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Thread: I'm not responding to pumps anymore. Help!

  1. #1

    Exclamation I'm not responding to pumps anymore. Help!

    My son is 5 months old. At first, our breastfeeding journey went smoothly. I knew I needed to store milk for when I went back to work, so I pumped from about 2 weeks. I used to get 5oz out of each breast. Then, at about 10 weeks, my supply dropped overnight. I thought it was just regulating. When I first went back to work at 12 weeks or so, I would get 3-4 ounces total, after pumping from both sides for 20 minutes. I tried power pumping thinking my milk supply was dropping further.

    I went to the Dr recently and found out my son had dropped to the 12th percentile and she suggested I supplement with formula, which I am adamantly against. I started taking fenugreek and making lactation cookies to help my supply, thinking that was part of the problem. Now, I feel like my breasts are full of milk even after he eats. I try to pump but nothing comes out, no matter how full I feel.

    I took my baby to be weighed before and after he ate and found he ate 4oz today. I try to pump, and nothing comes out. The tricky thing is, I can hand express and it squirts. I can be feeding him and it squirts. But if I switch to the pump immediately, nothing comes out. I've tried buying new pump parts, even though they looked like new. I tried the medela manual pump, and still nothing comes out.

    I know I have milk now, but nothing seems to get it out except the little guy. I'm worried I won't be able to pump while I'm on work trips now and it will cause my supply to disappear. I'm so confused because I used to respond so well to the pump. I'm slowly seeing my stocked milk supply dwindle.

    What can I do? Is there any reason to suddenly stop responding to the pump? I have a Spectra s1.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    10,473

    Default Re: I'm not responding to pumps anymore. Help!

    There are a few possibilities-

    pump related: your pump does not work properly for some reason. Pumps are just machines, and they malfunction. Since manual pumps are notoriously ineffective, testing with a manual is not really a good test. It is also possible that the issue lies with your flange size.

    Breast related: When a mom has plenty of milk and milk does not extract, sometimes what is going on is mom is so engorged or at least, so full, that the milk ducts are inflamed/constricted, and milk does not move through them very well. Of course then why is hand expression and baby nursing working fine? Because these actions remove milk from the breasts very differently than does a pump. A pump relies almost entirely on suction, and a baby or your hand does not use suction at all. How a baby extracts milk is much more like hand expression than it is like pumping. The difference between how pumps work to extract milk and how a baby does is so vast, I find it amazing pumps work at all. It sounds like you had very high milk production early on (pumping 5 ounces from ONE breast is a huge amount, far above the norm) so in that case there may have been so much milk it came out easily, and when your production calmed down, it no longer did.

    This:
    I would get 3-4 ounces total, after pumping from both sides for 20 minutes.
    would be considered normal pump output. In fact many moms find they cannot get quite that much every time they pump. In that case, in order to have enough milk for baby, mom may need to pump more often. At the same time, it is important to be sure baby is not being overfed when bottle fed, because when that happens it makes it very difficult for mom to "keep up." For more info on bottle feeding the breastfed baby, let me know.

    My first suggestion would be to make sure flange size it correct, also, call Spectra customer service for troubleshooting. If you have and fit is correct, and you cannot pump much of anything, I would suggest renting a hospital grade pump to see if that helps at all. If it does, find out if you can return or exchange your current pump, which presumably is still under warrantee, and try a new pump or a different kind.

    If you cannot get reasonable amounts of milk out with a pump, then even short separations from baby (more than 4 hours) are a problem. In that case, hand expression is a viable alternative for many moms when they are separated from baby. Also many moms find a hand expression/pumping combination works.


    I went to the Dr recently and found out my son had dropped to the 12th percentile and she suggested I supplement with formula, which I am adamantly against. I started taking fenugreek and making lactation cookies to help my supply, thinking that was part of the problem. Now, I feel like my breasts are full of milk even after he eats. I try to pump but nothing comes out, no matter how full I feel.
    So are you guessing now, that your milk production was probably normal, and baby's gain was normal? Are you still taking the galactagogues or doing anything else to increase production? Are you still concerned about baby's weight gain?

    I took my baby to be weighed before and after he ate and found he ate 4oz today.
    Did you do this at a lactation consult? If so, what did they say? This is of course very good intake- entirely normal intake for a 5 month old. If a baby is capable of extracting this much when they nurse, that narrows down the possibilities a bit. It may be baby needs to nurse more often. It may be that baby is normally a person who gains a bit more slowly. Or it may be that baby is ill. In none of these situations would formula be needed, at least I do not see how.*

    *For excellent info on growth charts, weight gain, and intake, I strongly suggest the book My Child Won't Eat by the pediatrician Carlos Gonzalez.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; July 12th, 2017 at 09:12 PM.

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