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Can you rebuild your milk supply after it started to decrease?

For various reasons I have had to stop breastfeeding and resort to pumping as much milk as I can for my 7 week old. I have had an "ok" supply...I can never get a large amount of milk with pumping so I supplement with formula when he is still hungry afterwards. But over the last few days, between work and other obligations, I have not been able to pump except for a few times. When I finally was able to pump this morning, I got a really pathetic amount out.

I wanted to know if it's possible to rebuild my supply after it has gone down or if I'm setting myself up for disappointment. I am taking fenugreek and eating certain foods that I read help with supply, and I try to pump as often as I can (although I cannot pump at work, so tha'ts a big chunk of my day without any demand for milk to increase the supply. I feel guilty for giving up on breast milk completely, so any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!

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The easiest way that I found to help rebuild my milk supply was to breastfeed more. I was exlusively pumping for the first 4 months and no matter how much extra I tried to pump, my milk supply was just tanking. When I started breastfeeding again in the evenings instead of pumping, my supply caught up within a few days. I wish you the best of luck whatever happens. Don't ever feel guilty for trying your best and doing what you can to provide for your child!

Thank you for the encouraging words! Sadly I think breastfeeding might be failing. We had a large amount of breastfeeding difficulties in the beginning and I was told I have flat nipples, which makes it near impossible for him to get a good latch. I got a nipple shield which helped a lot but now he doesn't seem to care for it anymore...whenever I try and breastfeed it ends in just a few minutes with him screaming. It seems bottle feeding is the happiest for both of us, so I am trying to get what I can with pumping and give it via the bottle and supplement with formula. Thanks again!

Hi. I am a lactation specialist in CA. With the info that you have I can tell you this...yes, normally anyone can boost their supply. It will take ongoing milk extraction (either by pump or baby latching). Baby's saliva has an enzyme that helps to stimulate milk production so that is preferred over pumping. However, if baby falls asleep or stops sucking then go to the pump afterwards. Milk extraction should be for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Try to do this every 3 to 4 hours. It will take your body between 3 to 4 days to respond significantly. My 1 yr old loves my left breast. So, my right decreased in milk supply. I would pump 3 to 4 times a day for 10 min. In 3 days it went from 1/4 oz. of milk to 2&1/2 oz of milk. But, you have to keep it up. Also, little stress, good sleep, LoTS of water intake and think about breastfeeding your baby (not about work or Facebook or movies or math) when you are extracting milk. This helps to have a great let-down. That tingly feeling in your breast thy gets your milk flowing. It's true. Studies show women who are even looking at a picture of their baby or smelling the babies clothes while pumping extract more milk during pumping more than women doing a math problem. Sounds funny but it's very real! :-D good luck and if you have any more questions please feel free to ask. Hope this helps and be dedicated! This season won't last forever and your milk is the best gift you can give to your baby! god bless!

Hello I breastfeed my seven week old son and he was a big baby weighing 10 pounds when I had him. I am worried that I don't produce enough milk even though during the day I nurse him every two hours and during the night twice since he sleeps longer. Is there any truth behind eating oatmeal will help produce more milk? Or is there any food that would help produce more milk?

Why can't you pump at work??? By law your boss/company needs to give you time and a place for this! You should do your best to make this happen. Your consistency with milk extraction is key to getting more milk. If you can't get this going then formula would be your best bet. And if this is your best bet then don't feel guilty. Many smart and healthy people in this world were formula fed. So no worries! Just do your best.

Thank you! It's nice to hear this kind of support from a lactation specialist. I should have re-worded the pumping at work thing...it's not that I'm not allowed. I know my employer would allow it, but most of my shift is very fast paced and hectic and I am sometimes the only one there in my department, so I often have to eat lunch while working, so getting time to pump also seems like a slim chance. Plus, I have a little anxiety thinking about pumping in the bathroom while everyone can hear the loud pump. However, a couple days a week I work 10-12 hour shifts, so that's a long time to go without pumping, I know.

I'm thinking I should get one of those hands-free pumping bras so I can pump while I'm bottle feeding the baby. This will save me time in my already hectic day and i hope boost milk supply. Breastfeeding has become very difficult, as whenever I try, he just fusses then cries then screams. It's not a fun experience for either of us. I got a nipple shield, which helped in the beginning, but he now no longer seems to like it and I have been told I have flat nipples which makes it very difficult for him to latch on without the shield.

I read somewhere that it takes weeks to build up your supply once it starts to go away, so your response is so much more reassuring! Thank you!

I'm surprised you can't pump at work either.  Even if you aren't given a specific place or amount of time to do so, there are laws about giving employees breaks during so many hours at work.  If you invest in a electric pump that can do both sides at one time, you can pump for 10-12 minutes and still have time to clean up during a 15 minute break.  With my first LO I had to pump in the women's restroom facing a wall.  Trust me its not that comfortable pumping while someones taking a dump.  But its doable.  I've included a link below that outlines the law, there is no federal law that makes employers accommodate a nursing mother, but there are some state laws that cover it.  Also if your in your car a lot you can get a car adapter and pump on your way to and from work.  Sounds silly but the only thing that will keep your supply up is giving your body the demand your LO is using at home.  Talk with your employer and see if there is anything you can do to get in a few pumps during the day, it will greatly help out.  Hope it all works out for you!

http://breastfeedinglaw.com/articles/pumping-9-to-5/

Thank you for the reply! I should clarify: it's not so much my employer...I know they would let me, it's just my shifts are often very busy and I am sometimes the only one in my department, which means I eat my lunch while I work, so getting private time to pump seems like a slim chance to me. Although I admit I should try harder with the work situation. I think my anxiety about people hearing/seeing me pump is also getting the better of me. the car adapter sounds like a nice idea tho...I'm in my car a lot. Thank you!

Hi Laura,
I used to pump in my car during my lunch break. It was a good 1/2 way point during the day. Also I'd look up your local LeLache group and call them or go to a meeting. I drink Mothers Milk and take Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle herbs. You can get them at any supplement store. I know pumping at work is a pain, but you have that right. Like I said before, I pumped in my car with a blanket to cover the windows. Good luck and don't stop nursing. Giggles, Aspen's mommy. :)

My breast milk was very low and I was at my wits low because my baby was not taking any formula and was getting fussy day by day due to insufficient milk supply. A friend suggested healthy nursing tea by secrets of tea. I started using this tea and amazingly it worked and my baby started getting full supply.

Oatmeal, power pumping, lots of water, lots of protein, and making sure the pump flanges fit well can help too

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