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Thread: Problem with Pumping, Unbalanced Supply, and Nursing Strike

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Upstate NY

    Default Problem with Pumping, Unbalanced Supply, and Nursing Strike

    I'm the mother of a three-month old and have been breastfeeding him exclusively since he was born. Everything went really well until recently. For three weeks we've been sending him to daycare with milk that I pumped the previous day at work. I've noticed that my right breast responds really well to pumping, and the left one not as well. So what tends to happen at work is that I get 6-8 oz of milk from my right side every time I pump, but barely 1-2 oz from my left side. Probably because of the faster flow on the right side, my son has been refusing it most of the time (except late at night when he's more relaxed), and only drinks from a bottle or from my left breast. But since he doesn't get enough from the left side, we end up heating pumped milk and feeding him from a bottle. This has created a vicious cycle: my right side is always full and has a much faster letdown, but he doesn't like it, so I have to pump it to clear it even though I'm eager to feed him myself when I'm home. My left side is producing less and less milk all the time, and he doesn't get nearly enough from it. I've also found that pumping doesn't clear my right side most of the time, leaving it half-full, and no matter how hard I try, milk doesn't keep coming out after the initial 5-6 oz.

    Does anyone have any advice? It hurts to see him refusing to breastfeed. I appreciate your time and attention.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Problem with Pumping, Unbalanced Supply, and Nursing Str

    Welcome to the forum!

    When there's a problem with lopsided production, the best way to deal with it is to give more stimulation to the underperforming side by nursing and/or pumping more often on that side. At work, this might mean that you pump the overachieving right side for 5 minutes but give the underachieving left breast for 10. At home, try offering the left side for unlimited time, and pumping afterwards if possible. I would also make sure that the shield on the left is properly fitted- it's common for a mom to need two different sizes of shields, and poorly fitting shields can reduce the effectiveness of the pump.

    At home, I would strongly encourage you to limit or do without bottles. I know it's really hard not to run for a bottle when the baby finishes the left side and is still screaming for more milk- but every time you reward that sort of behavior with a bottle you're basically teaching your baby that fussing is the way to get a bottle. Result: increased fussing. If he finishes the left and is still hungry, offer the right breast. If he refuses the right, relatch him on the left and let him have a second try at getting his needs met there. And then offer the right again.

    Any chance of taking a bit of time off of work in order to take a nursing vacation- just you and baby nursing all the time, no bottles, no pumping? Maybe over Christmas?

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