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Can't pump enough anymore :(

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I have always had PLENTY of milk, for both of my girls, until about a month ago. Then I started having trouble pumping enough to leave behind for my 8-month-old when I have to be away from her. (I am away from her for one 7-hour stretch once a week, one overnight for 12 hours once a week, and sometimes one more full day or half day away from her.) I used to have a huge "bank account" in the freezer, but that's totally gone now. Now when I pump, unless I'm totally full (like after the overnight), I only get a tiny amount, not even close to an ounce. It isn't even worth saving. I'm using the same techniques as always, it just isn't working anymore. I'm not on any medication, but I have started taking fenugreek capsules, which don't seem to be helping. I don't think my supply is actually the issue... its really just pumping.

The last several times I've left her, I've left behind such a small amount of milk, that it makes me very uncomfortable. She has drunk all of it each time and been hungry when I came home. Of course she is also eating foods and drinking water when she's out of milk, so that helps. But I'm so uncomfortable, I have started to think about having some formula in the house for just in case. Just THINKING about that (much less typing it) makes me almost gag. Neither of my girls has ever had formula, even one time. But since she's 8 months old and already eating lots of different foods, maybe it isn't as big a deal as I'm imagining. (If this makes any difference at all, she uses sippy cups, not bottles.)

Maybe could I get away with giving her whole goat's milk instead? It would only be for when she has run out of pumped breastmilk, only on the few times a week I'm away. Is that so different from just another table food?

It seems so odd that I can't pump all of a sudden. I still have plenty of milk when I'm performing live... I'm tandem feeding the two of them whenever I'm home and no one goes hungry.

Sorry to go on and on, but here it is in a nutshell:

1. Thoughts on sudden trouble with pumping after 3 years and 8 months of breastfeeding?

2. Thoughts on formula as a back-up in this stage of the game?

3. Thoughts on goat's milk instead?

Thanks!!
post #2 of 22
about the pumping, are you only pumping while you are away from your little ones? or are you pumping daily at the same time?

if you are only pumping while you are away from them, you might try setting yourself up for a relaxing time, have a cup of tea or a big glass of water beforehand, really destress and just focus on your girls. a half glass of dark beer is sometimes helpful for mamas with trouble with milk ejection/letdown, or bach flowers rescue remedy can also be helpful for trouble with milk ejection/letdown.

if you are able to schedule a pumping on a daily basis, the regular-ness of doing this would help your body self-regulate and accomodate this pumping session. it also might give you more output since you will be accumulating milk over the week.

you might also try posting this question about pumping in the working mamas forum since they might have other suggestions.

as for formula, it might be appropriate in this situation. if your daughter has not shown any allergies or sensitivities to cow dairy or soy and she is willing to accept the taste difference from mama milk, it might work.

as for goat's milk, it is supposedly the closest to human milk in fat content and protein make up. when we used supplemental milks for our son from age 4.5 months to about 10 months old, we fortified goat's milk with fish oil (for the omega 3 fatty acids), iron and folic acid, so you might consider that, too. although goat's milk is supposedly the closest to human milk, i found an information sheet for a variety of animal milks with average grams of fat and protein and it was still significantly lower in fat and higher in protein than human milk so i felt more comfortable adding in the fish oil. our naturopath gave us fish oil capsules that we just squeezed one of into the bottle.

i'm sure others will sound in, but i hope this helps a little!

~claudia
post #3 of 22
Hi!

I don't have much to say that can help but I had to say Hi and after reading your post, especially since you and my daughter share the same name!

I can tell you though that both of my children hardly ever wanted my milk when expressed, so when I was away for the day (5-6 hours a day starting a couple days here and there around 9 months for each), they went without breastmilk all day. They seem fine to me now!!! I try and make sure they have a large variety of foods to eat.

Also, the only times pumping has been hard is when I am tired or stressed out. Don't know if that's your case...

Good luck!
post #4 of 22
LLL has some good info on this topic. Check out this link http://www.lalecheleague.org/FAQ/pumpwork.html
post #5 of 22
could you be pregnant? I understand that can make some womens milk supply dwindle

or maybe your pump needs some new parts? I had a valve problem with mine
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
ACK! Corysmilk you are banned from my thread!

j/k, no I really don't think I could be pregnant, but thanks for the thought
post #7 of 22
The lc that I go to (she has a group once a week) says that eventually you may not respond to the pump like you use to. This happened for me around 5 or 6 months. I don't know why, but I don't get as much as I use to. You may need to add a daily pumping session to get enough for the baby. As for formula, that's a personal choice. I would try adding a pumping session every day first. But, if that's not realistic for you, you may need to use formula. Pump in the am -that's when you'll have the most milk. Also, if you can hold the baby or her blanket (something that smells like her) look at a picture of her, that may help too.
post #8 of 22
If you're not pumping every day, you might want to start doing that. If you pump 1oz a day, that's 7oz a week- enough for 1-2 bottles (or sippy cups) which sounds like that's all you need in one week.

If you're talking about a small amount of milk a week, then I don't think it makes too much difference if you leave her with formula or whole milk. Do you have access to raw cow or goat milk? That could be drunk by any family member if it's not needed by the baby, or it can be used for making home made formula.

If I had been in your situation, I'd would have bought one can of Meyenberg powdered goat milk or Baby's Own organic milk-based formula. Either of those can be mixed with warm water in a sippy cup only when needed, (so you're not going to offer the formula and not bother pumping because you don't want to waste the formula) and neither one is supporting a major formula company that undermines breastfeeding.
post #9 of 22
That happened to me too. I replaced my valve and started pumping in the morning on one side while she nursed on the other. It was a PITA as I have a manual pump but I started producing again for the pump
post #10 of 22
Just another vote for checking the valves/other pump parts to make sure it's got good suction still...I know I had a rip in one of my valves once.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
For me, it can't be a valve issue, as far as loosing suction. I'm not responding to my manual pump either, and both my double electric and my manual are actually hurting my nipples now, which they never did before. The suction is as strong as ever and I have to turn it way down now compared to how I had it before, or it hurts. Same with the manual, I can't squeeze it down as far as I used to, or it starts to hurt. I don't have sore nipples when I'm bfing, only when pumping.

I think you guys are right about me needing to pump every day. That may be the problem. I only pump when I'm away or when the pressure is on, i.e. I'm leaving in a half hour. I do pump in the morning, and I try to just relax and think of my girls. I also nurse on one side and pump on the other. Either of these techniques used to work like magic; now, they really don't.

Oh, and I would definitely get the organic if I were going with formula. We're on organic almost-everything now. And I could not stomach giving money to a mainstream formula company. Maybe I'll get a can of that to keep around so the pressure is off. I can't even tell you how stressful it is thinking about leaving my baby with not enough milk... that alone probably keeps me from pumping well.
post #12 of 22
Here's some hints on increasing pumping supply:

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/p..._decrease.html
post #13 of 22
another thing i thought of: could your fertility be returning? (if it hasn't already)

~claudia
post #14 of 22
I was going to mention that fenugreek alone often isn't enough and needs to be combined with blessed thistle. I found those two with alfalfa helped most, but I was never able to increase my pumping out put. I did finally respond better to a little avent hand held without the soft shell for some reason. My son was considerate enough to reverse cycle for me. If I wasn't there, he would eat solids/water and wait til I got home. I also had a friend with a younger babe and she pumped for me as well. Good luck! Oh, and are ya sure you aren't pg??
post #15 of 22
Thank you for this thread! I have the same problem and think I might start pumping at the same time ev day even when I'm with DD.
post #16 of 22
My DD didn't drink milk when she was at DC and just nursed when I was at home (reverse cycle). I would skip the formula and supplementary milks and just nurse more at home. Have a marathon session when you come home and nurse every hour at least if you are really worried about it.

(Pumped for two years, DD sparodically refused bottles until 13 months of age)
post #17 of 22
I would check your pump parts. I had a Lactina and it basically died out on me once, it needed a whole new pump set (the parts that weren't the actual machine.) I was using it for EP'ing, so that set had gotten a TON of use, daily a minimum of 7-8 times since DS came home and he was I think 4 months?

Also, the little valve membranes could need replacing, this has a HUGE effect on suction. I don't know if every pump has these, they are just little flappy bits of plastic. I bought mine at a med supply store for less than 2 bucks a pair I know. That's probably the least expensive and most likely issue, so I'd start with those.

You could call the company that makes your pump too. I found Medela to be really helpful
post #18 of 22
If you think you have plenty of milk in your breasts, its just that it won't come out. . .are you still letting down?

Around 5-6 mos, I stopped responding to my pump and couldn't let down to save my life. I finally figured out that my body had just gotten used to the stimulation (what little of it a pump provides). My nipples just toughened up and needed more. So I started twiddling my nipples before and during pumping. I lightly pinched, flicked, and rolled them. Sounds painful, I know, but it really wasn't and it provided the same sort of sensation DD would do with her tongue when she was nursing. I figured out if I did that for a min or so then tried pumping, I immediately let down and I could get several ounces. I'd then stop and restimulate my nipples again, and be able to pump a few more ounces. I stopped once I was sure my breasts were pretty empty.
post #19 of 22
Try renting a hospital grade pump for a few weeks if you already tried replacing valves and such on your pump. Did you get your period recently? That could cause a drop in supply. I replace the whole set up on my hospital grade pump every 2 months since I EP and wear things out pretty fast. I am pumping for 7.5 months now. I am now going through a phase where I am not responding to the pump as well. I use a heating pad on my chest while pumping and it works wonders. Give it a shot!
post #20 of 22
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