Re: Low Milk Supply
Welcome to the forum!
The reason many people frown on the use of nipple shields is not because it's "unnatural", but because shields have the potential to a) make breastfeeding more difficult and more importantly, b) slow milk transfer and reduce milk supply by creating a barrier between baby's mouth and the breast, reducing stimulation to the breast. Don't get me wrong: the shield is an excellent tool for a mom confronted with a baby who has trouble latching, but it's not something everyone should use. Which is something very few people know, because shields are often handed out like candy by supposedly knowledgeable health professionals!
Now, on to your main issue. 5 oz of milk per breast is not normal supply. It's actually extreme oversupply. When supply is well matched to demand, most moms are going to make around 1.5 oz per hour, often from both breasts combined. So even 5 oz from both breasts combined is above and beyond what your baby needs.
What usually happens with milk supply is this: when a mom first starts nursing, she makes much more milk than her baby needs. This is nature's way of making absolutely sure the baby gets fed while mastering the tricky art of breastfeeding. When a mom is making more milk than her baby needs, she will feel "full" or engorged fairly often, she may leak a lot, she may experience a strong letdown sensation, and she may be able to pump large quantities of milk with relatively little effort. But this state of affairs does not last forever, nor should it. Making extra milk is a waste of metabolic energy and also puts mom at increased risk for plugged ducts and mastitis. So after a while, most moms see their milk supplies adjust to a level which is more in sync with the baby's demand. When that adjustment happens, it's normal for the mom to rarely or never feel full or engorged, to leak less or not at all, to feel a reduced letdown sensation or no letdown sensation at all, and to see her pump output decline to a more normal level (2-3 oz every 2-3 hours when she pumps in place of a feeding, or even less after a feeding or if she does not respond well to the pump).
Generally all you have to do is to nurse the baby and watch diaper output. As long as diaper output remains normal, you can ignore what the pump "says" about milk supply. This is true even if a woman gets absolutely nothing from the pump, because babies are almost always better at emptying the breast than even the best pump and because not all women respond well to pumping or to their particular pump.
The only caveat that I have for you is that if a mom is using a shield, and her milk supply is dropping, and she is seeing baby increasingly fussy at the breast or is seeing diaper output fall below what is normal, then she needs to work to drop the shield- because again, the big problem with shields is that they can slow milk transfer to the baby and reduce supply.
ETA: useful link on shields and how to wean from them if that has become necessary: http://kellymom.com/bf/concerns/child/wean-shield/
Last edited by @llli*mommal; October 28th, 2012 at 12:24 PM.
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