Breasts Not Responding To Pump Anymore- Reasons & Solutions

I remember religiously following pumping sessions in fear of losing my milk but when I found my breasts not responding to pump anymore I was so worried I had done something wrong and lost my milk supply. Here are some of the best tips and tricks to get the most milk from your pumping sessions and get rid of any pumping dread. 

Breasts Not Responding To Pump Anymore Should I Be Concerned?

So many moms struggle with breastfeeding and the lack of support around them. If you suddenly find that your breasts are not responding to a pump anymore then this could be a sign that your milk hasn’t come in yet, or if you are later on in your journey then it could be that your breasts don’t respond as well to a pump and your little one is having more supplementing and this is affecting your milk supply.

Why is My Milk Not Coming Out When I Pump?

breasts not responding to pump anymore

Every mom is different, and so are our breastfeeding journeys! Whether you exclusively pump for your child or only occasionally use a pump for occasions it can be disheartening when it no longer works.  When you find that you can no longer pump the same amounts of milk as you could before it can be massively discouraging and even lead many moms to wonder can breasts stop responding to pump?

It’s very common to find that your breasts aren’t responding to pumping whether it’s your first time or your 100th, and this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for your milk-making journey. There are ways you can increase your milk supply but here are some of the reasons you may find that your breasts are not responding to a pump anymore.

‣ Letdown

If you can feel there is milk in your breast but you don’t seem to be able to get your milk to come out then you may find that you haven’t had a letdown. Your brain is conditioned to respond to certain stimuli that will trigger a letdown response and release larger quantities of milk.

In nursing mothers often the sounds of a baby crying or suckling will trigger this letdown, or if you have been pumping then the sounds of a breast pump can be your trigger. If your brain is not getting the stimuli it needs to trigger a letdown then you may find your breasts are no longer responding to a pump.

Pumping Too Soon

A common misconception regarding milk production is that you are not producing enough for your baby during those tough first few weeks and this can lead to supplementing your baby with formula or expressed milk. 

What many mothers don’t realize is during the first 2-3 days immediately after birth, your body will be producing thick and concentrated milk called colostrum. It is full of disease-fighting antibodies and nutrients that your baby will need during the early days.

If you tried to pump during this stage you will most probably see no or very little “milk” in the pump as it is far too thick and difficult to express with a pump which is why hand expressing during the early days is usually suggested by health professionals. 

‣ Supplementing

As we just mentioned, during those extremely difficult moments you may find it is much easier to supplement with expressed milk or formula. This can lead to milk supply issues in the future as your breastmilk works on a supply and demand basis. The less milk that is removed, the fewer signals your body will get to produce more milk which is why supplementing can be a difficult position to get out of. 

Why Is One Breast Not Responding To Pump?

If you find that just one breast is not responding well to pumping then you’re not alone, it’s very common for women to report having a “better” breast for milk production! If your uneven milk supply is causing discomfort or you just want to even it out then keep reading. 

1. Baby’s Preference

If you are nursing, you might unknowingly find you and your baby have a preferred side to feed. This could be because you find it most comfortable, have a better latch, or just do it without thinking. 

Usually, this won’t cause any major issues as long as your baby is still getting the milk they need, but this does mean that you may find one breast is producing more milk than the other.

2. Letdown Strength

You might also find one breast suddenly not responding to the pump because of a difference in letdown. If one breast has a stronger letdown then this may be uncomfortable for your little one and cause them to pull away. 

3. Tissue Levels

The amount of ducts and “storage” your breasts have for milk has nothing to do with the size of your breasts. It can also differ between each boob, meaning the amount of milk-making tissue and ducts in each breast will vary causing one to produce more than the other naturally. 

4. Clogged Ducts

Plugged ducts occur when insufficient drainage leaves milk to get clogged in your breast and can cause localized pain that can turn into mastitis if left untreated. It can also form a lump in your breast causing tenderness and discomfort, and the best way to relieve a clog is through frequent drainage and massaging the area to clear the blocked area.

Why Is My Milk Not Coming Out When I Pump? Solutions & Tips

If you’re finding your pumping output isn’t as effective as it once was then there are some ways to increase your milk supply through pumping alone, although being able to nurse your baby is the best way possible to increase your milk flow.

So if you have one breast suddenly not responding to pump or both, here is how to get the best pumping experience possible whether you’re exclusively pumping or not.

‣ Breast Compression

A great way to stimulate your milk ducts is by being hands-on before and during your pumping sessions to help the flow empty from your breast more efficiently. Before you commence a pumping session do some hand expression to stimulate your milk production for a quicker letdown.

Some people also find that including hand expression techniques in their pumping sessions helps them to get more milk. It can help to increase your letdown reflex or even get a second letdown! 

All you need to do is move your hands around your breast and gently but firmly squeeze whilst you pump to help reach all the milk ducts in your breast. You can also work to massage the milk down towards your nipple from the top of your breast to encourage the flow.

‣ Latching 

If you are exclusively pumping then this step, unfortunately, won’t be any help, but for those who do latch their baby to the breast, you can use this to your advantage to help stimulate your milk flow and supply when pumping.

Making sure your baby has a good latch close to your body with enough breast tissue in their mouth is not only going to be more comfortable for your both, but it will also help to drain your breast which encourages more milk for you to pump and store as you wish.

‣ Breast Shield Sizing

A commonly overlooked part of your pumping setup is the size of your breast shield. When it comes to purchasing or hiring a breast pump it can be easy to get lost in all the information about suction strength, hands-free modes, and cleaning instructions but one of the most important parts is the size of your breast shield. 

The breast shield (also known as the flange) is the key to getting the most comfortable pumping experience and can be the reason why your breast’s not responding to a pump anymore. It is based on the diameter of your nipple, not your breast size, and is the answer to pain-free pumping.

If your flange is too big then too much tissue will be sucked into your pump which can cause inflammation, but if it is too small then you may find you have burning nipple pain as the room to move is limited.

Wrapping Up

Mastering the art of pumping can be difficult to achieve with so many options to consider, and when your breasts not responding to a pump anymore, this can be a scary moment that may leave you considering abandoning the pump after all.

Making sure your breast shield is the right size for your nipple diameter, using breast compressions, or even watching adorable videos of your little one as you pump, can help to trigger a letdown in your milk to drain the breast and encourage a better milk supply effectively.

If you are unsure which pump is best or need help with getting the right latch then a Breastfeeding Counselor will be able to help you find the best solution for you and your baby.

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