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Thread: Suddenly can no longer pump any milk!

  1. #1

    Unhappy Suddenly can no longer pump any milk!

    Hi everyone, this ended up being a really long post but I would appreciate any input!

    My baby is 11 weeks old today. I have been exclusively breastfeeding and from about 5-6 weeks I have been pumping a bottle in the evening that my husband would give to the baby at midnight so I could get a longer stretch of sleep I was using a manual Medela Harmony and had no problems pumping 3-4 oz in 10-30 minutes.

    A week ago we traveled to a wedding so I didn't pump for 4 consecutive evenings. When we got back (Monday) I could just barely pump 3 oz. Tuesday I could just barely get 2 oz. and on Wednesday I could only pump a few drops.

    There are 3 things I'm considering as potential causes:
    - not pumping for 4 consecutive days -- not sure if this would have an effect
    - I started taking Tricyclen Lo about 2.5 weeks ago. My OB/GYN told me it was fine for breastfeeding but now I'm not so sure...
    - my PERIOD came back on Sunday. (I was not impressed as I had been dreaming of a few months off like I'd read about.)

    So yesterday (Thursday) I called a lactation consultant and she suggested pumping after every feed to increase supply. So I ran out and bought the Medela Pump in Style Advanced and started pumping for 10-15 mins after every feed. I've been getting very little to no milk.

    I should mention that I feel pretty confident that my baby is getting enough when I breastfeed him. He has lots of wet diapers (hasn't had a dirty in a few days, although the LC said that is normal) and he seems happy while and after nursing.

    I have so many questions. Is this a SUPPLY issue or a PUMPING issue? Is it worth it for me to keep pumping when nothing is coming out? Should I just wait a few days for my period to end and maybe my supply will increase? Should I just give up on pumping a bottle a day? How long will it take for my supply to increase if I keep up with the fruitless pumping?

    When I nurse my baby I typically feel a very obvious let-down, but when I pump I don't (and I can't remember if I felt a let-down with pumping in my "easy" pumping days).

    I stopped taking the birth control pill. I find it very challenging to nurse, pump and take care of a baby when I am the only one home during the day. I don't know how long I can keep this up.

    Would appreciate any feedback! Thanks for reading if you made it this far!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Suddenly can no longer pump any milk!

    Since baby seems happy when he nurses, I suspect that decreased pump output is not a big deal. What may well have happened is this: when your baby was new, you had more milk than you needed. Some degree of oversupply is normal in the mom of a new baby, as it helps the baby get fed while mastering the art of breastfeeding. You took advantage of this oversupply by pumping out 3-4 oz, which is quite a lot to get with a manual pump. In the long term, you were unlikely to maintain this same level of overproduction. Eventually, the body "reads" the difference between what the baby takes at the breast and what mom makes and adjusts production so that mom makes just enough. Whenever you skip a nursing or pumping opportunity, your body reads that lack of demand as a cue to decrease supply. So skipping 4 nights of pumping could easily have cued your body to decrease your supply. The fact that you were taking a hormonal contraceptive at the same time may also have played into the sudden decrease in pump output.

    Here is what I would do in your shoes:
    - Stay off the hormonal contraceptive. Even supposedly "safe for breastfeeding" hormonal methods can affect supply in some women. If you need suggestions for other options, let us know- we're happy to talk birth control!
    - Don't worry too much about the period. My guess is what you are experiencing is breakthrough bleeding related to the withdrawal of the Tricyclen hormones. If the bleeding comes back a month from now, I was wrong and it was your period. If not, I was right and it's just a fake period that you get from hormonal birth control.
    - Watch the baby. If he is always happy and satisfied after nursing, always has plenty of wet diapers, and has at least 1 voluminous poop per week, he is getting enough when he nurses, and you can stop the rigamarole with the pumping.
    - Don't give up on the idea of pumping a bottle per day, but do give up on it for now. It might be a goal too far for you at this present moment. Take a couple of weeks to focus on being in sync with your baby and making enough milk when you nurse, and then decide if a nightly bottle is worth the price of daily hard work!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Suddenly can no longer pump any milk!

    Thank you so much for your response. I had also thought that it might be related to my supply just leveling out after 10-11 weeks. I no longer feel engorged, and am leaking much less, so you are probably right about having had some oversupply initially. I may check out some of the birth control forums because I do plan on staying OFF the Tricyclen for now. And I just may take a break from pumping for now. I didn't know how much I cared about breastfeeding until I thought I might be dealing with low supply. I won't be taking it for granted from now on, that's for sure. Thanks again so much!

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