Decreased Milk Supply After 2 Months.

Updated on March 28, 2010
R.S. asks from Portsmouth, VA
16 answers

I didn't know that breast milk production slows down after 6-8 weeks unless the mother nurses very often. I breastfeed my baby. But when he started sleeping for longer periods at about 1 month old, I let him sleep. I thought it would be better for him and his parents as well rather than wake him up to breastfeed. Of course, I didn't use a pump that much either - I was catching up on sleep. Now my breast milk supply is running so low, I have to give him more formula. Where it used to be a single 5 oz. bottle a day, now it could be up to 9 oz. plus another one or two 6 oz. bottles within 24 hours.

I always tried to get him to latch correctly, but I just couldn't/can't get him to open his mouth wide like in a yawn. They never really taught me that when I was seen by lactation experts at the hospital. My baby starts kicking and moving around a lot when it's feeding time so it's hard to put him in the right position, let alone get me to open his mouth like it should. He always ends up suckling on my nipple, and it hurts.

Today I tried to breastfeed him first thing in the morning. Both sides. He got milk only when they were full, then he lost interest as they got empty.

Question: How do you open a baby's mouth WIDE for feeding? How do you increase milk supply after it has decreased? Is it okay to use a manual breast pump?

EDIT: Thanks for all the replies so far. I didn't want to supplement at all. But I was so stoned from painkillers after a rough birth (unplanned c-sec) and my colostrum flow was so little. My husband and the nurse who cared for the baby were the ones who got the idea of formula feeding. I was really disappointed but our baby was screaming mad so much - clearly unsatisfied. As for when we got home: I breastfed as often and as much as I could. But at night we gave him formula since it let him (and us( sleep longer. I'd also give the bottle to give my nipples a break from his chewing. I did consult with 2 lactation experts at the hospital, but they made it look easy. As my baby got bigger, he got wilder during feeding times.

The odd thing is, around the time my supply started running low, I was breastfeeding him round the clock, no formula! (He got vomiting and diarrhea and I was feeding him a little at a time, with breast milk and a bit of Pedialyte.)

Whenever I breastfeed him, he either drifts off to sleep or loses interest after a while. I think he's had enough but then he starts crying. We know it's hunger cries. That's after long feeding on both sides (quite empty). We give him some formula then he goes to sleep. Now it's even harder. He does not swallow AT ALL after a while. He cries, so then we get him a bottle and he's content.

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So What Happened?

Well, update again! I did as you advised. Breastfed as often as possible (about every 2 hours or whenever I pick him up and he's willing) and that really helped. But I think what did the trick was that supplementer tube that a lactation expert gave us at the hospital. I attached it to a small syringe and fed my baby formula through it while breastfeeding at the same time. I tried a nipple shield too, but it doesn't work at all. My baby hated it. But the supplementer helped boost my milk supply even though I used it for only 2 days. (It was a hassle, as I had to refill the syringe several times.) Another thing that helped immensely was pumping for 10 minutes after each feeding. Now I notice he uses less formula. My milk supply still dips down a little when I'm busy with work and chores - too busy to pump often. But when I step up feeding and pumping, it goes back up.

My baby still supplements, but only in smaller quantities - like 4-5oz. at a time. But now we worry he has a decreased appetite. He is close to 3 months now. Curious about all kinds of things. He is always distracted. I have to fight for his attention during feedings. But he seems healthy. Judging by how heavy he is, and diaper counts, he is getting enough nourishment.

Thank you all for the help! By the way, a bit off topic. Have you found breast milk helps fend off diseases in babies? Does it really boost their immune system?

More Answers



answers from Gainesville on

The first thing is the more you supplement the less milk you will make. You have to ditch the formula and breastfeed him if you want to be successful at breastfeeding.

Your production doesn't slow down after 6-8 weeks, your body adjusts to exactly what baby needs. That's what those first weeks are about. Baby nurses (sometimes erratically it will seem) to get you to make just the right amount.

Breastfeeding is about nursing on demand. Your body will adjust to baby sleeping at longer intervals so that you still make what baby needs. If baby starts sleeping longer at night they usually will nurse more often during the day. You might have thought him nursing more often meant you weren't making enough so you started supplementing. Common mistake. Now your body really isn't making enough because by not nursing as often you are telling your body it doesn't need to make the milk.

You need to ditch the bottles and the formula. Let baby bring your supply back up.

Now it sounds like he did exactly what he should have done this am. He emptied your breasts and was done. That's what breastfed babies do. They eat till they are full. With a bottle they eat till it's gone. See the difference.

If you want to increase supply put baby to breast every time and often right now. Breastmilk is metabolized more quickly so it's normal for him to want to nurse every 1 1/2 hour-3 hours. and that's from the time you start not the time your finish.

Check your area to see if there is a local breastfeeding support group. They can sit right with you and help you get him to latch on better. Try not to wait until he is starving to put him on either. Makes it more difficult to get a good latch. Watch his cues for hunger and put him to breast before he is ravenous.

Here is a great article with pics to get you going in the right latch direction:

Most importantly be confident in your ability to feed your baby. Follow his lead and you will have the milk you need for him!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richland on

I suggest that you contact one of the leaders of the La Leche League in Woodinville. There are two. Look up , click for the U.S., click for Washington, click for Woodinville and you will have their phone numbers. This group is VERY helpful - they know everything about nursing your baby. I also started giving my babies formula, and found out that that sabotages all your efforts to nurse. Your baby usually doesn't need anything other than your milk until about 4-5 months old. Please get hold of them. Nursing my babies was the one of the most satifsfying things I have done. I nursed the last one until she was almost 3 years old.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My advise is to hire a lactation consultant. It's worth the money to be able to breastfeed your child for as long as you can. They will be able to work with your technique and address any unique feeding habits you and your baby have. I talked with 3 consultants when learning to nurse my first born. One at the hosiptal at birth, one shortly after coming home and one about a week later. The issues were all different but the advise given by each were priceless and I share their advice with other moms in need.

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answers from Minneapolis on

If he's hungry, NURSE HIM! don't offer formula.... your bod ywon't make milk if your baby isn't nursing... if he's hungry (and babies go through alot of growth spurts where they nurse all.the.time) then nurse him.

What you need to do is STOP giving bottles and formula, only nurse. If he's hungry, put him to the breast and feed him. Your supply will match his needs in a day or two. No more bottles, no more formula, your milk supply IS enough, just trust your body, trust your baby, and feed him when he's hungry so your body knows ot make the milk for him that he needs, when he needs it. The more you supplement, the less your body will make milk.

So stop the formula, only nurse. He won't starve as long as you nurse him when he's hungry! BREAST ONLY! NO FORMULA! NO BOTTLES!

Read your edit and want to edit myself. He's also sounding like he has nipple confusion/nipple preference. He's preferring the bottle because he doens't have to work at it. If you stop offering bottles and only nurse, he will get over it and accept that its breast only. But if you keep offering bottles he will continue to fuss because he knows a bottle will come if he does, and he won't have to work at nursing.

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answers from Eugene on

I agree with all the answers so far. It is unfortunate that you didn't get the help you needed in the beginning, but it is definitely not too late. I would recommend, while you are getting your supply up, that you breastfeed him as often as possible, including waking him up at night if he sleeps longer than 3 hours or so (don't worry, once your supply is back up, you can go back to letting him sleep longer stretches at night). Definitely see a good lactation consultant, maybe more than one if the first one isn't able to help you enough. It does sound like your supply has diminished and that your baby is frustrated and hungry, so there may be some crying while he's getting used to breastfeeding again (and by all means if you need to supplement, if your milk supply isn't coming up fast enough, don't starve him). If you do need to supplement for a while, the best way would be to pump and then give him the milk using a LactAid, so that he can get your breastmilk while also stimulating your breasts to produce more. (make sure you have a good pump, you can often rent them from lactation consultants). Also there may be a specific problem that is preventing your baby from latching well, such as a short frenulum which needs to be clipped, or a craniosacral issue perhaps due to the birth (see a good craniosacral therapist or cranial osteopath). I wouldn't recommend using a nipple shield, as they can be very difficult to stop using - unless there is a really strong reason that you need one, due to your or the baby's anatomy. You might want to buy, rent, or borrow a scale (or take him in to the doctor's office or somewhere that has a scale every couple of days or so) for a while, so that you can monitor his weight to make sure he's still gaining, once you stop the formula. It may take some effort to get things going again, and I know it can be tempting to just go with the formula, but I believe that the time and money you invest in getting breastfeeding going well will be well worth it for the rest of your and your child's lives! You can do it!

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answers from Seattle on

Normally, between 2 and 3 months postpartum, a woman's milk supply adjusts to meet the needs of her baby. It's not that your milk is gone, it's just that you're making what your baby needs. Well, kinda. If you were to not give any formula for 24 hours, your body would almost certainly make the milk your baby needs. He'll nurse A LOT during that time potentially, but his nursing will increase your supply to meet his needs.

His drifting off to sleep or losing interest while nursing is totally normal. I'm not interested in food when my hunger is satisfied either. Make sense?

Please get in touch with a La Leche League leader since they can help you. It's always free to ask for help if that's a concern. You can call or e-mail a leader or go to a meeting. There's one next Thursday at Kat's Tot Spot I think.

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answers from Seattle on

If you would like to continue breastfeeding see a lactation consultant or call la leche league. They will help you with getting a proper latch.

In addition to correcting the latch you need to nurse more! Nurse him frequently and do not supplement - or only supplement AFTER he has nursed from both breasts every time!

In addition to nursing pump, when he is not hungry. After I went back to work I had a couple of times were my supply would run low, because I was to busy to pump. Pumping or nursing every two hours would bring it right back up.

You can drink lactation tea or take fenugreek in addition, but it will not be enough to get your supply back up by itself. Milk production is on demand and if there is not enough stimulation you will dry up.

I nursed for 19 month and found the experience incredibly rewarding, so I can only recommend that you do everything in your power to keep at it. For me it was TOTALLY worth it.
Good luck!


answers from Seattle on

All the answers here are good. I will add my two cents. First, make sure he is not allergic to something in your milk because the diarrhea and vomiting might be a sign of something like that going on. And second, here is my story, I did have the same problem with my little guy, I did everything... consultants, pediatritans, hurbs, name it, I did try it. In the end we finally figured it out, my boy was just too lazy to do all the hard work nursing, I started pomping and this is how I managed to keep him brestfed. Good luck!



answers from Portland on

I second the referral to La Leche League (volunteers who help with breastfeeding). There could be a number of things going on with you and your son and you should talk to someone so that they can ask you the right questions. Baby's can have something called "nipple confusion" if he never really got the hang of breastfeeding, he may prefer the shape or flow of the bottle and basically refuse your breast until you give him the bottle. It's not to late to re-establish breast feeding, but you'll need some help. I'm glad you reached out!



answers from Portland on

If you supplement at all your supply will start to suffer. There are herbs and some foods that you can eat that will increase your supply. You should search for that online if someone hasn't suggested it yet.

Really, I would stop offering a bottle and get a LACT-AID for the supplementation until your supply goes back up. The lact-aid will give him a little bit of formula while he's nursing, which will increase your supply and encourage him to only suck from the breast. It seems that many babies get sort of lazy once they're offered a bottle and decide they don't want to nurse anymore. You CAN do this if you're really dedicated. Your supply will come back. It's all about supply and demand.

I read a story once about a woman that RE-LACTATED a month after we stopped nursing. She was able to get her supply back and fed her baby 100% breastmilk. She nursed her baby with a Lact-Aid every single time. Keep at it, it's so important!



answers from Seattle on

Your story sound so familar from what I went through with both my boys before I managed to breastfeed them both for 12 months.
So many lactation visits, so much work to get it to work, but it was all well worth it. My first and strongest belief is that when you start formula, it is the start of the brestfeeding end. Baby has to relay on your supply and regualate your supply. My boys were getting discouraged after suckikng a bit , and kicking and wiggling too still being hungry. The best results brought a good, hospital grade breastpump. I was pumping after every feeding, 10 minutes, both breasts. At first I would pump very little, maybe 1 oz per breast (Now wonder he was fussy after and during breastfeeding, he was getting too little food! Baby weight gain slowed down grately, but I didn't supplement with any formula), ; I would then store what I pumped and give it in a bottle to a hungry baby after next feeding. After a week of pumping 6-9 times a day the amounts of pumped milk after feeings slightly increased, but most importantly my boy wasn't so hungry after feedings, he was nursing longer, sucking better, was calm and opened his mouth wide. I continued pumping anyway, but decresed frequency of pumping to only 4 times a day. Throught entire year of nursing I was getting up at 3 am though to pump instead of nursing when my boy was fast asleep and didn't wake up for feeding. At 3 months he slept 10h at night, but my poor milk supply needed this extra pumping to keep the milk coming. Good luck!



answers from Portland on

I did not have a chance to read all of the replies, but clearly you have a lot of input. I also have experienced some of similar challenges you have - my son is now 3 months. A few thoughts:
1.If the lactation specialists didn't give you one already, get a nipple shield (Medela, silicone) - it will definitely help with the pain and some babies really like them. It may also ease any nipple confusion.
2. I was having similar issues at 6-8 weeks. Sucking on the nipple, fussing and bucking at breast, lots of spitting up in large quantities, gassiness, crying/actings as if not getting enough, etc. I saw a great lactation specialist at our Ped's office. Turns out that my milk was coming down very fast and overwhelming him (even though all this time I thought I has too little milk!). She showed me something she called the C-Hold which she used to help slow the flow so that he could get comfortable opening his mouth around my nipple (he was sucking on just the nipple to manage the flow apparently ... and of course in the process of all this swallowing air, etc). The C-Hold is basically Thumb and Index finger in a c-shape around the outside of your nipple, about 1/2 to 1" away on either side. You press toward your chest (not pinch the breast). This puts pressure on the mamary glands and slows the flow. This helped A TON. It took a few feedings, but he started to open his mouth and latch normally. Now that he is older, he is OK with the flow, although sometimes I still need to slow it a bit for him.
3. 6-8 weeks is a growth spurt time. So, he may in fact need to nurse more frequently. It will pass and his nursing more will spur your milk production.
4. I was also concerned about milk supply. I have an electric pump (a must have vs. hand) and would pump for 10 more minutes each breast after baby was finished nursing to stimulate more demand. And of course drink a whole bottle of water. I still do this a couple of feedings a day. Then I give him a bottle of breastmilk once in a while to see how much he is drinking. When I do that, I pump when he is napping and that gives me an idea of how much milk I am producing, as well as how much comes down in 5 minutes. While I was worried that I did not have enough milk, the pumping showed me that in 5 minutes, he was getting 2.5 oz on a single breast. So he was nursing 5-8 mins on one side then fussing for the other because he drained it. I would give him the second and then I knew he was drinking around 4 oz or possibly 5. Knowing that was a big help to me! SO I knew his fussing was not because he was not getting enough. Actually he was done! FYI - the Medela pumps are expensive, but you can either buy one used on Craiglist, or rent one. Some lactation specialists will even lend you one for use to get you back on track.

Doing all of the above really helped with my anxiety about supply and his nutrition. I hope some of this helps you too!



answers from Phoenix on

I breastfed all 4 of mine for 9-24 months. They were all different. Sometimes my milk would decrease if the demand was down but it would increase as they demanded more milk. Your body adjusts. I never supplemented with formula ever because my body would increase eventually if my baby was growing and needed more. As far as getting him to latch on better, that just takes practice. All of my children got the hang of it at different ages. My poor daughter (#2) took forever to learn how to latch on. She struggled and struggled but eventually got the hang of it. Practice and patience is the key. Good luck to you!!



answers from Pocatello on

If you want to keep breastfeeding and increase your milk supply you have to start feeding him more. So say he eats first thing in the morning. Then if he starts acting hungry an hour later don't give him formula just nurse again. Even babies who are getting plenty of breast milk still like to nurse a lot so it's not uncommon to still be nursing every two hours, and if your milk supply is low then you should be nursing him even more so your milk supply will increase and he will stay full. Then if he still isn't satisfied after that you could give him a little formula right now while you are trying to make more milk but if you do that then while he is eating you should be pumping. Or you can do whats called Third breast. You need an electric pump for this. What you do is nurse him on one side then switch once he is done on the first side. While he is eating from you other side you pump on the first breast. So it continues to stimulate your breast even though he is done. As for the mouth opening that can be kinda tricky. best way i did it was to take my nipple and rub it around my babies mouth to stimulate her to want to suck then the minute she opened her mouth I would draw her in close and shove my boob in her mouth! lol And really you only have to do this at first as he gets older he will learn how to open on his own. Good luck! oh yeah make sure you are eating lots of protein that helps your milk supply too.



answers from Seattle on

i had similar experience w/ birth, starting off, and overall timing. my baby started BF at 7-8 weeks. my supply problem had mostly to do w/ lack of water. just wanted to throw a quick tip in there to drink A LOT of water- that seemed to make a huge difference for me being able to produce enough.

i BF full time for only one month (8 weeks thru 12 weeks) when i was still home and trying very hard to build up my milk production and still getting nursing down b/c we started to late. after that i supplemented w/ fomula during work and pumped at lunch only. i was able to do that for a full year so it can be possible to maintain a decent supply and supplement for a long time.
good luck!


answers from Eugene on

Are you taking any prescription drugs? Some interfere with lactation.
Do you drink beer? Babies don't like the bitter taste in the breast milk from beer.
Do you use lots of sage in cooking. It can dry up breast milk.
You can put olive oil on your nipples to get some relief or you can buy bag balm (used for goats teats) rub it on your sore nipples. Wash it off extremely well before nursing.
His moving around is an anxiety reaction which lots of babies exhibit before they get a good grip on your nipple.
Touch his cheek that is away from you and he will turn toward your breast. Make curtain he has a good grip on the glad and then relax, breathe and let down your milk.

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