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Old 08-17-2010, 01:28 PM   #1
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Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...

Ok, bear with me here, I haven’t made any decisions yet. Here is the background story…

I had an oversupply when DS was first born. I probably could have fed triplets. My body responded well to the pump and I was able to get up to about 300 oz in my freezer at one point. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the work I was doing, I was unable to pump consistently at work. Inconsistent pumping, teamed up with the return on my cycles, proved disastrous for my supply. There have been a few times during AF where I have actually had to supplement from my freezer supply and give DS a bottle myself.

I have tried nearly everything to get my supply back up to what it once was…fenugreek, Brewer’s yeast, oatmeal, Mother’s Milk tea, and tons of water. I do just fine if I’m with DS all day - I can feed him with no supplements. This is probably a good time to admit that I started solids three weeks ago to take some of the pressure of my boobs. I felt like it delayed the decision I have to make now by a few weeks. I never intended on giving solids before 6 months. I never intended on ever feeding him cereals - but cereals sounded better than formula at the time. It’s not ideal, but DS now gets cereals once a day as well as pureed fruit or veggie once a day.

I have been off work three weeks now but I go back next week. My current problem is that I don’t respond hardly at all to the pump anymore. I was away from DS for an entire day last week and was able to pump regularly but I only yielded 4 oz total. Meanwhile, DS drank 20 oz that day! I can pump for an hour and a half straight sometimes and never trigger a letdown. Even when I do get a letdown, I only net about 2 oz total. I used to get 10+oz in one pumping session. It’s so depressing, particularly because I can feel that my breasts are still full but I can’t get any more milk to come out.

I’m at a loss. I’m so depressed over this that it no longer feels like it’s worth it. I’m down to 70 oz in the freezer. At the rate we’re going, that’s bound to be depleted in my first week back at work. I’m tempted to just throw in the towel during the day and just go with formula. My supply at night and in the morning is still abundant. If I give up day feeding all together will I still be able to continue with night & morning feeding or will it all eventually dry up?

I forgot to add that I’ve ordered Domperidone but have yet to receive it. I’m going to give that a try. My hope is that it will make my breasts so full that I’ll be able to pump more in a session and maybe I’ll be able to save my BFing relationship completely.

Any and all advice and experience is welcome!

ETA: My pump is a Medela PIS & DS will be 6 months old next week.


Liz (12 yrs), Jake (Feb '10), Josie (Sept '12), & Josh (Sept '13)
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Last edited by ashley84; 08-17-2010 at 01:36 PM. Reason: added info
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Old 08-17-2010, 02:08 PM   #2
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Re: Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...


Do you sleep with your son? I have a friend who was in the same position because of work but with co-sleeping was able to keep up her supply. She slept with the baby all night and the baby just nursed the whole night while she slept. Literally once she got into the system her daughter had a few bottles at daycare but when her mom picked her up she nursed exclusively the whole night. If you nurse on demand then it shouldn't be a problem. Once my friend's body was used to it she would only get full about an hour before she went to pick her daughter up.

If you are on birth control that can suppress your ability to produce enough milk. So I'd get off of birth control if you are on it.

When you are around I would not supplement. Just let the baby nurse that is really the only way to keep your supply up. When you supplement at all you are automatically decreasing your supply. If the baby is still starving after a feeding then give them a little bit... not a full feeding of supplemented milk just enough that they aren't starving.

See if you can make sure to wake up at 1 am and 3 am and feed the baby every night. That should get your hormones going and makes a huge difference.

I knew another woman who could not get her daughter to take a bottle at all. So what she did was at the day care in the morning she breastfed her daughter and then at night when she went to pick her up the baby would bf. She nursed a ton at night but got all her milk from mom and had no problems. Also, I don't know how far you work from his daycare but if you can stop in there and feed him for one feeding a day that might work really well.

Also, what seems to happen to a lot of women is they stop responding to the pump because they are so nervous about not having enough supply. You might want to get a scale that is accurate enough to measure how much he is getting. It might be that your supply isn't as much of an issue as you think. If you still feel full every am you're probably doing well enough on the supply. I think a lot of ppls bodies get confused by the pump and don't produce as much, then they get nervous and don't produce anything.

My best suggestion is just don't make it an all or nothing thing. Give as little supplementation as possible. When you are with him only breastfeed him. Even if he is attached to your boob all night long. Don't use pacifiers, offer him the breast when you are together at least every 2 hours. Even if you have next to nothing let him nurse every time you are with him anytime he seems at all interested. Every little bit helps. I've heard of a woman who literally had next to nothing naturally but breastfed her children for 3 years each.

My cycle just came back and I've had the same massive drop in supply. During that my daughter eats a ton, and drinks lots of water and juice but then when my supply comes back she nurses almost constantly. Last night for example she nursed almost the entire night. Tiring yes but totally worth it!

More than anything I'd say just don't quit... every drop you give him of your milk is worth it. I think you were right to not start formula... once you start supplementing with formula they get on a different feeding schedule and your supply falls through the floor. It is really normal to have next to nothing during part of the month and for them to act like they are starving. So just let him nurse when he wants and give him a little cereal if that doesn't tide him over. Nurse at least every two hrs when you are with him, even at night and that should really help.

Please let me know if there is anything at all I can do to help you!
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Old 08-17-2010, 02:12 PM   #3
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Re: Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...

Hi Ashley the social worker I'm Ashley the NICU nurse. First of all, congrats on your determination thus far! Just thought I'd give you the tips and tricks we recommend to parents who are away from their baby while the baby is in hospital (not the same, but somewhat similar a situation). Definitely try the domperidone... many mom's have success with it, but if your breasts feel full then supply probably isn't your issue... it's the let down. These are some tricks we have... warm cloths applied to breasts before pumping; standing up and bending slightly over and letting breasts dangle and shaking upper body (you might feel silly but apparently it works); drinking a beer (don't know how your boss would feel about that one); having a picture of your baby in front of you when pumping, or a recording of his cry; pumping a few minutes then stopping and starting again (this is what baby naturally does to encourage the let down). Well, that's all I got as far as that goes. If none of these work, I'd definitely recommend trying to remain bf'ing while not at work... your supply may slowly decrease, or your body may just get in the routine of knowing when it needs more milk. In the end, if you have to give it up, cut yourself some slack and don't worry about it! WHO recommends at least 6 months, and you've done that There are worse things in this world than having to feed your baby formula, and you've done an amazing job getting him breast milk up until now! Good luck!!
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Old 08-17-2010, 02:36 PM   #4
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Re: Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...

you have some good advice here and you've done a great job so far, so don't beat yourself up. just wanted to ask if you've replaced the membrane valves on your pump at all (the little white film like plastic bits). they are responsible for the suction you get and if they are not laying flat, you will not get good suction.
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Old 08-17-2010, 02:58 PM   #5
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Re: Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...

I've also been having trouble getting my letdown to start when I try pumping (just enough to have a small stash in the freezer or to mix with rice cereal, etc.) I usually put DS3 on for about 30 seconds to get the flow started and then get about 3-4 oz. easy. It might help to put something warm on your breasts before you start pumping. It's also helped me to massage the nipples a bit before I start, too. Now that we're doing more food meals during the day, DS3 has been nursing a lot less, but has been nursing almost all night long and that's really been helping to keep my supply up as well. Best of luck!
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:53 PM   #6
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Re: Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...

First of all - what you are describing is completely normal. All of it. The initial oversupply is because the body doesn't know how many babies there are to be fed - 1 or 3 or more, and quickly adjusts to demand. The relationship is very simple - the more demand, the more supply. Yes, you can feed morning and night, if that is what you need to do, and no - there is absolutely no pump that comes close to the baby's abilities, so the milk does dry up when the baby is not sucking. Also, you have to "demand" milk from your breasts on a very regular basis in order for the milk production to continue. So not pumping at work definitely makes the problem worse.

Be careful with domperidone - it has side effects, some of them very long-term. You need a lot of it to stimulate milk production, and it may not work at all for you. The key, as well, is a very regular pumping schedule - you can't expect to pump a lot in a few times. Rather, a little at a time and very often. That is simply how the body is designed to work.

This is not to discourage you - I rather hope that it works, but you need more informatioon so that you have expectations that can be met and don't get more frustrated. Really, the more often milk is requested, the more will be produced. I don't think breastfeeding was meant to be compatible with working. I mean, as far as Mother Nature is conserned.

Feel free to PM me with questions - I pumped exclusively for 10 months and produced more than my child needed, so it can definitely be done successfully, although I very much wish that I had never been in that situation.
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Old 12-06-2010, 08:19 PM   #7
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Re: Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...

Ditto the changing membranes on your pump. Have you tried taking an article of your baby's clothing to hold and smell while you pump, breast massage, relaxing before pumping, etc. It's hard for me to pump when I'm away from dd so if I can take a few deep breaths and think about my baby for a few minutes it works a little better.
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Old 12-07-2010, 08:44 AM   #8
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Re: Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...

Originally Posted by DariBaby View Post

Be careful with domperidone - it has side effects, some of them very long-term. You need a lot of it to stimulate milk production, and it may not work at all for you.
Domperidone has very low risk of side effects... headache is it's number one side effect.. Many moms take full dosing at 160mg a day for their entire nursing relationship with no ill effects. Maybe you have it confused with Reglan which DOES have side effects...

I've not met anyone that doesn't get SOME effect from domperidone. It works differently for everyone but in every person I've known to use it, it works exactly like they need it to.
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Old 12-07-2010, 08:58 AM   #9
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Re: Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...

Sounds like a let down issue. Could your nerves be preventing let down? Have you stressed yourself out about the pumping? Try to get REALLY relaxed. You can pump near your baby, and look at him, that might help reestablish your pumping relationship? :P
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Old 12-07-2010, 08:59 AM   #10
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Re: Help! I'm so desperate I'm researching formulas...

sure you can nurse part time! Your body will adjust. pumps are not always great at getting milk. Have you tried hand expressing? some herbal tinctures about an hour before you pump? 6 months is a pretty typical time for pumping output to decrease. It sucks.
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