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Thread: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

  1. #1
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    Aug 2012
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    Unhappy Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    My son is 7 months old and I am exclusively pumping after having difficulties breastfeeding. My supply has took a dip and I literally barely make enough to feed him all day. I've tried fenugreek ( which worked for me before), took a whole bottle and didn't see ANY sort of increase at all. I made some lactation cookies, ate the whole batch and nothing! I thought I was using the wrong size shield so I bought another one and still nothing.. I've been trying to pump longer, as much as i can.. and am not seeing any difference.. This is so frustrating, I just dont know what else to do..

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    Sorry you're having a hard time, mama

    A couple of questions and suggestions:
    1)How often are you pumping at this point? For how long? Do you do breast compressions while pumping? If you haven't been doing breast compressions, you should try it. Here's a link to a video from Stanford about how to do 'hands-on pumping' (you have to register to see the video, but it's worth it): http://newborns.stanford.edu/Breastf...roduction.html
    2)Have you replaced your pump parts recently? They do wear out. If you have a Medela, first thing to try is replacing the yellow valves and the white membranes.
    3)What kind of pump are you using, and how old is it? Could you try renting a hospital-grade pump?
    4)Could you add in a pumping session in the middle of the night, between 3AM-5AM, when milk production is highest? I know it's painful, particularly if you're back to work, but it may be what you need to do in the short-term to get your production up again and make enough milk for your baby.

    Also, keep in mind that if you just recently increased the length of your pumping sessions, it may take a week or so to see improvement in your supply from the increased stimulation. This is normal when pumping; it can take time after any change to see a response in your supply.

    I haven't EP'ed but I do pump at work. I know EP'ing is really hard, so props to you for doing it this long. There are a number of ladies on this forum who have EP'ed and made it to a year or beyond, hopefully some of them will be by to help you out soon. Best of luck!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    I have a Medela Swing, purchased almost a year ago. The only thing besides shields that I've replaced is the white valve. Money is super tight, I'm not sure how much it would be to rent a pump.. From 6am - 8pm I pump every 3 hrs for 15 min on each side( that seems like alot to me!) but If time allows I pump for longer. I tried massaging while i'm pumping, maybe i should try it more but i tried it for awhile and i didn't really see a difference, it just made my milk come faster. Maybe I wasn't doing it efficiently, I'll watch the video. I guess I am gonna have to just try adding a pumping session in the middle of the night.. I was hoping I could get my supply up some other way, but nothing seems to be working.. Thanks for the advice!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    Yeah, I think a big part of your problem is that the Medela Swing just isn't meant to be used by a mom who's EP'ing. It's more meant for someone who pumps occasionally for a night out, or perhaps by a working mom with a well-established supply who is also nursing frequently. A mom who is EP'ing needs a pump designed for the job...at minimum a PISA and more likely, a hospital-grade one like the Medela Symphony. No wonder you're having trouble A hospital grade pump isn't cheap, about $60/month where I am, but if it's at all possible it would probably make a big difference. Keep in mind, when considering the cost, that formula isn't cheap either, and if you're unable to keep up with pumping enough, you'll have to buy formula to make up the difference. A little investment now might save you money in the long run. Do you have a freezer stash you can dip into, if you do come up short?

    The other thing I see that I think you could change is it sounds like you're going from 8pm-6am without pumping--is that right? If so, that's too long (sorry). Most 7 month old babies would not be sleeping through the night and what you're trying to do is mimic baby's nursing patterns as much as possible. Even if your particular baby is sleeping through the night, if you're EP'ing and having trouble keeping up with the amount of milk your baby needs, the best thing to do would be add a pumping session or two overnight, preferably with at least one session in the very early morning hours when milk production hormones are highest. If you can't replace your pump, this is probably the single best thing you can do.

    I think the idea with adding breast compressions is to more fully empty your breasts in order to send the signal that 'this baby needs more milk--let's ramp up production'. When your breasts are very empty your body interprets this as baby being hungry and will make more milk. It doesn't happen right away, though--you may need to do breast compressions for a week or more to see a difference. The Stanford video suggests hand-expressing at the end of the pumping session, too--not so much to get more milk out, although you will probably get a little extra milk that way, but more to fully empty the breasts and send a stronger signal to 'make more milk'.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    Well, I didn't intend to be EPing at all.. I just had some issues that led to it.. and I guess i'm probably at fault for it, so I'm just trying to do what I can at this point, and that's pump. I BF for probably around 3 mo. solid and slowly got myself into a mess where I just had to pump. I thought I had established a good supply, but really my supply took a huge dip when I got my period back at 4 mo pp.. and hasn't ever returned to what it was.. Fenugreek, oatmeal, all the stuff seemed to help at first but would only last for so long, like my body just became immune to it or something? I guess I'm just gonna have to suck it up and pull some all nighters for awhile.I'm sure being stressed out isn't helping either. I'll have to sit down and try to see if i can fit another pump into our finances, but doesn't look hopefull I found this on craigslist :: madela pump in style double electric pump (hospital grade) used for 2 weeks PERFECT condition some parts still have plastic & I have the original box also. Comes with tubing ( never used) 4 storage bottles 2 different sheild sets, a car adaptor,battery adaptor,& wall Jack. This item sells for 300$ without all the extras. I'm asking 175 for it.
    **ALL REASONABLE OFFERS WILL BE ACCECPTED** Would that be a good pump? I mean, I would love to get bak to where I could nurse again, but I know that's not gonna happen unless I can get my supply back up.. and even then I'm kind of doubtful that I can do it, since he hasn't nursed in so long AND has two teeth now Also, I'm still not sure if im using the right size shield? If i judge it before i start pumping it seems like i would need a smaller, but there was a ring left around the tube so i thought i needed a larger.. but really it just seems like my nipple is gonna be sucked into whatever size the tube is. AH! Sorry, I know this is long and I may have strayed from topic a bit.. Thank you for the advice

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    The Pump In Style is a good pump, but it's not truly hospital-grade like that ad says it is. Hospital grade means the Medela Symphony or something like that. It's something you would rent, not buy, because they are really expensive (like 1,000+). If buying the pump in style would be a hardship, I'm not sure if it would be worth it for you to purchase it or not. It's somewhat better than the Swing because it stimulates both breasts at once--but fundamentally, it's the same machine as the Swing, just with a double pump instead of a single pump.

    So you breastfed successfully for 4 months? That's great! Honestly, if you were able to get your baby back to breastfeeding directly, that would be the best thing of all for your supply. A baby is better than even a hospital-grade pump for stimulating supply (assuming baby is healthy and able to nurse effectively). It sounds like it's been about 3 months since your baby last nursed, is that right? If so, it may still be possible to bring him/her back to the breast. A lot of mamas find luck either taking a bath with baby (something about the warm water, skin to skin, and nakedness) or taking a 'nursing vacation' and spending a day or a weekend in bed with baby, topless, cuddling and playing. Under those circumstances, you may find your baby spontaneously latches and starts nursing again. Or maybe not. I don't want to give you false hope and there's no guarantee--but it is possible. Here is a link from Kellymom about bringing baby back to breast: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

    LLLadies, I'm in a bit over my head here trying to help this poster...can someone with a bit more experience dealing with these issues try to help her out? I'm happy to help, but I'm a first-time mom and most of my knowledge comes from books. I know some of you have first-hand experience dealing with these issues and I'm sure she'd really appreciate your experienced advice!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    joshuas.mommy, you've been giving excellent advice so I think we're all just nodding silently instead of posting.

    Yes, the Medela PIS is not a hospital-grade pump. It's not so significantly better than what you're suing that I'd encourage you to drop $175 on it, particularly when that's at least 2 months of rental costs for a Symphony or a Lactina or something.

    I'd also love to see you try breastfeeding directly again. A lot of moms get bamboozled into EPing when they mistake normal adjustments to supply, and normal frustrations connected to nursing, for low supply. If you could get the baby to nurse again you might be able to ditch the pump and the supplements and the hard work and simply nurse! No guarantees, of course.
    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!"

  8. #8
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    Jul 2012
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    Default Re: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    Pump in style is NOT a hospital grade pump. It may work better than the swing but it's not designed to increase milk supply like a symphony or lactina (medela brand, I don't know the names of Ameda or hygia hospital grade pumps).

    Also, for hygienic reasons, personal pumps are not meant for more than one user. 1) the motors have an average shelf life of 13 months, so often not even useful for 2 kids of the same mom. 2) milk can get into the motor which can cross contaminate if pumps are shared.

    Try contacting your local WIC office. You may qualify for assistance as its range is fairly broad. even if you don't qualify, they may be able to help you rent a pump.

    I know this is hard. Hugs to you. Best of luck!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    I've tried directly nursing some.. but at this point he doesn't try very hard bc he's so use to having it easy with the bottle. My issue is that I'm barely making enough to feed him from day to day. Even if he just nurses for a minute it effects my output with pumping, then i'm afraid I won't have enough for him for the rest of the day. Because, he will only nurse for a few minutes, if that.. he gets frustrated and bites! When I stopped nursing all together, I was only able to nurse him first thing in the morning.. any other time he would get frustrated pull away and just continually scream. I could only take so much before I gave in and just gave him the bottle, because I knew he was hungry but wouldn't nurse.. and of course now this is where I am because of it. It is hard and I can totally see why many women just give up. So I figured if I could boost my supply then maybe he would nurse again? since the only time he would nurse is when my breast were really full? Then also I would have to deal with teaching him to not bite. That alone is gonna be hard to do if he's having a bottle at all, since I cant really tell when or if he bites the bottle. It seems impossible and pretty discouraging! Also, another note.. My breast NEVER feel full anymore.. even when I wake up first thing in the morning and have went a good while without pumping. I'm gonna add some pumping sessions in tonight and go talk to someone at the WIC office.. Thank you so much for the input ladies. It helps even if my situation is still the same. It's pretty easy to be discouraged, feel down and guilty about the whole thing because ultimately it's my fault that I am where I am.. but I'm determined to make it to 1 yr, even if that means continuing to work as hard as I am now.. and it would be outta this world if I could get him to nurse again and ditch everything else and go beyond a yr..

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Dip in milk supply and nothing is seeming to work

    Well, the good news about your situation is that your baby latches and will nurse. That is a really good start--it's wonderful that you've continued trying to latch him every day so that he hasn't lost that skill. You should be able to bring him back to breast since he's still able to latch, you just have to work on getting your supply up first so it isn't so frustrating for him. My gameplan, if I were you, would be to rent a true hospital-grade for a month or two--this is the kind of pump you need to increase your milk supply. This means a Medela Symphony or Lactina or something like that. I would recommend pumping every 2-3 hours round the clock, except for one 4 or 5 hour stretch at night. Make sure you pump until empty and for about 5 minutes after the last milk droplets come out. Make sure you are doing breast massage and compressions and hand expression at the end as in the Stanford video. Make sure you have the right size shield--I know you mentioned being unsure about whether you were using the right size. The best way to tell if you're using the right size is to try several sizes and see what's most comfortable and which size gets you the best pump output. It's just trial and error. There is the way the shield is theoretically 'supposed' to fit with your nipple getting pulled into the tube but minimal areola, but many of us here have found that the shield that 'looks' like it fits is actually too small. I found pumping very painful with the 24mm shields that come with the Medela pumps--I went up to 27mm and found that much more comfortable plus I got an ounce or two more from each side compared to using the 24mm shields. There is a diagram on the Medela website showing how the shield 'should' fit that you can look at but really it's whatever works and is most comfortable--often the shield that 'looks' right is actually too small for best results.

    Keep latching your baby a couple times a day, preferably before you pump. What I would do is feed him a bottle that's a little smaller than usual (an ounce or two less), then let him 'finish at the breast'. This way he's not starving when he latches on and is more likely to be patient about working for the milk. He also learns to associate the breast with feeling full and satisfied which is good. So it would go like this--feed a bottle, put him to breast for however long he will go for it, then pump as I described above. It will be time-consuming but hopefully it's just for the short-term until you can get him back to breast. Also, make sure with the bottle that you're using the slowest-flow nipple possible. When you hold the bottle upside down it shouldn't drip--if it does, the flow is too fast and will encourage bottle preference in the baby.

    As your supply comes up with the use of a good hospital-grade pump, hopefully your son will be more willing to nurse since he's getting more out of it. That then becomes a positive cycle where you can gradually reduce the amount you feed him from the bottle before putting him to the breast, until you are just putting him to the breast directly.

    Also, please stop beating yourself up about this situation being 'your fault'--it isn't helping the situation any and is just sapping you of energy to deal with the situation as it is now. You fell into a common breastfeeding trap of thinking you had low supply (when in fact it may have just been the normal regulation of supply that comes for most women around 3 months) and you responded to that by doing what you needed to do to feed your baby. A lot of women in your position would have given up on breastfeeding altogether and just switched to formula--but you have been pumping and maintaining your milk supply, so you now have the chance to get your baby back to breast, and even if that didn't work, he has continued to get your breastmilk which is great in and of itself.

    Good luck--you can do this, and we're here to help

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