Question About Milk Supply…

Hey there friends,

So I know that every woman is different and not everyone has the same experiences, but I’m ok with getting as many answers as I can!

I’ve been exclusively pumping while Austin Ryan has been In the NICU. On average, in punping about 30cc (1 ounce) every 2 hours.  He is currently eating 32cc’s every 3 hours and they are increasing his feeds to 35cc’s tonight.  That basically means, that if I pump 10x’s a day he is getting pretty much exactly what he needs.  They are fortifying the breastmilk with iron every feed to help him gain weight (currently at 3lbs 13.9oz!) and a daily multivitamin once a day.

How long before you were producing more than one ounce in a session? Did you see an increase immediately, or did it take a while to establish a milk supply? Do you feel that fenugreek, blessed thistle, mothers milk, etc. actually helped with your supply (I barely see a difference but everywhere I leave smells like straight up syrup!!! Thanks fenugreek!) I just can’t help but feel that 2 and a half weeks later I should be pumping more than this.  I know that he hasn’t latched yet and that it will help my supply increase loads (hopefully!) but I need this to happen NOW since breastmilk is easier to breakdown and whenever I don’t have enough milk for him and they have to supplement with formula and he has episodes when he tries to poop (brief Brady’s where he always brings himself back and doesn’t need stimulation – only needed stim twice this week)! I want to avoid that as much as possible. 

Any advice breastfeeding friend?!?! 


42 thoughts on “Question About Milk Supply…

  1. I wish I could give you advice, but I never pumped unless I had to for an occasion. I only know that pumping is less efficient, and supply increases more when breasts are emptied well, so I’m guessing that a hospital grade pump might be better at helping you increase supply by pumping… Good luck sweetie! You’re doing a great job. Xx

  2. I will respond more in depth in a bit when I have both hands, but in the meantime do some reading on fenugreek and PCOS. There are some counter indications. I belong to a great pumping group on Facebook. I’ll message you the info. There are lots of nicu moms pumping for their littles.

  3. I didn’t pump until about 3 months, so I don’t have any advice for early pumping except make sure you have a hospital grade pump. I will say that as a newborn Ali ate probably every hour around the clock for a few weeks. That’s not an hour of rest, it’s starting a feed, nursing for 20-30 minutes, then only having 30-40 minutes break until the next session.

  4. I’m not sure how much help this is, but The Queen exclusively pumped and she never pumped earlier than 3-4 hours between sessions. Only thing she ever did to increase supply was pound water like a camel – as much as she could stomach without throwing it up. Ah, parenting.

  5. Why aren’t they letting him latch? Even if he’s not very efficient yet, any latching helps. Also, massage before you start pumping and throughout. It makes a big difference. Have you seen a lactation consultant? You want to make sure everything fits well. What pump are you using? Different pumps get different results, even with hospital grade pumps. Also, are you eating and drinking enough? You need lots of protein especially, and lots of water (but not too much). Basically, if you aren’t peeing light yellow you need more water. If it is clear back off on the water a bit. And if you can pump near him that can help too. Hope that helps.

    • First I was using the Medela, then I hacked my spectra, and that’s been pretty good. Renting a hospital grade Medela tonight, because I get more from that when I’m at the hospital with Austin in the NICU. The reason they haven’t latches him yet is because he still doesn’t have the suck, swallow, breathe reflex. He’s still a bit immature for that. They try to give him a few cc’s in the bottle next week and if he does well after a couple of feeds they’ll let me try and latch him. He still has trouble when they feed him through the NG tube and give him a pacifier. He forgets to breathe…and I’m drinking plenty of water although I could be eating better. Too much running around! And I have an appt with the LC on Monday. Hopefully she’ll give me a RX for Domperidone and watch me pump and make sure I’m doing it correctly. I also tried power pumping which helped a little (10min on pump, 10 minutes of 3x’s) it just takes an hour which is tough with 3 kids!

      • That’s why I ask, sounds like a good reason not to latch quick. Though maybe ask if he can latch literally for a few seconds? Might kick start the let down. Maybe it’s not worth it though. And if you keep protein rich snacks on you, like cheese and nuts and protein drinks you can more easily keep things in you. I’m sure with all the kids it’s very easy to forget. Sounds like you are doing what you need to do. Once he can latch I’m thinking you’re supply will really kick up. no worries. 🙂

  6. I exclusively pumped for Kai the entire time he was breast fed. I literally was pumping 16+ oz per pump by the second day. My problem was because I was producing so much milk I would get forget and cut down on pumping sessions then my supply would go down and I would have to spend a day pretty much attached to a pump to get it back up! Anyways, I tried mothers milk and I feel it upset his tummy so my go to became Gatorade. I would drink GIANT bottles of Gatorade nonstop. Pump as much as I possibly could, once he was in bed for the night I would “power” pump or whatever it’s called like one hour on one hour off. & it would always help me get my supply back up! Btw, congratulations on another beautiful baby boy!! He’s absolutely perfect. 😻

  7. OK my friend, here goes nothing. This is just what’s been working for me. All of these things together help my pumping experience as much as is humanly possible:
    1) I told you that there are some counter indications between fenugreek and PCOS. That said, I’m still taking some fenugreek–just not as much as I was. My favorite supplement is a blend my lactation consultant recommended called More Milk Special Blend. I order it on Amazon. It is expensive. Fair warning. This supplement contains goats rue, which will actually help increase the tissue in your breast making it so that they can hold more milk. It’s not a huge increase, but it was noticeable for me.
    2) Did the hospital give you a pump? Have you compared it to your spectra? (You ended up with a spectra, right?) I found that there was no difference in output between the medela symphony the hospital gave me and my spectra, but the spectra was a more comfortable pump.
    3) Make sure your pump flanges fit your nipples properly. The group that I sent you to on Facebook has a sub group called Fancy Flanges that will actually help you size4 your flanges if you don’t have a lactation consultant around to help. Do it if you haven’t already.
    4) Heat & massage. Before & during. I adore these:
    5) Hands free bra so you can massage. You can cut holes in a sports bra, but I absolutely love my simple wishes bra. I have 2:
    6) Like Butchjax said, WATER. You can try gatorade, too. The girls in my pump group swear by gatorade, but I haven’t tried it myself.
    7) Steel cut oats.
    8) How long are you pumping? Have you been doing any power pumping? Try to throw in a power pump when you can. I know it’s hard with all of the babies who need you, but it’s worth the time if you can find any.
    9) How are your letdowns? Is the milk flowing easily, or do you feel like you’re having trouble emptying your breasts? If you’re having trouble emptying, try some sunflower lecithin (avoid soy lecithin because some babies are sensitive to it). I take one of these 4x daily at the recommendation of my LC and my letdowns have increased.
    10) I can’t recommend a good lactation consultant enough. If you aren’t getting enough or quality advice from the one at the hospital, find one outside of the hospital. The ones Kaiser was providing me were crap and gave me all kinds of bad advice. I found one that I pay cash (she charges me less because I have no insurance) and she is AMAZING. I’m seeing her again on Saturday. Seriously, I wish I could just carry her around in my back pocket.
    11) Relax. Look at pictures of your baby. Watch videos. Take deep breaths. Try not to watch how much you’re pumping.
    12) If you’re pumping every 3 hours, try pumping every 2 hours. Newborns eat way more often than 3 hours, and the cluster feeding early on is what helps signal our breasts to produce milk. The more you can pump in these early days, the better.
    13) Domperidone. As a last resort.

    OK, I could seriously write a novel. This is probably overwhelming. I’m clearly not an expert or a doctor, and this is all just my personal experience. You know where to find me if you have questions or just need some support. Lots of love.

    • *but I will try all of this stuff! I actually found a bottle of the”more milk” that I had bought when I was trying to induce lactation in my other pumping bag, so I just started taking that again this morning, so hopefully I’ll see a difference with that. I love my LC and I made an appointment with her on Monday morning so let’s see how that goes! I just any help but feel like I should be getting more milk by now! And letdown…well, initially, like the first 5 minutes it’s a pretty serious flow, but after that it tapers off and then it’s a drip every few “sucks”. I try my best to massage (cut holes in my sports bra) but that will give me MAYBEanother 2 cc’s. I’m just feeling so spent, but maybe not focusing on the output will help. I’m constantly looking at those little bottles like, “Seriously!!! After 15 min, that’s it?!? I just can’t!” So maybe focusing on pics of Austin will help! Thanks for the advice friend…I’m gonna check out the whole PCOS and fenugreek thing. Never heard of that!

      • Do you stop pumping when the flow stops? Most people get another let down which is why many people say to pump at least 5 minutes after flow stops because you will get that next let down and get another half ounce or more.

      • Do you switch back to the “let down” mode after the big drips slow down? That helps me. I’m like Molly, I can usually get 2-3 let downs per session. I co sign everything Molly said!

      • My letdowns started out like yours! The first 5 minutes were great and then… drip. Now, I pump for 30 minutes. I get a good first letdown for 5-6 mins, then several shorter ones at around 8 mins, 15 mins, and 23 mins. I still only average about 3 oz per pump during the day (at night I can get 4 or an occasional miraculous 5) and I’m on the max dose of dom, but all of the little tricks that get you an additional 2cc here and there really do add up. I really do think that if you increase your pumps and do some power pumps it will help. You’re at a really great stage for influencing your milk production right now, so work those boobs, lady!

      • I would go just a bit longer, while massaging. I also have similar pumping to Molly. It’s challenging, and I harmed my hand, but I’ve made it work. We’re at 11 months now, though only this long because of introducing more food around 9 months to keep up. You can do this!

  8. I read that to boost supply when pumping, you could cluster pump to simulate a growth spurt/increased demand. So maybe in an evening or middle of the night (more prolactin production in the night) you could pump a little extra over a couple hrs instead of only keeping the usual schedule… I know for me, when I have absolutely nothing left in my deflated boobs but dd keeps nursing, the following day I end up having more.

  9. You should meet with the lactation consultant at the hospital. They should be able to prescribe you domperidone which seems fit at this point. Nursing advice is so iffy because every woman varies. I pumped exclusively and it made me overproduce. So, what works for one won’t work for the next. Try and get in for an appt friend

  10. Okay, so I’m not the breastfeeder in this household, but for what it’s worth: Di has never pumped a full ounce in a session (more like half that), even with domperidone, but we know that Junie gets way more when she actually breastfeeds – some people just don’t respond to pumps that well, so hopefully when you’re able to get him to latch you’ll find you’ve got enough! She found the hospital grade Medela most effective, compared to the Avent which did nothing for her, and the Medela pump-in-style which was pretty good (though not as stylish as it claimed to be).
    Di found that breast compressions helped, but the herbs didn’t do anything for her. The domperidone made a huge difference, but it took a couple of weeks to notice a definite increase in supply.

  11. I had a hard time keeping up my supply for my kids and responded better to them than the pump. My sister had good luck with domperidone. I did find that moringa oleifera was more helpful than fenugreek. I found the best price from vitacost online. I started pumping around 3 weeks and was able to get 3+ ounces from each breast in the early months, so I would say you should be getting more by now, but that was alongside nursing. I always had great supply in the beginning and then around 5-6 months it tapered off with me not being able to nurse for a full year. Also, always feed or pump from both breasts, to help with supply, although I assume you are always using a double pump. I would try to do the whole massage your breasts and try to pump again just to get all I could, and watch some light TV while I pumped to keep me relaxed. In the end, once you feel you have done all you can, remember every bit has helped and its ok if it is not as much as you hoped to give him. Good luck!

  12. OK, When I got to work this morning, I wrote you a comment with 14 bullet points and amazon links and everything and it’s not showing up! I want to cry!

  13. Might be an old wives tale, but a glass of beer can help. Also pump more frequently and your supply will increase. Do you have a lactation nurse at the hospital? You can also check out the La Lache League website…there’s alot of information there as well.
    Good luck!!

  14. The NICU thing is so tough when you’re trying to get your milk to increase. It’s just not the ideal, natural situation to get your production going. I had such a tough time. I saw that you have an LC that you like so that will help a lot. There can be little things to tweak with your pumping technique that can help a lot. And ultimately when you do start to breastfeed along side pumping you will likely produce more. For me the biggest help was domperidone. That stuff really works. You’re doing great though in a tough situation. I was never able to keep up with demand so you’re doing awesome.

  15. All I know that I remember Barbara telling me that it could definitely take like a month for your body to produce more. She said its kinda like your body needs to figure out the supply and demand and it takes a while. So keep pumping as much as you can! Love you!

  16. I pumped about an ounce for the first week and then it slowly increased from there. Your body is supply and demand so the more you pump the more it will make, yet that pump has nothing on your baby. Once he can breastfeed I’m sure it will increase, but how much is unknown cause hopefully by then you won’t need to pump and you can’t tell what their eating. When Kate and I were taking those supplements neither one of us noticed a difference. I did notice a difference with Gaia breastmilk tea however. Make sure your massaging your greasy before during and after pumping, it helps a lot more than I knew. Good luck I hope your supply increases.

  17. Fenugreek can cause opposite reactions in some. I would try stopping and see if it helps. It took quite a while for me to establish a supply when I had appendix surgery so close to the emergency c-section and it’s never been enough so I feel your anguish. Hope things get better.

  18. My milk supply increased a lot around 1-2 months. Especially so once my LO started suckling. Is it possible to practice latching Austin Ryan a couple times per day? so he can get the hang of latching on and suckling.

    I tried fenugreek, mothers milk tea, oatmeal, etc, and they did help a little but not a substantial amount. Frequent latching and suckling is what really established my supply…and time. Until about 1- 1 1/2 months, my supply was barely enough. I have a feeling your milk will come in with a fury soon!

  19. Also, remember, your babe’s belly is TINY at this point and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the size of the bottle compared to your milk output. You’re doing great mama!!

  20. For me it took a while, but I thought it was because I had a c-section, so not sure how reliable it is. Just keep the faith with it- keep going and one day you will wonder what the worry was about. Xxx

  21. Have you had any success? Did you find anything that worked well for you? Were you able to start nursing? My guy was in the NICU for only 6 days but I haven’t been able to get him to latch and I’ve kind of given up on it but it seems like my supply just isn’t increasing and I absolutely hate pumping. So I’m thinking about trying to get him to latch again but I’m afraid it’s been long enough that he’s been bottle fed that he’s too far gone to start nursing. I’m just not sure where to even start at this point trying to get my supply up. I feel like pumping never really empties me out but doesn’t get enough either. I’m feeling a bit lost and a lot frustrated.

      • We had many consultants while in the hospital/ nicu. None of them were able to help us get him to latch. The three times he did, we did it on our own. I haven’t sought help since we came home. I was expecting my supply to pick up from pumping but it seems to have stalled out and I don’t want to have to up the amount we are supplementing with formula if I don’t have to.

      • Hospitals aren’t necessarily giving you ibclcs. There are a lot of lactation consultants without those extra qualifications. I had nurses give me incorrect information in those first days. Thankfully I did see an ibclc and that helped. And then I saw her again a few months later when latching was so terribly painful. It’s worth talking to people again if you want to keep going. Also, try reaching out to your local la leche league. They might have some tips that work better.

        As for pumping, do you massage before and during? Do you avoid looking at the output most of the time and turn on something super fun to relax you? How often do you pump and for how long? What pump do you have? Have you had the shield size verified to make sure your fit is correct? Have you tried power pumping? Are you a part of any facebook or offline breastfeeding support groups? That’s where I learned to ask all those questions. Lots of knowledge in good groups that can help.

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