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Thread: Supply Issues?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Default Supply Issues?

    Hi there -

    My daughter is almost 5 months old. She just started sleeping through the night on and off around the same time her feedings spaced to 3 hours apart. She is exclusively breastfed (won't take a bottle of pumped milk even). She currently nurses 5-6 times per day and sometimes once in the middle of the night. Previously she had been at 2-2.5 hour feedings during the day and one nursing session in the middle of the night. Her diaper output is around 5-6 wet diapers and 1-2 poopy diapers per day.

    The issue I'm having now is I'm wondering if I'm having a supply issue. I had to stop around this time with my second because my supply dropped so severely and I do not want that to happen again. I'm determined to make it to at least a year so I really could use some help. Her feedings and diaper output seems to be okay, but what I've noticed is she has gone from nursing 1 side each session to nursing both sides per session and often screaming like she is hungry. My letdown is taking much longer as well which is frustrating her and causing a lot of screaming to start the nursing session. As long as the letdown happens quick she is fairly content until the end (or when she seems to empty a side and wants to switch) I've attempted to feed her more often, but she just isn't interested.

    As far as schedule...I kind of do a mix of schedule and feed on demand...where I'll feed her if she is hungry even if it isn't a "scheduled" time - essentially allowing her to set her own schedule if that makes sense.

    So...between the delayed letdown, beginning to nurse on both sides instead of just one, and the screaming - I'm wondering if I have a supply issue. I want to do what I can so I don't have to stop nursing as I did with my second and I just feel lost wondering if I'm overreacting and if I actually even have a supply issue and what I can do to help so I don't dry up completely.

    I would appreciate any help/advice.
    Thank you so much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    New York

    Default Re: Supply Issues?

    You came to the right place for information about breastfeeding your baby.
    It is very usual for a baby to initiate extra feedings, to be a bit more fussy, to want to nurse for a longer duration ,at this age,
    because she now has desire for the next change in breastmilk composition.
    Some times when a mother doesn't realize this increase in frequency/duration is normal and expected, she believes her supply is at fault.
    I nursed my children without a schedule and what worked for me was letting the baby nurse multiple times a day, closer to 8 to 10 times per day.

    Your supply might have been temporarily affected by a busy baby who missed a feeding here or there, or sometimes there is a temporary dip due to starting a hormone birth control.
    I say these dips are temporary because as long as you keep up the frequency and let the baby decide if she wants both sides, your supply will rebound quickly.
    Started my family in 1986
    Finally done in 2001

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Supply Issues?

    She's not quite 5 months old. At this age, she should be nursing more like 8-10 times a day. 6-7 nursing sessions per day is probably not quite enough for her to get her calorie needs met or to maintain a hugely abundant milk supply, which is likely why she is now transitioning to nursing on both breasts at a feeding, acting frustrated at the slow letdowns, and frequently acting hungry.

    I would immediately start working to offer the breast, preferably both breasts, at least 8 times a day, and throw any schedule out the window unless your baby is one of those kids who is so non-demanding that she spontaneously nurses less than 8 times a day.

    Often mamas come here freaking out, feeling like their milk supply is vanishing. Usually it has just adjusted so that supply meets demand very precisely, without a lot of extra milk left over. When that happens, the following are normal:
    - Reduced or vanished letdown sensation
    - Slower letdowns
    - Baby acts fussy when waiting for letdowns
    - Reduced or vanished leaking
    - Less pump output, if mom is pumping
    - Breasts no longer feel full or engorged except when baby skips several feedings
    - Baby must nurse on both breasts at a feeding, even if she previoiusly only took one
    - Baby begins waking at night (probably has nothing to do with suppply, and everything to do with teething and normal developmental stages)
    That being said, when a mom is nursing relatively infrequently and doing a sort of "soft" scheduling, it's easy for low supply to happen. So I really do think that right now I'd be working on cramming in as many additional feedings as baby will take.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2012

    Default Re: Supply Issues?

    Thank you for your suggestions. I have tried nursing more, but she flat out refuses. She is hungry when she is hungry and will just scream if I attempt to feed her. Until about two weeks ago she was nursing 8-10 times per day - then changed herself pushing her feedings to about 7-8 per day and now she is around 6-7. I time between feedings, so I know for sure she eats anywhere between 2 hours 45 minutes apart and 3 hours apart without fail during the day. So while she is on a "schedule" it's one that she has set and if she acts hungry I will feed her sooner.

    That said...it seems like from what @llli*mommal said that maybe my supply is just regulating and not actually low. I will keep watching it over the next week and see how it goes making sure to feed her as soon as she is hungry and possibly get another nursing session or two in. I think maybe I'm extra nervous because of what happened with my son around this time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Re: Supply Issues?

    I understand the anxiety about nursing that comes from a previous nursing experience. Try to hang in there!

    Would she do OK with a dreamfeed? Meaning, since she is sleeping through the night, could you sneak into her room while she is sleeping and feed her in her sleep? Sometimes it depends on the kid. This would NEVER have worked with my son when he was a baby but this works with DD like a charm. She barely bats an eye and goes right back to sleep. My DD would probably be fine without the 1 or 2 dreamfeeds I give her but she is fussy about nursing during the day so that's what I do! And nighttime nursing is great for your supply. And it's just sweet
    Blessed with DS - born 9/2/09 - nursed/pumped for 12 months
    Blessed with DD - born 3/27/12 my dreamfeeder

    903 ounces donated.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Supply Issues?

    Do not get overly stressed. Your baby’s behavior at the breast is fairly consistent with distractibility, which is common at this age. It does not necessarily mean low milk supply. If baby is gaining appropriately on breastfeeding alone, your milk production is probably fine, at least at this point. You don't mention it but I assume bottles have not been introduced? Because frustration with a 'slow' letdown is consistent with issues caused by bottle use.

    But long sleep stretches and long delays between feedings (whether the delay comes from mom or a busy baby) may hurt production. The single best way to increase milk production and/or to keep milk production where it needs to be for the duration is to nurse frequently. I know you said you are offering, and baby is not interested, I would suggest keep offering anyway. Use the tips in the kellymom article here for ideas on how to gently encourage more nursing: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/back-to-breast/

    Throughout history, mothers and babies slept together or in close proximity as a rule, and were also together and nursing frequently all day, and that helped keep milk production good for as long as it was needed. When babies sleep away from mom or everyone gets busy during the day, then baby will often nurse less and that may cause milk production issues.

    And distractibility can also lead to baby nursing less overall. So often, frequent nursing needs to be actively encouraged during these times.

    Also if baby is getting a pacifier or being swaddled at night, or anytime, that could be artificially prolonging the sleep stretch or time between feedings.

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