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Thread: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Default Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    My daughter is now 8 weeks old and we have had quite a difficult breastfeeding journey so far. I have struggled with low milk supply and tried just about everything to resolve it as my daughter was losing weight soon after birth - it took her 4 weeks to return to her birth weight (with formula supplements) after dropping more than 10% below. I can feel that the supply has improved since I started getting acupuncture about 3 weeks ago (I was on Domperidone for 4 weeks but it didn't really work so I came off to try other options) but I notice that when expressing milk, either by hand or pump, my milk only ever comes out in one 'stream' on each side. Even when I have been able to express as much as 100ml (~3oz) it only ever comes out in one stream the whole time. On my right side it is super thin - the width of a pin prick. On my left it is marginally thicker, but still just one stream. If I express an entire feed, it takes me about 40 minutes to get 100ml (it would take my daughter an hour to get not even all of this).

    I've mentioned the 'single stream' issue to three certified Lactation Consultants, I've called a Breastfeeding helpline and also spoke with a Volunteer at La Leche League, but none have heard of this before - they are all surprised that it doesn't 'spray' in more than one direction and didn't have a solution except to keep on doing what I could to boost supply.

    I've worked so hard for 8 weeks to fix this and feel like there's just no point carrying on. It still takes at least an hour to feed my daughter each time and even then I still have to supplement with expressed milk or formula. When I express after a feed (I'm still trying to do this at least 2-3 times a day), I am often able to get more milk out - sometimes 20ml, sometimes as much as 50ml right after a one-hour feed... so I know there is more milk in there. But I suspect it takes so long to come out of this one tiny hole that she just can't get at it before she tires out. I feed her on both sides but it's not enough.

    I just don't know what to do - I don't know why it only comes out in a single stream, and whether this is because of low milk supply (but then why do I still have up to 50mls right after a feed when I know she has a good latch and sucks well?), or whether my breasts are just built this way and there is nothing I can do about it. I can just about accept that I may have to continue supplementing now, but I'm also devastated about the possibility that I will have exactly the same experience with my next baby. If I think too much about the benefits lost to my daughter by not breastfeeding I just burst into tears!

    Does anyone know anything that can help? This is my last hope before I consider throwing in the towel. Thanks so much
    Last edited by @llli*butterfly111; September 7th, 2011 at 08:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,643

    Default Re: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    Welcome! I am sorry you've had such a rough start. But you're awesome for continuing on despite that, and for trying so very hard to get things to improve. Those of us who have been there and done that know you are working incredibly hard.

    I am also surprised that you're only seeing a single stream. Usually when a mama pumps or expresses, she sees milk coming out of several pores at once for at least part of the time. When you express, do you ever see milk beading on other areas of the nipple? Or does there really seem to be only one active pore on the nipple surface?

    Whatever the end result of your struggle is, please do not let this get you down! You are doing an amazing job, and exclusive breastfeeding is wonderful but not everyone gets to have their dream breastfeeding experience. My first kid- by the time she was 2 weeks old I was feeding her a lot of formula, because I had to (low supply, bad latch, etc.). And she grew up just fine. Your LO is going to be fine, too!
    Last edited by @llli*mommal; September 7th, 2011 at 07:48 PM.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
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  3. #3
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    Mar 2006
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    Default Re: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    I've never heard of that before either. I have one side that has fewer pores than the other myself, but that could be because I have ductal damage on that side and half of the breast is non-productive.

    But I bet your supply is OK; however, your baby may get tired out before she can get the rest of it out, which is why you are able to express more milk after she's done nursing. 50 oz after nursing is quite a lot.

    I've worked with a few moms with IGT, and while that's probably not problem, they have the same fears, so I totally understand what you are saying

    That may change as she gets older and more efficient at nursing. Or you may need to supplement. Have you considered supplementing at the breast with an SNS?
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  4. #4
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    Sep 2011
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    Default Re: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    When I express, i only see milk shooting out from the dead centre of the nipple and nowhere else, so I assume there is only one active pore (bang in the centre of the tip of the nipple). I don't see droplets coming from anywhere else. Soon after my milk came in (day 5 after birth), I had a plugged duct which I massaged out -some thick/slightly solidified milk came out of the top (i.e. a different pore) and there was no pain or symptoms of milk backing up after that, but milk doesn't even come out of that spot (and apart from that episode, never has).

    I've considered using an SNS but to be honest, after an hour of pretty active feeding on both breasts I can't wait for her to get off, especially knowing that she'll feed again soon (during the day every 3 hours). Her latch is good but my nipples get sore with her on them for so long and are now quite sensitive all of the time. I think using the SNS to then give her the supplement would tip me over the edge!

    I'd really welcome any other thoughts or suggestions - I'm not sure what else to try?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    I just wanted you to know you aren't the only one with "one pore". I haven't figured it out yet either and I only have one breast with this one stream problem. My other breast was pumped more forcefully once (thank you husband who turned up the pressure accidentally, very painful!) and has a very thick stream. It's caused one "large" side and one "small" side to develop. Keep pumping!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    I had this issue and my other ducts were just plugged up (no pain though). I took a washcloth and warm water and rubbed the end of my nipple really well. Then I hand expressed a bit and repeated a few times. I pretty much bathed my breast in warm water and kept rubbing the washcloth across. That opened up several more streams.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    I think you should have your DH suckle your breast. And tell you how your "stream" feels to him. Is it a strong let down? Can he get it to come out quickly when actively sucking?

    Way too lazy for formula

  8. #8
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    May 2011
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    47

    Default Re: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    Not that I want to convince you to use the SNS if you don't feel like, but using it to supplement does not need to add extra time at the breast. In fact you could just set it up at the beginning of the feed and she can get the supplement at the same time as your milk. I found it not to work very well with formula though. I think that if you get 100 ml in 40 min pumping it should be possible also for your baby as babies are supposed to be more efficient than a pump. My dd was nursing for 1 hour and a half every two to three hours in the first couple of months but afterwards she became more efficient and feeding sessions now last some minutes - btw I never can pump more than 40-50 ml even if I pump an entire feeding, but my dd was able to take 70 ml in 15 min when she became 3 months old (I weighed her before and after feeding). Good luck!

  9. #9
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    Jul 2011
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    Default Re: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    I never thought about it but that may be my issue also. I have like 2 "streams out of one" and one out of the other. And have had the same problems. My daughter gets tired and does not care after like less than one min. One thing that i do is a walk around as a feed. This seems to make her forget that its not coming fast enough. Maybe it would help you. I know that even when i have enough milk she still seems fussy. Keep in mind that a baby will take a bottle even when they are full. Does she have 6+ full diapers a day? Not sure this help it might. i was doing some research and learned that fennel seeds make the milk come down faster. Going to try that to see if it helps. Maybe it will increase the force. Let me know how it goes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Default Re: Slow milk flow - only one 'stream'

    Thanks all for your suggestions, really appreciate the responses.

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*delia.tanner View Post
    I had this issue and my other ducts were just plugged up (no pain though). I took a washcloth and warm water and rubbed the end of my nipple really well. Then I hand expressed a bit and repeated a few times. I pretty much bathed my breast in warm water and kept rubbing the washcloth across. That opened up several more streams.
    @delia.tanner, could I ask you - did you start off with just one stream in the beginning of your breastfeeding and then you were able to get more by doing this, or did you originally have multiple streams and then they got blocked down to one?

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