W.Y. asks from Portage, WI on December 15, 2009
With my first child, I had major problems producing milk from the very beginning. I pumped for 8 months and supplemented with formula from week 1. For the last three months (and for a few weeks here and there along that 8-months stretch), I pumped every 1 to 2 hours to try and increase and maintain the little milk I did have.
Now with my second child, I initially had a really good milk supply and was able to store up some in the freezer; but I'm having trouble again. He is 4 weeks old and I'm starting to notice the same issues I had last time where there just isn't much being produced when I pump. Granted, this time around I have more scheduling issues trying to fit it in with everything else I have going on (taking care of two children, potty-training the older one, and just life).
I have already promised myself that I would NOT fall into the rut of pumping every 1 to 2 hours because it would just be a waste of time that I can't afford.
Question is... is there anything I can do to increase milk supply easily?
Added 12/16/09 1:24pm
Just to be clear... I am pumping full-time, not actually nursing. This is a personal choice, so I have been trying to make it work. One suggestion was to get a latch going to stimulate the process again and I am working on that, too, but I am not planning on being a breastfeeder.. it just isn't my thing.
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So What Happened?™
Thank you for all your advice and suggestions. Unfortunately, my milk dried up. I think the most logical explanation is that I have been fatigued and there was no end in sight. Did the best I could with what I had and Jonah is still happy and healthy regardless.
I.J. answers from Milwaukee on December 16, 2009
C.M. answers from Rochester on December 17, 2009
First- Don't get discouraged by anyone telling you you should do one thing instead of another. While I was giving my son breastmilk I also had to pump. For some reason no matter how many times we saw a lactation consultant latching was nearly impossible. We did try periodically and he did latch once or twice but other than that it just wasn't happening. I turned to pumping because I figured the important thing is that he's getting breastmilk, not how its getting from point a to point b. So congratulate yourself that you're succeeding at giving him that before anything else!
I have heard about a few things that help. First, look into things like blessed thistle, fennugreek, mother's milk tea. I've found them all online at places like Amazon but you might be able to find them locally.. I've just never tried. Also, I have heard that oatmeal helps! Plus for me because I love oatmeal. Don't think it has to be the regular kind, you're probably just fine choosing whatever flavor you like. Make sure you drink all the water you can possibly hold. A while ago I found a recipe for lactation cookies and they taste good enough and seemed to help. They have brewers yeast in them and oatmeal and those are the two things that are supposed to help. Hence also hearing that beer helps, the yeast in it is supposed to be what helps. Her's a link to the recipe if you want to try them: http://www.recipezaar.com/Oatmeal-Chocolate-Chip-Lactatio...
Good luck, don't give up!
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E.B. answers from Duluth on December 16, 2009
The trouble with pumping is that your body has to get used to it. I pumped full time with my first: he was in daycare, doing four 6-8 oz bottles in 7 hours (I know--yikes!) from 3 months to a year. I started pumping from day 1 and NEVER TOOK A BREAK. I pumped in the morning, 7 days a week, all year. Even during Christmas, when I was on break (I was a teacher). The key, for me, was consistency. I got used to pumping first thing in the morning, after nursing my son, and I had HUGE breasts when I woke up!! I even pumped in the mornings on weekends, since I had milk. BUT...when babies are little, they don't need much milk...and there are a number of points where baby's consumption does not seem to match output. I had some VERY stressful times with #1, pumping, because he was growing and, while a nursing baby seems to signal "make more", a pump does not. So...keeping up with the demands of a growing baby is very hard. I would guess that you are needing your milk supply to go from "tiny newborn" to "baby", and it's just a struggle. If you can, nurse your baby more...as much as you can! Be close as much as you can. Maybe add a pumping session for a week, and see if that gets your milk back up to where it's supposed to be. I also noticed that when I was pumping, illness REALLY impacted my milk. I'm now nursing #2, and I can't pump for anything--because I'm not on a schedule. I think if I did it regularly, my body would get used to expressing milk to a machine. That, and with #2, because I'm nursing and not pumping, I do not lose my milk when I'm sick--a cold would set me back a week, pumping; nursing, I had food poisoning and was dehydrated, but STILL had plenty of milk for my baby. Anyway--I found, pumping, that there were definitely frustrating times, when I didn't think I'd have enough, but if you really want to keep pumping, just keep doing it, and your body will adjust. Also--I had a friend who pumped every 2 hours, around the clock, and I think it wore her body out more than it helped the baby (she couldn't nurse, so she pumped)--so if you're pumping too much, and not sleeping, I think that can negatively affect your body, too. Good luck!
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C.H. answers from Minneapolis on December 17, 2009
While the pump does not work as well as breastfeeding, I understand your choice. In the meantime, I used the Mother's Milk Tea, which definately helped my milk supply!
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B.W. answers from Minneapolis on December 16, 2009
Put him to the breast. I'm assuming you are exclusively pumping, and you will never pump what your body makes, and your supply will wane from pumping only. WHat you pump is not an indication of your supply.... your body is making more however no pump can get it all out, that is why your supply wanes from pumping only.
Find a good lactation consultant, and get your son to the breast. Its a 'waste of time' in my opinion to pump and then bottle feed, especially when you have other children at home and you are a stay at home mom, when you could save yourself the time and put him on the breast and save a step. Imagine all the time you would have if you put him to your breast instead of having to pump and then bottle feed, pump then bottle feed. Plus if you nurse him, you won't have to worry about your supply, as your baby can nurse out up to 4oz more than any pump can.
If you put him to the breast and nurse instead of pump and bottle feed, you will have a better supply, not have ot supplement, and you will have alot more time on your hands because of not having to 'double feed'... the pump and the baby.
J.T. answers from Milwaukee on December 16, 2009
There are herbal supplements that can boost milk supply- Blessed Thistle tincture is usually available at health food stores and fenugreek tea has helped many women. Both are safe to use while nursing.
You might also want to consider whether or not you actually have low supply. I nurse big fat babies and have plenty of milk, but can never produce much at the pump. How much you're pumping doesn't indicate how much milk you're producing. Here's some information on determining if your supply is low. http://www.kellymom.com/bf/supply/low-supply.html
Many women think they have lost their milk after the initial feelings of fullness fade during the first weeks after birth. Good luck!
E.C. answers from Norfolk on December 15, 2009
mothers milk tea and the beer work. its something about the yeast in beer that helps produce milk. i would do nonalcoholic though :)
also fenugreek. it worked wonders for me. its a pill you can find at gnc stores. it makes you smell like maple syrup but it helps alot with production!
J.M. answers from Minneapolis on December 15, 2009
I was frustrated by this too, and finally gave up pumping when I was only getting 1 or 2 oz per session. Arg!
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Take fenugreek supplements
- Have pictures or blankies to remind you of your baby while you pump (the emotional trigger can help you let down)
- Do anything you can to relax :)
However, with all that said, while you're solely breastfeeding, your body may not want to/be able to produce "extra" milk for pumping.
Also, he's only 4 weeks, your body was probably in hyper drive making as much milk as it could, and is now leveling off to just meet his demand. So, if you want to get a pumping in, try to do it at the same time every day, perhaps when he's down for his longest nap. That way your body will become accustomed to making milk at that particular time.
When my baby was older, maybe 6 months, and she was no longer nursing at night, i'd pump first thing in the morning, then nurse her. she seemed able to stimulate milk better than pumping, then i'd send that pumped milk to daycare with her. but i don't think i'd do that with him being so young.
If you're able to nurse on demand,
J.S. answers from Minneapolis on December 15, 2009
If you are a SAHM, why do you need the supply of pumped milk? If you nurse on demand, nearly every mother will make enough milk for her baby. Nursing every 2 hours would be a better way to increase your supply, rather than pumping every two hours.
With my 3 kids, I have nursed exclusively, since I stay home. The first would take a bottle, then, honestly, I kind of gave up on trying with the second, and the third has never been offered one. I figure, I am nearly always with them the first 6 months anyway so it is not really a problem for me to just nurse.
I nursed on demand - when ever the baby fusses the first 6 weeks for sure. That helps to establish that milk supply for the months to come. My pediatrician (who is a lactation consultant) said the best thing I could do was just nurse those first 6 weeks. She said that if you get your milk supply really well established the first two months, then your body can adjust to changes in schedule as life moves forward.
Also - she said that pumped amounts where not necessarily the best indicator of your supply. She had me come in and feed my baby and do weight checks before and after nursing to check what he was getting.
I too had a toddler at home when the second (and third) came along, and it was hard, but it's only a couple of months of really nursing all the time. Then, things get easier :)
Feel free to email me if you need more support! You are doing a great job, and congrat's on the new baby!!