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Thread: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfeeding

  1. #1

    Default Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfeeding

    I have had a low milk supply since my son was born (now six months) and have supplemented with formula. On days I pump at work, I pump 3-4 times and get 4-5 ounces. In addition, I'll nurse him 2-3 times. I estimate he receives 7 ounces of breast milk and 15 ounces of formula. I have produced the same amount the past three months so don't anticipate my supply will increase. I've been wondering for awhile if all the pumping is worth it as I introduce foods?

    I have been invited on an expense paid cruise (so not a vacation I will likely be able to replicate for a long time) when my son will be nine months, three months from now. I'll be gone for seven days and my pediatrician advised I would likely loose my milk since pumping alone with my nursing challenges will not keep up my supply. So now I am faced with weaning at nine months (taking into consideration the low amount I produce). The people in my life I have talked to about this all encourage my to go on the trip, since most of these are not breastfeeding moms, I wanted to get some other opinions.

    What advice do you have for me in making this decision? I was planning to nurse until he naturally weaned but don't know how I'll feel about nursing three months from now.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfee

    How much breastmilk is enough to keep breastfeeding? None. 0. If a mother had no milk at all, and nursed her child, she would be setting her child up for more normal health outcomes- physical, emotional and mental- than if the child is exclusively bottle fed. This is why many mothers (for example) with adopted babies who are not able to produce milk, and other mothers who cannot produce milk, will still nurse baby using a lactation aid to deliver formula (or donor breastmilk.)

    What is right for you, I cannot say. This is your choice entirely, and a special paid vacation when it is something you could not afford on your own is understandably very tempting. After all your efforts to nurse your baby as much as you can, and provide as much of your precious milk for you baby as you possibly can, I would love to send you on a vacation myself! But since you are looking for different perspectives, I will tell you a story.

    When I was about 6 months old, my mother was told by her doctor that she was 'too attached' to me, and needed to get away. This is the kind of ridiculous medical advice that was dispensed in the 60's and 70s to mothers. So my father took my mom to Italy for two weeks. For her entire life, my mother often talked about this medically ordered vacation and about how much she disliked being away from her kids and in particular, missed me, her baby. I can only imagine how I felt about this long separation. This had nothing to do with breastfeeding. I was exclusively formula fed.
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; November 30th, 2013 at 09:21 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfee

    I don't know why pumping alone wouldn't keep up your milk supply. Many women maintain a milk supply through pumping.


    I left my daughter for 1 night when she was 22 mos. I was gone about 36 hrs total. I pumped and was out running a marathon a couple of states away with a group of friends. I was miserable....any child I saw along the course who had the same color hair as my daughter made me miss her even more. I got so impatient with my friends for stopping for a sit-down dinner along the way and I just wanted to be home. When I got home she and DH were asleep in bed and I nudged her to nurse and felt much better but I really don't know why I left her. Yeah it was a cheap trip with friends but my sweetie pie was far away and it was hard.

    ETA: re: foods replacing breastmilk. Have you ever thought that the foods could replace formula as your child gets older and keep your milk the same? I supplement with donor milk and my hope is that as they get onto solids my supply will stay stable but I can decrease the supplement they get so that eventually it's just my milk and solids, not donor milk, my milk, and solids. So really by 9 mos your milk could still be as much of his diet as it is now.
    Nursed my sweet daughter 3 years, 3 mos.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfee

    Excellent advice from the PPs.

    I also think the pediatrician was unnecessarily discouraging- I see no reason why you couldn't keep at least some supply if you pumped during the cruise. You'd want to aim for pumping at least 8 times a day, preferably including at least one session in the middle of the night. One thing I noted from your post, which could be a source of your production problems, is that you're pumping/nursing just 5-7 times a day. That's generally not enough sessions to maintain supply- most women who are nursing exclusively will nurse at least 8 times a day, and many will nurse more often than that.
    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
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    Default Re: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfee

    I had similar supply with my first, and was probably about 25% milk and 75% formula until we started solids. Once solids were in, I was able to decrease formula and keep nursing. I nursed my son until he was about 2 years old. I stopped pumping at work when he was 18 months, mainly because he wouldn't take breast milk in the bottle or sippy cup anymore, so it seemed pointless.

    If you want to wean on the cruise, you can do it. But if you want to keep nursing, you don't have to give up. Bring a pump, drink lots of water, and do all that good stuff. When you come back, if your supply has dipped, you can try the various herbs and stuff as well. However, as they get used to solids. babies will nurse faster, so even if you are making the same amount, you'll probably have doubts, because they eat so fast and get so squirmy.
    Mom to:
    Johann, Born June 21, 2009 8lb, 7oz & 22in nursed until 2 years old
    Lydia, Born March 30, 2013 9lb, 5.6oz & 21.75 inches

    Nursed through hypothryroidism, IGT, and a SNS both times around

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfee

    love that story, smudgycat! Thank you for sharing.
    Nursed my sweet daughter 3 years, 3 mos.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfee

    I surprised to hear that I would be pumping (or feeding) at least 8 times a day when he is 6 months old. I think it's been awhile since he ate that frequently. What's the typical feeding frequency at nine months of age? Thanks for your comment!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfee

    I think it depends on the baby. Mine nursed much more than 8x/day until well past 2 yrs old but sessions got shorter and shorter.
    Nursed my sweet daughter 3 years, 3 mos.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfee

    Mine were both nursing 10-12 times a day. Some babies are nursing significantly less than that, particularly if they are eating a lot of solids.

    Most exclusively breastfed babies require at least 8 nursing sessions per day in order to get all their nutritional needs met. Since breastmilk is supposed to make up the majority of a baby's nutrition until 12 months, I always felt it was best to err on the side of more nursing- which my girls were happy to do, as they had little interest in solids until around 14-15 months.
    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!"

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Advice: how much breast milk is enough to keep breastfee

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mn326 View Post
    I surprised to hear that I would be pumping (or feeding) at least 8 times a day when he is 6 months old. I think it's been awhile since he ate that frequently. What's the typical feeding frequency at nine months of age? Thanks for your comment!
    When my son was 9 months he was nursing at least 8 times a day. Now at almost 12 months it's about 7? I know on work days he nurses at least 4 times, and has 3 bottles.

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