Is this possible?
I'm a first time mom with a 5mo. old daughter. I've exclusively breastfed until this point and have had no problem with supply. In the past, I was able to pump one side at night while nursing off the other and easily collect 5+ ounces in less than 5 min. I could even get this much feeding every 3 hours. I started back to work part time about 3 months ago with no problems maintaing supply either. I usually work 5 hour shifts and pump at work for about 10m every 2.5hrs. Everything was going fine, and I was nursing on demand, when suddenly my supply is just about gone. I noticed I wasn't able to pump as much at night (only 3 ounces and then maybe two if lucky and then hardly any). Now whenever I try to pump during the day, the most I can ever get is about 1oz per side (that's if I haven't nursed for 3hrs).
I'm not pregnant, I don't smoke, I don't drink caffeine or alcohol, I try to get rest and drink fluids, and I've tried pumping after feedings, co-sleeping, supplements, and baby wearing.
I have no idea what went wrong. I noticed that after 3mo my breasts stopped feeling full/leaking but now they are always soft and "empty" no matter how long in between nursing.
I've also noticed a decrease in my babies wet diapers. Is this the end for breastfeeding for me? Does it every happen that you can do everything right and still dry up? I feel like such a complete failure right now, it's heartbreaking. :cry
Re: Is this possible?
My guess is that you're mistaking a normal adjustment to supply for low supply. Here's why: first, most moms start out making more milk than their babies need. This is normal- it's nature's way of ensuring that a new baby gets abundantly fed while mastering the rather tricky art of breastfeeding. When a mom is making too much milk, she's likely to feel full or engorged fairly often, and to be able to pump a lot of milk with little effort. For example, a mom with oversupply might get as much as 5 oz from a single breast with just 5 minutes of pumping! (Sound familiar? ;)) But making too much milk is not desirable in the long term. It's a waste of energy and puts a mom at increased risk for plugged ducts and mastitis. So most moms find that after a few months of nursing, their bodies adjust milk production so that they make just about exactly what their babies need, without a lot of extra. At this point, pump output declines and a mom is likely to feel empty pretty much all the time.
Are you currently having trouble bringing home enough milk to fill your baby's daycare bottles? If so, here's what you do:
- Make sure your pump is in perfect working order and that your shields are correctly fitted.
- Consider getting a better pump. A mom who is working full time should have a good double electric like a Medela Pump in Style or Hygeia Enjoye.
- Pumo more often and for longer time periods. 10 minutes of pumping is not enough for most moms- 15 or 20 would probably be better.
- If you can't pump more often at work, pump after nursing when you're home with your baby.
- Be consistent and patient with pumping. A few days of extra pump sessions is not likely to be enough- expect to put in a lot of time and effort.
- Think about your birth control choices. Some moms find that hormonal contraception- sometimes including the supposedly "safe for breastfeeding" methods- puts a damper on supply. If you suspect this is a problem, it might be a good idea to try a different contraceptive option, like a barrier method.
If none of the above work, then it may be a good idea to review your own health. The only reason I know of that a mom who is not pregnant and not using hormonal contraception might lose supply is a thyroid problem. Postpartum thyroiditis affects about 1-5% of women, so it might be something to check into if the usual methods of increasing supply (listed above) don't work for you.
Re: Is this possible?
I have a medela double electric pump and not currently using any birth control. I went ahead and made an appointment to get my thyroid checked because I've been so tired all the time on top of everything else.
Thank you for responding to me! It's really comforting just to have someone who can listen and offer their advice :)
Re: Is this possible?
Just wanted to tell you that the same thing happened to me now, also when my baby is 5 months. Same symptoms you describe. My milk also "regulated" at about 3 months - which is when I stopped feeling so full, no more leaking, etc. But last week something suddenly went awry and I could not pump more than an ounce or ounce and a half from both sides while pumping at work (I work 7 hours a day and pump twice). I also barely felt letdowns. I know it's normal for that sensation to decrease with time but to feel way less overnight? That just didn't make sense to me. I took a bunch of pregnancy tests and they were all negative. I thought for sure I'm getting my period but it never came. Monday (3/17) was the first day I noticed something was up because I only pumped 7 ounces (3.5 each time) instead of 9-10 oz total. By Tuesday morning I only got 2 oz total at each pumping session! What I did was, as per the advice on this forum, pump an extra time during work, so that's 3 sessions total. Also I made sure to nurse every 2 hrs when I was home. My baby didn't act hungry or anything so I know he was getting enough to get by although his wet diapers were a tad less than normal, but nothing alarming. I did this for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. By Friday night I felt more milk already (stronger letdowns and more swallowing when baby nursed) and by Sunday I felt nursing was back to normal. I did not pump from Friday night till Monday morning when I was back at work. On Monday I could pump almost the amount I normally get. It's really weird, isn't it? If you want to talk, feel free to PM me. I'd love to hear how you're doing.