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Thread: 2 questions about milk supply

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Default 2 questions about milk supply

    Hello all! I have read through all of the posts and replies so many times seeking advice and I have found a lot of great wisdom! I finally have my own specific question that I couldn't seem to find the answer to yet though, so here are my concerns and maybe someone can help. My daughter is almost 6 weeks old and has nursed very well so far. I started pumping here and there if I felt engorged in the morning, etc because I am paranoid that my milk will dry up as it has with my last two babies once my cycle started. So far, I have had no supply problems and I have even stopped the pumping, feeling that I was making too much milk this time, I have let down in between feedings that happen almost ever hour. Anyway, here are my concerns lately.

    1. She is not feeding very long at the breast anymore, and I feel like she's not emptying the breast. Is she just better or more efficient now that she's older??? Should I be pumping afterward to make sure? I am so scared of my milk going away.

    2. She is sleeping so well at night, for 3-4 hour stretches that by morning time, I am engorged, so even if she does eat when we wake up, I was still able to pump out 5 more ounces of both breasts this morning. Should I stop the pumping in the morning after we wake up and she eats? Why is she not eating as much at night anymore?

    Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,996

    Default Re: 2 questions about milk supply

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby!

    In general, a mom who is home with her baby can maintain supply simply by feeding on demand, which means nursing as frequently and for as long as the baby wants. As babies get older, stronger, and more adept at nursing, they often shorten their nursing times so that they get all the food they need in a short time, often as little as 5-10 minutes. It is not necessary to "empty the breast" every time you nurse, firstly because the breast is never really empty (milk is ALWAYS being made, and the emptier the breast gets, the faster the milk is replaced), and secondly because of the supply = demand equation. If the baby leaves some milk in the breast and supply drops, the baby nurses more often and the frequent demand boosts supply back up where it needs to be. Eventually, your supply and the baby's demand will be very closely matched, and at that point you will rarely if ever feel full or engorged- but remember that soft, empty-feeling breasts are NOT actually empty!

    I suggest that you put away the pump and simply enjoy nursing the baby.

    If you can share more about your first 2 nursing experiences, we may be able to reassure you.
    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
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    10

    Default Re: 2 questions about milk supply

    Thank you for the response, I feel like I am so paranoid about my milk going away that I don't trust the natural progression of things. With my first, I only nursed to 8 weeks, I was young and naive and took too many people's advice to stop nursing after several bouts with mastitis. With my second I was determined to go at least a year nursing but at nine months my daughter started regressing with motor functions like rolling over and sitting up, etc, and was losing weight so I contacted a lactation consultant in the area who suggested pumping to make sure I was producing enough, which I did and discovered only an ounce at most from both sides, and this was not after a feeding. I started pumping non stop while continuing to nurse and took so much fenugreek. I was slowly able to increase my milk enough to improve her development and weight gain, she would have nothing to do with formula. It was such a hard time though with all the pumping and worry but we did make it to the year mark. Then with my third, I nursed him up until my cycle started because at 5 months my milk started to decrease, I pumped to find out so he wouldn't experience the same problems that my daughter went through. And he hated to nurse one side, preferred the bottle with expressed milk, I have no idea what was going on with him, but I'm thinking it was silent reflux since I'm going through that now with my 6 week old and she exhibits the same symptoms that he did. Anyway, I tried to continue with my son up through about 6 1/2 months but the milk just would not come so I stopped nursing him and switched to the formula before he got too old and refused it. This time around I thought that I would pump from the start, store the milk, and then when or if my milk depleted I would be able to pull out the stored milk to give to her with whatever I was able to produce still, I really don't want to go to formula. So that is where all my concern comes from. I know, or at least I'm pretty sure, that she's getting all that she needs right now, but her not eating at night as much and the quick nursing was making me think my milk was going down. Hearing encouraging thoughts helps me try to just quit stressing out so much, but I am so worried about my milk going away.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    20,996

    Default Re: 2 questions about milk supply

    I can totally understand why trusting the natural progression is hard for you! I am sorry your first 3 nursing experiences weren't what you wanted them to be. But I think you should be really proud of yourself for making it as far as you did!

    So, based on your description of what happened with your other babies, I really don't think you need to worry much, and you certainly don't need to worry right now. First of all, most moms find that their milk supply is greater with each baby. Second, IF you start having problems with this baby in terms of weight gain or milk supply, there are things you can do about that- but let's cross that bridge if and when you come to it, instead of driving yourself bonkers with the pump right now.

    One thing I would advise you to do right now is to be cautious with your birth control choices. One thing a lot of moms today seem to do is to use the "safe for breastfeeding" hormonal contraceptives (the mini-pill, the Mirena IUD)- and while there is no absolute scientific proof that these particular choices decrease milk supply, there is at least good anecdotal evidence that SOME moms are very sensitive to hormonal contraception and end up with decreased supply while using it.

    Another thing I think you should do is to familiarize yourself with the normal weight gain patterns of breastfed babies (see http://kellymom.com/health/growth/growthcharts/). If your babies' wright gain tends to slow way down in the second half of the first year, that could have everything to do with their genetics and very little to do with milk supply.

    It seems like your period has come back fairly rapidly with each baby. Like 5-6 months? That's normal- there's a big variation in time until return of fertility, with some nursing moms getting their periods back within a few weeks or months of birth, and at the other extreme, some going years without having a fertile cycle. Most moms have little trouble continuing to nurse after their fertility resumes- again, it's that supply = demand thing. If your period causes a decrease in supply, the baby usually nurses a lot more and boosts your supply back up to where he needs it to be. You might get a supply dip that lasts for a few days, but it's almost never permanent. That all being said, you might want to take some steps that would decrease the likelihood of your period returning while this baby is still young. Night-nursing and co-sleeping are great ways to keep your supply high and your fertility MIA, since the longer a baby goes without nursing the more likely it is that your estrogen levels will rebound enough to stimulate a fertile cycle. IDK, being aggressive about night-nursing might not be necessary, and might not even work if you're one of those super-fertile moms... But if you're looking for insurance for the future, it's one avenue to try.
    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!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    2,214

    Default Re: 2 questions about milk supply

    Hi mama, welcome to the forum! Just wanted to add that it does NOT sounds like you have low supply right now! The fact that you are engorged in the morning (and able to pump 5 more ounces out after feeding - though keep in mind that pump output is not always a reliable indicator of supply) suggests the opposite. It's common for mamas to have relative oversupply in the early weeks (nature figures too much is better than too little); usually by 3 months or so milk supply will regulate such that supply is better matched to baby's demand. I agree with mommal to ditch the pump - may worsen oversupply and lead to more problems. Sounds like you are doing great! And if you do feel like you are struggling for whatever reason, feel free to hop back on with more questions.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    10

    Default Re: 2 questions about milk supply

    Thank you both so much for the advice and feedback. It was what I needed to hear and really helps me stop stressing. My cycle has always started up around 5-6 months, and I don't know if that is normal for everyone but that's the time frame I fear for my baby right now, but that is a hurdle I will have to cross then. No hormonal birth control, I have always had problems with those n the past.

    I am definitely letting her feed more and longer than my others, chilling out and just enjoying the time with her, something I didn't do with my others. The night time worries me still because she definitely eats less and as one of you guys suggested it may bring on my cycle sooner, but I'm not too keen to wake a sleeping baby, or me! Maybe this time me and baby will get this right and ill have one of those nursing experiences that other women talk about that is so wonderful!

  7. #7
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    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: 2 questions about milk supply

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*amandah View Post
    I am definitely letting her feed more and longer than my others, chilling out and just enjoying the time with her, something I didn't do with my others.
    This is key - if baby wants to nurse, let her nurse! And nurse some more! Even if your cycle returns early (and mine always has too), as long as you nurse on demand, baby will take care of your supply.

    As for the sleeping - in all likelihood her sleeping pattern will change on you, and you'll be missing these 3-4 hour stretches of sleep! If she is overall getting enough nursing in - 10-12 times/24 hours would be normal for a baby her age, but minimum 8 times - has a good number of wet and poopy diapers, and is gaining weight appropriately - then it's okay to have a couple of these longer stretches each day.

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