33 answers

Running Out of Milk

I am really torn up about this and I need some help. My son is 7 1/2 months old and has been strictly breastfed from birth. I always thought that I had plenty of milk, but I think I'm started to run out. I can feel my milk let down when he eats, but my husband and I have noticed that he has been extra fussy lately and doesn't seem to be nursing very long. I tried pumping but nothing seems to come out (expect for in the morning). Now I don't know what to do. I tried nursing him before bed tonight and he only ate for about 3 minutes on each side and was not satisfied afterwards so i had to give him a bottle with more milk for him to go to sleep. I'm not sure what to do, especially since I don't seem to be getting anywhere with pumping. Should I just stop? Or should I try just feeding him first thing in the morning and before bed? I would appreciate some help. The thought of not breastfeeding is really sad to me, but I also want to make sure that my son is full and satisfied.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks everyone for your advice. For those of you wondering, my son does eat plenty of solids so he's not totally starving. He loves to eat. I would pump more and feed more, expect that I work part-time and don't have the time to do that. My son also sleeps 12 hours at night and there is no way that I'm going to interrupt either one of our sleep to feed him again. Yesterday I did some experimenting and feed him a bottle and waited until his next feeding to nurse him. I was counting down the minutes until I could feed him because my boobs were full. I guess I have enough milk after all. I went ahead and got some herbal supplement at Sunflower. It was a little pricey and tastes AWFUL but I'm hoping it will work. And if it doesn't - I appreciate everyone's encouraging words to help me be okay with not breastfeeding anymore. Cheers to breastfeeding!

Featured Answers

Have you tried Fenugreek? It is an herb you can get in pill form at wal-mart or walgreens or any herb store. It helps increase milk production. Follow the direction on the bottle. If you are taking enough you will smell like black licorice when you sweat :) It works for a lot of people.

Here are just some ideas if you are running out of milk...
You can get "More Milk Plus" from the health food store.
You can also get Malt mix - it's by the chocolate powder mix in the grocery store.
Or you can also get Brewer's yeast - (what they use to make beer, but you don't have to drink beer :) ). Good luck!

You don't say if you are exclusively breastfeeding. If so, that is probably the problem - babies are ready for solids at 5 or six months. If you are feeding him solids, then you may have to supplement breastfeeding with formula - it is not the end of the world (and this coming from the world's biggest proponent of breastfeeding). Good luck!

More Answers

I would call La Leche League and they can definitely give you some good suggestions to help your milk supply. It's so great that you still want to nurse your son...don't give up too quickly, you'll never get this time back with him!

1 mom found this helpful

He might be going through a growth spurt, and to keep your milk supply up to his needs, you need to spend a few days nursing often. I notice that you are working part-time, which could make this hard, but while you're home you can nurse more. With the one specific feeding you mentioned - 3 mins on each side - I'm not surprised he wasn't satisfied. The hindmilk, the fatty part, doesn't come down until you've nursed longer. If he is starting to get distracted and doesn't nurse long at a time, then have him nurse on that same side when he's hungry again to give him the hindmilk.

1 mom found this helpful

Same advice as far as stimulation goes- your body will make more the more you stimulate. I didn't make enough with my first the whole time, so this time I take fenugreek (3 capsules of the seed 3x/day), and make sure to feed him at least 6-10 times & pump twice in every 24 hour period. The fenugreek seed really helps me!!!! Hope this helps- breastfeeding is sooo good for them, in so many ways!!!!!!

I've just returned to work and my baby won't take a bottle while I'm working - which means she is extra hungry when I get home. The problem is I naturally produce less milk at night - when she is most hungry. One thing that has helped is to fill a medicine syringe with pumped milk (or formula if you don’t have pumped milk) and after the baby has latched on, slip the syringe into the side of their mouth and slowly push some extra milk into their mouth. It helps to build your supply because the baby is sucking.

H., first, try to relax and breastfeed in a quiet place and put your feet up. Sometimes, when we get busy in our day then try to feed we are still too wound up to relax. Try two products from the health food store (Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, etc.)that really worked for me when I went through this. Fenugreek is the first one. It is in a capsule form and you can take them as directed. Second is a tea you can drink a few times a day, called Mothers Milk. These are both natural products and shoud be safe for breastfeeding with the baby as they were prescribed to me by my doctor. They worked for me, but you might feel sore as the milk produces. I hope this helps you and best of luck!

Have you tried Fenugreek? It is an herb you can get in pill form at wal-mart or walgreens or any herb store. It helps increase milk production. Follow the direction on the bottle. If you are taking enough you will smell like black licorice when you sweat :) It works for a lot of people.

Just a thought, if you are using the pill for birth control that can decrease your milk supply. There is a pill (called a mini-pill) that should not do so, but my girlfriend's doctor put her back on the regular pill at around 5 months post-baby and that was the end of her breatfeeding.

He could be teething. That would make eating harder for him. He is ready for solids but I know how hard it is for a mom to stop breast feeding. I would keep trying to pump in the morning. Feed your son a little more during the day, even if it's only for about three minutes or so. That should start your supply back up. Good luck!!!

H. - I know exactly how you feel! I have struggled to breastfeed all three of my children. My youngest is 9 months, and although I never could make enough milk, and had to stop breastfeeding him, I found some wonderful remedies that extended our breastfeeding time together. First of all, drink a TON of water. Second, I found an hebal supplument called Mothers Milk Plus, that tastes bad, but really seemed to increase my supply. This herb was recomended to my by the Lactation Specialist in the hospital at the birth of my 3rd son. Give it a shot. I also know of a tea you can drink. I believe it's a "nursing" tea. I found it at Rebecca's in Boulder. The store is around 13th and Spruce (1227 Spruce) - just west of the Boulderado Hotel. The Mothers Milk Plus can be found at any vitamin store like Vitamin Cottage etc. Good luck!!! And hang in there, this is precious time you can never get back. Stopping breastfeeding was very emotional and heartbreaking for me with all three of my children! Take care, Amanda

Hi,
You already got a lot of good advice, but in case you want more: La Leche Legua has a great website where you can find tons of information about breastfeeding and also ask questions by email (http://www.llli.org/resources.html). Are you in Boise? LLL doesn't have chapter meetings here, but it seems the chapter in Nampa is active. I got this from their website:

Meeting Information
LLL of Canyon County meets on the second Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Mercy Medical Center, 1512 12th Ave Rd, Nampa (One North Entrance, Four Seasons Conference Room).

Leader Information
La Leche League Leaders are experienced mothers who have breastfed their own babies and who have been trained and accredited by La Leche League International to help mothers and mothers-to-be with all aspects of breastfeeding. They are available by phone whenever you have breastfeeding questions or concerns.

Juanita ###-###-#### ____@____.com
Angie ###-###-#### ____@____.com
Betsy ____@____.com

There is also a LLL Breastfeeding Helpline
1-877-4-LALECHE
(1-877-452-5324)

Good luck!

I lost my milk early too and didn't enjoy that fact. However, there are a couple of things you can try. There is a tea called Mother's Milk. I like it better cold than hot, but it is supposed to help you keep your milk supply up. Another thing is to drink lots and lots of water. Make sure you are eating enough calories to produce the milk. There is a pill that some doctors prescribe that brings your milk back, but it didn't work for me. But it doesn't hurt to try.

Hi H.,
Looks like you have a ton of advice already but I wanted to put one more out there. I have a rough time with milk production the entire time I am nursing and after trying all the other hebal remedies I went for a drug called Domperidone. My lactation specialist recomended it for us. It doesn't have the depression side effects that Reglan does. It is not FDA approved for milk production here in the US but there are a few places that will compound it. It is much cheaper getting it overseas and I have a website for you if it gets to that. Please message me if you need it.
Try all the herbal stuff first. Many women do really well on Shadavari. (just in case it wasn't mentioned by someone else)
Best of luck and know that there are a bunch of us out there with you on this and that we fully understand.

I agree with drinking LOTS of water, and make sure you are eating enough calories during the day - that always makes a big difference for me when I feel like my supply is low. Also, my son's doctor told me that if I feel like I am not producing enough at certain times of the day, that after I feed him, to pump for a while longer at those times every day for about a week. He told me the extra stimulation will help regulate the milk supply better. I never heard this before, but he told me that your body produces its milk based on the average demand/consumption over the prior 5 days. So pumping tells your body there is a higher demand at that time, i.e. right before bed. Hope this helps! Good luck! Sometimes I worry about this with my son, but he REFUSES a bottle - so be glad you have options. ;)

Hi H.! All the advice from the other moms sounds great! I just wanted to add that if your milk does go away, its not a bad thing. Some people, like myself and many others I know loose their milk much earlier than you. My sister in law's milk basically never came in all the way for her last child. She, the baby, ended up being strictly bottle fed. So, if, after you have tried everything, your milk still goes away, don't blame yourself. You have given your son a GREAT start with breast feeding him for this long. The formulas that are out there are Very good. Talk to your pediatrician about which formula would be good for your child. We use Similac. Its a little more expensive, but you can get coupons from similac.com. This formula has worked much better for us than any other. (We tried many others with my first little girl, including enfamil and store brands and Similac was the best. Thats all we use for my youngest right now). Anyway. Congrats on breastfeeding this long. Don't feel guilty or bad about loosing your milk, it will just make things worse. If you do go to a bottle, you can still bond with your little one. Let him touch your face, your hands etc... Everything will work out great! Good luck!

There are quite a few homeopathic remedies for increasing milk production. I have a great homeopath if you would like to call her. But some items I recommend are "mothers milk" tea & marshmallow root. You can go to whole foods, sunflower, etc. and ask them what they have for milk production. Also most importantly make sure you are eating enough. You must have calories & carbs. If you are limiting those you can lose your milk & fast. He also may be fussy & not wanting to eat due to something in your diet, have you started eating something new? Does he have ezcema showing he may be allergic to something you are eating, therefore he isn't wanting to eat due to him associating how he feels when he does eat?

I hope this helps, please feel free to message me if I can help in any way. Take care, G

H.,

Try to go to vitamin cottage and get some Fenu Greek. you need to take at least 3pills 3 times a day and up to 5pills 3 times a day. I took this when I was nursing my son and it helped a lot. My sister also just started her son is 9 months old as she as well thought she was going to have to stop. She went and got the Fenu Greek and with in a week now is producing enough again. I learned of this through a lactation consultant at Rose Medical when I had my son. Who is now 6 and I breastfeed him for 12 and 1/2 months.

Have you not been feeding him any cereal or jarred foods yet? That could be why he's not satisfied, your doctor should have told you to start solids quite a while ago. Cereal to start, then introduce 1st veggies and such. Poor guy can't survive on milk alone!

It is really hard to know how much milk you're producing, and how much they're getting. My son is exactly the same age as yours, and he almost never nurses for longer than 5 minutes on a side. He has started eating solid foods, and I give him some fruits or vegetables or cereal after each feeding. I can tell he is starting to expect the extra food, because he doesn't seem satisfied after just breastfeeding.

I guess what I'm saying is don't give up, unless your doctor tells you he is not getting enough milk. He probably is getting enough, but may just be ready for more solid foods too. Try giving him a bowl of oatmeal after his last nursing session before bed. Your body might also be going through an adjustment because he is growing, and it will soon start producing more milk to match the demand.

As a side note, I pump every day, and I can never pump much if it has only been a few hours since the last feeding. What I do is nurse him around 4:00, give him a bottle for his 7:00 feeding before bed, and then pump around 10:00 so that it has been about 6 hours since I last nursed him. I can usually pump between 5 and 7 ounces if I do it this way (just enough for the bottle the next evening--I do this because I work 2 afternoons a week, so I give him a practice bottle every day). He usually sleeps until around 3 a.m., by which time I have enough milk for him again. The other thing, too, is that is that he is much more effective at getting milk out than a pump. So don't worry if you can't pump a lot. It doesn't mean you don't have milk.

One thing to keep in mind is that just because it's not coming out with the pump it doesn't mean your milk is gone. However, your son's reaction indicates he isn't getting enough milk. There are some things you can do to help our milk supply. First, make sure you are drinking a lot of water. Milk is also really good in addition to the extra water because cow milk is close enough to human milk that it helps your body make more milk. Another thing to try is taking fenugreek. You can get it at any health food store. The tea is not potent enough to do anything so make sure you take the capsules. You have to take a lot (I think its 2-3 capsules three times a day). You will smell like maple syrup while you are on it, but it doubled my milk supply.

Sometimes your body just decides it's done nursing too. If none of the above step help you keep your milk just be grateful you were able to exclusively nurse him for so long; that is longer than many women are physically able to do. The health benefits he has already received will stay with him the rest of his life.

It's really hard to tell how much milk a breastfed baby is getting. And pumping doesn't necessarily tell you - it's not really the same action. If your son is having enough wet diapers, etc, he's getting enough. Like others said, he may be going through a growth spurt and wanting to nurse more is how he increases milk production. Your body adjusts milk to how much he is taking. And, if I remember correctly, even changes over time to meet his changing needs.

I'm assuming that you've started him on solids. So that can decrease your supply some, but you shouldn't have to suppliment with formula just for that reason.

Could it be your son is fussy because he's teething? Or he might have sinus or ear pain. The nursing motion can make it worse, and since a bottle is different than the breast it may feel different.

Talk with a lactation consultant. Le Leche League is one place. My pediatrician is/was a lactation consultant, and she really helped me. See if your ped's office has one there or can recommend one.

My first child I had to go back to work and it was really hard to pump in a warehouse full of men, so he was put on formula at 8 weeks old. With my second I was so excited I was able to quit my job and was devoted to breast feeding for the whole first year. Until I had the same problem I started to dry up after about 6 weeks. I had to switch to bottle formula which was very hard for me because I wanted that time with my baby. Just look at it this way there is nothing you did wrong to cause it. It just happens. I personally think you should just stop. If you just try here and there you eventually won't have any to give. You did a good job for the first 7 1/2 months, but now it's time for the formula/baby food in order for your baby to get what he/she needs to get that tummy full. It should be about time for the fruits and what I did was put the rice into it to make it thicker. I also put rice in the bottle with the formula. Good luck I know how heart breaking it is, but it's the next step for you growing baby.

You don't say if you are exclusively breastfeeding. If so, that is probably the problem - babies are ready for solids at 5 or six months. If you are feeding him solids, then you may have to supplement breastfeeding with formula - it is not the end of the world (and this coming from the world's biggest proponent of breastfeeding). Good luck!

I ran out of milk around 4 months with my 2nd! It just happens....I would pump for a day to see what you are getting and like you said, it is most important for the baby to be well fed....you made it a long time so be happy, not sad! I had friends who could not handle it after 3 weeks.

Hey, H.-- I know I'm responding later than everyone else, but I saved your question because I've been thinking of you for two days and I hope you are less discouraged than you were when you asked your question.
I am a La Leche League Leader in Utah, and I highly recommend you contact your local Leader to get accurate, personal breastfeeding counseling absolutely free. I don't know Colorado geography very well, but there are dozens of Leaders there. You could find the ones closest to you by clicking on "resources" and "find a local group" at www.llli.org. We are required to stay current on our information and our accreditation (while not medical like an IBCLC certification) is very thorough.
Since milk production is all supply and demand, you may be shooting yourself in the foot (breast?) by offering a bottle of artificial baby milk. It's good to remember swallowing is a reflex, and baby will continue to swallow even if he's technically "full," just because a bottle continues to drip fluid into his mouth.
You sound like an intuitive mom--you see he is fussy. Consider that a change in your supply may not be the sole reason for an increase in fussiness. He could be teething, dealing with an upper respiatory infection that makes his stuffy and crabby, he could be overstimulated and need to be rocked to sleep instead of nursed. It's highly likely he is hitting a growth spurt, too. All of this means that short, frequent feedings may meet his needs better than his previous marathon nursing sessions. Frequent nursing will both stimulate your breasts to increase supply and allow him to get the high-fat hindmilk that will keep him satisfied longer.
It's important NOT to judge your supply based on how much you can pump. The best pump in the world has nothing on a well-latched baby! Watching his output of urine/stool is more reliable than measuring quantity of milk pumped. Since you are concerned about supply, consider using breast compression techniques while you pump: you just hold your hand in a "c" shape and gently compress and hold your breast while you pump or nurse for the count of 15 to 10. Then, shift your hand to another part of your breast and compress again. This allows your baby or pump to effectively drain (and thus, stimulate) all the milk ducts. It also helps many babies maintain interest, since they often get a gush of milk when you shift your hold, since your compression temporarily blocked some ducts. Other rules of thumb (breast?) when using a pump to increase supply is to use a double electric pump, since studies show moms who pump both breasts at once increase production more effectively, AND pump for two minutes after when you see the last drop of milk come out.
Human milk production takes about 24 to 48 hours to adjust to an increased or decreased demand. This means the most effective way to increase your supply is to nurse often. Consider having what many moms call a "milk day," and letting other obligations wait while you make nursing often your primary focus for a day or two. This can allow your supply to catch up with his demand.
Even though he sleeps for such a long stretch, keeping him nearby when he's sleeping can also help your supply. Studies show prolactin levels peak in the very early morning hours, making that an ideal time to pump or nurse. Many moms worried about supply take their babies to bed with them or just nap with them so they can both get extra rest and the extra homornal triggers to produce more milk.
Fenugreek, blessed thistle and domperidone are all useful for many moms who wish to increase their supply. Fenugreek will make you sweat and urine smell like maple syrup. It also messes with blood sugar, so don't use it if you are diabetic. If you wish to use it, or use other herbal treatments, consider taking them in capsule form, as any sort of tea or beverage is hard to measure accurately and you can never be sure how mch you're really getting. Sage and any contraceptive containing estrogen are known to decrease milk supply, and antihistimines can also compromise your supply, since they work by drying up excess body fluds, so use these with caution.
Solid food should mainly be for experience with texture and fun, not real nutrition at this age. Your milk changes flavors, so he does not really need solid food for the purpose of tasting new flavors. Offer solids after nursing when you are both relaxed, and avoid using the spoon to supress any remaining tongue-thrust reflex he may still have. The American Academy of Pedatrics recommends babies breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six months (nice work, mama!) and then continue until at least one year of age, and thereafter as long as is mutually desired by mom and baby.
You received so much well-meaning advice, and much of it was conflicting. While moms were so kind to remind you that not breastfeeding would not be the end of the world, I suggest you remember that *their* experience does not necessarily have to be *your* experience, if you'd like something different. You are the expert on your child, since you are his mother. You decide what your mothering and breastfeeding experience will be like, if this setback is a real brick wall or just a speed bump to get over. Breastfeeding is very much a confidence game, and I offer you my sincere vote of confidence. I hope some of this information is useful to you, or at least reassuring. Hang in there!

H.,

There is a couple of things that you can do here. One do not panic. Second increase your fluid levels but leave out caffeine temporarily. You can use a pump between feeding to stimulate your supply. Also for milk supply you can take a Homeopathic Remedy Urtica Urens. Get this in a 30C and put three pellets into 8 oz. water. Swirl or shake until the pellets are dissolved. Take a "gulp" of this liquid throughout the day and the supply should increase. Continue this until you see the increase then back off the remedy.

Relax any way that you know how. This can change for you.

Best to you, K.

I had this with my first. I drank water until I felt like I was drowning. Also, dieting can cause it. Probably the thing that helped me the most was advice from a Pediatrician friend whose wife had struggled with the same thing. He said to feed the baby as long as baby will nurse, even if there is no milk. The stimulation will help. Same with pumping. Let baby hang out with daddy for a little while -- about 20 minutes -- and try again. It helped with my little guy, and I was able to continue nursing. You can try pumping at other times as well, but rest and drink during those 20 minutes. I think I added a late night feeding or an early morning feeding, extra, for a while to help with extra calories and stimulation. I know you'll get a lot of other good advice, too. I hope you can keep going. Don't get discouraged. My next two were much easier to nurse. My DD seems to have more than she could ever want. Congratulations! 7 months is a fun age. It only gets better from here!

Baby could be fussy for other reasons. . .teeth? (this could also make him not want to nurse very long). Is your little guy on solids? Offering a nursing session before you feed him solids will help him be more open to solids, and may help fill his tummy a bit more, but definitely not replace nursing. At this age they begin to get busier, wanting to try crawling, etc, is he just distracted at nursing time? At 7 months a sudden lack of desire to nurse could also be the beginnings of a nursing strike. . . something you may just have to wait out. If he's been fully breastfed and satisfied until this point, it's not likely that your milk supply is going, since it has been well established it would take quite a while to just "dry up" unless you're going through a sudden change or stress. Just offer nursing sessions throughout the day, pumping is not as effective as your little guy doing the job himself. Maybe offering nursing more often during the day since you know right now he's not nursing well right before bed. . . . check out a la leche league meeting in your area just to talk with other like-minded breast feeding mamas. . . . llli.org should point you in the right direction. You go nursing mama!

There are so many things that you can do to increase your milk supply and continue to breastfeed. Do a search to read past posts answering this same question and you will find lots of information. In my experience taking capsule form fenugreek and blessed thissle works very well, but you must take a lot of the pills to really work. Start out taking two capsules of each kind with each of your meals, when your supply starts to increase then take one of each wiht each meal until you feel like you don't need to take them anymore. Drink LOTS of water too. Nurse as frequently as possible every day, and try not to supplement with bottles if you can avoid it. Good luck!

This happened to me with DS and it was a terrible feeling to not be making enough for him to eat. For me, it was better just to switch to formula, I fed him mainly non-iron fortified formula since it tastes more like milk and less like liquid nails, ie what he was used to. Since he was eating solids I just made sure he got iron via spinach and pureed meats.

Personally, I felt much better once he was getting full meals from a bottle, but thats me. He had several good months on BM so it wasn't that devastating to quit a little early. Just wanted you to know you're not alone. GL on your decision.

I had the same problem with my fourth baby. My midwives told me to drink LOTS of water, get LOTS of rest, maga-dose on vitamin C. Try pumping a little after each nursing session. Try mother's milk tea (but you have to drink a lot of it), try fenugreek capsules, and brewers yeast. There is also a prescription that your doctor can give you to increase milk supply if none of those other things work it's called reglan, but I only used that as a last resort and I must worn you that it makes you very drowsy. Good luck :)

I would try mother's milk tea. You can buy it at Whole Foods or Wild Oats. It is a homeopathic tea. I've been drinking it for that past few months and think it is helping. I also try and drink plenty of water. My son went through a nursing strike at 11 months and it broke my heart! I thought he was done breastfeeding but I would try and breastfeed him at each feeding and he didn't want it at all. He would take the bottle just fine though. So I pumped for about 4 days. Then all of a sudden he was fine on the 5th day and he's been breastfeeding ever since. (That was 2 months ago). But the stress of all of it made my breast milk reduce so I've been drinking the tea. Good Luck! I know how you feel. It made me sad also but just know that you have done an awesome job in making it this far with breastfeeding! Good job!!

Here are just some ideas if you are running out of milk...
You can get "More Milk Plus" from the health food store.
You can also get Malt mix - it's by the chocolate powder mix in the grocery store.
Or you can also get Brewer's yeast - (what they use to make beer, but you don't have to drink beer :) ). Good luck!

Congratulations on motherhood. Nursing is a special bond to share with your baby. You might try to consult a lactation professional in your area - ask you doctor for a reference. The same thing happened to me with my first child. Sadly, it was past the point of getting my milk to come back to an adequate level. What my doctor reccomended was to start each feeding on the breast first and when baby became restless to switch to the bottle. This method worked for almost a month until my milk supply was gone and baby was fully on the bottle. Doing this "slow weaning" away from Mom was a way for baby to get his emotional and physical needs met - and it made it easier on me too. Best of luck to you both.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.