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Thread: Questions about low milk supply/increasing milk production

  1. #1

    Default Questions about low milk supply/increasing milk production

    Hi,

    I have an 8 week old baby. I was breastfeeding for the past 7 weeks with some formula supplementation. I was planning on quitting around week 7 for many reasons but not because I wasn't making enough. At that point, I was making close to 5 ounces between both breasts each feeding. I drastically stopped feeding for 4-6 days before I decided I didn't want to quit and wanted to retry breastfeeding. I have been repumping for the past 2-3 days and my supply is so low. I will pump both breasts and old get about half an ounce. Will my breast be able to produce as much as I was before? I have only been able to pump 3-4 times a day but I am assuming if I do it a lot more often, more milk will be made? Is there anything I can do to get the milk to produce more? Also, will I not get my period as long as I am breastfeeding? Even if it is a low amount I get.

    Thanks,
    Kristin

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    5,259

    Default Re: Questions about low milk supply/increasing milk producti

    Is baby still nursing? So is the pumping in addition to nursing baby?

    What kind of a pump are you using? is it new?

    5 ounces per pump session is actually a bit high. But it is odd your production dropped so much in one week. With more frequent milk removal (nursing and/or pumping) it should increase. Also there are herbs, foods and even medications you can consider for helping production, but the first and most important thing is to be removing milk from the breasts frequently and well. Frequently means at the very least, 8 times in 24 hours.

    Because you did establish some production in the early weeks, you should be able to bring your production back to at least around where it was before. A possible problem is that due to the formula supplementation you may have never had a "full" production established. BUt milk production can be increased even in that case in many cases.

    What is your goal now? If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to be doing in, say, two weeks? Nursing exclusively? Combining nursing and formula? Nursing part of the time, and pumping and supplementing with your own milk? Some other combination?

    Also, will I not get my period as long as I am breastfeeding? Even if it is a low amount I get.
    A mother can get her period while she is breastfeeding. Which means she can ovulate while nursing, which means she can get pregnant while nursing.

    Breastfeeding does in general suppress fertility, but it works a bit differently with each mom. A mom could possibly get her period even if she is exclusively breastfeeding a young baby. Certainly if mom is NOT exclusively breastfeeding, it is likely she will get her period sooner than if she were. And if she is not breastfeeding at all, her period is likely to return even more quickly. In any case, certainly at this point you cannot rely on breastfeeding to suppress your fertility.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Questions about low milk supply/increasing milk producti

    Baby is not nursing at the breast, but I have been giving him pumped breastmilk when I have enough and I had some frozen when I was pumping a lot. He never had a problem attaching or feeding at the breast so I am not worried about him being able to do that again. I did use a nipple shield some of the time when he would get frustrated. I was just pumping instead of breastfeeding. Should I feed the baby and then pump as well? I am trying to be realistic as well because i have twin boys that are 2.5 years old at home as well. This was in part why I was going to quit and do formula but in a perfect world, I would like to exclusively breastfeed. The formula doesn't settle well with his stomach and his bowels get constipated. I am using a medela breastpump and yes it is new. I pump for 10-15 minutes. Is that long enough? The 5 ounces per session was for both breast so each would produce between 2 and 2.5 ounces. Now, the production is extremly low but I am also only pumping 2-4 times a day. If I double my pumping or nurse the baby before he gets formula, do you think that will increase the production? I haven't caused my milk ducts to dry up yet have I? Do you know what foods, herbs, medications that I could use? I prefer to go the food route but would like to know what you suggest. I am also having a hard time drinking lots of fluids because I stay so busy throughout the day. Do you think this could cause the low production as well? My goal would be to mostly breastfeed but possible supplement formula at night for longer sleep. It is hard to feed all night long when I stay at home with three boys under three and not get any rest. I don't mind exclusively breastfeeding/pumping during the day, or at least that is what i would like. Thank you for the advice about my period. I am being very careful to not get pregnant again. My main reason in asking was that I have very strong/painful periods and was hoping the breastfeeding would suppress them from coming back as long as possible. My OBGYN wants me to get on birth control pills but I don't seem to tolerate them too well. Thanks so much for your advice!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Questions about low milk supply/increasing milk producti

    I strongly suggest you read the articles I will link below and/or the book Making More Milk for ideas on galactagogues and increasing milk production. You could also see a board certified lactation consultatn to help you form a plan that works for you.

    First and foremost I strongly suggest, bring baby back to the breast NOW. Just because baby latched and nursed fine before means nothing, once a baby starts being bottle fed exclusively, it is very common that baby quickly "unlearns" the breast and stops being able to latch and nurse effectively or simply refuses the breast. Getting a baby back to the breast once this happens is possible but difficult. So if your baby WILL nurse, let baby nurse. A lot. Once baby is nursing well and getting milk, you can start cutting out formula/bottles and pumping sessions.

    When feeding baby with a bottle, do so in a method that is breastfeeding supportive. Try small amounts (2-3 ounces) fed very frequently, on cue as much as possible. A baby this age would normally nurse at least 10 times in 24 hours. So that is what you are wanting to replicate with the bottle. You could consider using a lactation aid so baby can get supplements at the breast so you don't need the extra step of bottle feedings.

    Pump as much as you can, at LEAST 8 times a day until you are sure baby is getting more milk when baby nurses. You can pump after nursing or formula feedings if you like, or pump at other times. Pump when it work best for you. The general recommendation is to pump for 15-20 minutes per side at first and adjust that up or down as needed. To build production, you may need to pump for a few minutes past when you are no longer ejecting milk.

    But frequency is more important for building production than length of pump sessions. So if you have to choose between the two, choose frequency.

    Trouble shoot your pump. Check the connections and tubing for fraying or tears, and change the membranes. I assume you are using a personal use pump. It may be helpful to rent a hospital grade pump for a few weeks while you work on increasing your production.

    My OBGYN wants me to get on birth control pills but I don't seem to tolerate them too well. Thanks so much for your advice!
    It is important to avoid any hormonal bc while dealing with low milk production if you safely can. Hormonal bc is very likely to harm milk production.

    Shortly after birth, milk production becomes primarily a demand and supply system. Normally, Milk increases over the first 4-6 weeks based on how often it is removed from the breasts. Your milk production is low now, because baby was partly fed with formula and you did not pump often enough to counteract that.

    Whether you can get it back and to what degree is unknowable. It is certainly very possible. Many mothers increase milk production, quite a bit in many cases. Mothers have relactated and induced lactation. So I believe it is likely you can increase your milk production. But it will take commitment and effort. This commitment and effort will include going without long sleep stretches so you can pump and/or nurse a few times at night, and taking time to drink water and eat enough. You do not have to be overly hydrated, but certainly dehydration will harm milk production.

    I know it is so very hard to be caring a baby and two 2 year olds. I am sorry that you will now need to do all this extra work to increase your production, at the time most moms of breastfed newborns are starting to find a rhythm and life gets a little easier, you are going to have to work hard to undue the damage that has been done to your production. All I can tell you is many, many moms have done it. Moms with twins, moms with several young children, moms who are working outside the home as well...it can be done. It is not easy by any means for any mom, but it can be done.

    Foods that are suggested that may help milk production are oatmeal, barley, brown whole grain rice...you may find others in your research.


    bottle feeding breastfed baby: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf

    lactation aids: http://cwgenna.com/smartnothard.html and http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/conte...agename=doc-LA

    Low milk production: links to several related articles including one on galactagogues at end of this one: http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supp...es/low-supply/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,813

    Default Re: Questions about low milk supply/increasing milk producti

    with LLLMeg. I just want to emphasize that when it comes to milk production, frequent nursing or pumping is a million times better than any herb, food, or drug. I know pumping 8 times a day is daunting- I've done it. But other than having a nursing baby, there is no better way to boost supply.

    If your ob is pushing birth control pills, don't be afraid to push back. Your ob's job is to LISTEN to you, and to help you find a form of birth control that works for you. So if you say that you don't like the pills, then your ob should pull out a menu of alternate options. What have you used before? What are you looking for- or looking to avoid- in a contraceptive? Of you let us know, maybe we can suggest some options.
    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!"

  6. #6

    Default Re: Questions about low milk supply/increasing milk producti

    Thanks so much! I haven't gotten up to the 8 pumpings yet but I did do 5 today and breastfed once. I did notice a little more than I was making but not much. Maybe it just takes time to build back up. The baby seemed to nurse pretty good today. I have been feeding him 5 ounces of formula every 4-5 hours, so I don't think he will get enough from me until I start making more. I will keep increasing the amount of times i pump.

    In regards to the BC...I have never tolerated the pills well. It gives me a lot of hormonal issues and they make me feel bad. I am just trying to be extra careful right now so I don't get pregnant.

    Thank you so much for all the help. I hope to be producing a lot more soon.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    20,813

    Default Re: Questions about low milk supply/increasing milk producti

    In order to increase the number of times your baby will be hungry enough to try nursing, I would try reducing the amounts of formula you're putting in the bottles. Instead of feeding him 5 oz every 4-5 hours, try feeding him 2 oz every 2 hours, or maybe 2-3 oz every 2-3 hours, just to start. If he's still hungry after finishing 2 oz, then you would have an opportunity to offer the breast, and maybe with his hunger somewhat calmed but not completely sated, your baby would have the patience to nurse for a nice long time. Worth a shot!
    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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