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The Big Let Down

What's a nursing mama to do when she has issues with let down?  Rebecca writes:

I started work on a part time basis when my daughter was about 5 months old. As a result, I never really needed to pump very often. As time has gone by, and now my daughter is almost 9 months, I seem to have lost my ability to get a let down with the pump..I struggle to get even 1 oz....and leave my breast full. My daughter always gets satisfied and she is a happy babym so I know that she is getting plenty.

Along those lines, for those 2 days she is in daycare...she gets no milk and is not so happy about formula. I simply feed her before I leave and as soon as I get there.

Anyone with similar lack of let down?

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First, I'd like to commend you on your efforts thus far. Good job!

Pumping is difficult, especially when you're used to letting down to your baby. Here are a few things that help me:

- make yourself a holster: take an old bra, (the stretchier the better) and cut holes in the cups so that you can pump hands free.

- stimulate the let down by massaging (squeezing) the breast: make a hand motion like you would if you were a pretending to have claws like a crab... (I know that sounds silly, but you understand, right?) Now make that same crab claw around the breast, release and repeat as you pump.

- drink ice water out of a straw: I'm not sure why this works for me, but in a frantic search online to help my newborn nurse, I found this tip and it works every time. I think it's because it forces me to concentrate on my breathing instead of the act of pumping and it ultimately calms me down. Which brings up my last tip...

- breathe in and out deeply and concentrate on relaxing, releasing all tension in your neck and shoulders with every exhale.

I hope this helps you. Good luck. Keep up the good work.

I've always hated the pump. (As a friend said: "the pump doesn't thank you with its eyes.") Now that I'm working part-time I am pumping. I find that I need to wait several minutes before any milk comes out. With nursing, the girl is getting it right away, but with pumping there seems to be a delay. It is annoying, but I find if I can make it through the annoyance of no flow for a few minutes, I can get a good few ounces. I try to bring a magazine to read while I am pumping.

I also had the same issue when I went back to work. It is a hard thing to get used to. First thing I did was invest in a good pump. I love the Medela pump in style. I figure it is spendy but I save alot in formula $. You can also find good used pumps on craigslist, and you can purchase the parts that actually come in contact with the milk and you online new for pretty low cost. The second thing I do that helps is the straw trick! I am glad to know I am not the only one using that! Also bringing a good book, to help with the distraction. Another trick that I have done that really helped in the begining is to practice on the pump at home with my little one. I know it sounds crazy why pump when you have her? But after feeding her a few times I set her up with a distraction and I pumped just a few oz. And things flowed much more smoothly, and as a result I had a lttle back stock! I just got my body used to it, when I was not as nervouse. The last I did was I had someone take a picture of her nursing, over my sholder. Her eyes looking up all cute and hungary, I look straigt at that while I am pumping and remember why I am spending my time in a dark closet several times a day. Pumping is not fun or exciting but it is so good for your little one! Good luck!

i struggle with the same problem when i try to pump away from my ten-month-old. my best tool are photos - i like to use the slideshow on flickr. looking at images of my baby *does* really help! it's all about hormones...

I'm breastfeeding my 4 and 1/2 month old and all of the sudden he has started to pull on my nipple and it hurts! Needless to say it's hard for me to have a let down now with every feeding because my nipple hurts and I'm wondering why he does this. Do I have to have a let down every time my baby nurses? or will he get enough milk even without a let down? Please write back soon as I am very stressed. I never had problems with it before.

Your baby pulls your nipple to keep up the milk supply: it stimulates production.

Or, at least, that's what I've been told.

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