Breast Milk Supply Is Dwindling!

Updated on August 28, 2015
A.C. asks from New Canton, IL
11 answers

My son is 4 months. He's been strictly on breastmilk. I'm a SAHM. I pump and nurse. I started pumping at 2 weeks because I had such an oversupply. I had 20 oz per day to freeze on top of nursing my son 6-8 times a day. Anyway, since I was in so much pain, hooked to a machine 24/7, and obviously didn't need to produce that much, I talked to my lactation consultant about regulating my supply. It went down, so I was comfortable but I still had extra so I could pump a bottle or two.
Well now, my son will nurse, act full and go play. Then about 30 mins later, he acts hungry again! So i'll nurse, and he yanks, fusses, and won't relatch. When I pump, I get like 1 oz to 4 oz total! I'm drinking the mother's milk tea and taking fernugreek vitamins, drinking a ton of liquids, eating. My frozen supply seems to be quickly going and he's so young!
Anyone deal with this? My son sleeps through the night so I go 8 hours without pumping. I've been trying to pump after he goes to bed but it still hasn't helped. His doctor says since he has frozen milk and I'm not completely dry, to not worry yet. But I don't like not having a plan. I don't work either. I don't know how this happened. It just has been slowly getting less and less.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I agree that I'm over thinking this. I just feel like I don't understand the whole process. I don't know many very experienced moms who breastfed. They all did it for a short time. And I seem to not ask the right questions to the lactation consultant. I've been on Kelly mom and it has been helpful. But I take the supply and demand as, if I pump, I'll produce more. Which I think is what happened with my oversupply. So when my son takes a bottle, I still pump for every bottle he takes. WHen he drinks from the bottle though, he does 6-8oz at a time.
Is it normal for him to pull away after eating and want more so soon after? He always breaks away from me, so I'll burp him and try to put him back on. I go by his cues. I assume he knows more about this than I do. Even after 4 months, this whole thing has me confused.
He is teething. He has a tooth popping through the gums a bit. He nursed for an hour, with some just suckling, but I let him stay on as long as possible.
He scratches and punches at my chest. I figured it was to get another let down. I don't feel let downs every time I nurse, therefore I've been thinking I haven't been making milk.

More Answers


answers from St. Louis on

I am no guru here but it seems like your trying to manipulate things with the pumping is causing your problems. I have four kids and nursed them all. They all slept through the night since the day they were born and other than the first month when everyone was getting used to things I was never engorged. I never worked so I never pumped. If we went out for the evening the babysitter gave them formula.

So my unprofessional opinion, stop pumping, nurse any time he is hungry and it should come back. Stop over thinking things.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

hon, you sound pretty stressed. step away from the pump. being 'hooked to a machine 24/7' and in pain isn't doing you any good. you've got a freezer full of milk, so nurse your baby when he's hungry and supplement with a bottle only when necessary. your breasts are amazing and almost all the time will accommodate whatever changes the baby (and you) go through within a couple of days.
yes, it's possible that you won't. but supplementing with formula isn't the worst thing in the world, and far better than all this stress and worry and trying to micromanage your body's natural processes.
your calmness and well-being are the most important things you can give your baby right now. relax and enjoy him, and your breasts will almost certainly follow suit.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I highly recommend the website Kellymom! It is full of fantastic information!

4 months is a common age for growth spurts when baby seems to forever be hungry. Breastfeeding is supply and demand. Every bottle you give is one less signal to your breasts to not make milk.
My best advice right now is to put away the pump and put baby straight to the breast every time with no limitations on time. Cover the clock up.
Set aside a couple days where you have nowhere to go and nothing to do and just nurse on demand. A pump is not an indicator of how much milk you have. You were getting so much before because you had such a drastic oversupply. That supply is balancing out now. If baby is still having enough wet diapers and is active and growing then you are fine.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I had problems about that age..... my daughter was getting distracted as she nursed, and would pull away to look at things, and then not want to go back to feeding... then she would get mad that she was still hungry!

I also agree with it possibly being a growth spurt..... they usually happen every couple of months, where it doesn't seem like you can satisfy them.... it is just nature's way of increasing the milk supply as they grow.

Your supply may not actually be dwindling..... it just seems that way because your body has become more efficient at producing just what is needed.

If it is a growth spurt, don't feed him the supplemental bottles of frozen breast milk... feed him on demand, and that will signal your body to produce more milk. It may take a few days, but your body will respond. Also, be sure you are drinking plenty of water, so your body can make the milk he needs.

And yes, the teething is a problem.... they nurse a bit, and it hurts the tender tissue over the tooth, so he breaks off, and doesn't want to go back on....

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

i breast fed 2 kids till they hit a year.
around 4 months babies hit a growth spurt which will make it seem like your not producing enough. and they can change up their nursing patterns when hitting milestones. keep at it, don't give up, nurse as often as baby wants to and pump when you can. the tooth popping thru can make nursing painful so that could be why baby has trouble nursing. (when he pulls off acting like your empty i would try to manual express or let baby play and try to pump a bit.
there is also the issue of the bottle. it gives milk faster than the boob so baby gets more and gets it quicker. once they decide that they want that milk as fast as possible they will no longer like boob. try a slower flow nipple on the bottle "first years breast flow" was most like a boob to my ds and made a huge difference. (daughter refused all bottles) you can also make and eat lactation cookies and enjoy eating them to help boost supply

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Firstly, pumping doesn't equal what he can drink. I often struggled to get 5 oz per pumping session at work, but my baby was the Michelin Man. I knew I had to producing more than I could pump. He may also have an ear infection, be getting teeth, or just being twitchy. IMO, consider a different hold, as much on-demand nursing as he wants, and check for teeth.

Remember that your supply will change but so will your milk. My DD never had enormous bottles for daycare. The milk got fattier to accommodate her needs, so that same 5 oz was enough for that feeding. My DD was also a quick nurser. 10-15 minutes, done, let's go play. Is he getting more efficient at nursing? I went from having overactive letdown to not really feeling very full by the time she was 6-8 months old, but she continued to grow just fine. My body just realized I was nursing one child, not an army. The let downs may feel different as he gets older. I would go by his output to determine his input.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

A baby is much much better at getting milk from you than the pump is. Nurse as much as you can, and try to stop giving bottles. The more you nurse, the more your body will make. Pumps are not as good as babies at getting milk out, and your supply will continue to decrease if you keep substituting pumping for nursing. Bottom line - nurse, don't pump.

As for your question about acting hungry so quickly after feeding - totally normal: It's probably a growth spurt. Just keep latching him on as much as you can.

A lot of women get frustrated at this exact age when their babies hit a growth spurt and seem like they are bottomless pits for milk and then never stop eating. If you stick with it, you can make it through and your breasts will figure out how much to make for him. Good luck!

ETA: A few things others mention that I found to be so true: What you pump is NOT the same as what you make. My ability to pump milk always plummeted over time, but my ability to provide enough milk for my baby to nurse was fine. Example: In the beginning, I pumped so much milk while at work, more than I needed to send to daycare. By 6 months, I would pump all day at work and get 2 ounces after multiple sessions each day, Monday-Friday. But here's the thing - I would go home and nurse my baby for every feeding all day Saturday and Sunday. Obviously there was milk in there during the daytime hours, my body just refused to give it to the pump.

Second, if you used to have oversupply, then you are used to feeling full. But once you get past the 3rd month, you won't feel full anymore. You just don't, because your body has adjusted. But you don't need to FEEL full to have plenty of milk. Lack of feeling engorged does not mean that you don't have plenty of milk in there.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I did everything you are doing and as my son got older he was so interested in things going on around him that he would never nurse very long. Even though I did everything they tell you to do my supply kept dwindling and I dried up when he was 6 months old. They said I did everything right and sometimes that just happens. I did vitamins, fenugreek, mothers milk tea, pumping, waking him up to eat every 3 hours at night, pumping, drinking tons, eating tons of calories, and even prescription drugs that are supposed to help increase milk supply. Nothing worked. When I didn't have enough breast milk I was given some by another mother who had extra. Then when that supply ran out I gave our son formula. He seemed to like everything so it was never a problem. I did feel like a failure though...and now that he is 11 I see that I should not have been made to feel that way. I did all I could and sometimes things like this happen. It's really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Consider taking GoLacta, eat well and stay hydrated. Stop pumping, no bottles and keep putting him to boob often and it will return. Don't panic, I made it to 18 mos.



answers from Los Angeles on

You can try to increase your supply by doing a "power pump" -- this was suggested to me by my lactation consultant when my supply started to decrease when my son was about 5 months. Power pump is this: right after you nurse your son, pump for 10 minutes. Then wait 10 minutes and pump again for 10 minutes. Then wait for 10 minutes and pump again for 10 minutes. Do this two times a day -- morning and night -- for two days (so four times total). This is supposed to trick your body into thinking that your son is going through a growth spurt and should increase your supply a bit.

Also, did you start your period? That was the first question my lactation consultant asked me when talked to her about decreasing supply. Supply dwindles around the time of your period. Just something to keep in mind.

I also nursed and pumped because I work full-time, but I just couldn't keep up the supply so I ended up supplementing with formula around that time and now he's 7 months old and he only drinks formula. If you end up supplementing or going full formula, it's not the end of the world. Don't put so much pressure on yourself. There are many of us who had only formula and we all ended up fine.

What may help is if you exclusively pump rather than nursing and pumping. I exclusively pumped with my daughter and she was fed only breastmilk for 13 months. She wasn't given formula at all.



answers from Las Vegas on

Our bodies can be so tempermental and react to the things we think and do.

I had such a hard time getting started and once I did everything was good until it was time to go to work. After I got situated with a schedule and working, it came back, but dwindled, and then back again.

Is it possible you have started worrying about the house chores or not relaxing as much? Has your stress level changed?

When I first started, it was necessary for me to sit in that rocker with my feet up and eventually I was able to walk and feed and handle a few things while she nursed. But my supply was much lower while I was doing that.

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