Diminishing Milk Supply
- 07-29-2003, 10:26 PM #1
Diminishing Milk Supply
Does anyone know if your breastmilk supply starts to diminish, is there any way of getting the supply to increase or return again?
I went back to work when baby was 3 months and had fed him solely on breastmilk until then. He started on formula during the day while I was at work and then I'd breastfeed him when I got home. I was pumping at work but started getting really busy at work and wasn't able to pump more than once a day, if at all. I noticed my milk supply was totally decreasing. Is there any way I can get it to increase again?
- 07-30-2003, 12:37 PM #2
The only way to increase your supply naturally is to pump or nurse as often as possible. Its all about supply and demand. I've heard of some women pumping every couple of hrs. And you can try nursing on demand on the weekends.
RaniFounder of GeoBaby.Com
- 07-30-2003, 12:43 PM #3Registered User
- Join Date
- Jun 2003
- Hong Kong
The best way to increase your milk supply is to breastfeed the baby more. The more you breastfeed the more milk your body will make. Is your baby still willing to latch on and feed? If not seek specialized help from a La Leche League Leader or a professional lactation consultant. (Leaders contacts are Sarah 2548-7636, Maggie 2817-7475, Judi 2987-5809 and Tanja 2259-3081.)
At around three months the breasts begin to become accustomed to being lactating breasts. This means that a number of things happen. First the breast usually stop leaking, also the full feeling of the first few weeks goes. This often makes mothers think they are losing their milk supply when in fact it is just a sign that the body now doesn’t have to work at producing the milk. Also at around this age – or a little later – the baby starts to notice everything around him. This means that he is much more distractible and sometimes harder to get to settle down to feed.
The amount of milk that you can express is not an indication of the amount of milk you have – only an indication of the amount you can express. Such things as tiredness and stress will affect the amount of milk you can express but it will not affect the amount of milk the baby can get when feeding.
I remember two days very clearly when I was working and expressing milk. The first day my boss shouted at me in front of my collogues and I found that I was so upset that I couldn’t express any milk at all that day. Then a few months later I was given a promotion and a large rise in salary. That day I went home with over 16 ozs! Stress really does affect the amount of milk you can express.
If you want to see how much the baby is drinking watch him as he feeds. When you see the rhythmic suck-suck-swallow you can tell he is getting lots of milk.
If you are busy at work and don’t express for a long time your body will assume that you don’t need milk at that time. However, your body will continue to make milk for the times that you do express or feed your baby. I have lots of friends who have not expressed during the day when working and been able to feed their babies in the evening and at weekends.
Once the milk supply is established at about six weeks it is actually quite difficult to get rid of it. One estimate was that mothers have milk for 42 days after the last feeding. Before the six-week mark, however, missing feeds can very quickly lead to a reduced milk supply. But remember there are ways to increase the supply. The best way is to feed the baby more. There are other techniques, such as breast compression and switch nursing. It is best to talk to a La Leche League Leader or a professional lactation consultant to explain how to do these techniques.
- 07-30-2003, 09:52 PM #4
Thank you very much for letting me know all of this because I wasn't aware. I just assumed the milk had "run out" because there was no longer the full feeling or leaking and I could barely express any milk either. But I keep on "feeding" baby because he has no problems to latch on. But the sucking and swallowing is for only a very short 2 - 3 minutes, and then it's just sucking so I think it's because there's no more flow and he's just comfort sucking. Basically, I just don't FEEL like there's anything flowing out at all when he's feeding after the first minute or two.
But it's such a Catch-22 situation because when I nurse him, he gets barely any milk so he's super hungry soon after. Then in order to satiate his hunger, I need to give him a good helping of formula to do so. Basically, if he's only getting breastmilk now, he'll always be going hungry!
I'm just going to try and perservere and keep on nursing him when I'm home from work. And then I'll try and pump way more often than I do now, which is once a day. Keep my fingers crossed that the supply will build up a bit again!!
Btw, do you want to join the Working Moms Group? Our first lunch meeting will be next Tuesday, August 5th at 12:30 at Dan Ryans in Pacific Place.
- 07-31-2003, 11:57 AM #5Registered User
- Join Date
- Jun 2003
- Hong Kong
Here are some positive steps you can do to increase your milk supply.
Nurse for as long as your baby will nurse. Change to the other side if the baby has lost interest in the first side and then change back again when he looses interest in the second. Plan to spend twenty-four to forty-eight hours (or longer if your supply is quite low) doing little else but nursing and resting.
OFFER BOTH BREASTS AT EACH FEEDING.
This will ensure that your baby gets all the milk available and that both breasts are stimulated frequently.
This involves compressing the breast while the baby is at the breast – a bit like expressing into the baby’s mouth while he is feeding. This usually encourages another milk let down.
TRY SWITCH NURSING
Switching breasts four or five times throughout the feeding will help to keep your baby interested in nursing and ensure that your baby receives the richest part of the milk. Watch the baby feed on the first breast. First he will gulp the milk and then go into a rhythmic suck-suck-swallow. As he beings to tier he will do more sucking and less swallowing, e.g. suck-suck-suck-suck-suck-swallow. At this stage, change breasts. Watch again until the baby again starts to get tired and change breasts again. It is fine to change breasts eight, nine or ten times throughout the feed. Each time the baby will drink for less and less time on each side, maybe only a minute or two towards the end. This method increases the amount of active sucking the baby manages at the breast. Most of the milk is transferred while the baby is sucking actively. Thus more active sucking means baby getting more milk and the more he is stimulating you to produce more.
ALL YOUR BABY’S SUCKING SHOULD BE AT THE BREAST
Try to avoid bottles and pacifiers. Pacifiers can interfere with the extra nursing that is needed when you are trying to build up your milk supply. If you can’t take time off work, ask your caretaker to bring the baby to your work during the lunch break – so that you can feed directly – thus cutting down the need to pump so often. Even if you can’t manage this on a regular basis try it for the time that you are trying to increase your milk supply. Also consider having the caretaker travel to work with you and pick you up at work at the end of the day. This will shorten the amount of time you are parted from your baby and allow you to get extra direct feedings in.
GIVE YOUR BABY ONLY BREAST MILK. Avoid all solids, water and juice. As your baby has been receiving formula supplement you will not want to cut these out abruptly. You can gradually cut back on the amount of supplement as your milk supply increases, but you need to watch your baby’s wet and solid nappies/diapers to be sure he is getting enough to eat. You may like to be in touch with a La Leche League Leader or professional lactation consultant while you are cutting back on formula supplements.
DRINK PLENTY OF LIQUIDS and EAT A WELL-BALANCED DIET
Eat a wide variety of foods in as close to their natural state as possible. Try to have a glass of water or juice with you each time you nurse.
GET PLENTY OF REST AND REXALAXATION
Your milk supply will increase faster if you are relaxed and rested. Plan to do as little as possible for a few days. Cut out all non-essential tasks. Be sure to take naps with your baby as often as possible. For relaxation try a warm bath, soft music, exercise or what ever works best for you. Try to spend at least a few minutes each day doing something special to pamper yourself – remember that pampering can that place in the baby’s presence.
Overall if you can’t manage to take a few days off work plan to do nothing in the evenings. Get your husband to bring take away food home for dinner and watch television or read a book with the baby on your lap or at the breast. Try to undress both of you as much as possible. Skin-to-skin contact helps the body to produce more milk too.
I know that spending a week doing nothing but lying around and feeding your baby as much as possible seems a difficult thing to manage but if you can manage it I promise that you will see a large increase in your milk supply.
Thank you for the invitation to the Working Mothers’ Group. And although I work, it is no longer outside the home. With four children, the school holidays are my busiest time of the year.
- 12-01-2004, 03:59 PM #6
My wife is also finding her breast milk supply diminishing. Baby Jeffrey is now nearly 6 months old.
One of the problems may be that my wife works full time and also works shifts: - morning shift (7am to 3pm), afternoon shift (3pm to 11pm) & night shift (11pm to 7am). She works 4 days on each shift, followed by 1 day off (2 days off after night shift).
With her schedule the most she can express is 5 times a day when she's working, so the advice of 'just express more' can't really be followed.
She also can't breastfeed more. Actually, we had to completely stop breast feeding a few months ago as my wife's shift work hours were confusing the baby too much and he wasn't drinking from the bottle much when my wife was at work. Once we cut out the breast feeding, and switched to 100% bottle feeding he started drinking much better and now drinks between 7-8oz of expressed milk per feed. My wife hand-expresses rather than using a pump.
Anyway, any suggestions on how my wife can increase her supply? At the moment, shes' only managing to express enough each day for 4 feeds and even that's getting difficult. For night time feeds we give the baby formula.
My wife has also noticed that her breast milk texture & color has changed to become more thin and white, whereas before it was thicker and more yellow. So she's wondering if this will effect the babies nutrition?
- 12-01-2004, 06:41 PM #7Registered User
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- Discovery Bay
The replies above they offer excellent advice. The consistency of the milk varies with the time of day. As far as I'm aware the milk in the morning is more watery and the fat content increases during the day so that by the end of the day when the baby is preparing for sleep, the milk is alot more 'fatty'. The milk has to satisfy the babies thirst and their need for food, therefore the two different consistencies.
I would also reiterate, if you have any concerns contact the LaLeche League they have the most up to date information on breastfeeding and are recognised world wide as the leaders in their knowledge of everything to do with breastfeeding.
They have been able to support me and increase my knowledge of the subject no end.
Your wife's shift pattern sounds a nightmare for organisation, so you've done well to get this far. Now your son is 6 months he will start to take more solids and therefore his need for milk with gradually start to diminish over a period of time. I found juggling work and feeding much easier once my son was established on solids.
- 12-02-2004, 11:40 AM #8Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2004
Thanks for all the good advice.
My 2nd baby is 18 days and 100% breastfed on demand. I have started working a week ago (mix of office and home work) and the acceptation of the bottle of expressed milk seem fine. I have quite a bit of experience as my 1st baby was 100% breastfeed until 6 months old and then solid+breasfeed until 1 year old but mind you I was not working then.
Here my three questions for which you may have tips:
1) I have a a feeling a dimishing supply because while my baby was on a 3hours schedule (and 4 hours on evening) since she was 2 days old, she now ask in the afternoon for milk every one or two hours...Is this the explanation or is it me stressing out and not figuring out that she just wants some more attention
2) When should I express? everytime I can/think about it or is it better at regular fixed intervals or at fixed time (9am, 11am etc..)? Since I have the breasts less full, I always hesitate to express as I am afraid there won't be enough for her next feed.
3) I don't want to "waste" express milk but defrosting too much so what is the best quantity to express? I have bags of 45ml, 60ml, 80ml, but I have no clue how much she needs really. I guess it will change with her growing but is there any chart?
I have no time for La Leche meetings that is why I write it here as so many of you seem knowledgeable and sensitive. Thanks for it.
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