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Thread: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

  1. #1

    Exclamation Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    I went back to work a couple of weeks ago, and ever since then, I haven't been producing as much milk. I am able to pump twice a day, and when I do, I'm lucky to get 2-3 oz out of each breast. I usually try to pump for 20-30 mins each. My baby is 5 months old, and I'm afraid we're going to run out of milk. Is there anything I can do to increase my supply?
    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    I am able to pump twice a day, and when I do, I'm lucky to get 2-3 oz out of each breast.
    How much do you expect to get when you pump? This means you get 4 to 6 ounces each time you pump! That is quite a lot to pump in one session. Yipes! What were you getting before?

    When you say you have low supply, do you mean you have less pump output than you once did? That does not neccesarily mean low supply, it means less pump output. There is a difference.

    How long are you separated from baby each day? How often does baby nurse when you are together? How much total milk do you leave for the caregiver each day when you are at work? You might want to look at these articles: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf and http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    Can you add in a pumping session on your drive to work, drive home, or in the evening after LO goes to bed? Or, can you try 3 pumping sessions of 15 minutes each rather than 2 half hour. I have found frequency is the key to boosting supply for me. I started out only getting 2 to 3 ounces a short session and now I get 4 to 5.
    Lisa

    Mom to Aimee, born 8/22/11
    for 20 months!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    It might just be that your supply is evening out - this happened for me around the 5 month mark. I pump 3X each workday and I started seeing a little less in my bottles around that time. Also took a little longer to get it out - try compressions/massage & double pumping, those things make a big difference for me. Also (depending on what pump you have), make sure the membranes & other parts are good & working well. How much does baby drink while you are away & how much do you get total on average each day? From the numbers you gave it sounds like you get 8-12oz total? If you are really running short for baby's bottles, you can add a session like PP suggested. For me the best thing was to pump at night before I go to bed, but my LO now goes from 8:30 to at least 6am w/o nursing so I do it to keep up supply as well. But it takes some of the pressure off if I don't get quite enough from my sessions at work. As long as baby is satisfied after you nurse & has adequate wets/poops you most likely don't have a supply problem. Pump is not a good indicator - thank goodness! HTH - good luck!
    DD, 7-2-2011, "Little Owl" nursed for 21 months

    DS, 10-10-2013, "Mr. Man" EBF and going strong

  5. #5

    Default Re: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    Thank you guys for replying, it's nice to know that it might not be going away. To answer the first person, usually when I would pump I would get at LEAST 3 ounces out of each side. Now it seems to be 1-2 ounces if that, and I don't come home with enough milk to feed my baby for the next day. Luckily, I had a ton stored in the freezer, but we're starting to run out. What I pump now is definitely not enough to feed my baby. Thank you guys for the helpful suggestions, I think I might try to pump 3x a day, if possible. I have the medela pump in style, and it works really well, and has very strong suction, so I know that isn't the problem. I usually try to pump before I go to bed too, but now I don't feel like there's any point, cause barely anything comes out. In the morning, I did used to get about 8-12 oz total, now I only get about 6 total. Madi usually drinks about 8oz in the morning and 6 oz the rest of the day, about every 3 hours. I'm away from her for about 9 hours a day. I hope It's not really dwindling down! Thanks for the help

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    If pumping before bed is convenient, I would keep doing it at the same time and in a week or two your body will make more milk at that time.
    Lisa

    Mom to Aimee, born 8/22/11
    for 20 months!

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    Default Re: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    It sounds like you are producing a perfect amount of milk for you baby, but your baby is being severely over fed so you think think that you are not. You baby should be getting 1-1.5 ounces every hour you are away, so that's 9-13.5 ounces over a 9 hour time interval (or a 4.5 ounce bottle - maximum - every three hours). An 8 ounce bottle is an excessively large amount of milk for a breastfed baby. My 16 month old does not drink 8 ounces at one time of anything, ever. Even 6 ounces is generally too much at one time for breastfed babies, although some will accept that much. It would be ideal to try 4 ounce bottles with a slower flowing nipple if you want a sustainable pumping situation.

    Pumping 8-12 ounces in a single session is oversupply. I pumped that much until about 6 months; now I pump about 4 ounces total every three hours (sometimes 6 in the morning). However, my baby only accepted 3 ounce bottles through his first year, so pumping 4 ounces is more than adequate. Oversupply can lead to plugged ducts and other nastiness and is actually fairly unhealthy; so your body naturally regulates milk production because adequate milk production is much healthier than over-production.

    ETA: Oh and I needed to pump 3x a day once my supply regulated; 2x just doesn't cut it anymore. Pumping 3x a day might get you to where you want to be. I also often need to pump for longer periods of time and get a second letdown to get more milk these days.
    Last edited by @llli*phi; March 24th, 2012 at 08:22 AM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    Madi usually drinks about 8oz in the morning and 6 oz the rest of the day, about every 3 hours.
    I took this to mean baby got a total of 14 oz a 9 hour day, which would be on the high end of normal for a 9 hour separation. (Assuming you are nursing with reasonable frequency the rest of the day, of course-total milk needed in 24 hours averages 25 oz.) If baby is getting more than 14 oz when you are separated, I agree with pp, the way she is being fed may certainly be an issue, overfeeding via bottles is a very common issue. That is why I linked the paced bottle feeding and milk calculator info in my earlier post.

    If you are separated 9 hours, it is likely you need to pump 3 X. Pumping every 3-4 hours during separations is the usual recommendation. What was happening before, with you able to make enough only pumping 2 X a day, was what was unusual.

    I don't know if your supply is lessening, but it could be. The fact is that trying to maintain appropriate supply when pumping basically daily for a large part of the day is very difficult for some moms. Even if the pump is in perfect working order, pumping is just not as efficient/effective as a baby at the breast. And pumping 2 times a day was probably not frequent enough. It gave you enough milk, because you had a very good supply, but it did not give your body enough stimulation, so if your supply IS lessening, I suspect that may be at least part of why.

    To counteract issues of possible low supply, pump more often at work as you are planning, nurse frequently when with baby, especially on your days off when you can take a “nursing vacation,” and consider galactagogues. Also be careful when introducing solids, if you are planning to start that soon. Solids introduction can be another tricky time for milk supply so when it is combined with daily separations it can cause mischief with milk supply.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; March 24th, 2012 at 12:52 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    I didn't realize she was being overfed. I thought that it was normal for her to be eating 6oz per feeding. When she eats 4 oz, it always seems like she wants more. She sleeps through the night (about 10-12 hours), so I figured that's why she eats about 8 oz when she wakes up. I pump in the morning before work, then about 5 hours later, and then 3 hours after that. I think I will add a session in between the first morning pump and late morning pump. You all have very good suggestions, thanks for the help!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Dwindling milk supply, please help!

    She sleeps through the night (about 10-12 hours), so I figured that's why she eats about 8 oz when she wakes up.
    If baby is sleeping that long at night, then she very well may need to tank up as much as she does during the day. Or to put it another way, maybe because she is tanking up so much during the day, she is sleeping a very long time at night.

    Sleeping through the night is defined by the AAP as 5 consecutive hours. So a baby sleeping twice that length is unusual. This long a sleep stretch would also be a suspect in any supply issues. If baby is sleeping 10-12 hours and you are at work 9 hours, that only leaves 3-5 hours a day in which to nurse at the breast. Frequent nursing at the breast is what keep supply in good shape, (pumping helps of course but is second best as I pointed out before) and many moms who are away from baby during the day find baby enjoys a few night feedings and that helps baby get enough overall and helps with maintaining adequate milk production.

    It sounds like to me you are one of those moms with a much higher than average milk making capability, and so you & your baby have done just fine despite the long separations without frequent pumping and the long sleep stretch. But now (maybe) those are catching up to you and that could explain the pump output drop.

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