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Thread: Bringing back milk with only pumping.

  1. #1

    Default Bringing back milk with only pumping.

    So my son was born with HLHS and we've been in the hospital with him for two months now. I didn't pump enough so I never had a full supply and now I just can't muster up the energy or effort to do it anymore. We should be going home in a few days now, and I'm thinking about stopping until we get back into the swing of things


    I'm worried about my milk drying up, and because of his condition I can't breastfeed. Can I bring my milk back with just my medela pump-and-go advanced and herbs and such? I want to provide for my little heart warrior, but at the moment I just dread pumping and would like to take a break.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    10,753

    Default Re: Bringing back milk with only pumping.

    Hi jenna95rae. Welcome to the forum. It must feel good to finally be going home but I imagine that brings on its own stressors, so I understand wanting to take a break from pumping.

    There are two potential problems with doing so. The first is that if you stop pumping entirely cold turkey, you put yourself at risk for getting engorged, developing plugs, and coming down with mastitis. I do not know if you have experienced these before, but mastitis in particular will make you feel exceedingly ill. It is usually quickly cleared up with a course of antibiotics and pumping again (you have to start moving the milk out if this happens as it is caused by milk stasis.) Yet it can really put you down for a few days and in rare cases, complications occur and mom needs to be hospitalized- so you can see this could be potentially a very serious problem. Also, being worn down, sleep deprived and stressed puts you at a higher risk for mastitis. So my best suggestion if you want to stop pumping, to avoid this risk, wean gradually and carefully off the pump, but that could take many weeks.

    The other issue is that no longer pumping will certainly reduce your milk production from where it is now, and, over time but fairly quickly, tell your body to stop making milk entirely. When milk production is lowered this way, there is no guarantee that milk production can be brought back, whether by pumping or nursing. Herb galactagogues may help, but not all moms respond to those and those that do respond still must also be pumping frequently and effectively as well.

    Basically, it is much more reliably possible to maintain a certain level milk production with regular milk removal, than to bring production back to a previous level if it has reduced due to reduced or eliminated milk removal. If your milk "dried up" entirely, what you would be doing is trying to relactate. This is possible but very difficult to do.

    If you are not wanting to stop making milk entirely, but need a break from what you are doing now with pumping, perhaps some adjustment in or reduction of your current pumping routine will make that more manageable? I am happy to try to troubleshoot that with you if you like, or if your hospital has an IBCLC on staff (or you can find one locally) they should be able to help you come up with a pumping plan that is more manageable for you. The book Making More Milk also has many 'real world" tips for helping moms fit pumping into their lives in a way that works better for them.

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