. Wishing you lots of luck!

Renee - posted on 06/20/2011

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i had the same problem with my child. i could feed her off the breast but when i pumped (well tried to pump) hardly anything came out. dr.s where telling "well just do it more often" but i found that to be even worse so when i would wait until i felt one of my breasts was full i would pump then and get 4-5 ounces. i did breast feed but sometimes it just hurt to much. and not getting alot i just mixed half and half. she still got breast milk that way. i think i was only able to freeze once in 10months. thankfully my child is eating table food and only needs the breast 3-4 times manily to fall asleep. still cant pump though

Marsha - posted on 06/20/2011

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I had this issue. Without reading other comments, here's my advice to you.: make sure your taking in enough calories. Pregnant and nursing moms need about 3000 calories to keep up with the extra work load on our bodies. While pumping, keep a simple snack nearby, that way your always getting something in. Also, I don't know what's in those capsules you mentioned, but try fenugreek and blessed thistle. I know there's a third one but can't remember right now. You can find them in herbal shops either in capsule form or powder form to make tea..go for capsules if you can...trust me. You can also order online. Otherwise you're doing everything you know how to do. Just keep pumping, and good luck.

Brennis - posted on 06/20/2011

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Oh another thing.... CHECK ANY MEDS YOU ARE TAKING.... some can affect the amount of milk you produce. For instance the pain killer my gyno prescribed (Tylenol 3) would reduce the amount of milk i produced.

Keri - posted on 06/19/2011

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Pumping stopped working very well for me when I was unable to equally balance it with my son's time on the breast. Even though I pumped religiously - even using my lunch break to pump instead of eat at work - we eventually ended up going to formula only because it seemed like I was "drying up." I'd say continue to work with him to get him to the breast as much as possible. True stimulation from a child's mouth is better than a plastic pump funnel - no matter how "natural" the company claims it is. Breatmilk is better than formula, getting that milk directly from the breast is better than pumping.

Allison - posted on 06/19/2011

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None of the women in my family have been able to breastfeed, I've been the first, and it was going really well till he was about 1-2 weeks, then I started drying up as well, I bought fenugreek pills and took 2 pills 3 times a day, and drank 1 or 2 cups of mothers milk tea and after the first day I noticed my milk coming back, and within a week my milk supply was back up to normal.
I know it really sucks having to feed him formula, when I finally broke down and realized I didn't have enough milk to satisfy my son and broke out the backup formula I had a breakdown, I couldn't even be in the same room when my husband fed him the bottle, but I knew it was best for my son, but thankfully the fenugreek started working and he only needed formula for a few days, and as long as you can pump enough to mix even just half an ounce with the formula, he is still getting some breastmilk.

Caithlin - posted on 06/19/2011

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I agree...ur baby can get out more than the pump can so if it's possible put him on ur breasts to stimulate ur milk supply. Eating oatmeal, drinkin plenty of fluids and getting enough sleep can help ur supply. And try not to stress out bc that can decrease ur supply. Good luck!

Thejordan_family - posted on 06/19/2011

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It is hard but DONT FEEL GUILTY! I understand the want to breast feed your baby but if it doesnt work then you need to realize that feeding your baby is the most important issue.

Having said that I am on my 3rd baby and this time round my milk supply just DIDNT come in. I have been taking Domperidon to help with my milk supply and in the early months I was pumping alot. I agree to have the baby near you when pumping or even breast feeding and pumping at the same time (little bit difficult) Are you doing a "cluster pump" in the evening? Babies cluster feed in the evening usually starting at about 6pm and goes to about 11pm and babies feed almost every half of an hour. It will help bring in the milk for the following day. Also are you pumping during the night? Again, difficult but if youa re concerned about your milk then you should considering pumping thru the night as well. I feel your pain and hope you get thru this

Claire - posted on 06/18/2011

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Do you have any pain or hardness in the left breast? you might have a clogged duct - try warm compresses and massaging while pumping the left breast, also pump it more frequently to help unblock the duct. You can also google using cabbage leaves - i know women with success using them as well. Check you pump suction & membranes to make sure all the pieces are intact. good luck!

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