59 answers

I Feel like My Milk Is Drying up Before I'm Ready to Stop Nursing

My milk supply seems to be drying up. I just recently started back to work so I'm feeding my daughter twice a day and pumping two to three times a day. Sometimes when I pump I can barely get 3 oz. and she is eating 4-5 oz. I recently started dieting and I was wondering if that had anything to do with my milk production. I really want to continue to nurse but I'm afraid my daughter will still be hungry.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I can not say "thank you" enough to all of the wonderful ladies and their responses. I have added some healthy calories back into my diet, increased my feedings at home, and begun drinking Mothers Milk tea which contains fenugreek. All of which seemed to have a positive impact in my milk production. You moms are the best and thanks again for your support.

More Answers

Hi, Brandy!

There could be several different factors here. It might be easier to talk to someone on the phone, who can ask you questions about your situation and narrow down a solution that would work for you. www.lalecheleague.org has a link to finding leaders near you--you can call at any time, and it's free! If you can't reach the first one you try, or if you feel she wasn't helpful, call another one.

One leader who has personal experience with working and pumping is Dawn in the Central Gwinnett group--you can find her contact info on the website.

Some moms don't let down well to a pump, and can never get as much out that way as the baby would be able to get directly. There are some things that might help with that--some mothers find that it helps to sit down and relax for a minute, and visualize their baby; other things that can help are looking at a photograph, listening to a recording of your baby's voice, and even smelling a blanket or item of clothing your baby has worn.

I know it can be hard to find the time to pump when you are on the job--but it may also help if you keep pumping for a minute or two after nothing seems to be coming out. Sometimes that can help with the milk supply. While your breasts are never really empty (they are always producing milk) thoroughly "emptying" the breasts until nothing is coming out for a few minutes helps to stimulate milk production.

Here's another thing to consider. You said that you are feeding her twice a day; something that can make a big difference would be to increase the amount of time you spend nursing in the evening, night, and morning when you are home.

Some mothers find that when they go back to work, their babies don't take as much milk during the day (either because the baby doesn't take much from a bottle, or because she can't pump as much). Many of them have found that they can make up for this by nursing often when they are home at night. Babies naturally tend to "cluster nurse"--they go for longer periods without nursing (generally at night, or so we tend to prefer!) and then nurse more often at other times (during the day.) Working moms often find that this pattern gets reversed--their babies do lots of nursing in the evening and night to make up for not getting as much in the daytime.

This may sound unworkable, since of course you need to sleep! If you are open to the idea, I know quite a few moms who keep the baby next to them in bed, and don't even really wake up when the baby nurses. This has been a lifesaver for some of the working moms I know. If you are interested in trying it, there are safety guidelines you should follow:

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t102200.asp

Even if that option doesn't work out for you (it works well for some, but isn't for everyone), you can try nursing the baby at the daycare when you get her, and then as often as she's interested in the evening before bed, and then as soon as she wakes up, and again at the daycare before you leave.

Have you ever tried using a sling? When I had my second child, I needed to be mobile and have free hands since I had an older child (and a house) to take care of. I loved the mayawrap (www.mayawrap.com). It takes a little practice, but you can learn to nurse in it, and that lets you multitask in the evenings so you aren't stuck in a chair when you nurse. If you get one and need help figuring it out, your local LLL group can help you. Some groups have evening meetings (including the Central Gwinnett group).

As others have said, you should be careful about dieting right now. It is possible to watch your diet and safely lose weight while nursing, but restricting your intake too much could contribute to a supply problem.

I want to correct one thing that someone else posted--while it's true that you should eat as healthy a diet as you can, it isn't true that your milk will be poor quality of your diet isn't perfect. When women eat a poor diet, they still make nutritious milk, better than formula--the problem is that they rob their own bodies of needed nutrients. Your body will make the milk a priority and cheat itself. A healthy diet will benefit you, and can make your milk even better--but fortunately a bad diet doesn't mean that your milk will be bad. Human milk often looks like skim milk--it varies at different times and with different mothers. The milk that comes out first is more watery, and the creamy milk comes out at the end of a feeding or pumping.

Good luck!

T.

1 mom found this helpful

Be sure you are drinking TONS of water. I also had a problem with milk production. I could never pump as much as my kids could get. I did find a great addition to my pump though. It is an attachment that allows your pump to take in more of your breast which helps to get the milk in the back. What kind of pump do you have? Feel free to email me at ____@____.com.

Hey B.
Sometimes when you become active and stressed, milk supply will slow down. Now that you are pumping a few times a day your body has to get use to that too. Drink plenty of water and forget the diet. You need the calories right now. I used brewers yeast and fenu greek when I had mastitice to get my milk supply back up. Talk to the lactation consultant at the hospital about safe herbs to take to build it back up. Whatever you do, DON'T give up, your baby needs your milk!!! Don't worry, your milk won't dry up as long as she is nursing and you are pumping. Please keep me posted as to what works. I am on my second pregnancy and would like to keep up with what others do in case I need the same advice. Take care!!

A.

Yes, dieting will affect your milk supply. Also, be sure you're drinking enough water and milk. A friend of mine had great success with Hyssop drops/Hyssop tea for increasing her milk production. I tried the Hyssop and didn't like the taste, but it helped my production a little. Stress also affects your milk supply. I am a stay-at-home mom and I had to supplement with formula for my third child because my supply couldn't keep up with her demand.

yes dieting will definitely affect the milk supply. one thing that has kept me nursing is remembering to drink a lot of fluids. maybe that will help you too.
if you think she may still be hungry, maybe mix a tiny bit of formula with the breastmilk.
hope this helps:)
M.

B.,
Your milk supply is probably not drying up. There is no pump out there that is more effective than your baby's mouth. She is most likely getting what she needs. There are many things that can affect your ability to pump enough. 1) the type of pump. I had little success and lots of pain using the battery-operated pumps you can buy in store. The Medela pump I rented worked way better as did the Pump in Style my sister loaned me with my second. There's another brand of medical-grade pump out there too but I forgot what it's called. 2) Pumping environment. If you are stressed, hurried or unable to think about your child, it can affect your milk. Try to get comfortable, be relaxed and maybe keep a picture of your baby close by. 3) Dehydration/undernutrition. Keep a bottle of water and healthy snack nearby (carrots or grapes are good because you can pick them up with one hand to eat).

Also, don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but nursing takes about 500 calories a day. You probably don't need to diet right now. The baby will take care of that. If your husband is bugging you about your weight tell him to get bent.

Go to www.medela.com for some other tips. I hope this helps.

Breast feeding is "supply on demand". I worked full-time and pumped during the day and continued to breast feed until my daughter was 18 months. Try nursing early morning before you even get out of beed then again right before you leave her. I asked the daycare not to give my daughter anything the last 2 hours of the day and nursed her at the daycare as soon as I got to her. Then 2 more times before I went to bed. I pumped twice during the day.

As far as your diet... If you do not eat enough "nutritious food", not only will you be short on milk, your milk will not be nutritious. It will look like skim milk. If you are dieting, try cutting out the unhealthy carbs and add lots of fresh fruit, veggies and lean protein. I ate six small meals, each included fruit and a protien (cheese, yogert, meat) and dont forget the dairy!!!

Also.... Try to relax as much as possible before and during pumping. I use to be "stressed and tense" over my milk supply and nothing would come out. I mean maybe a teaspoon. I would then literally close my eyes, take 3 deep breaths and just let my body go limp. Count from 10 - 1. Then more breaths. Then the milk would flow! Try it. It's amazing how stress affects you physically sometimes without you even realizing it.

I hope this is helpful.

D.

Hi B., Yes, dieting can decrease your milk supply. You need to be eating 5 small meals a day. Good nutritious food. Lots of multi grain, fruit, veggies, cheese, protein. Drink water constantly. You could also if you don't have time to eat, drink a meal replacement drink like ensure. Pumping is also not as efficient as breast-feeding and your body knows it's a pump. Do the best you can do if she get's a little formula and mostly breastmilk that is good too. Don't be too hard on yourself. SK postpartum doula

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