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Supply dropping... self-weaning?

  1. #1
    Gataloca's Avatar
    Gataloca is offline Registered User
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    Supply dropping... self-weaning?

    My 10 1/2 month old boy is still being breastfed. On weekday, he is breastfed before bed, at midnight, and early in the morning. Then he has 2 bottles (6-7 oz) of expressed milk during the day. On weekend, he is exclusively breastfed. What I have noticed is that he seems to drink less when it if from my breast.

    During weekdays for example, I pump 2 times from work, and then again after the baby bedtime feed. All the pumping yield around 12-14 oz of milk, which I freeze in 2 bag of 6-7oz each. When my helper feed the baby, he usually finish all the milk. On weekends however, when I exclusively breastfeed him, I always end up with engorgement and leaking. Then on the next Monday, when I pump again, I usually get less milk than what I got the Friday before. So I guess he just drink much less than what I can pump everyday when he is directly breastfeeding, causing my supply to drop.

    Now, after my supply dropped again on last weekend, I have been having problem increasing it, even with all the pumping..... Is he self-weaning? If I cannot manage to express enough milk, should I supplement with formula at this stage? or just give more solid?

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    Lali07 is offline Registered User
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    Its great that you're feeding him breat-milk, sounds like you're working hard at it :)

    A baby is unlikely to genuinely self-wean at this age. He has to work a lot harder to suck at the breast compared to a bottle. Babies who are fed via both means can sometimes prefer the easy work of a bottle! Some mamas can mistake breast-refusal for self-weaning, as its hard to tell the difference. But at this age, I doubt he's self-weaning.

    Its up to you which way you choose to go. If you decide to supplement with formula, you can expect your supply to go down, which will probably end with earlier than intended weaning. If you decide to continue breastfeeding, then its probably a good idea to get in touch with your La Leche League leader for some help, or a lactation consultant. I can highly recommend Sarah of Lotus Lactation..

    Continued breastfeeding will help his immune system, especially with all the bugs going around at the moment. But I can understand the difficulties of a working/breastfeeding mama!

    Good luck, I hope it works out for you whichever way you choose! :)

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    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    I don't know a lot about weaning and self-weaning except that I self-weaned at about 9 months of age. My mom said I was just simply too distracted to nurse at the breast. My mom wasn't doing any sort of supplementation or feeding with a bottle but it would take like 40 minutes for me to get through a feeding because I was just too distracted--too interested in other things. She decided to stop breastfeeding and apparently I didn't make a fuss about it--I was ready to wean and move on to other things. I always have been a pretty independent girl, I guess. :)

    I think it is totally possible for babies to be less interested in breastfeeding as they near 1-year-old. For example, if your child is already walking and running at that stage (my own son had been walking and running for 2 months already by 10-months-old) they may just not want to slow down enough to nurse. Also, nursing not only requires the baby to "work" the breast more than a bottle--it also requires the baby to face inward, away from the exciting world around them--for my son this was a major problem. He hated that--he preferred to have a bottle so he could move his head in more directions and look around.

    Every child is different and if your child is already eating a lot of solids (at that point, my son was eating three full meals/day) it's just natural that his milk intake for nutrition is going to go down. Whether or not the child desires to keep breastfeeding I think is mostly a product of the child's personality combined with the breastfeeding relationship. Most breastfeeding moms who nurse their children for an extended period of time toward the end are only feeding once or possibly twice a day anyway--and it's not exactly for nutrition--it's for comfort.
    “Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a
    spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware …
    To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory.
    She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon.”

    ~ Grantly Dick-Read (Childbirth Without Fear)

    Mother of Two
    JMW, boy, born November 29, 2007, 9:43 pm, USA
    MJW, girl, born March 17, 2011, 4:14 pm, HK

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    Koan is offline Registered User
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    It's unusual for a baby of 10 months to self wean. It is however very normal for a 10 month old to be distracted and less interested in nursing. Temporary strikes also commonly happen around 9-12 months.

    This page has some information on avoiding premature weaning if you're interested. http://www.kellymom.com/bf/weaning/babyselfwean.html

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    Both my girls from about 6 months onward had to feed somewhere with NO distractions, sometimes even in the dark. They were so easily distracted!!

    That said, it sounds like he's still getting lots of milk - both my girls by 10 months were only on 2-3 milk feeds a day. Once they start solids, they need less milk too.

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    Lali07 is offline Registered User
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    Although there are exceptions, the current advice is that babies don’t generally begin to self-wean until closer to 24 months. There are quite a few situations that can look a lot like self-weaning, such as:

    - Combination bottle/breast feeding. A bottle teat delivers milk immediately and easily. A baby at the breast has to suck quite strongly for a period to stimulate the let-down and milk-ejection reflexes before settling into a steady, rhythmic sucking. A baby used to a bottle can become frustrated and pull away from the breast early.

    - Distraction. If you are in public you can try covering your baby to help him focus, although this doesn’t always work! Some babies are more distracted by the cover.. It is sometimes necessary to nurse your baby in a calm, quiet room to avoid distraction.

    - Illness. Ear infections, blocked noses etc. can cause discomfort when sucking. Luckily this is usually temporary.

    Gataloca, your situation is a little tricky, as you have to work, therefore bottle feeding is necessary. If you’d like to continue feeding your little guy breast milk, I strongly recommend getting in touch with a La Leche League leader in your area, or a lactation consultant. They can assess your situation more closely and may be able to offer tips and suggestions that may not be immediately obvious.

    Good luck!

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    Lali07 is offline Registered User
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    Hi thanka2,

    Just want to highlight one of your points:

    "and it's not exactly for nutrition--it's for comfort"

    Of course there is nothing wrong with nursing for comfort, its an easy way to calm some children down if they are hurt. But as a mum who is intending to nurse for an extended period, aside from comfort, one of my main motivators is immunological. A child who receives antibodies from his mother's breast milk is protected from many serious health problems. Thats not to say he won't get sick, of course he will, but studies have shown that these periods of illness are likely to be less severe, and of shorter duration in a breastfed child. So if nursing my toddler is gross to some people, then my response is, well I'd rather people think I am gross than have a child hospitalised for rotavirus, bronchitis, influenza etc.

    Also, breastfed children are less likely to suffer potentially serious lifelong illnesses and allergies. So if breastfeeding my toddler means he's less likely to suffer asthma, eczema etc for the rest of his life, then I am happy to do it.

    *A Japanese study recently found that extended breastfeeding and allergies were co-existant. They found this was due to 'reverse causation'. Meaning that mothers who had a family history of allergies etc. were more likely to breastfeed for an extended period to protect their children. Breastfeeding does not increase chances of allergies as some people were quick to assume. In fact it is the other way around. Extensive studies have shown breastfed children are less likely to suffer these conditions.

    Lali :D

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    Gataloca's Avatar
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    Thanks ladies for your inputs. Yes, I guess my baby just gets easily distracted, and also prefers the bottle over my breast... although these days he has been sick, and all he wanted was my breast for comfort, he usually pull out when there is anything exciting going on, or as soon as the milk is slowing down.

    I do want to keep breastfeeding my baby, at least till he is 1 year old. I'll try first having those Chinese green papaya soup and pumping after a feeding (during weekends) to see if I can increase my supply again. Otherwise will go to a lactation consultant. :-)

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