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Thread: Sudden Lack of Milk During One Pumping Session

  1. #1

    Default Sudden Lack of Milk During One Pumping Session

    I'm new, so hopefully this is the right place to ask this question. If it needs to be in the working and breastfeeding board instead, I apologize.

    I have been pumping three times a day (at 9:30, 12:30, and 3:30) three days a week since the end of May without any problems until last week. Typically, I get somewhere around 4-8 ounces during my first session and then about 3 ounces for the other two sessions.

    Last week, for some reason, my pumping output for one of my sessions changed drastically. My last pumping session Tuesday of last week (Dec. 13th) I only got about a quarter of an ounce (I typically get about 3 ounces). Figuring that this was just a sign that my membranes needed to be changed, I did that and the next day my production seemed to return to normal. However, on Thursday of that week, for my second pumping session, I only got about .5 ounces. At this point, I called Medela (I have a Pump in Style Advanced) and they suggested a couple things that again seemed to fix the issue. However, back at work this week after my four day weekend, my middle pumping session was back down to .5 ounces.

    I have tried everything I can think of, including cleaning the parts between each session (I had been just refrigerating the parts cause I don't really have access to a place to clean and dry my parts at work), changing out the pump parts for all new ones per Medela's suggestion, and even changing the size of my breastshields. I still only get about .25 to .5 ounces during my middle pumping session. However, my other two pumping sessions are pretty much normal, so I'm skeptical that it's a problem with the pump itself (especially because Medela just replaced my pump at the end of September for actual suction issues). I also drink tons of water at work, eat snacks regularly, and nurse my daughter regularly when she and I are together. I have never had to supplement, but she is 10 months, so she does eat solid food three times a day.

    Has anyone ever experienced something like this happening? I have no idea what else to do besides drop to 2 sessions. But I'm a little worried this won't be enough milk for my daughter. She usually drinks 9-12 ounces while at daycare and not having this third session is only giving me about 7.5-9 ounces each day. I do have a fair amount of milk in my freezer stash (don't know the exact amount) so I could probably make it work until she turns 1 at the end of January.

    I plan to call Medela tonight, but other than replacing my pump again, I don't know that there is anything else they can do for me.

    Any advice or experience with something like this? Is it possible my body is just telling me that it's time to go to two sessions and get ready to wean my daughter in another couple of months?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Sudden Lack of Milk During One Pumping Session

    Welcome to the forum!

    Many moms experience a "pump slump" towards the end of the first year. It's not your body telling you that it's time to drop sessions or to get ready to wean. It's just something that happens to moms who are relying on the pump instead of being able to nurse on cue. The way to fix it is not to drop sessions but to increase milk removal; the more often and more thoroughly you drain the breast, the more milk you will make. If you were home with your baby, she would respond to a dip in supply by nursing a lot more often. You could mimic that increased nursing frequency with the pump by adding in more sessions. This increased pumping could happen at work- if your work is flexible enough to accommodate that!- or you could pump after feedings when you're home with your baby. Obviously this may mean a lot of work for you, and I don't think you absolutely need to go there considering that you have enough stored milk and how close you are to your baby's 1st birthday. If it were me, I think I would do the following:
    - Retain that 3rd session even if the milk yield continues to be very low. Any stimulation you can give your body is valuable in terms of maintaining supply.
    - Consider adding in a pump session or two at home, after baby goes to bed. This is likely to be particularly useful if your baby currently sleeps through the night.
    - Use your stored milk. This is the situation you were saving it for! In 2 more months, you will be able to supplement your breastmilk output by sending whole milk dairy products to daycare, or even switch entirely to animal milk products.
    - Don't think that you have to wean- unless you want to! Many moms stop pumping at around 12 months, but continue to nurse when they are home with their babies. Not having as much milk to pump doesn't mean your baby won't be able to get what she needs when she nurses. Most babies are better at extracting milk than pumps are.

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