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Low Milk Supply and Breast Pumps

One mother asked us for help recently, she writes "I don't feel like I have any milk!   My baby is 11 days old and is my 3rd child.  I have always had trouble with my amount of milk and never have very much.  Plus on top of that I have really badly cracked nipples.  At the moment I'm bottle feeding what milk i can express and formula.  I hate the formula and have started taking fenugreek to help with lactation. Am I doing the right things to get back on track for breast feeding or have i once again doomed my baby's fate to formula?"

Well first of all you are NOT doomed to failure. Pumping and feeding expressed breast milk for her baby our baby is a lot of work and you're doing a great job!

Yes the fenugreek will help improve supply. Also try to drink plenty of water. We'd also suggest resting (but you already have 2 kids so rest probably impossible).

You gotta get the cracked nipples healed up. Have you got some nipple cream? We have got the Hydrogel Discs at our store which heal up cracked nipples really quickly and are so soothing.  We also have nipple shields, so that you can feed baby at boob while the cracks heal without causing more damage.

When you get the cracks healed, then things will really improve for you. Keep offering your baby the boob, and your body will keep producing.

Formula is ok, its not the end of the world, you gotta feed your baby.  Though the more formula you give to baby, the less milk your body will produce.

Just keep doing your best - like you are already doing!

Some other mums also added their suggestions:

  • I just read your comment & hope you dont mind my opinion...I breast fed my 3 boys with no problem & I was using Yeast tablets that you can get from the chemist (or health shop), It totally filled me up & was advised to me by my neighbour (who was 100 years old at the time) But it totally worked! You could try that or at least talk to your midwife or doc about it-yeast tabs, I think they were red seal brand.
  • I say do both for as long as u need.   Find a formula that your baby likes, a teat as close to shape of your nipple and just use formula to top baby up.  Meanwhile feed as often as you can and express when you get the chance to.  The morey you feed or express the more ur body will make... and drink heaps of water.
  • I had the same problem but found expressing all the time hurt my nipples and made the pain worse, so I just did it at night when the house was quite and feed my daughter every 2-3 hrs and eventually my daughter was off the formula and fully on breast... sometimes its just takes time.  And formula isn't the end of the world.... but a hungry baby can be the end of sleeping!
  • I have been there, I found mechanical pumps worst and really hurt. Best one that I have used was a Avent ISIS hand pump. Has a petal thing in it which helps get more milk out and as its a hand pump then you control the suction. I didn't get a sore hand with this one either and could mimick baby's sucking easier (quick and short sucks at first to get milk flowing then slow, long and rythmic). All the better if you can see baby while you do it as let down happens faster, or in shower/bath when the heat starts it for you.  I would also leave some breastmilk on nipples to air dry for a couple mins then put on lanolin or bepanthen cream.
  • Hi there, if you have a strong enough pump I recommend power pumping. Pump for 10 mins then stop for 10 mins then again for 10 mins then stop another 10 then pump another 10, then 3-4hrs later try again. I managed to get myself from 500ml to 1L in a couple of weeks and I had been having major supply issues. This helped even better than the domperidone. It may be tough with little ones around but the more often you empty your breasts the more milk you get.
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