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Thread: Can't achieve let-down

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    76

    Unhappy Can't achieve let-down

    This is my second week back at work, and i'm starting to have problems keeping up with my baby's intake. Basically i only nurse at home, no bottles, and when i'm at work i pump for the next day.

    The pumping was fine last week, i could get about 125ml (which is about 4 ounces i believe) at each pumping session. Baby wasn't taking that much, there was always a bit left over even if i came home late. But i don't know why, this week i can't seem to achieve let-down when i pump, and so i can't pump that much anymore. And since i'm also taking longer because i can't let-down, i'm getting increasingly stressed about the pumping amount and the time i'm spending away from my desk. And to make things worse, Baby seems to be taking more and more; my caregiver had to dig into my freezer stash yesterday.

    i'm going to try hot towels tomorrow, but i still have 2 more pumping sessions today that i'm getting really stressed about. i know that the stress could be one factor why i can't let-down, but...

    Sorry for the length, but i needed to get it off my chest. Anybody has any ideas how i can survive today before i bring in towels tomorrow? i've got photos on my mobile phone and even a recording of baby babbling, but nothing seems to help today...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    115

    Default Re: Can't achieve let-down

    Hydration? How is your water intake?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Default Re: Can't achieve let-down

    Definitely make sure you're drinking enough water, like the pp said. Also, it helps me to have pictures of my daughter around or looking at videos on photobucket (that way I can hear her ). The stress won't help, for sure, so try to relax. One thing that helps me get a second letdown is pumping really quickly for a few minutes (I use a hand pump, but I think electric ones have a switch to increase the speed). Anyway, if I pump really fast for a minute or two I'll usually have a let down.

    Good luck! You're still getting used to it, so don't get too worried. You're already doing better than me, I can never get more than 3 or so oz per pumping session.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    6,959

    Default Re: Can't achieve let-down

    Are you double pumping or single?
    How often are you pumping.
    What are the settings on your pump?
    What kind of pump?
    At home how often are you nursing?
    How long are you separated from baby in the day (total hours)?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    550

    Default Re: Can't achieve let-down

    I EP and have such a hard time getting letdown. I'm also a SAHM so I get to hold, touch smell and cuddle my baby while I pump and it doesn't seem to matter. After trying a lot of things, I came up with a trick to try to force a letdown. I hand express a few drops of milk and rub it my nipples and then gentle use my fingernails to scratch my nipples. When I feel like I've stimulated them long enough (usually doesn't take too long) then I get on the pump! Almost every time it does the trick.

    Also, I massage my breasts a lot (every time I pump) and I truly believe it helps to free up extra milk. Do you massage your breasts?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Can't achieve let-down

    So this is about the longest answer ever--but I can totally appreciate how you are feeling--I've been there!

    It is probably the stress that is impacting your ability to pump milk--I find that if I am stressed or angry I have a horrible time getting any milk to come out (sometimes as little as 1 oz!).

    I also find that my daughter eats more while I am away than I can pump. I've decided that I will just do the best I can do. She is still exclusive breast milk, although I have had to use some of my frozen supply. I get an extra couple of pumpings (post feeding) in on the weekends to make up for it. I have been able to maintain a relatively stable amount of frozen (I freeze most of the milk I pump each day, and use older frozen to maintain freshness of the supply) since returning to work.

    Charlotte is 6 months now and we are still doing fine. I am able to switch to exclusive bf when we are together, so I think it is just a matter of the inefficiency of the pump vs. her nursing--and my inability to pump as frequently as she nurses (not practical while at work).

    One more thing, not sure what you do at work, but I've found that there are some things I can easily do while I am pumping to help make use of that time. I do thigs like read email, edit documents and presentations, read training materials, etc. It also helps keep my mind off of pumping, which seems to help me with getting more milk.

    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    76

    Default Re: Can't achieve let-down

    Quote Originally Posted by carpentergirl View Post
    Are you double pumping or single?
    How often are you pumping.
    What are the settings on your pump?
    What kind of pump?
    At home how often are you nursing?
    How long are you separated from baby in the day (total hours)?
    Single pumping, with a Medela Mini Electric, at a setting that i can tolerate and doesn't feel like my nipples are being ripped off! My hubby got it for me in the early days when i knew nothing about pumps and wasn't allowed to leave the house anyway.

    Pumping 3 times a day (10am, 1pm, 4pm) Unfortunately i can't do any work while pumping coz i don't have my own office and have to hide in a vacant meeting room to pump. i've started leaving a magazine in there so i can take my mind off the pumping though.

    Baby has absolutely no schedule. These few days he hasn't finished what i've pumped, but waits for me to get home, then nurses like 3 times in the evening! Bedtime is 11pm or later (yes, i know it's late but i work long hours) and he'll nurse about 2 or 3 times till i wake up in the morning. And then a last nursing right before i leave the house.

    We have long working hours over here, and since my hubby drops me off at work and picks me up later, i have to arrive early and leave late to accommodate his working hours. Which is fine by me coz i don't feel so guilty about taking time off to pump. Usually i would be away from 8am to 7.15pm.

    Ooh... that sounds like a long time away!
    Last edited by cantabile21; July 19th, 2007 at 09:33 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    76

    Default Re: Can't achieve let-down

    Thanks ladies for the tips! i've always massaged my breasts while pumping, but i guess i was doing it wrong all the while. Anyway, yesterday i discovered that if i do quick, firm strokes towards my nipple, i can actually get quite a bit of milk out even without a let down. Whee! We learn new things every day. Motherhood is such an adventure, isn't it?

    On a less cheerful note, hot towels aren't all that hot.

    Anyway, i kinda had a Eureka moment this morning when i was washing up and splashed water on my nipples to clean them. That almost always triggers a let down, especially if i'm rather full. It happened again this morning, and *ping*, the light bulb went off. i happily tried my new trick at my morning pump session just now, but i guess the water from my bottle wasn't as cold as the water from the tap... But oh well, no harm to keep trying yah?

    Thanks again for the encouragement. You ladies are great!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    736

    Default Re: Can't achieve let-down

    I find that if I close my eyes and take deep, slow, steady breaths it sometimes helps me. Also I've had it happen when I've been checking my nipples before a pumping (I do it every time to make sure I don't have any clogged pores / damage / etc).

    Try brushing your fingers lightly over them, as if you're tickling them? I've had let downs at my OB's from the shirts they give you to wear for check ups, every single time, just from the fabric brushing against my nipples!

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