K.L. asks from Washington, DC on June 03, 2008
Breastfeeding, Low Milk Production
oh my gosh. i feel like such an emotional wreck. i'm sitting at my desk at work in tears bc I could only pump 2 oz just now. i sit here squeezing the bejeezus out of my breasts into my supposedly high quality electric pump and that little bit dribbles out. i have read things to try and have tried them all. i take fenugreek, i take "more milk plus", i drink yogi nursing tea, i drown myself in water, i avoid caffeine...my girl is almost 7 months. i really wanted to nurse her for a year (at least) and then figure she would be eating more and have the green light for regular milk so i could ease off. i only have a few friends who have nursed and none of them have ever experienced this. they are in the boat of getting engorged and leaking all the time. i've never leaked. i've never felt engorged. i know it doesn't make rational sense, but i feel like a huge failure that i can't do the simplest thing and make milk. I know that there are ways to get adoptive moms to produce milk, so is there ANYTHING else i can do to get the milk going again? Please help. i'm trapped in my office bc I can't pull myself together...
So What Happened?™
oh my gosh again. i can't believe the tremendous outpouring of support! you are all wonderful women. Thank heavens for websites like these that can put us in touch with people willing to give a little bit of their time, energy and heartfelt words of encouragement. i think that for some crazy reason my hormones are going a little whacko and that was part of my meltdown yesterday. thanks so much for all the advice and for sharing your own stories of difficulty. (I especially like the couple of tips on having a beer..boy that sounds good...) Anyway, the ongoing support, stories and tips are welcome. I just wanted to make sure I told you all how much I appreciate those that have already responded. I think that being at work is more stressful than I let myself admit to. Its much harder than I would've thought to juggle all of this. So, we will hang in there and continue the efforts to help the milk come, but I will not get so dramatic if she needs a little formula in addition...thank you, ladies.
J.M. answers from Washington DC on June 05, 2008
sometimes the best way to pump is to not think about it. i've successfully pumped for both of my girls for a year each and i did it by reading magazines while the machine did its job - when i tried the advice about looking at the baby or trying to relax, it just didn't work. but if i could take my mind off of it, the milk flowed more freely, so i put on my headphones and listen to music while i read parenting or other magazines or sometimes a book.
J.S. answers from Washington DC on June 03, 2008
When you're at home breast feed in place of pumping as much as possible. We can never pump as much as we can feed through the breast, my pediatrician calls my daughter the best breast pump in the world. St. Agnes has a breast feeding and pumping at work class on Tuesday's that they offer. I'll be heading back to work in Mid-Summer so I'll be attending to learn some things as well.
Remember how much you've given her already and be proud that you're working so hard. ((hugs)) it's hard but you can keep going. Giving her any breast milk is better than giving her none at this point.
Get in touch with someone who can give you good council on how to manage the pumping, build milk supply and keep bf-ing. You could also consider renting a hospital grade pump, it may not help but it's a possibility.
K.S. answers from Richmond on June 04, 2008
You poor thing! I had the exact same problems with nursing mine. For months and months we had poor latching and then terrible trouble with my milk supply for pumping. I always had plenty of milk when I fed my son directly (which is hard to realize becasue you CAN'T SEE IT) but I could never pump more then 2 ounces. Maybe if I went all day without pumping I would get 3 or 4 ounces but that was rare. My body just never responded to the pump. What I did was mixed what I was able to pump with soy formula to supplement during the day and then nursed when I was home. Supplementing while I was at work never hurt anything and it did not diminish the amount of milk I could provide during the evening, night and early morning. Just the fact that you care so much to try so hard is what makes all the difference. I ultimately ended up nursing my son for almost two years and once he got on regular milk or solids during the day (at about 10 months) I stopped pumping altogether and just nursed him when I was home. My body responded perfectly by not being engorged during the day but having plenty to nurse him in the evening, night and morning. I never had engorgement either, really, and the pump never did start working for me. One thing that helped a little was to get one of the handheld pumps because it worked better for me than the electric. The noise and pressure of the electric was too unsettling but the handheld worked well for me and I got more milk with that than the electric (and it only cost about $40). I really, really feel you rpain because I went through the same thing and my best friend was able to pump enough for a half dozen babies. Everyone is different, but you really can fulfill your child's needs if you are flexible about supplementing as needed and just stick with nursing on demand. I was sorry to give it up at 22 months and was so glad I had stuck it out. Good luck! Don't get down on yourself. It is so emotionally trying but really you will look back on this and be proud of yourself.
J.H. answers from Washington DC on June 04, 2008
Have you taken the proper dose of Fenugreek? 3 pills 3 times a day for 3 days? Have you tried Fennel pills. That should work as well. Unfortunately pumping doesn't work nearly as well for milk production as actual nursing. I had your same problem... but I was lucky enough to be able to quit working. Also stress. Stress can majorly affect milk production. Are you drinking enough fluids? If none of this works don't feel like a failure. I really think it is just the fact that you have to pump. You've already given your child such a gift with nursing for so long. If you have to quit then be proud of yourself for doing it as long as you did! So many women don't even try.
K.P. answers from Washington DC on July 24, 2008
You are doing wonderfully -- breastfeeding for 7 months is an amazing feat. I spent much of my daughter's first months crying too, (I nursed for 9 months) and everyone was telling me to supplement with formula, (my husband, my mother, my sister...) and it always made me feel more inadequate.
What I'm going to say may sound counterintuitive, but are you perhaps drinking too much water? I was really worried about my milk supply with my daughter (I also could get only 2 or 3 ounces with the pump -- so demoralizing) and someone told me to drink, drink, drink... I was guzzling gallons of water, peeing ALL the time, and my milk supply seemed to be diminishing! I read later (in the "What to Expect When You're Expecting..." book) that sometimes, too much water can actually reduce your milk supply! Definitely stay hydrated, definitely drink plenty, but don't try to force-feed yourself too much water. It may backfire.
Please don't feel bad -- you are so wonderful to breastfeed for so long and you're doing the best you can do pumping at work. You are a terrific mom, because you care so much!
J.C. answers from Washington DC on June 04, 2008
Hi, K.. I hope that some of the other great advice you have received here so far is helping to ease your mind a bit. First of all, I want to echo the others in saying that you should not feel guilty. Your daughter has already received many benefits from seven months of breastfeeding, and if for some reason your supply is truly dwindlng, then you should still congratulate yourself. Really. The fact that you chose to breastfeed in the first place is admirable.
Now, as for my two cents, I have heard of the prescription drug that others have mentioned, and it is called Reglan. I think that the woman who mentioned that you can only take it for a few weeks was right. I ended up not taking it, but I was close to doing so while my daughter was in her three-month stint at the NICU. I was so stressed that the milk just started to drop. At any rate, I did the fenugreek and lots of water, low caffeine, etc. I also made sure that I was pumping, at minimum, six times a day, allowing for no more than six hours sleeping straight through at night. (My daughter, due to her craniofacial birth defect, was never able to nurse at the breast, so I pumped exclusively for eight months.) Anyway, when all of the above did not work, I realized, with the help of the lactation consultant, that I was not taking in enough calories. I was in fact drinking so much water that I felt too full to eat properly. Could this be an issue for you? Eating more helped a bit, but I wanted even more, so I turned, as a last resort, to my mom's "Irish remedy": I had one pint of Guinness after my last pumping before bed. Now, I am sure I might catch some criticism for even admitting that, but I really did experience a jump in production for the next day each time I did this. That, in turn, made me worry less, which kept my supply sustained for many days thereafter. I was told that stress really does affect production, so Iowering my anxiety with a jump in milk supply really helped. I reserved the Guinness for days where my production had been especially low, so it was not an every night occurrence. It had the lovely side effect of relaxing me for an extra sound sleep as well.
Anyway, I hope that you will soon find your answer and some peace.
D.C. answers from Richmond on June 04, 2008
Don't beat yourself up! By breastfeeding your baby for the first 7 months of her life you've done exactly what's best for her. Trust me....there are Mom's out there that can't even make it 7 months. With my first, I went back to work around 12 weeks and experienced the same thing. The lack of sleep, added stress and decreased natural nursing just about dries some Mom's up....myself included. Buy some formula and start combining with your breast milk. It'll at least put you at ease that she will be getting what you have to give her. Then relax.....I finally gave up with my first at 10 months as the well dried up, and she's just as healthy as any child nursed through the first year! My second is now 4 1/2 months old and I'll probably be in the same boat as with my first.....So you are not alone! :-)
M.L. answers from Philadelphia on June 06, 2008
I am going through a similar problem with my mil production. I have gone through times of leakage and engorgement but lately I have not been producing much milk at all. I also really want to be able to feed my little girl (4 months) until she is at least 1 year and so I talked to the doctor about bringing my milk back. I have been under a lot of stress lately and that may be the reason why my supply is diminishing. I was told to put her on my breast every 3 hours and have her suckle away. This will help my body to know it needs to produce more. I tried the pump to stimulate me but the doctor said it is not as productive as having the baby on my. While you are at work use the pump and then go home and have your baby "feed" off of your breast as often as you can. Hopefully this will work for both of us. Good luck and I hope it works out for you. I understand the disappointment you are feeling as I share in those feelings but don't feel like a failure. I think this is more common that we hear.
L.E. answers from Richmond on June 04, 2008
Ask your doctor about Regland (sp?). I've had two friend take it for milk production although it's normally a drug for reflux (I think that's what they told me) and both had their milk supply increase! Don't feel like a failure! You're doing great to have nursed your child this long! I have a 9 week old and I recently gave up nursing b/c she has a milk allergy and I couldn't stand not having anything with milk in it! If anyone is a slacker, it's me! Just remember, you've done a great thing for your child!
J.J. answers from Washington DC on June 04, 2008
Tried meditation? I had this problem with my fifth daughter (and the first to be nursed through to 18 months of age.) The second was a breeze. Thank God for the internet support systems. I totally failed with the first four. What helped with her was to pump early in the morning on one breast while she nursed on the other. Same thing in the evening. I also took fenugreek and more milk. The doctor also had some stomach medication that medicine had discovered the glorious side effect was more milk production. But I really think that the pumping while she nursed worked the best. I was able to learn to associate the pump with her nursing and milk just flowed. I was fortunate to have an office on my own so I was able to close the door and take deep breaths before starting to pump. Voila - milk!