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How to stop breast milk drying up?

(14 Posts)
crumbletastic Sun 25-Sep-11 13:58:57

I might be jumping the gun a bit here as I don't know for sure whether this will happen again but my breastmilk dried up spontaneously, just after 4 months, for my first baby. Noone has been able to give me a reason for this, I have hyperthyroidism and endocrine consultants have assured me this wouldn't interfere with bf, and HV/doctors just congratulated me for managing to get to 4 months but weren't able to give me any answers or reassurance it would not happen again.

Current baby is 14 weeks and feeding has been going great, but as we get closer to the 4 month mark I am anxious about the thought of this happening again. I want to know if there is any way to increase milk production (apart from demand feeding)?

I have no problem with formula milk and if it came to it I know current baby will thrive on it just as well, but I really would like to continue breastfeeding until I choose to stop if possible.

Any advice greatly appreciated

organiccarrotcake Sun 25-Sep-11 14:13:56

There's a really good book that is worth getting hold of called "The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk". There's a website as well

But the book is better as it's very, very comprehensive. You can buy it as a paper book or on the Kindle.

It explains all the reasons why some mothers may have a low milk supply, including discussing thyroid issues which is why I thought it may suit you. Each issue is discussed with an explanation of ways to treat the problem, where a treatment is known.


crumbletastic Sun 25-Sep-11 21:04:02

Thank you. I'm very interested in the thyroid issues as my doctor definitely told me this couldn't be involved so I'm hoping he hasn't fobbed me off. I'll try to get hold of that book

organiccarrotcake Sun 25-Sep-11 21:07:05

smile Good luck

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 25-Sep-11 21:07:13

crumble, sorry to be blunt but demand feeding is EXACTLY the way to prevent your milk from disappearing.

Why do you feel your milk dried up last time? Is it because all of a sudden you were simply unable to keep your baby satisified? Is it because your baby was fussing in the evenings and waking up lots during the night?

organiccarrotcake Sun 25-Sep-11 21:24:53

starlight you are absolutely right, but sometimes thyroid problems can interfere with breastfeeding too, so it's worth the OP checking this out, just in case. Very valid questions though - certainly 4 months can be one of those times when there's a load of symptoms which could very strongly feel like milk has dried up.

MindtheGappp Sun 25-Sep-11 21:25:48

Keep feeding your baby

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 25-Sep-11 21:44:40

organic, You're right. Thyroid can affect breastfeeding. I suffer myself with thyroid problems.

I just think that it is better to try the most obvious and simple explanations first? And if the OP was feeding fine for the first 4 months, unless the thyroid suddenly deteriorated at that point, the most likely reason that the milk supply dropped was because she wasn't feeding enough.

This isn't a criticisism of the OP either. If you do a search through MN you'll finds threads in abundance of people suddenly losing faith in their supply at around 4 months. It's a pretty common mistake that we just aren't taught about.

organiccarrotcake Sun 25-Sep-11 21:57:42

starlight yes, I agree totally and what I was trying to say is that I should have asked the same questions rather than assuming that the OP really did lose her milk at 4 months. I slapped my own wrist wink.

I do think it's worth checking out the book though, and covering all bases, but OP, if you have any doubts at all about what happened would you be interested in going over what happened last time in more detail?

crumbletastic Mon 26-Sep-11 00:47:29

I meant things I can do in addition to demand feeding starlight, I realise feeding whenever baby wants is crucial and I do, and did last time.

The only suggestion I have come up with myself for my last experience was that ds was always a good sleeper and started sleeping from 7pm to about 7am every night so wasn't feeding for such a long stretch through the night, although he seemed to more than make up with bf through the day. This is not the same for dd, she is still waking up regular for a bf a couple times a night so that is one different thing.

And yes, maybe I am doubting myself a little, I'm struggling to remember although it wasn't too many years ago. All I can really remember is ds would have a massive feed in the morning after sleeping throughout the night, I would have quite obviously full milk breasts every morning but this morning I just didn't. Ds suckled all through the day, working himself up crying and not being comforted at all by suckling until I gave up around 8pm at night and sent dh out for some formula. He finished the lot and slept for the first time the whole day. The next morning I tried to feed again and gave up after maybe 20 mins and gave another bottle and did not try again. I did try to express a number of times over that day and the following day and was not able to get anything.

I didn't seek any help at the time (wasn't on mn, wasn't really aware of bf counsellors etc, or thought they were only available to get bf established, and not whenever needed) so I'm not sure if there was anything else I could have done at the time.

aloiseb Mon 26-Sep-11 01:04:09

I seem to remember being advised to give my 4 month old baby a little baby rice mixed with expressed breast milk??? They said that was the age to start trying just a little solid food as the baby was old enough to perhaps need solids. However, do check this PLEASE because my memory has been known to be wrong......also, guidelines on when to start solids may have changed. This was 15 years ago (??HOW long??)

As well as this teaspoonful of rice, we carried on with the breast feeding routine we had more or less got into by then. Eventually feeds were replaced by solids, with just waking up time and bedtime feeds. I was lucky and never had to use formula, which I thought was just as well as all that sterilising teats and stuff would have killed me.blush

I do remember it's extremely difficult to know if any milk is actually coming out, once the baby is efficient at suckling, so can you be sure that your milk has actually dried up, or is it just that the baby is asking for more than she is getting?

NotQuiteCockney Mon 26-Sep-11 07:58:51

It's fairly common for breasts to switch to making milk more on demand. Just because the over-full feeling went away, doesn't mean the milk was gone.

It's also easy for let-down to be delayed because of tension. If a mother is very stressed, let-down might not happen at all.

And inability to get anything when expressing doesn't really say anything about your milk production - expressing is a knack, and some mothers never really get the hang of it. (And again, if you are tense and watching the breast ... well, the expression isn't "a watched breast never lets down", but maybe it should be ...)

A lack of night feeds, after breastfeeding is well-established, is unlikely to make milk entirely go away, imo.

Had you changed medication? Had anything else changed at that time?

NotQuiteCockney Mon 26-Sep-11 07:59:10

And solids are not advised at four months these days.

crumbletastic Mon 26-Sep-11 08:28:25

Thanks so much for your input cockney I am now wondering whether the milk did just disappear, and whether my stress at the time hindered anything. Before this time I did express fairly regularly, and was able to get good amounts after the initial slow start so I wasn't expressing for the first time after this issue occured. I did try to express a number of times when I thought the milk was gone, in the bath, with skin to skin contact etc but it just felt completely different than all the previous times. My dh told me last night it was at 5 months, and not as early as I previously thought, so bf was well established (sorry, I have quite bad memory problems caused by my thyroid disease).

My medication hadn't changed, or the amount, at the time. In fact my thyroid was fairly stable at that time, and well controlled with medication, it is currently quite erratic and still not under control on my current dose of PTU so if my thyroid was an issue in bf then I feel it would be more likely to happen now than when it was well controlled? I will have to do a bit of reading, I really do not understand the role of thyroid hormones in milk production.

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