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Thread: Used to make a lot...now not enough

  1. #1

    Default Used to make a lot...now not enough

    Hi everyone, I've contacted doctors and lactation consultants but haven't heard back from anyone. Meanwhile, each pumping output gets more depressing. I apologize for the long post but I want to give all the details since I've tried so many things.

    My son is 5 and a half months and I've been exclusively breastfeeding this entire time. My husband and I experimented when he was 3 months and determined he needed three 4.5 ounce bottles while I'm at work and he is at daycare. Aside from the 3 bottles, he nurses when he wakes, 1-2 times before bed, and 2-3 times in the night (for a total of 7-9 feedings each day).

    I've been pumping at least 1 bottle since he was 1 month old and used to produce way more milk than I needed but since he started daycare at 3 months, I've been making less and less with time and he wakes more at night to eat (he used to be able to go for 6-7 hours without waking). When I don't make enough, I use milk from my freezer stash to make up the difference and/or drop him off late/pick him up early so I can feed him myself and only have to give the daycare 2 bottles.

    I've replaced different parts of my pump, tried different sized flanges and different settings (although I'm still not sure which are best). I've been taking fenugreek 3 times a day and recently started taking milk thistle. I eat oatmeal regularly. I seem to only be pumping enough for 3 ounce bottles but I'm scared to decrease the amount he gets at daycare.

    In these past two months, it did seem like either he or I was sick, including a recent bout of food poisoning for me, so certainly this may have contributed to me making less. Also, initially, the daycare was overfeeding him which certainly didn't help my supply but it was only a few days that this happened and almost a month ago now. In general, I've done a lot of troubleshooting to increase my supply but I'm not even seeing a slow increase.

    Despite all of the above, on weekends, my son seems to be fine getting enough from me and can go a bit longer between feedings than he can with the bottles.

    I should say that when I was getting the most milk, it was because I was pumping right after feeding him in the morning, then doing two more sessions with 3 hours between them. I can't do that anymore and get to work on time so I pump every 2.5 hours to get in the 3 sessions (which is how long he seems to be able to go at daycare between bottles). The only other piece of this puzzle is that my son is very difficult to put to sleep and has not been sleeping much at daycare. If my husband watches him at home, he can get him to nap and then sometimes we only need 2 bottles instead of 3 while I'm away.

    He'll probably start solids next month which may help but I'm not sure how much and I'd like to avoid having to add formula to the mix when we've come this far without it. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012

    Default Re: Used to make a lot...now not enough

    Maybe its a let down thing. Try really relaxing and watching a phone video of your baby nursing while you are pumping. Also mothers milk tea is awesome. Have you started taking any medications lately like alergy meds or birthcontrol? both can decrease supply.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Used to make a lot...now not enough

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*randiocoy View Post
    Maybe its a let down thing. Try really relaxing and watching a phone video of your baby nursing while you are pumping. Also mothers milk tea is awesome. Have you started taking any medications lately like alergy meds or birthcontrol? both can decrease supply.
    It does seem like I'm not getting that 2nd letdown when I end up short. I've tried watching videos of him, breathing exercises, and so on. Massaging throughout the pumping session does help me get more but like yesterday - when that 2nd letdown didn't come, it didn't matter how much I massaged. No on the allergy meds or birth control. I'll pick up some mother's milk tea.

    Thanks for helping me troubleshoot!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Used to make a lot...now not enough

    Hi mama, so, one thought I have is that if you are pumping 3 oz every 2.5 ounces, that may be exactly what your son would be drinking at the breast - a 3 oz "meal" at that interval would be very typical for a breastfed baby. So I wonder if there is still a degree of overfeeding going on. Especially since when DH watches him at home, he ends up taking 9 oz rather than 13.5. And the fact that he is not sleeping well at daycare to me suggests the possibility that he's not taking his naps, but he's still going to be tired because a baby this age NEEDS those naps, therefore he'll be cranky and fussy, and the daycare providers are using the bottles as a soothing technique. So perhaps doing some troubleshooting with them: what are ways to help your LO go down for his nap? Does he need to be rocked, bounced, in a swing, patted on the back? How does your husband get him to nap, and can your daycare provider try those techniques? And what about experimenting around cutting down the bottle size? You can do this slowly: first experiment with a 4 oz bottle, then maybe a 3.5 ounce bottle, etc.

    Solids is not going to help you at this point. Breastfeeding is the primary source of nutrition up to a year. When baby starts solids he may swallow a few bites or a spoonful. Really it's for him to learn tastes, textures and motor skills so that after a year he can transition to solids being the primary form of nutrition.

    Sounds like you've done troubleshooting around your pump, which is good. What kind of pump are you using? Is it new or used? Some lightweight pumps just don't hold up very well under the strain of three-time-a-day daily pumping. One option to consider, that some mamas on here will swear by, is to switch to a rental hospital grade pump (such as the Medela Symphony), as least temporarily.

    Lastly, the best way to increase supply is to increase demand. So while you're trying to work all this out - is there anywhere in there you can squeeze in an extra nursing or pumping session? In the car on the way back and forth to work? At night before you go to bed?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Austin, TX

    Default Re: Used to make a lot...now not enough

    I agree with everything Bfwmomof3 said ^above^ ... the only other thing I would add is that I think the supply drop you are experiencing sounds pretty normal to me. You didn't specify actual ounces (like what your total pump output used to be vs what it is now -- you just said it is "less" so I'm not sure exactly HOW much less). But in my personal experience -- I went back to work when baby was 12 wks old, and within three months, my daily output/take home amount dropped by about 25-30%. But then it stabilized and stayed at that level. What I realized later -- after getting advice on these boards and from my local LLL leaders -- was that I probably had a touch of oversupply in the first few months, and going back to work just happened to coincide with the natural syncing up with baby's demand that was bound to happen anyway ... I was just more aware of it since pumping at work gives you a way to measure it (whereas it's not like you have a gauge on your breast at home to tell you how full or empty you are!). It turned out that the "lower" pump amount was exactly what my baby needed while away from me. So I would try the smaller size bottles for a week or so and see what happens (and the method above to gradually reduce the size sounds great) while working with the DCP on other soothing techniques besides the bottle. Worst case scenario is you go back to the original bottle size and modify your pump schedule to make up for it, switch pumps, get more nursing in, etc... but you might be pleasantly surprised that your output is just right for baby

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    Default Re: Used to make a lot...now not enough

    I was about to post a new thread, because this is exactly my problem, too. I went back to work when baby was 13 weeks and was easily pumping 16+ ounces in three sessions while away from my baby for a total of 10 hours. And he was eating 14-16 oz during that time. I've been back at work for 6 weeks now and I can only pump 12-14 oz per day. But he is still eating 14 or 15 oz regularly, and sometimes takes 16 or 18. I know that seems like a lot. My mom watches him and, though I try to discourage over feeding, she insists that he is actually hungry. Like the OP, my mom has trouble getting him to nap well, so he's often very tired by late afternoon.

    Additional info: baby has reflux, I am on a gluten, dairy and soy free diet, and I drink mothers milk tea. Baby sleeps with me and night nurses after his first waking. Baby recently started nursing for short periods of time, except when tired and falling asleep. His weight gain has always been good, but he's in 50th percentile on the (combo) charts.

    What should I do? My freezer stash is almost gone. I've added in a middle of the night pumping session after he nurses around 3am; I get 3-4 oz then. I never wake up engorged anymore.

    I'm worried I can't keep up with him!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Used to make a lot...now not enough

    Hi everyone,
    Not sure if anyone will read this since it is so after the fact but I figured I would put an update in case others are experiencing this problem.

    I couldn't comprehend why I was having this issue so I broke down and got a scale. For a weekend, I weighed my son before I fed him and then after to get a rough estimate of how many ounces he was eating for the day. It was plenty! 35oz. I knew I was making enough. What's more, the two nursing sessions that corresponded with when he got bottles at daycare were exactly what I was pumping (7oz or so and not 10oz).

    What other posters said was correct - he was being overfed. Whether it was the daycare or family, it was very difficult to convince people that he was tired and not hungry. In addition, the bottles were definitely faster than my breasts, even with the slowest flow nipple, so that added to the problem. I got lucky and was able to move my son to a daycare near my work and I began nursing him sometimes during the day instead of doing bottles.

    As time went on, my pump yield would decline. I would get worried and then check his intake with the scale. His intake always matched what I was pumping and I learned that the decrease was normal, especially as his intake of solids increased.

    Now, I do think that because I pumped irregularly (doing some direct nursing and some pumping which differed day to day) was leading to a decrease in my pumping output. It seemed like my breasts could be trained by the pump to produce more but it had to be on a more consistent basis for it to be successful.

    I would suggest to others to pump at consistent times every day of work. A regular 5 day schedule may be better than a 3 day schedule, if I may speculate. Sometimes you'll make less milk and this is normal. However, the baby should only be given what you made and nothing from the freezer stash. This is incredibly hard to do. You think your baby will starve or be upset but the truth is they don't need that ounce or two you are short to survive that day. A good caregiver can distract them or help them get their sucking needs without using more milk. This became apparent to me when I switched daycares.

    I used the fat getting stuck on the bottle to my advantage with the previous daycare. I would say there was more in the bottle than there actually was and lo and behold, my son wasn't "asking" for more milk those times.

    When he was older and was allowed to have water, my husband would add some water to bottles that were especially low and that satisfied him just fine. Be careful with water though! It is definitely not a substitute for milk.

    So that's my story. 9 months and still breastfeeding when I thought I wasn't going to make it past 6.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Used to make a lot...now not enough

    Glad you were able to troubleshoot your problems successfully! I think you give some great advice.

    I would be careful about adding water to the bottle, though, as you say - I can see how that could have the potential to go very wrong in the wrong hands. But I'm glad it worked for you and your husband.

    That's great that you are still going strong with breastfeeding!

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