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Thread: Milk supply drop after returning to work

  1. #1

    Default Milk supply drop after returning to work

    I returned to work full-time teaching 2 weeks ago. I have a 4 month old daughter. I have been pumping once at work in the morning, nursing her at lunch, and nursing her the rest of the day. She sleeps through the night and has been for 2 months.

    I had mastitis in December and was extremely stressed about returning to work, and my milk dropped to almost nothing. I was able to bring it back up completely by pumping after every feeding, and taking More Milk Plus. Now it seems like my milk is dropping drastically again. I think that it is stress in my case, and just being busy and not able to relax right now. I also have an almost 3 year old.

    I have been pumping after each feeding this weekend, taking more of the More Milk, and wearing the baby as much as I can. I pump in the middle of the night, too, and have been for weeks. She will suck milk for 1-2 minutes, then nothing more comes out, except for the first morning feeding which is fine.

    I am worried that I won't be able to regain my supply now that I am back at work and away from her all day. Is there anything else I can do? I am trying not to stress about this since it makes it worse, but I really don't want to start supplementing yet, and want to get my milk back up. I know returning to work can cause a dip in supply, and I'm worried I won't be able to regain it. I'm really frustrated having to do this all again. Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    2,207

    Default Re: Milk supply drop after returning to work

    Hi mama, welcome to the forum.

    One thing that jumps out at me is that baby is sleeping through the night. It's often hard for a working mom to maintain supply without nighttime nursing - you are already getting less stimulation at the breast than you would during the day, and if you also have no nighttime nursing, then your overall number of sessions may not be high enough. That's good that you are pumping at night, but nursing is generally more effective than pumping at stimulating supply, and also less of a hassle. What are your sleeping arrangements with baby? One thought is to have baby close by, perhaps in bed with you if you are open to that, and try to "dream feed" her at night. Co-sleeping also makes waking up at night to nurse baby less tiring over all. But my personal mantra has always been that nighttime nursing is so important for keeping up a working mother's supply!

    Besides the time that you are nursing your baby at lunchtime, how many hours are you apart and how much milk is baby drinking? You want to be sure baby is not being overfed when you are apart, because then she will be less motivated to nurse when you are together. Typically baby needs 1 - 1.5 oz per hour apart. It's important to use paced feeding techniques to help prevent overfeeding; here are some links:
    http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf
    http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/f...ottle-feeding/

    You also want to make sure your pump is doing the job. What kind of pump are you using? Are valves, membranes and flanges in good condition?

    I am guessing it is not an option to pump between lunchtime and the end of the day?

    You are right that stress can have an impact on supply and especially, the ability to let down for the pump. You might want to experiment with different techniques when pumping to help relieve stress - mindfulness-type meditation; listening to music; reading; watching a show on your phone or tablet if you have one; looking at pictures of the baby - different moms find that different strategies work for them.

    I am not sure what you mean when you say baby will suck milk for 1-2 minutes, then nothing comes out? This is at every feeding except the morning feeding? Are you currently supplementing her?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Milk supply drop after returning to work

    Thank you so much for your reply.

    At the morning feeding she will feed for about 5 minutes per side, getting milk the whole time. At the other feedings she was only getting milk for 1-2 minutes, and any sucking beyond that there was none.

    She sleeps in a bassinet right next to our bed. I haven't done co-sleeping before with her or our older daughter. Maybe I should wake her during the night to feed her?

    I could pump once more before going home, about an hour an a half after lunch, so maybe i will start doing that to help things. This morning i also pumped once I got to work which i wasn't doing before.

    We are not supplementing with formula. She does get one bottle in the morning, and will get one at lunch time when I can't be with her. I will pay attention to how much she is getting, that could be an issue. Good point--thank you!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Default Re: Milk supply drop after returning to work

    You might not need to wake her in order to feed her at night - many babies will instinctively suck even in their sleep. Worth a try, especially if you are getting up to pump anyway. I do think additional pumping at work could help too.

    I don't know what to make of the 1-2 minutes of sucking - are you saying that after that you do not hear swallowing? Babies do get efficient at nursing as they get bigger, so sometimes nursing sessions can be short and still be effective.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Milk supply drop after returning to work

    The last 2 nights I have fed her. First night once, last night twice. She didn't wake up like you said she might not, so it went really smoothly. I am still pumping after feedings at home.

    Yesterday evening it was clear that I had so little milk, she was fussy after nursing, and wanted to nurse more often. It's frustrating at this time of day.Yes, I mean that I only hear swallowing for 1-2 minutes, and it just sounds like there is less flow of milk than before. I am sure she's more efficient than she used to be, so maybe she's getting more than I think she is.

    I checked about how much she is drinking while I am away, and it's within the 1-1.5 oz per hour suggestion, so I don't think she's being over fed.

    I also started doing a short pumping session as soon as I get to work in the morning, which I wasn't doing before.

    I feel like I'm doing whatever I can right now, and I'm not sure if it's making a difference yet, especially the way the evenings are going. I guess I might be able to tell in a few days? Do you have any other suggestions? It's all been very helpful.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Milk supply drop after returning to work

    It can take a few days for supply to respond, and it sounds like you are doing all the right things. In the meantime, I would plan on evenings spent on the couch nursing, nursing, nursing, at least until your supply picks up again - there's nothing like cluster feeding for giving a boost to supply! I'm sure you have a zillion things you want to be doing during the evenings but there's lots you can do even when anchored to the couch with baby at the breast - set yourself up with books and toys so you can play with your three-year-old at the same time; enlist your husband's help for putting your three-year-old to bed and taking care of dishes and laundry; let the house be a little dirtier or messier than usual (this time is short); have a movie or a magazine or book to entertain yourself for after your older child goes to bed or spend some time with hubby.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    20,637

    Default Re: Milk supply drop after returning to work

    So with Bfwmomof3! Give this time and let those fussy, cluster-feeding evenings work their magic.

    You're doing an awesome job and you should feel really proud of yourself!!!
    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

    Default Re: Milk supply drop after returning to work

    Thanks for the encouragement! About a week later my milk was back to a good level and has been sufficient. Hopefully I can keep it up!

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Milk supply drop after returning to work

    That's great, thanks for the update!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Milk supply drop after returning to work

    So to continue my saga, I had another drop in milk again last week. It's back up again (it seems) but the night feedings are not going as well. My baby is too sleepy and does nurse much, and last night not at all even though I tried. I think she might not be feeling well right now, so maybe that's why. The other issue is though, after trying to nurse I try to pump, and for the past week my milk will not let down! i have no idea what the problem is. It was no problem before. Any ideas for this? I feel like this is so much work right now

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