Help building up lost milk reserve

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-15-2011
Help building up lost milk reserve
4
Wed, 06-15-2011 - 12:17pm

I have to travel for work and pump while I'm on the road. When I fly home, I put everything in a cooler with adequate ice packs, check the cooler with the airline, and then freeze my milk when I get home so my eight-month-old daughter can have breast milk the next time I travel.

Unfortunately, last weekend United lost my luggage for a few days and a weeks worth of breast milk was spoiled. The way United handled the situation was deplorable, however, that is another topic...

My question is, what can I do to try to increase my milk supply? I had worked over several months when she was first born to build up one week of extra milk. Now that my daughter is older and hungrier, I'm having difficulties gaining ground. I used to be able to pump a quite a bit per session (I'd pump every three hours and get 2-4 oz per breast). I've started pumping at work every 1-2 hours and the amount is discouraging (1 oz per breast). I have a hospital grade pump and just started pumping more frequently (this will be my 3rd day). In the past after 3 days of agressive pumping, I'd usually be at least 5 ounces ahead of my daughter, but this time I'm having no luck because she keeps gobbling it up (she eats about 5 oz every 3 hours). Is there anything else I should be doing? I'm afraid I will be traveling again in about 2 weeks. I'm realistic that I wont be able to restock my old reserve but I'd at least like to see if I can give her one more day of breast milk.

Thanks for any advice...

Community Leader
Registered: 06-10-2008
Wed, 06-15-2011 - 3:40pm

Ugh, Erin, I can't imagine how disappointing and frustrating that must have been for you. What a wonderful job you've done pumping as you've had to travel though. That's very impressive!

Would it be ok if I asked you some questions about your current pumping and bottle feeding patterns? First, how old is baby? One thing that jumps out to me is that she is taking more by bottle than we'd typically see. How many times a day does she typically nurse/bottle feed? The typical baby takes 19-30 ounces of breastmilk per day with 25 ounces being the average. Unless she's sleeping through the night AND only nursing/bottlefeeding about 5 times a day, she's likely taking in way more than that. Now certainly there are some babies who just require more. Is it an option at all to ratchet back what's in the bottles even by 1/2 ounce? Are you continuing to use only the slowest flow bottle nipples? Do you know if her caregivers do a good job in giving her her bottles slowly and in a paced way to mimic the slower pace of breastfeeding? Here's some good info on typical expressed breastmilk quantities: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/milkcalc.html

Now onto the pumping side of the equation. First, did you know the average mom can pump 1-3 ounces per session total (both breasts combined)? If you were pumping 4-8 ounces per session, you were pumping way more than the high end of that, just for some expectation setting. If you're pumping 2 ounces per session, you're still right up the middle of average, so not bad at all.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-15-2011
Wed, 06-15-2011 - 4:42pm

I've been reading and it is possible my girl is getting too much milk. She is currently 8 1/2 months old. At our last few checkups, she was having weight gain problems - she was born at 8 lbs 6 oz and by her 6-month appointment she had slipped to the 16th percentile for weight. She is very active and, for the most part, the doctor said he wont be concerned as long as she isn't 5% or less at her 9-month checkup (she is also very tall). She typically drinks breast milk 6-7 times a day (drinking less in the evenings), eats solids twice a day, and sleeps through the night for the most part. We use the slowest flow bottle nipples on her. She doesn't take a pacifier, so maybe she's using the bottle as a form of comfort because she tends to drink what is given to her. I'll have her care taker ratchet back her bottle 1/2 oz and see how it goes. We were just so impressed that she was eating/drinking a ton and I didn't think twice about it with her weight problems...

Thanks for helping set expectations... I knew I was fortunate, but really I didn't have the complete perspective. I'm hoping to get back to my previous levels, though, to take a little of the pressure off replenishing my supply.

Regarding the pump, I haven't replaced the membranes recently, which I'll try tomorrow. I've messaged my breasts while pumping - sometimes it helps get out a little more but not by much. I'll also check out the fenugreek, though on the website you sent it said to use caution if you are hypoglycemic. I'll monitor my symptoms and if I'm not seeing results after a week, I'll stop taking it if I'm having issues.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-13-2008
Wed, 06-15-2011 - 5:24pm

The more frequent pumping sounds good. It may take a bit longer to have the effect of increasing your supply though, so keep going with it.

Teresa

Community Leader
Registered: 06-10-2008
Wed, 06-15-2011 - 5:29pm
Erin, it actually sounds like you really know your stuff and are already doing everything that we'd suggest. It may take a little time but I'd guess with your frequent pumping that you'll get right back there. Great job, mama!
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