I’ve been there, too. I remember my pumping output decreasing by HALF. It can happen to anyone pumping, especially since it’s easier to actually see a difference compared to exclusively nursing at the breast.
Here are some easy troubleshooting tips we often share with our own clients.
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The Truth About Common Milk Boosting Tips for Breastfeeding Moms
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Have you checked your pump parts recently?
Your pump parts do need to be replaced every so often. They do wear out, but the good news is that replacing your pump parts should also be covered by your health insurance. If they covered a pump, they’ll cover replacing parts for it.
Sometimes they need replaced because of normal wear and tear, but sometimes they need replaced sooner because your baby decided to chew on the tubing. Have any pets? I’ve known cats to chew holes into tubing for CPAP and oxygen machines, I promise you your pump parts aren’t any safer.
How old is your pump?
Your pump parts need replaced every so often, and so does your pump! The battery life for most electric pumps is about a year but it will depend on how often you use it. If you’re output is decreasing and you’re using a pump from a previous pregnancy or your friend gave you their gently used one, it would be worth getting a new one.
Check with your insurance provider on this one. Some only give you one pump per pregnancy, but it depends on your specific plan.
Are your periods back?
Your period can cause a temporary, slight decrease in your supply, which usually resolves itself. Some women do a couple power pumping sessions or let baby access the breast as often as they like. You might not notice any difference when you have your period, it’s different for everyone.
Did you start birth control?
Progestrin only birth control has been deemed safe to consume while breastfeeding and safe for your milk supply, including things like certain IUDs and the mini pill. However, anything with hormones can affect you. If you’re finding a dip in your supply around the same time as starting a new birth control method, it’s worth discussing with your provider.
Is there any new stress?
This one is a little tricky. Stress by itself does not decrease your milk supply. Stress can impact the hormones your body uses to release your milk, or you’re “let-down”, which will lead to less output and have sort of a domino effect on your milk supply.
Fun fact: your nipples are sphincters! When you’re stressed, they can tense up and prevent you from expressing your milk. Our FREE Pump More Milk Guide talks to you about all the ways to help you relax so you can optimize your pump output!
Are you pregnant?
This may or may not be something you’re trying for, but pregnancy will definitely have an impact on your milk. Some babies will no longer want to drink the milk with this change, but many babies don’t act bothered at all. Another common sign of pregnancy is sore nipples. If you’re noticing a dip in your supply and/or sore nipples, it might be time to get a pregnancy test!
Have you been sick?
Being sick doesn’t necessarily cause a dip in your supply, although it could have an effect on stress levels. The real concern would be if you took any cold or allergy medications like Sudafed or Nyquil which both contain decongestants that can cause a dip in your supply. Some are stronger than others and everyone reacts differently, so there’s no way to know exactly how much of a dip you’ll see. Most of the time, it’s safe for baby and for you, but not for your supply.
Have you had a fit check?
It’s imperative to use the correct size flange when pumping to not only optimize your pumping output, but to make sure you aren’t damaging your milk supply either. About 40% of women are not using the correct size, so it’s a pretty common problem.
To make milk you need to move milk. Meaning, the more you express milk, the more you make. Not efficiently moving your milk, or not efficiently pumping, can do the opposite and tell your body to make less milk.
Have you had a recent fit check?
Maybe you made sure your pump flanges fit when you first started pumping. Now it’s months later, you’ve replaced your parts, aren’t on your period, not pregnant, haven’t been sick, etc.. but your still not pumping as much as before.
It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it’s definitely possible. Especially if your milk supply was still being established when you had your first fit check.
These are just a few reasons you could be noticing a dip in your supply. Anything beyond this, you’d need to sit down with your lactation consultant and do some investigating.
Kelly Maher, CLC, CLE
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