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Thread: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

  1. #1

    Default Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    I have a 7.5 month old boy who has always been a fantastic nurser. I had a HUGE supply for months until it regulated around 5 months, and he is/was in the 98th percentile for weight. My supply has been a bit lower as of late because he and his sister have gotten two separate viruses this month, plus he started wanting to go 3-4 hours between nursing sessions. I also an an anxious person and have had let-down issues for a while, but always managed to pull through.

    Well, a few days ago the whole family got really, really sick. He was the least affected but has been stuffy/coughing now for at least 3 weeks (don't worry, we have seen the dr several times) but is getting better. I had it bad, with fever, congestion and diarrhea/appetite loss over the past few days. And my older daughter got VERY ill and had to go to the hospital one night, so I have been very stressed. This has all caused my supple to tank so much that my breasts never feel full and I am struggling to keep Rory interested in the breast. I know I am supposed to pump after feeds or if he is not nursing for several hours, but we have found out that he WILL NOT take a bottle or sippy of milk under any circumstances. So how can I pump and then have empty breasts for him in case he decides to nurse at the next opportunity? I can't get my head around this. Also, since I obviously laid down hefty prolactin receptors early in his life, can I expect my supply to rebound pretty well once I am healthy, even if he keeps going 4-5 hours between feeds? Thank you. This has been the worst week of my life.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    Oh mama, so sorry to hear how sick you have all been - that sounds absolutely awful. In terms of your supply, it should recover once you and your LO start feeling better and nursing more. You can encourage nursing by lots of skin-to-skin time, keeping baby close, hanging out in bed together, and offering frequently. Also, make sure you are taking care of yourself - getting as much rest as possible (I know, easier said than done with sick kids to take care of! - but you can back off on any nonessential activities), staying hydrated etc. I don't think at this point that there is any reason to pump. Pumping after feeding or if baby is going for long stretches is more for situations like a newborn who is not gaining weight well. A 7.5 month-old who has gained well up to now and has a temporary dip due to illness is not usually a cause for concern. Hope you all feel better soon.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    Thank you, I really appreciate the response. Feeling a bit scared right now because I realize that I seem to have the same iteration of this virus as my daughter and it has taken her a full week to get anywhere near normal. So I still have a few days to go before I feel normal. My fever spikes in the evening and it's still hard to eat. I am drinking plenty though. My main fear is that Rory will get dehydrated from not having enough milk. We are helping him get some water with his first sippy cup, and he has a tiny bit of solids (he's not that fond of them though). I have to assume that he is getting more milk than I think because he is keeping up his wet diapers. I am watching that closely. I know he is frustrated though. Me too. It is so scary to realize in this kind of stark manner that you are the ONLY person in the world who can feed your baby. Since he refuses bottles, if my supply were to go away or I never was able to have a let-down again, what? Feeding tube? Ugh. I get so fatalistic when I start going down this path. I'm all for EBF, but I am sorely wishing we had done a bit of bottle training when he was younger.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    Babies adjust. Babies who don't/won't take bottles survive. Some babies do well being fed with a cup or a spoon, or with a sippy cup or straw when they are older. I think you and your baby would get through it even if you lost any ability to breastfeed overnight (NOT saying that would/could happen, particularly in this situation, just saying if it did, you would get through it!)

    Also, your body will produce milk RIGHT AFTER YOU PUMP! It would probably take longer to have a let-down and it would take longer for a baby to get full. But on more than one occasion, I nursed one of my twins on both sides, since the other twin was fast asleep, and then that twin woke up and wanted to eat, so I put her to the breast, and guess what -- my body made milk for that baby, too!

    Hang in there -- this is hard but not the potential doomsday that your mind is tricking you into focusing on

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    Also, your body will produce milk RIGHT AFTER YOU PUMP!
    where can i get a t-shirt that says this?

    hang in there erin.carlile. So sorry for the terrible illness, hope you are all well on the mend soon.

    Your milk production should rebound just fine. You could encourage baby to nurse more often when you both feel a bit better. I would suggest not pumping when you are feeling this badly, or keeping it to a minimum, just because it is an added chore and drain when you are trying to get well.

    If you are really concerned about dehydration in your baby, my understanding is that straight water is potentially going to cause a problem. Breastmilk is preferable for handling dehydration in breastfed children, but if you think he is really not getting enough breastmilk to stay hydrated, you may want to talk to your doctor about what rehydration alternatives are recommended.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    It's OP again. Things have gotten worse. My milk may or may not be building back up, but as of yesterday afternoon I just cannot get my milk to let down. I've had let-down anxiety ever since I started having occasional trouble with it in the middle of the night a few months ago. But I was always able to distract myself with memories or making lists of things, totally disengaging from the moment actually. Which is kind of sad. Now with all the pressure of being Rory's sole source of nutrition (we have tried and tried and tried every bottle, cup, etc all to be met with screaming and jaw locking), and with his obvious frustration,pulling off the nipple and crying, etc. I cannot get the milk to come out. Even when he is sleepy and will suck consistently. I tried it about 5 times last night, for 15 minutes each time. Nothing works. I am just basically squeezing as much milk out of my ducts by hand as I can using compressions while he sucks, but after he has drunk a bit he gets pretty sad and betrayed sounding. He is staying hydrated for now, but I feel like such an awful mother unable to satisfy his hunger. I am such an anxious overthinker by nature this is just more than I can handle, especially with still being sick and constantly worrying that he will starve/dehydrate. I have talked to his pediatrician and the nurse just told me to watch diapers and behavior and keep nursing every hour, then supplement with a syringe if I can. I honestly have never been more terrified in my life and this terror is now my constant companion throughout the day and night. My adrenaline is constantly going. I can't calm down. Is there anything I can do? I would be sooo happy to wean if he would take formula some way. I can't do this. My husband tries to help, but I think he feels like ultimately he is less responsible. I am going to go insane.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Default Re: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    I am a long time anxiety-prone overthinker. It. Sucks. I know. Try to get your brain out of the scary thought loop any way you can. Try new distractions if the old ones aren't working. Deep breathing exercises. Visualization exercises. Sing to yourself, even! Remind yourself that scary thoughts are just thoughts--they aren't anything more than that.

    Just keep offering the breast, keep yourself hydrated, and do whatever works to relax you. Don't get stuck thinking the baby is going to starve. You are a good mom, you're doing all of the right things, your illness WILL pass, you will be able to feed him!

  8. #8
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    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    Oh mama, that sounds really difficult. But let's take a step back. You have a 7.5 month old baby whom you have exclusively breastfed up to this point. Right? So you CAN do this - in fact you HAVE done this! You have already proven that you can do it. You have been his sole source of nutrition. And he's staying hydrated now, which means he is getting the nutrition he needs, because right now his nutrition is coming in liquid form. He is NOT going to starve or get dehydrated. So the question is, how can you get back to the point where he was a fantastic nurser and you were both doing just fine? Sonogirl has good suggestions. If you can use visualization, breathing, meditation, exercise, making lists - whatever has worked for you in the past - use it. If those techniques aren't helping, please consider talking to someone - a professional. Because you CAN do this, right now it sounds like your anxiety is getting the better of you and if you can figure out a way to get that under control, I think it will help a lot.
    Last edited by @llli*bfwmomof3; March 1st, 2013 at 01:01 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    OP again. Sorry to keep grasping for help. Everything is still sh*t basically. I am still not having a let-down that I am aware of, so that's what, 3 days? I am still getting milk to him by doing compressions while he nurses, but most of the time, especially in the evening and at night, he is obviously frustrated and sad and still very hungry. We keep trying different bottles after and between these "feeds," to no luck. I doubt my supply will keep up if I can't get a let down going (though my breasts do seem to empty somewhat with the compressions while he nurses). And since the supply is so low as it is, I can't even get him to stay on the breast at all unless I do compressions. And that reduces what I feel as he suckles at the nipple, which makes let-down even less likely. And of course I am still a little sick, moving through life with a constant nervous stomach and pounding heart. Not good for successful nursing but I can't help it with his starvation looming. His doc said I might not be letting down precisely because I was so sick and my body is trying to prevent the loss of fluids. But I think I am pretty hydrated, I pee a lot. I still don't have a huge appetite. I just have no idea what to do. It looks like I will face a future of watching him slowly starve because he wants only what I don't have to give anymore. Everynight is so anxious as when he wakes hungry, I feed him and he is not satisfied but goes back to sleep because he is tired and weary and probably weak from no food. I'm going to take him to the doc tomorrow for a weight check, etc.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: Illness-related milk-supply drop and afraid to pump

    Hi mama, first - no need to apologize for posting! That's what we're here for! Okay, so my question right now is - what is actually making you think your supply is low? Because it's common for moms to stop feeling let-down as time goes on. So the fact that you are not having that sensation does not necessarily mean anything about supply. Are you still watching diapers? How do they look? How is his behavior during the day? Is he active, sitting, rolling over, interactive with you? Why do you say he is not satisfied at night after feeding?

    With regards to alternate (non-breast) feedings, have you tried cups or syringes?

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