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Thread: Drop in milk supply when expressing

  1. #1
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    Mar 2012
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    Unhappy Drop in milk supply when expressing

    I have recently seen a drop in my milk supply on occasion when expressing. My pump seems to be working fine, but the past couple of days I've only managed to express around 50ml at a time, which is more than half of what I usually manage. My little one is 4 and a half months old, and her milk feeds are more or less as follows: 4am (breast), 7h30am (breast), 11h30am (bottle), 1h30pm (breast), 5pm (breast), 7h30 (breast). She also has some rice porridge around 9am, veggies around 12pm, fruit 3pm and veggies 6pm.

    Baby seems more than content after nursing, but as I said I am unable to express as much milk as before for some reason. I haven't had a drastic change in diet, except that I'm weaning myself off white meat and onto soy products. I haven't decreased the amount of food I eat, and I drink plenty of water. Could it be because I've had a cold for almost 3 weeks now? I am only taking a cough medicine prescribed by the GP as being safe for breast feeding moms, and only if absolutely necessary.

    Not sure what to do, and what could be causing this?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Drop in milk supply when expressing

    Pump/hand express for every feed she misses and try to find and extra time to pump.
    Your supply is re-adjusting to the demands you make of it, so if your not demanding 24+/- ounces per day your body is complying.
    You might also benefit from reading the information la Leche League has on introducing solid foods. Your baby at this tender age still needs breastmilk to be her main source of calories.
    Some mothers notice a temporary dip in the amount of milk they can express due to birth control, or having a cold but if they baby is offered unrestricted access to the breast, moms supply swings back up.
    I am a big believer in getting back to bed when your not feeling well and keeping the baby with in arm's reach.
    DD#1 July 1986 VB
    DD#2 April 1988 c/sec
    DS#3 April 1990 VBAC
    DS#4 June 1993 VB
    and suprise!
    DD#5 April 2001 c/sec
    BTDT scars and stretchmarks,: wrinkles and grey hair

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Drop in milk supply when expressing

    hi mama,

    it's normal for supply to regulate, and especially for it to become more difficult to pump milk. it doesn't mean that your baby isn't getting enough otherwise. many mamas have to pump twice to make up for one feed. 50 ml at a pump is actually pretty typical.

    and yes, the AAP and WHO etc all recommend nothing but milk/formula until 6 months, and then until 1 still primary food. is there a particular reason you have her eating so many solids already?

    sometimes a cold can get your milk down. i agree with PP about taking to bed and kicking the cold out as quickly as possible - walking around with it for 3 weeks must be no fun!
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Drop in milk supply when expressing

    Mama, I am sorry to sound critical but it sounds like your baby is getting quite a lot of solid food and not very much milk for a 4.5 month old baby. Most recommendations are for solids to not be introduced until 6 months, and for the quantities to be quite small at first- no more than a few teaspoonfuls per day. Your baby is nursing just 5 times a day and getting one bottle. Most 4.5 month olds are nursing at least 8 times a day, and that level of stimulation is what is usually required for a mom to produce milk in sufficient quantities. Will she nurse more if you offer? More frequent nursing would be the number one best way to boost supply. If that isn't an option- either because baby will not nurse more often or because you are working and cannot nurse more often- then the second best way to increase production is to pump more frequently. The more sessions you add in, the better.

    Can you tell us what cold medicine you are using? Sometimes docs don't realize that a medication may be "safe" for breastfeeding yet still impact milk supply.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Drop in milk supply when expressing

    Our pediatrician said she should start on solids at 4 months. I'm a first time mother and it was a tough decision to make, but I did feel that it would be best to follow the specialist's advice? Although I've been worried about it all along because I do know the general guideline is 6 months... Baby has coped well though, and she thoroughly enjoys her food. She is only getting small amounts. The rice porridge only 3 baby feeding spoons (dry) with 40ml milk, and the fruit and veg 2-3 baby spoons p/meal. She usually gets around 8 milk feeds a day. On weekends usually more. I do express for every missed feed (which is usually twice a day during the week.

    As far as the cold medicine - I'm using saline nasal spray and Expigen couch syrup. As I said I have 1, maybe 2 doses of it max per day. Some days none.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Drop in milk supply when expressing

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*simplyvanilla View Post
    Our pediatrician said she should start on solids at 4 months. I'm a first time mother and it was a tough decision to make, but I did feel that it would be best to follow the specialist's advice?
    But what do you do when the "specialist" is making recommendations that run contrary to recognized guidelines for their professional organization? I realize that you're in South Africa and that the guidelines may be different from those used in the USA, but here's what the American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on breastfeeding (http://pediatrics.aappublications.or...115/2/496.full) has to say about solids:

    "Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life‡ and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection.30,34,128,178–184 Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.185

    Complementary foods rich in iron should be introduced gradually beginning around 6 months of age.186–187 Preterm and low birth weight infants and infants with hematologic disorders or infants who had inadequate iron stores at birth generally require iron supplementation before 6 months of age.148,188–192 Iron may be administered while continuing exclusive breastfeeding.

    Unique needs or feeding behaviors of individual infants may indicate a need for introduction of complementary foods as early as 4 months of age, whereas other infants may not be ready to accept other foods until approximately 8 months of age.193

    Introduction of complementary feedings before 6 months of age generally does not increase total caloric intake or rate of growth and only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk.194

    During the first 6 months of age, even in hot climates, water and juice are unnecessary for breastfed infants and may introduce contaminants or allergens.195"

    I am glad to hear that you're keeping the quantities of solids you are offering quite small, and that baby is getting at least 8 nursing/bottlefeeding opportunities per day. Since it sounds like your LO is getting enough milk, I think you should treat this issue like a very typical pumping problem: one pump session often isn't enough to replace one nursing session because pumps don't remove milk as well as babies do. Therefore, a mom may eventually need to pump 2-3 times in order to leave one sufficient bottle. just for the record, 50 ml (about 1.6 oz) is very typical output: most moms whose supplies are well-matched to their babies' needs produce about 1.5 oz of milk per hour.

    The nasal spray won't harm supply at all. I don't know about the cough syrup!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Drop in milk supply when expressing

    Little one is 5 and a half months old, not 4 and a half. Typo...
    Well be it as it may baby has been on solids now for a while, and I can't undo that. I will say that with baby number 2 (in future) I won't introduce solids before 6 months. And I might have to rethink my choice of pediatrician. He did say that his advice is based on the latest research in the USA regarding the cons of only introducing solids only at 6 months. South African guidelines generally say 6 months, although a lot of people start their babies on cereal long before that (especially colic babies).

    As long as I keep her on breast milk for as long as possible (my aim is 2 years), she should be fine. I will just try to express more often, during the day. I`m relieved to hear that it`s normal to have to express more than once to get enough milk for a feed, just perplexed because that never used to be the case.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Drop in milk supply when expressing

    Oh, 5.5 months makes a big difference! I'm sorry if i seemed to be giving you a hard time about it- it's just that early introduction of solids is one of my pet peeves.

    It is so normal to need to pump a couple of times to make a bottle, even if at first you were able to pump a lot more. Most moms overproduce milk in the early weeks/months of breastfeeding. It's nature's way of making absolutely sure baby gets fed while mastering the tricky art of breastfeeding. But after a while, your body reduces supply to match demand a lot more exactly, because making extra milk is a waste of energy and puts mom at increased risk for nasty things like plugged ducts and mastitis. Once supply is adjusted to demand, producing a bottle usually becomes more challenging, because the pump never empties the breast as effectively as the baby.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Drop in milk supply when expressing

    Lol mommal, I completely understand! As I said I wouldn't do it with a 2nd child. Feel bad now that I started baby so early because of misplaced advice... Just hoping there's been no damage done. So far so good, she seems happy and healthy.

    Thank you for the advice and reassurance! I'm glad it's all a normal part of the process and not a problem with my milk supply!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Drop in milk supply when expressing

    simplyvanilla,
    my first baby was a trial and error learning experience for me too.
    she is now in her late 20's, lives in her own apartment in NYC and has no ill side effects from my using her as a human guinea pig!
    DD#1 July 1986 VB
    DD#2 April 1988 c/sec
    DS#3 April 1990 VBAC
    DS#4 June 1993 VB
    and suprise!
    DD#5 April 2001 c/sec
    BTDT scars and stretchmarks,: wrinkles and grey hair

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