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Thread: White nipples when pumping & low milk supply

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014

    Default White nipples when pumping & low milk supply

    My daughter is 6 weeks old and in the last few weeks I am finding that I seem to have a low milk supply and am struggling to get more that 100mls off on the pump, which isn't enough for her demand. Whilst pumping I have noticed that my milk flow suddenly stops, even though I am clearly not empty and when I remove the shields my nipple turns white, like the blood flow has been cut off and I get pain down my nipple.

    My daughter had issues with feeding when she was born as she has rhesus incompatibility and was very jaundice making her to tired to feed. I would express what I could and top her with formula. As my supply increased, I stopped the formula top ups and solely breastfed with expressed top ups to ensure she was taking enough milk, as she also had issues with weight gain.

    At the beginning, I did not have any issues expressing and could continually get milk without my nipples turning white and get a good milk flow. This has been a recent thing in the last few weeks and I am finding even with increasing my breast feeds, my breasts do not seem to be getting as full. My baby on occasion seems to be getting quite distressed on the breast and even though my breasts aren't empty, I am forced to resort to a formula top up, as I do not have enough expressed for her, so that it will settle her and she can return to the breast.

    I am using a madela symphony pump and was advised to try larger shields as I do have very large nipples. I have noticed some improvement on an extra large shield however the white nipple still appears and milk flow will again stop when this happens. I have tried stimulating my breast for at least 5 minutes before I go on the pump and tried using a hot water bottle before and after being on the pump as this was also recommended but the issue continues. I have also tried pumping more regularly to see if this helps. Any suggestions what this may be and what I can do about it? There is an extra extra large shield I can purchase will this resolve it?


    FYI, I do have to pump as my daughter has colic and takes folic acid due to her condition and will only take them with milk. Also she doesn't settle for more than 10 minutes if a bottle isn't offered.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: White nipples when pumping & low milk supply

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby!

    The most likely explanation for the white nipple you're seeing is something called a vasospasm, which is a sudden and usually quite painful constriction of the blood vessels in an extremity, in this case the nipple. You want to treat the vasospasms with heat and attempt to prevent them by using correctly sized shields and by starting your pump off at a low speed and only gradually turning it up. If you can keep your body generally warm, by doing things like wearing warm clothes and socks or slippers, that should also help.

    Your pump output actually sounds fine. 100 ml is 3.38 fluid oz, which is a normal amount of milk to pump. Remember that the average feeding is just 2-4 oz (that is, 59-118.3 ml), though it is very common for babies to take significantly more than that when they are eating from the bottle instead of the breast. The bottle flows a lot faster the breast, delivers a fast flow even when the baby is nursing solely for comfort, and it is easy for even the most sensitive bottle-feeding parent to encourage a baby to drink a little faster or to take the last few ml in a bottle even when the baby is full.

    Not feeling full means nothing. When a mom's supply is well-matched to her baby's needs, she will rarely if ever feel full. Fullness is something a mom experiences only when she's making more milk than her baby needs.

    How much formula are you using per day? And how often are you using the bottle?

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