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Thread: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

  1. #1

    Default 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    So here's the overview, I've been exclusively nursing my son since birth with no supplementation. Nursing was going fairly well and he started sleeping through the night 12 hours with no feeds by 3 months. At 4 months he got the typical 4 month fussies, which coincided with a decreased pump output (I pump once at night 3 hours after I put him down and feed the milk back into him the next day). At 3 months I could get 2 let downs in 10 minutes and get 3-3.5oz total. Then it extended to 20 minutes for the second let down, then 30 minutes for 2-2.5oz. Now at 6 months it can take 40-50 minutes for a second let down, and I'm getting less and less milk each time.

    I had a sudden drop in supply 2 months ago that ended up being my first ovulation, and my supply has been permanently lowered ever since. Now that I am finishing up my second period my supply has taken another permanent hit. I struggle for a second let down, and it appears my breasts refuse to fill up. I get the same amount after letting them sit for an hour as I do letting them sit for 3 hours, ie I used to be able to feed him 3+oz after sitting for 3 hours but not anymore. And I know for a fact my pump output mirrors what my baby gets nursing because I have done weighed feeds periodically since he was born. My last weighed feed yielded 1.5oz total in 1 let down 3 hours after his last feed, which is identical to what I get pumping.

    I don't understand this! Why are my let downs taking much longer and letting down less milk? My son is not a big boy, he's always been 10th percentile and falling. Why does it seem like every single cycle is lowering my output permanently? For the past week I went all out and fed him EVERY HOUR during the day and my supply still will not budge. Still dead set on not giving a second let down before 30 minutes, and still not giving a drop more than 1.5oz. I just pumped tonight and got less than 1.5oz in my first let down. I can't take this anymore, it's driving me insane. Why is my body trying to starve my baby? We have started solids but I always nurse before giving him some so I'm empty and he's not filled up first, he gets less than 4oz of solids a day, though he'd gladly take more. On days that I try to skip solids he is a complete crabby starving mess despite putting him to breast every time he whimpers. It doesn't help that the few times I leave him in the care of someone else (I telecommute so no daycare) they ALWAYS remark how fast he scarfs down the pumped milk and seems to hungry and desperate. It makes me feel awful. It makes me feel like I'm going to permanently hurt his development or something because he's not getting proper nutrition from me.

    If I had to guess I'd say he gets approximately 15-17oz of my milk a day, which doesn't seem like enough, and I have to feed every hour to get that much into him since if I let him go 3 hours (where he used to be) he will get the same paltry amount and act starving. I have tried fenugreek 3@3x daily and it does not help. I have tried lactation cookies, I have tried power pumping, I have tried letting this kid spend all day on my boob, I drink so much water my pee is practically clear some days and NOTHING HELPS. I don't know his diaper output because I'm confused as to what constitutes a full wet diaper. He poops every day.

    I don't think I can save my supply at this point because it seems affected by my cycle. Things were fine until it started up again. It just keeps going down with each passing cycle and I don't know how much longer I can keep my baby fed on milk. Do I just up his solids to compensate? I abhor the idea of supplementing with formula and I'd rather he eat real food then guzzle that stuff.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    My guess is that this is a probably a problem of perception. Here's why:
    - Most moms yield more milk when pumping during the first weeks/months of breastfeeding, and find that yield goes way down with time. The decline in output you're seeing is probably normal.
    - Having a baby who is in the 10th percentile doesn't mean that there's a problem with weight, any more than having a baby in the upper percentiles does. Healthy babies come in all shapes and sizes, and statistically speaking there are just as many babies in the 20th percentile as there are in the 90th, just as many in the 1st percentile as the 99th, etc.
    - A lot of babies get really into solids when they first start them, acting very eager for them, fussing when they don't get what they want. (The converse is also normal, with many babies rejecting or being disinterested in solids.)
    - Most babies scarf down their bottles. Bottles deliver a fast flow and babies don't really have to work to get fluid out- hold a bottle upside down and it will drip- and this results in rapid intake. Also, a lot of caregivers don't know how to give a bottle. They're supposed to hold the bottle upright so that the baby has to suck in order to get the milk out, they're supposed to pause the feeding after every oz or so of milk. So if your sitters give a bottle in the "typical" way, that could also result in your baby eating very fast.
    - He's pooping every day- that's a good indication that he's getting plenty to eat.
    - Need for milk declines over time. Milk supply tends to peak in early infancy when growth is fastest, adjusts and holds fairly stable until 6 months, and then gradually falls as the baby increases his solid food intake and growth rate slows further.

    All that being said, I can understand why you're concerned. Here's what I would do:
    - Continue to nurse frequently. If your baby really is eating only small amounts, then he needs to eat frequently.
    - If you're comfortable doing weighed feeds, do a whole day's worth of them. Maybe 2 days worth. The occasional weighed feed doesn't tell you much, since it's a one-time snapshot of intake, and intake can vary a lot. You really want a sense of your baby's average daily intake.
    - Check your pump. Pumps tend to wear down with time, and shield size often changes.
    - Evaluate your health. Make sure you're not anemic, get your thyroid levels checked (postpartum thyroiditis affects around5% of women, and can impact milk supply), just generally make sure everything is as it should be. Throw a pregnancy test in there, too; pregnancy can make your supply tank. Think about your birth control- if you are using any form of hormonal contraception, that could be having an impact on supply. Some moms find that even supposedly safe methods like Mirena and the mini-pill have a negative impact on supply.
    - When you're choosing solids for your baby, aim for the high-calorie ones. Meats, beans, and avocado are all good for a baby this age. No need to start with fruits, veggies, or cereals- and if you do offer them, maybe add a little olive oil to them. He's a little guy, and high-cal solids are a good way to hedge your bets when it comes to nutrition.
    - If supplementation becomes necessary, I feel that it makes sense to choose formula until the baby turns 1. I totally understand why you abhor it! But it provides more balanced and more complete nutrition than just about any solid food you can offer.

  3. #3

    Default Re: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    Hmm, I know for a fact I'm not pregnant (not on birth control but my husband and I don't have sex regularly, he has ejaculation issues) but I really should get checked for anemia and thyroid issues. I was anemic while pregnant despite taking added iron. I wonder if now that my cycles are returning it's making me anemic. I don't have a GP but I do have to go in for a pap smear soon, could my GYN/OB check those? Would anemia cause these issues?

    I think my biggest issue with all of this is that we're going backwards. Instead of making it to 3-4 hours and getting 3-4oz in a feed like I used to, I won't let down enough the first time and it takes forever for a second let down, so he only ends up getting an oz or 2 if I make him wait. I don't think it's normal or preferable for an almost 7 month old to need to nurse hourly because my stupid boobs refuse to work properly...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    Your gyn should certainly be able to check you for both anemia and thyroid levels. If they are reluctant to do so, just smile and say you'd like the tests done, please.

    You're not going backwards, I promise!!! I know it seems like a 6-7 month old baby should be able to go longer between feedings, but it doesn't work that way for all moms and all babies. This is a cool article about storage capacity and how that can affect nursing frequency: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dph/chs...number2011.pdf.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Default Re: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    Did I read this right and he's still sleeping 12 hours at night?

  6. #6

    Default Re: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    Yes, he is still sleeping 12 hours, though his sleep seems more restless. There are times where he will wake up and cry for a minute then fall back asleep. He also seems grumpier when he wakes up then he used to be, but he still has not required a night feeding before 5am since he was 3 months.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    Allowing your baby to sleep through without nursing could be the cause of the lower supply you have during the day. (Good catch, Zaynethepain!!!) Usually it's fine to let the baby sleep, if he isn't waking to feed. But for some moms- particularly working moms who need to rely on the pump- nighttime feedings are key to maintaining good daytime supply. And nighttime feedings can reduce daytime demand. Right now your LO is trying to get all his calorie needs met in 12 hours. A lot of other babies demand less during the day because they're also feeding fairly frequently at night.

    If this were my baby, I would start waking him for a dream-feed right before you go to bed.

  8. #8

    Default Re: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    Well I figure since I pump several let downs before bed over the course of 2-3 hours and then feed it back into him the next day, what would the point be? He still ends up with that milk in his tummy so it isn't like it's going to waste. I'm not sure I like the idea of waking him from a dead sleep to suck out a single ounce, you know? When my supply first started to dip I was letting my breasts go 9-10 hours typically. I now pump one more time at 11:30pm so my breasts are only going 7 hours instead of 9-10. I do feel fuller in the morning, but I don't know how much he is getting with that feed.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    Default Re: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    with the dream feed idea. Baby is much better at getting milk out than the pump. Even if you seem to pump the same amount that he takes in, as far as increasing your supply, his nursing will be better for that than the pump. And he may not wake up much at all...I did dream feeds with my daughter for a long time and she'd stir a little but nurse herself right back to sleep. I'd hold her for a few minutes and put her back in her crib. It's a great way to get extra calories into baby and will help your supply. Also much easier/faster than pumping & nothing to wash! And it may even slow your cycles down

    When you say he gets the milk right back the next day, does he get it in a bottle? Or mixed with foods? Do you need the pumped milk or are you just pumping to try and keep up your supply?
    DD, 7-2-2011, "Little Owl" nursed for 21 months

    DS, 10-10-2013, "Mr. Man" EBF and going strong

  10. #10

    Default Re: 6 Month Supply issues since cycle returned - Desperate!

    It's either in a bottle (level 1 nipple still) or mixed into cereal. I only pump so that I'm not leaving my breasts untouched for 12 hours. I have pretty small boobs, I know it supposedly makes no difference but my capacity really isn't much.

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