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Thread: Losing milk supply

  1. #1
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    Feb 2013
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    Default Losing milk supply

    I have a 4 week old. From day 1 he's struggled with breastfeeding. He seems to be scared of the idea of feeding properly.

    I've spoken to some breastfeeding councellors and they advised to stop trying to get him to latch and just feed expressed breastmilk.

    So I've been exclusively expressing. As often as I can. (Aiming for 8 a day, but often only getting to 6).

    Over the last few days his demands have gone up but my milk supply has started to go down. I'm taking fenugreek and eating oats.

    What else can I do? Is this normal? if my supply stays like this, I've got enough frozen milk till Tuesday, but then I'll have to go to formula.

    Any advice?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Losing milk supply

    Aiming for 8 times a day is not enough. If you are going to exclusively pump you NEED to be pumping AT LEAST 10-12 times in a 24hour period. So it's really no wonder your supply is diminishing. Since you are only pumping HALF as often as you need to to maintain supply. Was the counseler not clear with you about the amount of times a day you needed to pump to maintain supply? And if your baby's demand is going UP than you should be pumping MORE. Because it means a growth spurt and if you were in fact breastfeeding, you would be putting the baby to your breast MORE OFTEN right now to maintain your supply. It's all supply and demand. If it's really important to you to continue to feed you have to pump more often. Period. And honestly how long have you been doing this? Because while I sometimes see exclusively pumping as a means to an end, getting a child nutrition, not feeding them formula while they grow, I don't think it's a great long term solution. If your baby was having latching issues because he was too small to latch properly in the beginning, is he big enough now to try again? Because exclusively pumping is at least twice the work of breastfeeding. Since you have to nurse the pump and then feed the baby. And if you don't have the discipline to pump as often as you would just lift up your shirt, you will lose your supply. Are you are the point yet where you would consider the work to get back to breast?

    Way too lazy for formula

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Losing milk supply

    He seems to be scared of the idea of feeding properly
    can you explain this any further? I am surprised that the recommendation was to exclusively pump-forever? Or just temporarily while you worked on whatever the problem was? Ongoing EPing is usually reserved for situations where a baby is physically unable to nurse or won’t nurse after everything has been tried. EPing is much harder on mom than is nursing at the breast in most circumstances. If you are interested in trying to nurse baby at the breast, that is still possible.

    I agree with djs.mom. In these early weeks milk production is being established, so it increases while at the same time baby's demand/volume need increases. (After about 4-6 weeks, as long as normal milk production has been established, production does not need to keep increasing, btw) That is why nursing (or pumping) frequency is so vital. The only way to increase production to normal is by using the pump to mimic what a baby would do. Fenugreek etc. can not help if milk is not being extracted frequently enough.

    Some moms are daunted by the idea of pumping 10-12 times a day, and decide they cannot do it and so give up entirely. So I don't take as hard a line as djs.mom does about it, although in practice and theory she is correct, the more you pump the better your production will be. But most pumping recommendations from lactation consultants suggest something like, pump for at least 10 times a day and 8 at a minimum for these early months, if exclusively pumping.

    What is the daily output and per pump output when you pump?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Losing milk supply

    I can only do that many expressions because that's as many as I can fit in once I have bottlefed him and settled him down. Without leaving him to scream I don't have the time to fit more in. I know more is better. But I can't invent more time.

    He screams and pulls away from me and works himself up into a complete state every time I introduce a breast when he's hungry. If I do skin to skin he falls asleep. He has zero rooting instinct - except to go the opposite direction to where the food is. I can chase in around with a bottle in the way I can't with a boob.

    I've been to see a councellor every week since he was born, and yes, this week they told me to stop trying to get him to latch as it's stressing him out too much and to just express.

    At all stages I have been happy to put in the work to get him back to breast, but thus far I have spoken to at least 11 different breastfeeding professionals and not one of them has managed to come up with something which will allow him to latch.

    One arrived and cheerily said "there isn't a baby I can't get to latch". Stayed 2.5 hours and then shrugged her shoulders said "well, I've never seen that before" and left.

    If there literally isn't the time in the day to feed my baby and calm him and express sufficient milk for him to eat then perhaps that answers my dilemma. It's not like I'm sleeping every time he sleeps. I get two 1 hour slots in every 24 hour period.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Losing milk supply

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*djs.mom View Post
    Aiming for 8 times a day is not enough. If you are going to exclusively pump you NEED to be pumping AT LEAST 10-12 times in a 24hour period. So it's really no wonder your supply is diminishing. Since you are only pumping HALF as often as you need to to maintain supply. Was the counseler not clear with you about the amount of times a day you needed to pump to maintain supply?
    She said at least every 4 to 6 hours, but to aim for 8 a day.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Losing milk supply

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*lllmeg View Post

    What is the daily output and per pump output when you pump?
    Per pump depends when I last pumped. Daily output is about 850ml (34oz). His current daily requirement is about 1000ml (40oz)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Losing milk supply

    It sounds like you've really struggled with this, and that sucks

    Have you tried giving him a little bit from a bottle and then putting him to the breast to finish? That way he's not ravenous when you try him...

    The other thing is, has he been checked for tongue and lip ties? I would hope that with that many experts the answer would be yes, but you never know! Check out kiddsteeth.com for some more info
    This is also a good read about upper lip tie http://thefunnyshapedwoman.blogspot....-frenulum.html

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Losing milk supply

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*carm3 View Post
    It sounds like you've really struggled with this, and that sucks

    Have you tried giving him a little bit from a bottle and then putting him to the breast to finish? That way he's not ravenous when you try him...

    The other thing is, has he been checked for tongue and lip ties? I would hope that with that many experts the answer would be yes, but you never know! Check out kiddsteeth.com for some more info
    This is also a good read about upper lip tie http://thefunnyshapedwoman.blogspot....-frenulum.html
    I've tried about 8 times to give him a half-feed and get him to latch. It worked once.

    There are also 2 occasions he's taken a whole feed directly from me. (Including moving from one side to the other)

    And one where he latched, had part of a feed, came off and refused to go back on. But that's out of what by now is probably hundreds of attempts!

    I had him checked for tt. Apparently he has one, but it's very slight and is likely to reheal as it is even if I got it divided.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Losing milk supply

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*pixi View Post
    I can only do that many expressions because that's as many as I can fit in once I have bottlefed him and settled him down. Without leaving him to scream I don't have the time to fit more in. I know more is better. But I can't invent more time.
    Yeah, I think this is why we're all kind of shocked that the counselor suggested giving up on trying to nurse! Exclusive pumping can be so incredibly time consuming, and it means sometimes needing to choose between maintaining your pump schedule and caring for your child. It's not something that should be suggested lightly!

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*pixi View Post
    She said at least every 4 to 6 hours, but to aim for 8 a day.
    I am with the PPs that 8 pump sessions just isn't enough, not if your goal is to provide the entirety of your baby's diet. The first few months of exclusive pumping, you want to shoot for that 10-12 session per day goal, and then, when your supply is really well-established, contemplate dropping a session in order to get more sleep... But you have to balance the possible against the ideal! As LLLMeg said, the idea of 10-12 sessions per day is really daunting.

    What sort of pump are you using, and how long as you pumping at each session?

    ETA: You say that your LO is eating 40 oz per day, which is about 10 oz in excess of the maximum need of most breastfed babies, who generally take between 19 and 30 oz per day. By that standard, your current output is sufficient. Are you doing paced feeding, using slow flow nipples, that sort of thing?

    ETA #2: Please don't take any comments about your situation as critical. I know it has to feel kind of ouchy to hear "Well, have you tried latching him on?" or "How about seeing a lactation consultant" when you've been Doing nothing but. We're all really aware that non-latching babies are one of breastfeeding's most difficult challenges, and if that challenge is insurmountable, then that is NOT your fault.
    Last edited by @llli*mommal; February 16th, 2013 at 01:15 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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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Losing milk supply

    I have a Medela swing (single) but I have, today, hired a hospital grade double pump. I'm boiling up the bits at the moment to sterilise them.

    I don't really want to express/feed. But I really can't get him to latch and I think all the consultants I speak to try to get him to latch and then just say "oh, but he's doing well on what you're doing, so just keep going."

    As long as time allows, I pump for as long as the milk is flowing plus 2 mins. It can be anything from 10 to 25 mins per side.

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