Baby 1 Month Old in the NICU, and Milk Is Dwendling :(

Updated on November 09, 2010
B.G. asks from Portsmouth, VA
22 answers


I had a baby girl roughly a month ago. She was 11 weeks early and has been in the NICU ever since. She is doing amazing. I decided to use the pump after birthing her since I knew she would benefit more from my breast milk. My production started out normal and increased to about 2 oz a feeding, then for some reason all this week each feeding I'm only able to get out 1/2 to maybe 1 oz at the most. I have tried drinking more water, which seemed to help in the morning, but usually in the mornings I produce more anyways. I have even taken one of her pics to look at while I pump. Having her in the NICU is already stressful enough and if I loose my milk, I think it will make me even more down. I want to breastfeed/pump for as long as possible and esp. now because of her condition. Should I be worried? Is it too early to ask my doctor about a drug to help stimulate more milk production? Or is her being in the NICU and not here causing this to happen?


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answers from Austin on

A pump is not as good as baby at keeping up milk supply, so that probably is why you are struggling - and stress too. Is it possible for you to actually nurse her for any of the feedings? That would help, I think. I am also trying to increase my milk supply right now and was given instructions from a lactation consultant to "power pump" - two times a day for one hour each time, pump for ten minutes, take a break for ten minutes, then pump for ten min. until the hour is up. Don't look down b/c you don't need to be concerned about how much is coming out - you just want to give your body the message that more milk is needed. Also, this should be done after a feeding, so for you, immediately after a regular pumping session. Also, keep the pump on the lowest setting to avoid injury. You do this for two days in a row.
The LC also said to drink Ovaltine 2 times/day (the original kind) or non-alcoholic beer, and sprinkle sesame seeds onto food. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

You should talk with a lactation consultant or call your local La Leche League. They're awesome!

Try using warm compresses before you pump to help with the let-down. You can also buy herbal tea that will help with milk production. Mother's Milk is a brand that I used and worked to increase my milk.

Most importantly, keep pumping several times a day. This will stimulate milk production. It may be really stressful right now, and I can't imagine how hard it must be to be away from your B., but keep yourself healthy by eating/drinking well and sleeping! A healthy mind and body = milk let down.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

there are things you can do to try and help production, so im sure you will get lots of suggestions. i assume you are using a hospital grade pump? i would say to start, go to la leche's website to ask there, and maybe find out about a local la leche member to give advice. also, the hospital or other resources have lactation consultants. i would take every advantage of speaking to them and getting direct advice esp with your specific situation.

and please remember, help is wonderful but the quality isnt always the same. if any of these people do not give you full support and suggestions, please keep going until you find good assistance. not all "helpers" are good at giving help. the stress you are under is alot for your to deal with, just do the best you can, but make sure you get the best support, you deserve it. good luck to you and your baby!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Glad to know you baby is doing great! Hopefully she will be well enough to come home soon!

How long do you pump each day? It has to be 100 minutes a day at least. If you are renting a hospital grade pump (Medela) that's the best.

I suggest you pump as often as possible. Pumps don't stimulate the nipples like a real baby suckling. So maybe that is one reason why you supply is dwindling a bit. If you're busy with other things, try wearing a sports bra and cutting slits in them to put the pump (or flange?) so you don't have to keep holding them while pumping. I've never done that myself but I read it somewhere online I don't know if that works with the Medela hospital grade pump though. Otherwise I think there are pumps there that you can use hands-free.

Go see a lactation expert. They can visit you even while you're at the NICU if you haven't done this already.

Good luck to you and your wonderful new baby!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Three of my 5 kids were in NICU and I didn't have much milk when I pumped. I just kept it up though and when they got home and nursed my milk supply increased dramatically. My kids were only in for 1-2 weeks though... Hang in there!! And Congratulations!! I wish you all the best!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Have you talked to the Lactation consultants on staff at the hospital? My first was only in the NICU for 4 days but they were awesome. they helped we with getting him latched on, explained how to pump correctly, and even suggested a nipple guard, which was the key to getting my lil' one to the breast after being bottle fed those first few days :)

Is she able to go to the breast yet? I think like all the other moms have suggested once she's home your supply will bounce back. Does the hospital have a pumping room where you can use the hospital pumps? Maybe you can pump immediately after one of your visits, and maybe just having seen her will get a better pumping session?

Just keep up what your doing, sounds like you are doing an awesome job...also oatmeal always worked wonders for me!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

same thing happened to me, my baby was in the nicu unit at johnston willis
( the head nurse in the newborn unit "discovered" we werent married and decided to treat us VERY, VERY BADLY. ) and dont even get me started on dr hyde with va. physcians for women ( he should come with a warning label)between impersonal, arrogant doctors, vicious, nosy nurses, a small, pre term baby ( ours was born at 28 weeks, in our bathroom ), and all the stress that comes with all of the above, its no wonder you are losing your milk production., oh, and if you are not married, dont be surprised if the head nurse decides to call in social services for a home visit, because they did it to us, i signed up for what i was told was a babybasics class, and instead i got a social worker who invited herself over and stayed for two and a half hours.
K. h.


answers from Tampa on

Can you ask if you can start breastfeeding your daughter? Having her suckle is very important - both for you and your supply as well as for her.

Everyone else's comments seem to have a lot of good info too!



answers from Washington DC on

Kangaroo care is essential. Drugs to help milk supply are not the end all or be all. Neither is formula. Both are last resorts. I also encourage the hospital grade pump. You can use the homeopathic : lactusa virosa. It is easily found in Whole Foods or other health food stores. 3 pellets 3x day. That with a mother's milk tea, at least a quart a day.
Non alchoholic beer helps some people.



answers from Boston on

I think that once you can actually start nursing her your supply will improve. A pump is not very efficient. You can try mother's milk tea or you can purchase some fenugreek to help increase your supply and pump often. Ask the nurses if you can try nursing her. Call a lactation consultant.


I think that once you can actually start nursing her your supply will improve. A pump is not very efficient. You can try mother's milk tea or you can purchase some fenugreek to help increase your supply and pump often. Ask the nurses if you can try nursing her. Call a lactation consultant.


answers from Lynchburg on


I had twins..preemie...and both had extended time in NICU. I pumped and froze milk to take in for both. One thing that did help was hearing a baby cry! I discovered this in church one sunday when I had a 'letdown' to the tune of someone elses baby! After that...I had a friend visit with her fussy baby...the baby's fuss let down my milk for better pumping...the HUM of the pump soothed the baby!!

good thoughts and prayers your way!



answers from Washington DC on

Hi B.! I hope it works out for you that you can continue to provide breast milk for your baby, but don't be too hard on yourself if it doesn't. My girls were never in the NICU, but for some reason my breast milk dried up when they were each about 3 or 4 months old. It felt like it was happening out of the blue - nothing else had changed as far as feedings or whatever. I remember pumping and pumping, trying to increase production. It was a losing battle. I couldn't produce more than an ounce or two each time. I finally stop beating myself up over it all. Talk to your pediatrician and find a formula that you're happy with. Then you'll be more comfortable if it comes to that. Good luck to you and congrats on your baby girl!


answers from Washington DC on


Congratulations on your new baby girl!!

I too have had premmies and NICU time...stress has everything to do with milk production - lack of sleep, etc. It's amazing how our bodies work. But seriously - stress will directly affect your milk production.

I know this is easier said than done - but TRY to relax. She is in good hands in the NICU. What you need to do is concentrate on getting rest and healing yourself. That's what my NICU nurses told me to do and after a week - it worked. It wasn't easy - but it worked. By the time I brought my boys home (both were premmies and in the NICU) I was well rested and producing milk.

Get yourself on a schedule for pumping. Freeze whatever milk you get. DO NOT STRESS if it's down - just keep pumping. I pumped every two hours at first until I brought them home -I did NOT wake up to pump.

There are natural drugs/supplements you can take to help with milk production - fenugreek (it can be purchased at GNC).

DO NOT HESITATE to ask for help. It's great to think we are all wonder women, but the fact of the matter is - this is a VERY stressful time - so ASK for help!


answers from Los Angeles on

I love that you're looking at your DD's photo while pumping.
That's marvelous!
They will know how to help you.
Please don't lose hope.
Sending encouragement and good thoughts.
(corrected a spelling error)
Also agreeing with other posters here, in particular Leah.



answers from Washington DC on

I'm not sure if your situation has changed but in addition to some of the other suggestions you can usually get more milk if you use the hands-on pumping method. There are great videos to show it on the Stanford website.



answers from Detroit on

A friend of mine drank guiness and said that it increased her milk supply a lot. I've also heard Feverfew works too.



answers from Washington DC on

HI B.,

Have you tried skin-to-skin contact with your baby? This can stimulate milk production! The nurses may call it kangaroo care. It is also really good for your baby.

Good luck!


answers from Houston on

my sister's baby was in the nicu for abut a month as well. she pumped and all was fine but she had concerns also. you can try marshmallow root, mother's milk and fenugreek teas... all help to stimulate more milk production. Try and pump when you are calm, in a dim room, soft music, look at the picture... anything to help ease the stress, and pump regularly. You can certainly ask your Dr for suggestions, or, you can ask to speak to the hospitals lactation consultant or call la leche league... I'm sure it is something they confront ll the time.



answers from Los Angeles on

Do all you can now to keep your production up. Talk to your doctor and lactation specialists ASAP. There are products besides drugs that you can try, such as Mother's Milk tea or capsules. Other things like drinking dark beer is also supposed to help. Work hard now - once the supply is gone it's harder to get it back, so if you work on it while you still have a good amount of milk, you'll be in better shape.

Pump more often, for 10-15 minutes at most each time. Maybe every two hours or so.

Also, you produce more when you actually nurse than when you pump, so even if a lot isn't coming out now, there might be enough when your baby actually starts nursing.

I hope your baby girl continues to grow bigger and stronger so you can bring her home soon.



answers from Washington DC on

Congrats on your little girl! I was told that it was important to make sure you are pumping at least once between midnight and 5 am (when hormone levels are strongest or something), and then I pumped about every 3 hours w/ a hospital grade pump when I was awake. I remember my milk supply did decrease a little about 6-7 weeks after my twins were born (not sure why), but then it did improve quite a bit after that. Don't feel bad if you have to supplement some w/ formula; just give what you are able!



answers from Denver on

hi, B.. I'm so glad your baby is doing well. My baby was born at 24 weeks, and spent 3 months in the NICU. I pumped every three hours except at 3 am - so I could sleep from midnight to 6! I had a picture of her of course at home, and at midnight I would call the NICU to check on her weight - it helped to talk about her. I found it easiest to pump at the hospital - I would spend time with her and then go to the pumping room.
I used a double pump with strong suction, by the way. Be sure you have a good model like Medela. I also took fenugreek and Reglan to help with production. I was able to pump enough so that she had nothing but breast milk until she was a year old, though I stopped pumping at 9 months.
btw, I was able to breastfeed her at least a couple times a day once she got big enough and strong enough - about 4 or 5 months old, with the help of a lactation consultant. But she never had great muscle control in her face, so pumping and giving her bottles was always necessary.

good luck!



answers from Cumberland on

It's never too early to consult with a doctor-and I think you should. Drink fluids-lots of water and try to rest. Are you using an electric pump? That will help-and pump more frequently, until the milk is reestablished. Try drinking a reverse osmosis water-like AquaFina-it's easier to drink-and more hydrating. Good luck-I'm sure things will work out!

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