I've posted here many times asking many questions about what I perceived is a low milk supply. Background: heavily induced labor that ended in c-section, no milk until 1.5 weeks after birth, baby lost about 1.5 lbs in the first 5 days and ped recommended supplementation which never stopped.
Now -- I was away for the last week visiting my family who have not really seen the baby yet (first grandchild), so I pumped and mixed with formula so they could feed my DS. When I pump every 2-3 hrs, I get the same amount -- about 1-2 oz. We spent some time out and about shopping, etc. and when I'd return home after 8 -10 hrs to pump, I'd get 3.5 oz.
So -- I interpret this as my body being capable of making up to 4oz of milk and store it in my breasts -- could it be that production is just SLOW? If so, how do I fix this? Empyting the breasts is NOT WORKING.
I've done that the last 2 weeks -- pump or feed every 2 hrs ... I've never been able to get into the groove of pumping after feeding as is typically recommended. 2 hrs, 3 hrs, 5 hrs -- makes no difference -- still getting only 1-2 oz with LOTS of breast massage and compressions.
I also tried fenugreek tincture. I went through a bottle in 3 days with NO INCREASE IN MILK VOLUME as evidenced by pumping amounts.
Just wondering if anyone else has had experience with this. thanks!
What you can pump is not necessarily what your baby is able to get directly from the breast. I was never able to pump more than 1.5oz. With my first child I thought this meant I didn't have adequate milk supply- he was supplemented and was off the breast before 3 months. But with my second it was obvious I had more than enough supply- the only difference was that I wasn't following the advice I had received the first time around (scheduling feedings) and I was nursing on cue. I never even tried pumping with my second until she was a month or two old- and that was when I realized that my breasts simply didn't do pumping (or hand expression) well. After many tries (I was hoping to keep an emergency stash) I simply gave up. Never even tried pumping after my 3rd baby. Both my 2nd and 3rd children nursed exclusively until they were ready for solids.
Not that your situation is the same- but nursing on cue, and at times for very long periods of time (ie. 45-90 minutes- find a good book!) as my baby desired made the difference for me. Supply can also be increased by switching sides very frequently- some babies even do this naturally- I know mine did when they hit a growth spurt and needed more milk. Though for the most part I needed to nurse on one side per feeding (yep, 45 min. or so) even though I'm having trouble recalling why.
My main point, however, is don't judge your supply by the pump. Babies are MUCH more effective....at both getting milk out and stimulating production. And if you're not nursing on cue, I suggest giving it a try.
Lesley Reid Cross
self-connection supports connected parenting
It doesn't matter how long you wait between pumping or feeding. Your breasts only have so much room, so if they're filled up with 2 oz of milk, waiting a few more hours isn't going to bring a whole lot of new milk. You need to empty that 2 oz so you can start making a whole new 2 oz.
"There's always more where that came from" should be your motto. If you pump and get a certain amount, remember that you'll get it again in a short period of time as you make new milk.
Pump less and feed directly more. Your baby will always get more out of you.
I agree with the previous poster.
Also I may have misunderstood, but were you away shopping for 8-10 hours before pumping or nursing?
Sorry it's taken me so long to see your responses! Hopefully, someone will see my reply :/
I want very badly to make the baby do the work to increase my supply. His latch is GREAT, but he is very impatient. Even with a bottle, he screams bloody murder from the time he realizes he's hungry until it gets put into his mouth. When I nurse him, he seems more patient, but ultimately, he pops off the breast alot and rubs his face all over it, then pops back on -- sucks hard and really fast for a few seconds, then repeats. I'm always able to pump some out when he's done.
Plus, maybe I'm wishy washy (um -- probably for sure), but I feel so bad about the fact that his first week of life I was feeding him and he was basically getting NOTHING, becoming weak and losing weight at a rapidly, that I feel like I don't want to make him struggle like that again to do something as basic as eating. He's got a cranky disposition to begin with -- I think he'll be terrible if I only feed him at the breast knowing that I have such a little supply. AND, he's a big boy and HUNGRY. At 6 weeks old, he drank a 6 oz bottle in the middle of the night last night. He drank an 8 oz bottle after waking from a LONG nap a few days ago. If I can't make more than 2 oz in 8 hrs, how on earth and I supposed to confidently rely on my breasts to feed him?!
I have the worksheet from kellymom on weaning from formula. It basically takes away an oz of formula each week .... I never really kept track of how much I gave him so I don't know where to begin with that. A nd, it's so sporadic -- sometimes 3 oz, sometimes 6 oz a feeding.\
I had no idea breastfeeding was going to be soooooo confusing and challenging.
This is just a suggestion -- have you tried co-sleeping and just letting your baby nurse on demand at night? I'm not sure that would help with your supply but my midwife told me (with my daughter) that prolactin is at its highest at night time and that frequent night nursing may trigger more milk production. I know co-sleeping isn't for everyone though.
Thanks for the suggestion - DS sleeps AWESOME at night and has since the beginning. He drifts off in the late evening (7 or 8ish) and wakes at about 2am to eat, then again for good around 5am. And, he sleeps in his own room in his crib. I'd rather him continue knowing that that is his space. I have a lot of trouble napping him, and I wouldn't mind laying with him to nap int he morning and afternoon, but that doesn't align with the midwife's nightime prolactin theory.
I don't know if I mentioned in this thread that he really likes to nurse and he's great at it. BUT, he falls asleep at the breast most of the time. No matter how hungry he seems, he'll spend forever there on and off, on and off -- never crying because there's no flow or little milk or hard work. He just won't suck alot or strongly in order for me to grow my supply using him instead of a pump.
I should also mention that he has a VERY STRONG WILL. He will scream until he gets his way, whatever it is. He's not nursing like he did before my milk came him ... and I'm afraid he won't ever again.
Your situation is so similar to mine I could have written your post myself. Everything from being heavily induced down to DS' behavior, i.e. generally sleeps well, goes to sleep around 7 or 8, wakes at 2 and again at 5 or 6. The only difference from your story to mine is that DS was born naturally. He also lost a lot of weight within the first week and only then did we realize about the low supply. Thankfully he was over 8 lbs when born so he had a bit to fall back on. Dr. put him on formula right away after we realized he wasn't getting enough.
I've had almost identical results as far as the pumping, 1-2 oz every 3 hrs or so and more only if I wait longer, generally never more than total 3.5 to 4. Lactation consultant did a compare for before and after BF with a precision scale and determined the output was about 1/2 oz more than from pumping. I've often wondered exactly the same thing; whether the production is simply slow and if so what can be done to speed it up? I've tried Mother's Milk Plus and fenugreek with small increase, but never enough to exclusively BF. Now DS is 4+ mo, we've battled nipple confusion etc. but within the last week he will not BF during the day. Haven't tried domeperidone but thinking of it just weary of the potential unwanted side effects since it's a medication..
Wow! Though I wouldn't wish this situation on anyone who has desired to exclusively breastfeed, it somehow feels reassuring to be in good company. ;) There definately is a very strong emotional aspect to this ... a feeling of failure, that your body isn't doing what it was made to do. I often wonder how women with poor supplies fed their children wayyyy back in the day. Would this be a simple "survivial of the fittest" situation, I wonder?
Anyway -- I won't take the drugs to do this, though I should be more committed to the herbs I've tried. can't say I've been all that faithful there. I get so disappointed when things don't work after 2 or 3 days that I end up just quitting -- same with constant pumping. THAT is depressing (the cosntantly pumping.)
Have you tried the nursing vacation? Just wondering. Many of the women ont he boards here have suggested it and I feel like it's my only real option left. However, DS has had a full belly now for 2 months "thanks" to the formula supplement. I feel like resigning him to feeding from a dry well and getting itsy bits of food is cruel and unusual punishment (and possibly traumatic to him)... even though I know that, if it worked, the benefit would be huge - a long-lasting supply of milk for as long as we decide to keep going.
Did you ever experience engorgement? I didn't -- I have no idea what it feels like. I also spend about $100 prior to DSs birth on washable nursing pads that I've never used because I never leak. I do, sometimes, feel soreness in my breasts after a long night or stretch of not nursing or pumping (like now). I get excited and then pump or nurse only to find that there wasn't enough to satisfy him and I wonder how that could be. :/
Lisamarie, When I read your post I also felt reassured. I wish I had consulted more with the boards here, and less with the countless books. Although the latter were very helpful, the ones I read don't describe specifics like our situation. And I'm even embarrassed to admit this - I've never heard of the nursing vacation until you mentioned it.
I agree about the drugs, I also try to stay away from most meds for the same reason and I think that's why I've been so hesitant to order it. Even though it is supposed to help with lactation would I now be putting something else that effects the brain into my child's system? Things I wonder about... on one hand it's good, but will it do something bad in the end..
No I never felt engorged either. The closest I came was 5 days after DS' birth, they "filled" up, but never hurt or felt hard. Unfortunately at that time we were hit by a freak snow storm early in the season and the power was knocked out for 5 days, which made things so much harder. DS latched on for 45 min at a time and slept a lot during feeding. After very frequent crying for a few days he just looked so weak and exhausted we realized there was something wrong. That was confirmed at the Dr. office the next day when they told us he lost more than 10% of his birth weight. Perhaps the fact that he was sleeping a lot while feeding contributed to the low supply as well, but I certainly don't think that was the only reason as I tried to wake him the best I could. :((
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