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Thread: Where did my milk go?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    31

    Default Where did my milk go?

    Hi mamas -

    Posting again about my 10 month old as things keep changing...

    I feel like my milk is drying up and I have no idea if my baby is getting enough and it's causing so much anxiety and worry.

    My baby goes to bed around 8pm. I regularly pump before bed around 10-11pm and have always gotten around 4-5oz. On the rare occasion I am separated from her I've pumped at regular intervals and have gotten this much as well. So I figure this is more or less a full feeding.

    For the past 1-2 months we've been dealing with the usual issues at this age: biting, distraction, teething, etc. But I keep offering and offering and sometimes I'll pump if too much time elapses and give her what I pump. But she's always come back to the breast and so, as discussed in a previous post, it doesn't sound like she's weaning. I feel like all I do is feed her. And since she's so difficult to nurse in public, nowadays I just stay home in order to nurse.

    Nonetheless I've been feeling my supply wane for the past 2 months as well. I hardly ever feel "full" anymore and when she nurses it's usually for 3-5 minutes TOTAL. Both breasts. It just does not seem possible that she can get 4-5oz. from a soft-feeling breast in that amount of time. Also, the most I can get her to nurse is 5-6 times a day, which has always been her pattern.

    Now the pump is backing up my theory as when I pump at night I'm getting more like 2-3oz. total instead of 4-5oz. This is in 15min pumping, both breasts, with the Medela Symphony which I've been renting from day one because it was the only thing that helped relieve multiple plugged ducts which plagued me the first 5 months.

    Why would my milk just fade at 10 months? And how do I know if I need to supplement my baby? She's never been good at telling me when she's hungry.

    I keep reading getting my period back should not have stopped milk production but that's the only thing that coincides with this slow-down.

    On the one hand, I am so worried I am not giving her what she needs. On the other hand, I am worried I am over-thinking this and it will cause me to wean her early thinking we are done when we are not done.

    I've started taking fenugreek and more milk plus. How long before I can assess whether it's working? I always have a big bowl of steel cut oats in the morning as well.

    Please help! Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    middle of IA
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    1,882

    Default Re: Where did my milk go?

    it's normal for breasts to feel soft at some point as your body switches to making milk on demand, and babies do get much more efficient. it's also normal to have a "pump slump" around 10 months. but some questions:
    - how many times in 24 hrs does she nurse?
    - on demand or on a schedule?
    - how much solids?
    - any other supplemental liquids?
    - how's weight gain?
    - movement milestones like sitting/crawling/rolling over/walking?
    - how much are you pumping vs nursing? ie are you at work all day? why are you pumping in the evening, and are you feeding or storing that milk?
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    31

    Default Re: Where did my milk go?

    Hi auderey -

    She nurses approx. every 3-4 hours during the day and 1 time overnight. She's never nursed more than 6-7 times a day even as a newborn and now it's more like 5.

    It's not technically on demand because she's never really demanded it. Seriously, I wonder if she would ever tell me if she was really hungry!
    So if 3 hours has gone by, I offer. And if she refuses, I offer again in 30 mins to 1 hour after that. So in the end it usually works out that she nurses about 5 times.

    She is offered solids three times a day, always after nursing (sometimes immediately after) and always finger foods except some yogurt which I offer on a spoon but she prefers to feed herself. She is usually a good eater and happily eats a variety of meats, vegetables and fruits, all home-prepared.

    No other liquids. I worry even water will cause her to be even less interested in BF-ing so I rarely offer it. But maybe she needs it if her liquids are low?

    Weight gain was good as of 9 month check-up. She's about 24.5 lbs and off the charts for height.

    She started crawling this past month as well as pulling up on furniture, etc. and loves being walked if someone holds her hands.

    I work from home so I am with her 24/7 and she is usually nursed exclusively. I kept pumping at night once she started to sleep longer stretches because I had SO MANY painful plugged ducts in the first 5 months that I was terrified of getting more. So I freeze the milk I get before I go to bed and give 90% of it to a baby whose mom couldn't breastfeed and use it myself only when I'm really freaked out (like tonight) that my baby is not getting enough.

    She nursed literally for 2 mins. this evening and was really cranky so I gave her 4oz. in a sippy cup while I pumped. She drank 3oz. then ate a really big dinner and went right to bed without nursing. So now I'll pump again. But this is a rarity. Usually I am just offering, offering, offering. Honestly sometimes I feel like she wouldn't miss it if I never offered again.

    What's a "pump slump"? Does your body stop getting tricked by the pump at 10 months?

    Thanks for thinking this through with me! I'm really committed to making BF-ing work as long as I can no matter how many people tell me it's ok to stop.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    301

    Default Re: Where did my milk go?

    I noticed at around 10 months I felt like I had no milk, too. It was fairly dramatic. I started pumping less (at work) and my breasts felt empty a lot. I thought something was wrong but there was no problem. In my experience, this is just the change that happens around the 1-year point where your baby starts the gradual transition of getting most of her nutrition from breast milk toward getting most of her nutrition from solids. And it is normal for them to get really fast and efficient with nursing and only nurse for a couple of minutes at a time. I think of it as a shift away from the young infant stage where they take in a few oz every 2-3 hours as a "meal" maybe with some smaller drinks in between, to the toddler stage where solids really make up their meals and they drink fluids (including breast milk) as a drink. So maybe she isn't getting a full 4-5 oz when she nurses for 3 minutes but that's OK... she will drink more soon if she's still thirsty.

    If she's eating solids well, feeding herself, growing and gaining weight appropriately, hitting milestones, and nursing frequently, I don't see how there could possibly be a problem.

    In my experience, this is the stage where breastfeeding starts getting really GOOD! As she approaches the one-year point, you can ease up on worrying about her getting enough milk, about your milk supply, etc. You can start to relax and just nurse. For fun, for cuddles, for a yummy drink, for falling asleep, because mama needs to sit down and put her feet up for 5 minutes....

    If you feel like you still need to pump to avoid plugged ducts, then go for it, but please do NOT measure your breastfeeding success by how much milk you pump... your baby is growing well, presumably producing plenty of wet diapers, nursing often and eating well--that is what matters. If you think about it, you're producing an excess of breast milk... I mean, you're helping to feed someone else's baby! Which is awesome. But you don't need the milk for bottles when you're away, so it really does not matter how much you pump.

    You HAVE made breastfeeding work. You're in the (long) home stretch and it just gets better from here. (At least that is my opinion!)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    318

    Default Re: Where did my milk go?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*gigi2961 View Post
    Hi auderey -

    She nurses approx. every 3-4 hours during the day and 1 time overnight. She's never nursed more than 6-7 times a day even as a newborn and now it's more like 5.

    It's not technically on demand because she's never really demanded it. Seriously, I wonder if she would ever tell me if she was really hungry!
    So if 3 hours has gone by, I offer. And if she refuses, I offer again in 30 mins to 1 hour after that. So in the end it usually works out that she nurses about 5 times.

    She is offered solids three times a day, always after nursing (sometimes immediately after) and always finger foods except some yogurt which I offer on a spoon but she prefers to feed herself. She is usually a good eater and happily eats a variety of meats, vegetables and fruits, all home-prepared.

    No other liquids. I worry even water will cause her to be even less interested in BF-ing so I rarely offer it. But maybe she needs it if her liquids are low?

    Weight gain was good as of 9 month check-up. She's about 24.5 lbs and off the charts for height.

    She started crawling this past month as well as pulling up on furniture, etc. and loves being walked if someone holds her hands.

    I work from home so I am with her 24/7 and she is usually nursed exclusively. I kept pumping at night once she started to sleep longer stretches because I had SO MANY painful plugged ducts in the first 5 months that I was terrified of getting more. So I freeze the milk I get before I go to bed and give 90% of it to a baby whose mom couldn't breastfeed and use it myself only when I'm really freaked out (like tonight) that my baby is not getting enough.

    She nursed literally for 2 mins. this evening and was really cranky so I gave her 4oz. in a sippy cup while I pumped. She drank 3oz. then ate a really big dinner and went right to bed without nursing. So now I'll pump again. But this is a rarity. Usually I am just offering, offering, offering. Honestly sometimes I feel like she wouldn't miss it if I never offered again.

    What's a "pump slump"? Does your body stop getting tricked by the pump at 10 months?

    Thanks for thinking this through with me! I'm really committed to making BF-ing work as long as I can no matter how many people tell me it's ok to stop.
    I'm so glad you posted this. We are in the exact same situation! My baby is only 8 months, and she can crawl anywhere, absolutely anywhere anytime. I feel that she would never eat again if I didn't offer! I feel sad about it, but from what I hear on this site it's completely normal. Mine is JUST like yours. She doesn't eat as many solids yet, but I just offer, offer, offer. And I am trying not to be upset or worried if she doesn't eat. She does nurse to sleep so at least there is that.

    My baby has no schedule whatsoever. Every day is completely different. Naps are different, bed time is different, nursing is different. She hasn't had her 9 month check up yet, but I'm hoping it goes fine. Since your baby's checkup went fine and she's happy, etc. you are all set! I would try to allow yourself the freedom to stop worrying. I'll do the same!
    and Mama to two little girls

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    31

    Default Re: Where did my milk go?

    I actually got teary reading your responses, sproket and kerrieperry. Thank you for being so supportive.

    I don't know if it's a first time mom thing or if it's just what I chose to focus my anxiety on because so much was out of my control (my daughter had an operation and hospitalization at 4 months) but it just doesn't seem POSSIBLE to me that I can RELAX about something that has been so hard!!!

    And I just cannot get used to the 2 minute nursing sessions from a baby that once nursed for 45 minutes at a time. It seems impossible that she's getting enough fluids.
    She has about 3-5 wet diapers a day and poops every day or every other day. It's a little low for kellymom's guidelines... but she's definitely not lethargic!

    Here's a really basic question: when can I stop pumping to replace feedings? i.e. when she doesn't nurse for awhile, I usually pump to maintain supply. Is there a point where mamas let this go and just trust that later the baby will make up for it later and the supply will rebound?

    And, along the same lines, when should I offer her water or another beverage (cow's milk is ok with me eventually) without worry that it will impact my supply?
    If we are out and about, for ex., and she won't nurse in public (which is typically the case), I usually just take her home rather than offer water if she's thirsty.
    Is there a point when it's ok to offer other beverages and still continue to breastfeed?

    Sorry if this is obvious, but I think I've gotten so used to exclusively breastfeeding it seems really scary to introduce new factors.

    But I know I have to get better at dealing with change in order to roll with this parenting thing! I'm working on it, I promise!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    middle of IA
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    Default Re: Where did my milk go?

    i agree with PPs, it really sounds like everything is ok! i would always offer to nurse first, until 12 months, rather than give water, but if you're getting stuck at home because she won't nurse out then i don't think a little water will hurt!

    and yes, it is hard to transition from the mindset of primarily breastfeeding towards solids. for pumping moms it's about switching from building the stash to using the stash, but you are going through a similar transition!

    and i agree with PP that this age is when breastfeeding really pays off. so start relaxing!
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    31

    Default Re: Where did my milk go?

    It's me again.

    I am trying really hard not to worry but the past two nights she's had a large amount of solids for dinner and has refused her bedtime nursing.

    That means she's down to 4 nursings a day. And they are short!

    Am I really not supposed to worry about this? It seems so dramatic. And does 4 wet diapers mean she's getting enough fluids?

    Ugh!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    21,389

    Default Re: Where did my milk go?

    I don't think you're not supposed to worry. This sort of nursing slowdown can be an indication that a baby is heading for a nursing strike, and nursing strikes can turn into premature weaning.

    I think you do have to work on keeping your worry to yourself, though. You want to keep nursing positive for your LO, not make it into a source of stress.

    4 wet diapers is enough if the diapers are very wet and the urine is pale and mild-smelling. And don't forget to count poop diapers in the tally- most poop diapers contain at least some pee.
    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!"

  10. #10
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    Aug 2013
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    31

    Default Re: Where did my milk go?

    There's a MAJOR slowdown going on.

    Not only has she reduced overall time on the breast, in the past few days I can barely get her to take the right breast at all (it's always been the slower, less productive one).
    She latches and just holds it in her mouth, sucks once then pause, pause, pause, pause... suck, pause, pause, pause, pause...
    Eventually one or both of us gets bored with this and I will switch her to the other side. Then she nurses for 2 min and she's done.
    And this is a "good nursing" or what I am counting in the 4 total per day that I am getting her to nurse!
    (Also when I pump the right side now I get 1 oz. compared to the 2.5 oz. I was getting.)

    I can count on both hands the number of times I've resorted to a sippy cup so I really don't think there's nipple confusion going on.

    I know there must be SOME babies who wean early and there's nothing a mama can do.

    It's really hard to keep my stress out of it. I'm now breaking down pretty regularly. I just feel so rejected and confused.
    And also uncertain of whether I should be offering her other fluids. There are probably 2 wet diapers, 2 damp ones and 1 poop per day.

    The fenugreek and more milk plus does not seem to be doing anything thing other than give me a stomachache. It's been three days.

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