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Thread: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

  1. #1
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    Default sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    Hi everyone! I'm new here, and I'm editing down this first post because it was originally way too long. My son, who is five months, was introduced to the bottle at the hospital when the doctors strongly suggested I supplement with formula, but I managed to get him exclusively taking breastmilk at 3 weeks old. He has always had a big apetite, though, and so he established a habit of nursing for comfort and demanding a bottle of expressed milk when he was hungry. He also began daycare (4-5 hours a day) at six weeks old, so I have been pumping a great deal for him. Up until about two weeks ago, I used to pump eight ounces of milk in 30 minutes without any effort. Sometimes early on I could get 12 or 16 ounces when I pumped for longer. I have always taken herbal supplements--fenugreek and motherlove more milk blend, though I added blessed thistle a few weeks ago when I started to notice a drop in my supply. My son has always wanted to nurse through the night, and I was co-sleeping until about two months ago, when I started putting him in his crib. Even then, when he would wake up (around 4.30 a.m.), I would nurse off and on until 8:30, when he would drift off again.

    OK, so this is starting to get long again. Let me just say that last week I began to notice that I could only pump 7 ounces, even if I tried for an hour. I started to handle it by giving the pumping a break for 10 or 20 minutes; then I could usually get that last ounce I wanted (to make up two 4 oz. bottles). There had been changes in my sleeping schedule to which I attributed to the dip in supply--unfortunately I had been pulling all-nighters for work for six weeks up until that point, and finally getting more sleep actually confused my pumping schedule quite a bit--I even missed a few sessions. So this week I noticed a further--and even more striking--decline in my supply: first, I was only able to get five ounces easily, and now it is 2 or 3 ounces. I have a flexible schedule, so I absolutely force myself to get 8 ounces at least twice a day, even if it takes me several hours each time--I would rather stay up all night working than let my supply get lower than that. I will let one pumping session go at 4 ounces, though I hate to do it. I feel like I am constantly pumping. My son has actually started to nurse more often, as his latch has actually gotten quite strong, so maybe he is getting more when he does nurse. When he is home I nurse on demand, but he never really nurses for very long--maybe five or ten minutes each time. I do find that when I bring him into my bed after he wakes, his diaper has been dry, which never used to happen (after he has been in his crib for about six hours). I also felt a pain quite low in my side a few days ago, which made me think that perhaps I have begun to ovulate again, and perhaps that could be the reason. I haven't had my cycle return yet since he was born; it didn't return for almost a year with my 4-year-old daughter, so this must be normal for me. I breastfed her until she was 2.5 years old, but never exclusively (I was in the hospital for an infection when she was 2 weeks old, and never got her off the formula), so I can't really measure my current experience by my experience with her.

    So this is still a bit long, but it is actually shorter than it was. Thanks for reading--any ideas would be welcome!
    Last edited by @llli*heronbanks; May 8th, 2013 at 01:01 AM. Reason: too long!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    Welcome to the forum!

    When you were producing 8-16 oz of milk at a time, that was crazy oversupply. A far more normal amount to pump is 2-3 oz, when pumping in place of a feeding. Most breastfed babies take just 2-4 oz of milk at a time when they nurse, making up for the relatively small size of the average feeding by feeding very frequently, usually a minimum of 8 times per day. So I think you should try to view your current pump output as normal, and actually better than average!

    Don't worry too much about the dry diapers. Older babies sometimes discover how to hold their pee, in order to avoid the discomfort of sitting in a wet diaper. As long as your baby continues to have an adequate number of wet diapers in a 24 hour period, a few dry stretches are nothing to worry about.

    When a mom is having trouble getting the milk she needs, the best things she can do are:
    - Nurse more often
    - Pump more often
    - Make sure her pump is in perfect working condition
    - Make sure her shield size hasn't changed
    - make sure that she's not pregnant or on some form of hormonal contraception that is negatively impacting her 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!"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    Hi mama, welcome to the forum! You might find you get better yield with more frequent, shorter sessions. What kind of pump are you using, and is it the same one you used with your older child? Pumps do wear down. Return of your period could have a big impact as well.

    I'm a little unclear - are you still offering him bottles of expressed breast milk outside of daycare hours? It seems like you could make your life a lot easier if you restrict bottles to the times you are not together, and nurse when you are. Do you have any reason to think that he is not nursing effectively?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    Hi mamas, and thanks! I think I may have to try more pumping sessions a day--I have a feeling this should help, but I still think there is something else going on. This morning when I pumped, I felt like my breasts were uncomfortably full--I suppose I was noticing more carefully since I made this post! The milk just felt--I don't know--locked. Every once in a while it seems like I am having a let-down, but that only lasts about less than a minute at this point. I know that 8 ounces seems like an oversupply, but my little one eats a lot--he isn't overweight, but he is a big boy, and the doctors have only just recently said how impressed they were with his size and weight, considering that he is exclusively on breastmilk. He has largely rejected solids so far, too--he is only interested in his Mommy's milk, and a lot of it.

    I'm still offering him some bottles outside of daycare, but less than I used to because his latch has grown quite strong. When he gets really hungry, he rejects the breast and cries until he gets his bottle. He then sucks down 4 oz. in just a few minutes. I suppose I think he still needs the bottles because he learned to depend upon them, but even when I try to give them less often he usually comes to a point where he just "demands" his bottle. He doesn't really do this at night anymore. It reallly is a bit confusing, but I feel like I can't just refuse to give him the bottle when he gets frustrated with the breast. Part of the issue may be that his latch is so strong that he is getting far more milk than I think he is--it really is, well, quite unbelievably strong when he puts his mind to it--but then I don't think I would feel full and "locked" when I pump.

    I have one hospital grade pump and one "back-up" avent not-so-good one that I bought once a few months ago when my pump needed repair. Neither are the pumps I used with my daughter. I use the largest shield size already, and I don't think I've gotten any smaller since my milk came in. I do think the return of my cycle may be imminent--my son has been sleeping about six hours at a time, and though I always pump during those hours I think the change in night-time pattern may be bringing it back. My heart fluttered at the mention of pregnancy--I'm not on any birth control because I don't think I'm quite fertile and don't want to pass up any "opportunities"--I needed some fertility treatment (though I didn't get as far as IVF) with my son. I suppose I should take a pregnancy test just to be safe and to know, but I have this psychological thing, I suppose, about not wanting to see a negative pregnancy test, if that makes any sense (and I know it would be).

    Ultimately, though, now that I have paid closer attention I really think this is an issue of flow. Even now I feel "full," and I just pumped (I got three oz.), and I nursed a little before and after. I am also trying to drink pedialyte and gatorade in case I am dehydrated, but I have been doing this for a few days with no effect.
    Thanks again for reading--it helps so much to be able to talk about this!
    Last edited by @llli*heronbanks; May 8th, 2013 at 01:32 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    [QUOTE=@llli*mommal;1313373]

    "When you were producing 8-16 oz of milk at a time, that was crazy oversupply. A far more normal amount to pump is 2-3 oz, when pumping in place of a feeding."

    I just had a look around the internet, and I admit that I didn't actually know I had an oversupply. 16 ounces was not the norm for me; it seemed to "settle" into 8 oz., every time, 30 minutes. But if that was an oversupply, could it be that my supply is just "normalizing?" I have now read that this sometimes happens in the fifth month with women who have an oversupply. But really, for my son, it isn't that much! He had been used to taking at least four 4 oz. bottles a day, usually more, plus nursing on demand. If this ends up being my "normal," I'm afraid I will have no choice but to supplement

  6. #6
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    Default Re: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    I still think it was oversupply but if you need more you just need extra sessions.... it is not normal or sustainable to remove that much milk in a single session.... i always stayed up late for an extra session; my son drank 12 oz min every day....
    Autumn
    Moma to *Silas* 10-30-07

  7. #7
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    Default Re: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    also to prevent dehydration water is much more beneficial....
    Autumn
    Moma to *Silas* 10-30-07

  8. #8
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    Default Re: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    Well, if this is finally "normal" instead of oversupply, at least that meants that my milk might not just keep decreasing until I have nothing at all, which is really my biggest worry--so that is a great comfort. Thank you so much again!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    If you think your period might be imminent - and you're right, it could be, with the longer nighttime sleep - that can definitely contribute. I've definitely had some very dramatic supply drops right before my period. The good thing is, if that's the case, it will reverse.

    It sounds like another possible issue could be difficulty letting down for the pump? Maybe accounting for that "locked" feeling? Some moms find that various tricks to help them relax helps with letdown - NOT paying attention to how much they're pumping (because it's very easy to start getting stressed when you're worried about pump output, and then watching the milk NOT come out, and letdown is really affected by stress) - so instead watching a movie/TV (on an iPod for example), reading, listening to music; some people find looking at a picture of baby helps, other people find that doesn't help - you may just have to try some different things.

    Also, hand compressions can help release the milk that feels "stuck" in there even after pumping. Basically massaging the breast as you're pumping to help the milk get out. Or you can pump, then do some hand expression to help get things moving, then go back to the pump.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: sudden, rapid decrease in supply at 5 months pp

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*heronbanks View Post
    Well, if this is finally "normal" instead of oversupply, at least that meants that my milk might not just keep decreasing until I have nothing at all, which is really my biggest worry--so that is a great comfort. Thank you so much again!
    With the exception of pregnancy, certain medical conditions, and the use of certain medications, milk supply doesn't just spontaneously "dry up". Most of the time when a mom loses her milk supply, the issue is breastfeeding management; not nursing enough, not pumping enough, using an underpowered pump- those are the usual culprits.

    Have you considered trying different sized breast shields? Sometimes a mom will start out needing one size in order to get optimal milk removal, but then she'll transition to needing a different size somewhere along the line.
    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!"

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