Milk Supply Trouble

Updated on February 03, 2014
R.M. asks from Beaverton, OR
14 answers

Hi all,

I have an 18 day old beautiful boy, but I'm not making enough milk for him and have to use formula. A big disappointment for me.

We've seen 2 lactation consultants that were no help. The last one said I'd probably never get a full supply and I should buy more formula. She suggested I may be too old to nurse, I'm 35.

I'm nursing when I can and diligently pumping every 3 hours. Our peditrician suggested fenugreek, which I'm taking, and I think it may be helping some.

It's important that I breast feed for as long as possible, and we don't want to use formula!

Did anyone have similar issues, and if so, how did you overcome the trouble?

Much thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone. I think we got really bad advise from the lactation consultants. They focused on me pumping and said the baby isn't an efficient nurser at the breast do I should bottle feed and use formula when I don't pump enough.

It's been a tough couple weeks, feeling I wasn't meeting my baby's needs.

I'll try all your suggestions. Most of which we're never suggested by our consultants.

Thank you all!!

Featured Answers



answers from Bloomington on

Unless baby hasn't reached birthweight ( even though for breastfed babies it can take closer to 3 weeks , than 2) or isn't having a good amount of wet & poopy diapers, I would not give formula & take all other suggestions given.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

You need to focus exclusively on breastfeeding. No pump, just breastfeeding. Drink tons of water, tons, glass after glass after glass -all day long. I agree with Marie, pump only after nursing. Also, when you nurse, offer the first boob again even if baby seems done.

The one consultant should be shot! I didn't even have my first baby until I was nearly 36. What does age have to do with ability to nurse! I'm still nursing my last baby at nearly 42.

The secret to having a good supply is breastfeeding only, nonstop, every 2-3 hours. If you introduce formula, chances are, your supply will go down, and you won't be breastfeeding much longer.

the key is to not nurse when you can, but to nurse. Marie is right, a few days of exclusive breastfeeding will probably do the trick. Get yourself a good book to pass the time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Who told you that you're "not producing enough milk?" Breastfed babies don't gain as much weight as quickly as formula fed babies in the very beginning. Breastfed babies are VERY EFFICIENT at getting breastmilk out of your breasts, so it doesn't take long to feed. And I'm sorry, but in the very beginning lactation consultants are militant about encouraging mothers to breastfeed to the point of insisting that there shouldn't be formula or baby bottles in the house.

If you give your newborn formula that's when you risk losing your supply. How much milk you pump is NOT an indicator of how much milk your baby drinks directly "from the tap" and that's because (as I already stated) babies are much more efficient than any pump, even hospital grade pumps.

No one is "too old to nurse." If you're young enough to get pregnant and have your baby then you're young enough to breastfeed.

This is pretty standard and basic, which means your lactation consultant was substandard and should be fired from her job as a "consultant."

Babies this age and size have tiny tummies, remember that. It's only the size of their fist. That means only an ounce or so, and you feed him on demand. He should drink from one breast at one feeding and then the other breast for the next feeding.

The biggest indicator of whether or not your baby is getting enough milk from you is going to be wet diapers. Poop will NOT be an indicator because a breastfed baby can go between 5-11 days in between bowel movements and still not be constipated.

Drink plenty of fluids and eat very nutritiously. Eat oatmeal. Eat soups packed with veggies and protein. Eat brown rice with black beans and other veggies that you enjoy. Lentil soup. Cobb salad.

You should also be nursing as often as the baby needs to eat. That's what nursing on demand is. That means you may need to breastfeed every single hour, or hour and a half. You nurse whenever he fusses to eat. Every single time. If you want to increase your supply take an entire weekend or, if you're at home daily right now, for five days straight and have a "nurse in." That means nurse around the clock. Go there.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Any LC who says "you're just too old" at 35 shouldn't be an LC! Does the place she works for know how unhelpful she is?

Go to and also look up your local La Leache League group. If you use formula, you are impacting your supply. What made you think you don't have enough? His output will tell you about his input. Nurse as often as possible, or at least try. If you think he's not latching right, get help for the latch. But he will be much more efficient at building supply than the pump will. Pump in addition to nursing, not instead of nursing.

Good luck! I had some bumps getting started, but I nursed DD for 2.5 years. Keep asking for help til you actually get some.

Being hydrated, not stressed, and eating oatmeal (I ate oatmeal cookies) may also help.

Hang in there.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Good advice here by everyone. Terrible advice from the LC. I cannot imagine an educated LC saying that 35 is 'too old to nurse'. There is no such thing. I had both my babies older than that and nursed.

Pumping is never as good at stimulating milk supply as a baby. Don't pump every 3 hours, put away for formula and nurse at least every 3 hours - every 2 hours or more if possible. As often as the baby will do it. Get comfortable on the couch with your baby, a bunch of pillows, a book and the TV remote, and nurse nurse nurse. Turn up the heat in the house a little and be skin-to-skin if you can.

After each feeding, you could pump for another 10 minutes or so if you want, to try to stimulate supply. But don't pump instead of nursing. And no pacifiers.

Finally, why do you think that you are not making enough? Is the baby actually losing weight? Is he not having wet diapers? Make sure your expectations are realistic. Check on for lots of info.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

Fenugreek is good.

Also staying very hydrated.

Oatmeal is good for lactation. You can also google (or search Pinterest) for "lactation cookies"

Try having a couple nurse-ins... Where you essentially do nothing for a day but lie in bed having skin-to-skin contact with your baby, and putting him to breast as often as he will take it.

I would also recommend pumping after each nursing session. Even if you only get a few drops out, it still sends your body the signal that there is more demand than it is producing.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

Why do you think you aren't producing enough milk? I was 32 and 35 when my kids were born. I thought I wasn't producing enough milk because my babies wanted to nurse all the time. But I was producing enough milk, because they were gaining weight, and I never had to supplement with formula. I tried pumping a couple of times and was lucky to get an ounce. What do you mean by "nursing when I can"? At that age I think I was nursing around the clock, at least every hour. I thought for sure that meant my babies were starving, but that is what many babies do. It gets easier, but you have to stick with it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Drink a TON of water, nurse as often as possible, stop pumping for awhile and focus exclusively on putting baby to the breast... there is a great supplement called motherlove more milk plus, try that in addition to the above tips - good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Yes I had similar issues.
I went for several months with both my girls still breastfeeding and/or pumping what paltry amount I could get out, while they were getting most of their nutrition from the formula, just because I couldn't give up the dream of breastfeeding. When I finally just gave up and switched to formula completely, it was very freeing. It's hard to do both. And there is nothing wrong with formula fed babies. They do fine.
I know how you feel though, that desire to not want to give up or admit it isn't happening. And it's only been 18 days, you could still hit an upswing. All the "do this, do that, try this, try that" will make you crazy though. I say just relax, do both for as long as you can and you'll know when it's time to just let it go.

I had two different experiences, still never got it to work with my second but I was able to balance the two a little better (breastfeeding and formula feeding) and make a little more progress the second time. I'm having a 3rd at the end of the month and I'll give breastfeeding another shot. I am not going to be stubbor or bummed out about it if I have to give over to the formula again though.

Honestly, once your kids are older, you look back and it was such a short, time in their life. Like, they spend 95% or more of the rest of their life eating regular people food (believe, plenty to stress out about there as well!) so the early part where they get either breast or bottle is actually quite short-lived and not as much the pinnacle of life decisions that it feels like at the time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I had my last baby at almost 39 and nursed for two years. Age has nothing to do with being able to nurse. Please, please go to I think I answered you before - pumping is not necessary if you are with your baby. I would do a nursing vacation - you go to bed with baby for 2-3 days and nurse constantly. Read about increasing milk production here:

You must, must, must nurse - on demand not on a schedule and not when you feel up to it. You should be nursing at least 8-12 times a day. See here: You can do this but you need to stop pumping and just nurse and you need to stop supplementing - you will not make enough milk and will struggle the entire time you nurse if you don't establish your supply now. Most moms of an 18 day old are on maternity leave - so do not cook, clean, or entertain, go to bed with baby and nurse when he is awake and sleep when he is sleeping. He will wake you when you are hungry! Oh, and I don't suggest bed sharing - put him in a crib or bassinet next to you.

Hang in there - you can do this but only if you follow all the good advice given. Find a decent lactation consultant - anyone who tells you your problems are age related is stupid! Your issues are related to the pump and the formula! C.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You have to take enough fenugreek that you can smell it in your sweat. Breasts are modified sweat glands and just excrete milk instead. 12-15 capsules was enough to make me smell like maple syrup and my supply was reestablished.
Tell your family that your only job is to feed the baby. Get a sling and wear your son constantly. His smell and rooting will help remind your body what it needs to do.
Drink more water. Lots more. 8 glasses PLUS double however many oz you think you need to produce in milk.Get a big container with measurements marked on it. Keep it at your side.
Put your feet up.
Eat galactagogue foods --most of which are also good for cleansing the bowels of the recently delivered mom.:
Carrot seeds, beet and yam, Beet leaves, spinach, and other dark green leafy vegetables, Oats, Raw nuts, flaxseed oil, chicory coffee and barley water, Garlic, Ginger, Green papaya, Dill, Sesame seed & sesame oil

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I didn't have much luck with any supplements. I found pumping and nursing to be too much. I did that combination with my first and all it did was escalate my stress and frustration. I too had a poor lactation consultant with my first and she gave me terrible advice. Within six weeks I was unable to breastfed at all with my first and was very upset I had to switch to formula. At the end of it, though, I realized I was doing what needed to be done - feed my baby. Formula didn't hurt him and he had to gain weight which wasn't happening without the formula.

For my second I took a totally laidback approach - it will work or not. No stress was my mantra. I found myself feeding all the time and it was exhausting especially because I had a two year old. But after six weeks I noticed my milk supply was established and the feedings started spacing out (my baby was going every three hours between feedings).

In my opinion remove the formula unless your baby is not gaining enough weight. For my second I was feeding him every hour or two around the clock for the first several weeks. I had no idea that was to be expected and it took me by surprise. I think unless you've successfully nursed before or been around someone who has, you might not realize just how frequently a newborn nurses.

I never could produce much by pumping. Anyone worth anything will tell you that doesn't matter, though. Most of us never seem to produce very much if we go by how much we produce with pumping. However, no pump is every as efficient as a baby. Repeat that last line to yourself. I know I did - no pump is as efficient as my baby. Besides so long as your baby is gaining weight, it doesn't matter how much you produce by pumping. Also since a baby is more efficient than a pump, I would choose to nurse with my baby instead of pump. If I needed to increase my supply, that was the choice I made - feed my baby more often instead of pumping in between. I found nursing to be relaxing and pumping to be a chore (and what chore is ever enjoyable?).

I was lucky to find an outstanding lactation consultant the second time around. She came to my house and spent time with me figuring it all out in the early phase. She was a real blessing and with her patience, I was able to stick it out. Also I had a very dear friend experiencing the same thing - unable to nurse the first time but successful the second time. Her second was several months ahead of mine so she was my coach and supporter. I could call either of them and they would help me. The biggest message I got is that you will be feeding a lot for a long time. Stick with frequent feedings and you will eventually hit your stride. For my second I breastfed exclusively at home for 10 months and only stopped because it was difficult to pump at work. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

mostly water, and time.

i had similar problems, it took 6 weeks and two LCs told me to give up. pumping DID NOT work for me, nor did any of the nursing aids they gave me to help the baby learn. what brought in my milk supply in full was actually nursing, and my supply came in at 7 weeks, i had no problems nursing for over a year after that. If your baby is nursing, i would really try to focus on that as much as you can and only offer the bottle as backup when you think he is not eating enough. have you tried weighing him before and after feedings?

both my kids had a hard time at first and got better over time.

i did take fenugreek (lots), and the second LC prescribed something i had to order from overseas but i didn't end up taking it but you might consider that- some medications that help are legal in Canada and AU. she also give me some advice that probably saved nursing for me- drink water. i was totally dehydrated. (i've heard you can over hydrate and cause different problems, so don't overdo it, but make sure you are drinking plenty of water)
once i got him to latch on and actually suck, my supply ended up fine but pumping was just barely keeping it going- in 6 weeks i never got much milk out pumping and that part was difficult. i was 36 and 40 when i nursed, i know a lot of older mothers who nursed- that age comment is just bad advice.

good luck!


I forgot, one other thing I did after I got him nursing was nurse both breasts. you do want to try to empty the breast to get more of the hind milk so he is getting that fattier milk, but I would latch him on the other one for a minute or two to get the milk to drop down and 'tell' my body that I needed more. I would then try to pump out any extra I could get that way. I helped get more thru pumping, and I think it made a difference in increasing supply, especially since I was already many weeks in.

the last lactaction consultant I used (that actually helped me) was Rene Beebe, who is in seattle but has a website called the second 9 months- not sure if the links/info on her site would be helpful since you're south but she won't tell you that you're too old ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

If I were you I would ditch that formula, find someone to help you for a few days so you can just nurse your baby as often as possible. Cuddle up with movies and have him nurse on you day and night for a few days. Using fenugreek, and making sure theres lots of skin on skin contact, your supply should pick up. Being told you are too old to nurse is utter nonsence and the best way to increase your supply is to have baby nurse as often as possible. Praying your supply increases abundantly! :)

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