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Thread: Up-and-down supply issues

  1. #1
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    Apr 2011
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    Default Up-and-down supply issues

    Hi,

    My daughter is 12 weeks and I know that overall we've been doing well with BF (born at 6lbs2oz, she is now 12 lbs). I had oversupply initially and then adjusted after 3 or 4 weeks. She usually takes one breast at a time and is satisfied. However, recently I started to run into some issues with adjusting my supply.

    She has started to sleep long stretches at night--she'll go 4 hours, nurse, then 6 hours. As a result, in the morning I would wake up with overly full, lumpy, leaking, hard-ish breasts. After this happened two or three times, my supply went down very quickly (the undersupply lasted one day). I managed to bring the supply back up through LOTS of nursing that same day and night, so that the next day the supply seemed back to normal.

    However, in the evening, my breasts didn't feel as full, and in her 8 pm feeding she took both breasts, emptied them quickly and still didn't seem satisfied.

    I remember reading somewhere that at the end of the day we make milk more slowly because of hormones. I am just wondering how to manage this. In the morning I have way more than she takes, and by the end of the day it's not enough. Should I pump in the morning and give the bottle at night?

    By the way, in the morning she nurses every two hours starting at 6 am; in the afternoon the intervals vary from 2 to 3 hours between nursings until 8 pm or 9 pm; and afterwards they space out. Total nursings per day: from 8 to 11 depending on the day, never fewer than 8.

    I love breastfeeding her, she has been EBF since birth, and I don't want to give her anything other than my milk. But I also don't want her to go hungry! I welcome any suggestions.

    Thanks!

    PS: She had an appetite spurt last week, in her 12th week, and that seemed to be over after three days or so.

    PS-2: She has about 6-8 poops a day, and 10-12 wets.
    Last edited by @llli*kmanih; June 19th, 2011 at 11:53 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Up-and-down supply issues

    You are correct that many moms feel like their supply is lowest at the end of the day. Prolactin production usually peaks in the night and wee hours of the morning, and then declines over the course of the day. But the neat thing about that biorhythm is that you can tweak it and retrain it by nursing on demand. If you just nurse, your baby's increased demand during the low supply period will eventually Increase your prolactin production and bring your supply up to exactly where it needs to be. If you offer a bottle during that period, though, your supply will respond in the opposite way, interpreting the decreased use of the breast as decreased demand. You could end up in a situation where you are trapped into always offering a bottle at the end of the day.

    One thing that a lot of moms have trouble with is the feeling that everything their baby does is somehow an indication of their milk supply. Baby is fussy? Must be low supply! But babies fuss for all kinds of reasons, particularly in the evenings. For a mom who is nursing on demand, supply generally isn't the heart of the issue.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Up-and-down supply issues

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    You are correct that many moms feel like their supply is lowest at the end of the day. Prolactin production usually peaks in the night and wee hours of the morning, and then declines over the course of the day. But the neat thing about that biorhythm is that you can tweak it and retrain it by nursing on demand. If you just nurse, your baby's increased demand during the low supply period will eventually Increase your prolactin production and bring your supply up to exactly where it needs to be. If you offer a bottle during that period, though, your supply will respond in the opposite way, interpreting the decreased use of the breast as decreased demand. You could end up in a situation where you are trapped into always offering a bottle at the end of the day.

    One thing that a lot of moms have trouble with is the feeling that everything their baby does is somehow an indication of their milk supply. Baby is fussy? Must be low supply! But babies fuss for all kinds of reasons, particularly in the evenings. For a mom who is nursing on demand, supply generally isn't the heart of the issue.


    Switch back and forth at the breast at night, when you feel your supply is lower.
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Up-and-down supply issues

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    One thing that a lot of moms have trouble with is the feeling that everything their baby does is somehow an indication of their milk supply. Baby is fussy? Must be low supply! But babies fuss for all kinds of reasons, particularly in the evenings. For a mom who is nursing on demand, supply generally isn't the heart of the issue.
    Yes!!! This describes me perfectly. I think I am also confused by her signs of hunger. She often "eats" her fingers when she's hungry, so I think that everytime she eats the fingers it must be hunger. Perhaps not? Sometimes she eats the fingers, I put her to the breast, and she doesn't suck right (she's otherwise a very good sucker/nurser). She sucks very softly, stops, clamps down on the nipple, fusses. These times I don't know if it's because there's no more milk in the breast, or because she simply doesn't want to feed.

    I know that all the books told me not to freak out when my breasts didn't feel as full after the first three months, but I do sometimes fear that my supply is going down. I wish my boobs had a fullness indicator!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Up-and-down supply issues

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*aprilsmagic View Post


    Switch back and forth at the breast at night, when you feel your supply is lower.
    I will do this. Should I switch back and forth several times in the same nursing? I know it sounds like a dumb question, but how long do I spend on each breast? Because I had such an oversupply at the beginning, I never had to deal with this...

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Up-and-down supply issues

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*kmanih View Post
    I will do this. Should I switch back and forth several times in the same nursing? I know it sounds like a dumb question, but how long do I spend on each breast? Because I had such an oversupply at the beginning, I never had to deal with this...
    I'd say that you should keep switching her until she doesn't want to nurse. Are you familiar with breast compressions? That really helps me because my son likes a fast flow.

    http://www.nbci.ca/index.php?option=...tion&Itemid=17

    http://www.nbci.ca/index.php?option=...lips&Itemid=13

    If she pulls off of one breast, offer the other. If she takes it and drinks, when she pulls off, switch her back to the first and see if she wants to try again. There's really no limit unless she just doesn't want to be there. If I think my little one wants more food but is fussy, sometimes we go Left, right, left, right, and by then he's usually done. He's much older, though, and even knows how to roll me over in the side-lying position so that he can get the other side.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the previous poster that you don't want to trap yourself into offering a bottle in the evenings. I would also definitely not want to add in a pumping if you don't have to have the expressed milk; that will encourage your supply at the wrong time of day. The human body is amazing in what it can learn to do. It just takes a little time.
    I breast milk fed my Blossom for fifteen months (after exclusively pumping for thirteen). My Bud (nineteen months) is still nursing directly (after a rough start that included a few months of pumping and supplementing with mommy's milk).

    TwoDewdrops: Nursing Dresses and Tops for Discreet Breastfeeding (and Pumping)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Up-and-down supply issues

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*kmanih View Post
    Yes!!! This describes me perfectly. I think I am also confused by her signs of hunger. She often "eats" her fingers when she's hungry, so I think that everytime she eats the fingers it must be hunger. Perhaps not? Sometimes she eats the fingers, I put her to the breast, and she doesn't suck right (she's otherwise a very good sucker/nurser). She sucks very softly, stops, clamps down on the nipple, fusses. These times I don't know if it's because there's no more milk in the breast, or because she simply doesn't want to feed.

    I know that all the books told me not to freak out when my breasts didn't feel as full after the first three months, but I do sometimes fear that my supply is going down. I wish my boobs had a fullness indicator!
    I understand what you mean about the fullness indicator. I used to wish mybbreasts were transparent and had little ml markings on the side, so I could know how much the baby ate. But there is a way to know: diaper output. As long as it is good, milk intake is good, too. And your baby's output is phenomenal! (Good job, mama!)

    Babies change their behavior a lot as time goes on, and their reliable hunger cues may become less reliable. Don't worry if your baby doesn't have a fabulous feed every time she goes to the breast. Sometimes she probably isn't all that hungry, and is just using the breast as a pacifier, which is GREAT! It's one of the unsung benefits of breastfeeding- that it's not just nutrition, and you can use the breast to soothe a fussy baby. Try doing that with a bottle!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Up-and-down supply issues

    you have gotten some really great advice... but I just wanted to add you are doing a great job. I remember feeling as if my boobs were just empty at night and switching them really did help.
    Allie
    Wife to T
    Mother to 4 crazy ones

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Up-and-down supply issues

    Thanks for the encouragement! She's my first, as you can probably tell, and everything is so new to me. I wish I understood all of her cues and behaviors, but I often don't know why she fusses or what she wants.
    In any case, I just came back from her pedi (for a different reason), and she's put on 11 oz since she was last weighed 8 days ago. So she's getting more than enough to grow... I don't know why sometimes it seems she wants more. I'm starting to call her our little glutton I love that she loves my milk so much!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Up-and-down supply issues

    That's terrific news about the weight gain, mama! Clearly you are giving your LO what she needs. Just keep on keepin' on!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

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