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Milk drying up - my boobs have gone on strike, what do I do?

(16 Posts)
countrylover Tue 02-Jun-09 12:53:17

This is my second DC so I know the ropes with breastfeeding and it's been going really well for six weeks.

However a couple of things have happened this week which have caused me underlying stress. I'm guessing this is why my norks are like spaniels ears with barely a drop in them?

I'm trying to de-stress and not worry about the things upsetting me (I won't bore you with the details) but what else can I do to get the supply back?

It's been like this since around 6pm last night and DS has gone from 3-4 hr feeds to every two hours as the poor thing is starving. I can tell at each feed that he's not getting much from how empty my boobs feel and also I can't hear him swallowing as much. The let down isn't as obvious either, normally it tingles like mad.

So do I just pump all day in between feeds, leave it and hope for the best, bring out the formula for a couple of feeds and keep pumping all the time?

Help!

wastingmyeducation Tue 02-Jun-09 13:06:30

He's 6 weeks you say?

countrylover Tue 02-Jun-09 13:40:22

Yep - I guess it could be a growth spurt but he's a huge boy - 10 pounds when he was born and now 13 pounds at six weeks so he's always taken a good feed and I've always had enough.

When I've expressed for the 11pm feed I've been getting around 150ml. I just expressed from the boob I didn't feed on last to see how much is there and all I got was 50ml. sad

Babieseverywhere Tue 02-Jun-09 13:47:15

Assuming that he is doing plenty of wet and dirty nappies and seems well in himself...it sounds very like a growth spurt.

Your DS is nursing more frequently in order to increase your milk supply to better met his demands as a growing baby.

The best way to do this is to nurse on demand, as frequently and often as he requests. It should slow down within a few days.

No need to pump, unless you need the milk for a particular reason.

Forumla would not help. As it would prevent your baby suckling at your breast and so your breasts would not increase the milk supply as needed. Plus it would add to your current work load, i.e. cleaning bottles and making up formula.

Growth spurts are hard enough on their own without adding additional work of cleaning pumps and bottles on top of it. wink

Lastly it is normal that once your body adjust to breastfeeding, that your breasts no longer feel full, they still store/make milk but calibrated to your baby's needs with little/no excess which is why you feel emptier.

Your milk 'let down' frequently whilst nursing. Some mothers feel let downs, other mothers don't. It is not something to worry about.

HTH

MrsHappy Tue 02-Jun-09 13:48:51

I think some babies have a growth spurt at around 6 weeks which might explain the more frequent feeds.

Iirc it was around this time too that my supply started to settle down, my let down stopped tingling etc. It may be that your supply is fine but that you are noticing a combination of your baby being hungrier at a time when your breasts have stopped overproducing (as they seem to do in the beginning).

Stress can impact on supply I think, but that should only be temporary.

I wouldn't pump between feeds - that will simply add to your stress and pumping does not indicate how much milk you have. Instead can you do some relaxing things? Have a bath or lie in bed with your baby and dim the lights. Lots of skin to skin, that sort of thing. See how things are in a day or so.

mears Tue 02-Jun-09 13:51:14

6 weeks is a classic time for your breasts to get settled into producing milk that they seems less full. Women often think that they are not producing milk at this time. It is also a classic time for the baby to have a growth spurt and feed more frequently.

The best thing to do is breastfeed more often. No need to start expressing as it is time consuming and also does not stimulate breastmilk production as well as the baby does. Expressing milk does not eqaute with the amount of milk the baby gets. If you get less than you expect it will have the knock on effect of increasing your anxiety which can impact on letdown.

You have done brilliantly for 6 weeks. Your boobs will not suddenly pack in unless you have started the combined contraceptive pill.

Reallytired Tue 02-Jun-09 13:52:39

Breasts often soften, it doesn't mean that they aren't producing milk. All that is happening is that your body is producing exactly the right amount of milk.

Also your ablity to express is not indictative of milk supply.

Babieseverywhere Tue 02-Jun-09 13:53:11

Expressing breastmilk does not tell you anything useful about the quantity or qualityof your milk.

Some babies take more milk than a pump can get out and vice versa.

I have heard of mothers being unable to pump at all not one drop and yet exclusively breastfeed their babies for years.

Please try not to worry if you express less milk than you expect. Could you nurse your DS at 11pm or are you going out and need to leave a feed for him ?

wastingmyeducation Tue 02-Jun-09 13:54:07

There is a change in hormones at around six weeks when the full feeling goes I think, which is why you won't feel full to bursting. This is why so many feel they dry up at the six week point.
Keep feeding him whenever he wants and it will soon calm down I'm sure. smile

tiktok Tue 02-Jun-09 13:55:27

Aw, countrylover, I see nothing in your post that says anything other than 'very well established breastfeeder alarmed by perfectly normal and predictable changes in breasts.'

The changes you are experiencing have happened suddenly, and most people find they happen gradually - the down-sizing of breasts between feeds is normal. The fat that gives breasts their size and shape at other times is now replaced with milk producing and storing tissue, which takes up less room. At the same time, the over production many women have in the early weeks has died down, as it should do, and your milk is produced in quantities which reflect your baby's needs.

At the same time, let down is not as pronounced - this is also a normal change with established bf.

And again at the same time, your baby has increased his feeding frequency - not because he is starving (eek!) but because for some reason he is going through an appetite spurt. Frequent feeding = 'emptier' feeling breasts as there is less time for excess milk to build up.

Expressing performance rarely stays constant at 150 mls - most women find their yield goes up and down.

There is no problem here at all as far as I can tell. It is likely, but not certain, that your baby will space feeds out a little after a couple of days.

Stress does not affect milk production, though it can sometimes affect let down, a bit. If I had to guess, I would guess that the stressful experiences you have undergone have led to your baby sensing a need to be closer to you than usual and that this has caused his extra feeding.

Hope this helps. Would be mad to pump and give formula, as far as I can see

countrylover Tue 02-Jun-09 14:03:54

Thanks for the responses - I know it will probably sort itself out, I just needed to hear it from someone else!

Also I didn't know that the supply started to settle down around six weeks - you learn something new every day.

LeninGrad Tue 02-Jun-09 14:07:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiktok Tue 02-Jun-09 14:34:39

Supply in the early weeks - when things are going well - is often mega-generous, countrylover. Mothers then associate feeling full before a feed with 'having enough milk' when actually this fullness means 'having rather more than enough milk'....nature then downsizes a bit, and it does seem to happen round about six weeks at the earliest, though I would say it was more common at about 2-3 mths, and some women have this feeling for a lot longer, or else it only goes away very gradually and they sort of don't notice it happening.

Because women think fullness means 'I have enough milk' they then think lack of fullness means 'help, I have suddenly stopped making milk'....and it is never true.

wastingmyeducation Tue 02-Jun-09 16:02:34

Have I got that right about the hormones tiktok? I know I read it on mn, but can't remember when.

tiktok Tue 02-Jun-09 16:37:48

wasting - you're sort of right.

In the early weeks, bf is hormonally driven, by prolactin. This is called 'endocrine' production ('endocrine' means related to hormones). Later, though, production becomes 'autocrine' which means it is driven by changes happening inside the breast, rather than involving the hormonal system. These autocrine changes mean production is regulated by the amount of milk in the breast - leave lots of milk behind (because you have given a bottle, or not fed for ages) and production slows down, because the substance called Feedback Inhibitor of Lactation is stopping it (the FIL is the autocrine substance); remove milk often, and production speeds up, because there is less FIL to say 'stop'.

I guess there are still hormones involved in all of this, though, and prolactin is still around, just not as much.

wastingmyeducation Tue 02-Jun-09 16:56:31

That's it! It's fascinating, thank you. smile

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