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dramatic drop in milk supply in three days

  1. #1
    steveholy is offline Registered User
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    dramatic drop in milk supply in three days

    I am breastfeeding my baby who is 11 weeks old (don't be confused with my user name...). My supply has been good since the beginning. 3-4 days ago, I noticed that my baby was being fussy on one of my breasts. This is the one which produced the higher amount of milk consistently. I also felt that this breast was much softer than before, even in the mornings when I used to experience leaking and fullness all the time. I know that body becomes adjusted to milk production around this time so you do not necessarily have engorgements etc. I waited 2-3 days and breastfed my baby. (She does not take bottle at all, and I don't try anymore.) She continued to be fussy on this breast and preferred the other one. I start with the one which I suspect to have reduced milk production. She sucks some, drinks some, but in 2 minutes, she pulls her off the breast. I put her on the other and she feeds a long time. So, I know she leaves the first breast hungry.

    This morning I pumped from the problematic breast and could not get anymilk out of it! I used to get 80 mls in 5-8 minutes in the past.
    I have no change in my lifestyle. I do not have any menstruation signs, which I know may reduce supply temporarily. There is no difference with the baby's appetite. The only thing I can think of is that I did not pay much attention to my diet in the last few days. I might have missed a meal or two, or might not have eaten as healthy as before. Further, she reduced the number of feedings to 7 per day, but this has been like this for a while and she seemed to be doing fine, sleeping well, etc. Other than these, everything is just the same as before when I had good supply.

    Is it possible that diet affected my supply this much? What can be other reasons which leads to such a dramatic drop in milk supply?

    I am very worried since she can only feed from the breast and she is not a very chubby baby (although okay, around 40th percentile).

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    steveholy is offline Registered User
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    I forgot to mention, I am not on any kind of birth control pills.
    Thanks.

  3. #3
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    i found that both of my kids favoured one side over the other. all i did was make sure that they tried the least favoured breast first. i figured if they were hungry, they were more likely to work for the food. after 5 minutes, i switched to the favoured side.

    i never had any problem with feeding my kids like this. i just knew that they liked one side more than the other. they both grew great and are now happy, well adjusted 2 and 4 year olds.

    i wouldn't worry about it too much. your body does get used to the production and learns when milk is needed around 10-12 weeks. also, there is usually a growth spurt around this time. maybe your baby is going through that and just doesn't have the patience to work for the meal?

    i'm sure our resident expert from LLL, Sarah, will be able to answer your question better than i, though, so maybe hang on until she sees your post!

  4. #4
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
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    Dear Steveholy,

    You have brought up a number of issues - I will try my best to answer them.

    Once your milk supply is established it is really very difficult to loose your milk. It usually takes around six weeks from the last breastfeed for you to have no milk left.

    The amount of milk you can pump is NOT an indication of the amount of milk you have. All it tells you is the amount you can pump at that time. Lots of things interfere with your ability to pump milk. The biggest one is stress. When you are under pressure it is difficult for the milk ejection reflex (also known as the let-down) to work. This means that the milk doesn't come out even though it is in the breast.

    Can you explain exactly what is happening when your baby pulls off the breast?
    In the two minutes when he is at the breast can you count how many sucks to swallows there are?
    Is there any milk around the baby's mouth?
    What happens if you ask the baby to go back to the same breast? Often a baby will refuse three times but for some reason accept the fourth time.
    What happens when the baby is sleepy? Is he more or less willing to take the breast?
    Is there any part of the day when he is more willing to drink from that side?

    As Cara says it is often the case that the baby likes one side better than the other. In fact I know some mothers who only feed on one side because the baby dislikes the other side for some reason.

    Have you tried changing positions when you feed?
    What happens when you try to feed with the baby in an uphill position or with the baby on top?

    My favourite position for feeding difficulties is the laid back position or reclining position. Here the mother lies reclined on the bed with her shoulders, neck and head supported. And the baby is than on top of the mother. It doesn't matter the lie of the baby - so long as both mother and baby are comfortable. This positing allows the baby to be control and usually the baby can latch on by himself with no difficulties.
    The article at http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/p...ite-locked.pdf shows the sort of positions I'm talking about.

    Please feel free to call me on 2548-7636 or email [email protected].

    Best wishes,
    SARAH
    La Leche League Leader
    www.lllhk.org

  5. #5
    steveholy is offline Registered User
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    Thank you for the responses.

    I know that pumped milk amount may not mean much in terms of how much baby is actually taking. However, there is such a big difference between the amount I could pump just a few days ago and this morning. I try to pump at the same time and after baby had 2 feedings for the day. (This is mainly for the purpose of emptying the breasts.) I can also certainly feel the difference about the fullness of the breast. It is constantly soft now. In the past, my breast was not engorged, or hard, but still I could feel the milk inside when I touched. It used to become this soft only after the full day's feeding when it was nearly totally emptied.

    In fact the breast that she is refusing to take now used to be her favorite breast! So, I believe the reason she is now preferring the other one is that she is not getting enough from this one.

    She does not want to latch on when she is even half full but she will latch on when hungry. If I haven't fed her for a while and if I can feel some fullness in the breast, then she will succeed to bring the milk. I can observe this from the swallowing. When sleepy she has one swallow every 3-4 sucks, when awake and hungry, she swallows back to back, totaling 10-15 mouth fulls; but that's it. When I ask her to go back, she will latch on for a few seconds, sucks just 2-3 times, and pulls off again. This repeats at least 5 times and she starts crying. I change the breast. She has no problem with the other breast and feeds for another ~10 minutes non-stop.

    She does not have any milk around the mouth. She used to have a lot milk around the lips before. I could even see that milk leaking to the pillow.

    She is more willing to take the breast around 6 am, when I generally have the highest amount of milk. All of this gives me the impression that she wants to feed but the milk is just not enough the other times.

    She is not open to changing positions. I use only one type, tried several others, but she did not like those. She won't even latch on these positions. I will try the one that you described once again but I am not very hopeful.

    This situation is very disappointing for me since she used to love this breast, was full when she left this breast and did not even need the other side. I used to hardly wait for her to wake up for feeding to relieve the fullness of my breast. (It was not painfull just heavy.)

    Another issue is that she decreased the number of poops to 2 a day nowadays, while she used to have around 5 everyday. Number of pees is okay. She seems happy in general and as far as I know babies may have less number of bowel movements as they grow up, so I was not too worried about this. Now that I am having the breast problem, I started to think if this could be a sign that she is not feeding enough.

    I am trying to feed her from the problematic breast as much as I can.
    I have no idea why all of a sudden, when I was thinking that everything was going so smoothly, this thing happened. If you have any ideas after reading my answers, I will really appreciate.

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
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    It sounds as though your baby is having a nursing strike but only on one side. A nursing strike is when the baby suddenly refuses to breastfeed for some reason. Often the reason can be linked with something that is going on in your life, like stress from traveling, having visitors, moving home, starting work or leaving the baby for longer periods, etc. or with something in the baby's life, like illness, teething, etc. And sometimes it is difficult to work out exactly why.

    Nursing strikes can be frightening and upsetting to both you and your baby, but they are almost always temporary. Most nursing strikes are over, with the baby back to breastfeeding, within a few days.

    There is an article called, My Baby Is Suddenly Refusing to Nurse. Does That Mean It's Time to Wean? at LLLI | FAQ on Nursing Strikes that you may find useful. I also have a pamphlet called How to Handle a Nursing Strike which I can post you if you send me a PM with your contact details. There are also some mothers' stories for the LLLI magazine, New Beginnings, where babies have had nursing strikes at LLLI | Nursing Strikes.

    As your baby is still happy to nurse on one side there are a few things you can try to 'trick' the baby into feeding on the side she doesn't like.

    Work out the times and situations when the baby is happy to feed on the problem side and feed the baby on that side.

    Change positions. If your baby isn't happy with this idea try to be available (i.e. no cloths on your upper half) and just play with the baby. Taking baths together can be a fun way to do this.

    Start feeding on the side the baby likes and then swap to the other side without changing the baby's position. Slip your nipple out of the baby's mouth and then twist your body leaving the baby in the same position and feed with the other side. This can be managed with both sitting up positions and laying down positions but it isn't always comfortable to do!

    Best wishes,
    SARAH
    La Leche League Leader
    www.lllhk.org

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