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Thread: Pumping at night

  1. #1

    Default Pumping at night

    My baby is 12 weeks old and is starting to sleep through his middle of the night feeding. Should I wake up to pump so my milk supply doesn't diminish? Or will he make up for missed feedings during the day?

    For a little more information, he takes 3 five ounce expressed bottles at daycare during the day and all other feedings are done by the breast at home. He weighs almost 13 pounds. He usually eats 8 times a day except for sleeping through feedings here and there.

    Also, what should a sleeping schedule be like for a breastfed baby? I've read formula babies sleep longer at night because of formula being heavier than breastmilk. At 3 months should my baby be sleeping through the night? Right now his sleeping is pretty eratic.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Pumping at night

    A couple thoughts. First, five ounces is a lot to give a breastfed baby by bottle, because a usual meal at the breast is typically between 2 and 4 oz. So you might want to consider cutting back your bottles to 4 ounces. Second, how long is your separation from baby? If it's less than 10 hours, baby might be getting overfed at daycare. This is important because it makes it harder for you to keep up with baby's expressed milk needs, and because it means baby is less motivated to nurse when he gets home, which will further decrease your supply. In general, the pump is often less efficient than nursing at maintaining supply, so the more you are relying on pumping, and the less on nursing, the harder it is to maintain supply. Which gets to the question of what to do at night. I've always had it as my personal mantra that nighttime nursing is a working mom's best friend, because those nighttime nursing sessions go a long way in maintaining supply. So if you are having ANY difficulty with pumping output, I would suggest adding nighttime nursing back in. Babies will instinctively nurse in their sleep, so you could do a "dream feed" rather than getting up to pump.

    Here are some resources on paced bottle feeding (a way of bottle feeding that is more closely similar to nursing, that helps prevent overfeeding) and how much expressed milk baby needs:

    As far as sleeping schedules, babies really vary in how long they sleep for a stretch at night. I certainly wouldn't say a 3 month old "should" be sleeping through the night - most don't! A few do. And it's quite possible baby will sleep for a long stretch now, but in a few weeks start waking up again in the middle of the night. It's not important how many hours baby sleeps at a stretch at night (though some pediatricians put a lot of emphasis on that - I know mine does). What matters is that baby is nursing often enough , gaining weight, and maintaining your supply.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pumping at night

    Thanks for your response. I tried to follow the formula my lactation consultant gave me: 2.5 ounces per pound of body weight divided by the number of feedings. I was sending 4 ounce bottles to daycare and they said he was hungry and needed more. I started sending 5 ounces but also enouraged them to do the paced feedings. They still ask for more milk, but, you're right, it is very hard to keep up with pumping that much milk and I physically can't pump more than 15 ounces a day. I feel like I'm hooked up to a pump all the time. I know the pump isn't as sufficient as the baby, I just didn't know about interrupting his sleep to nurse him. I definitely want to keep nusing as his main form of feeding. Now that he is used to getting 5 ounce bottles at daycare, how do I cut him back to 4 ounces without him feeling hungry? Will the pace feeding be enough to help with his hunger?

    I drop him off around 8:00 am and we are home together by 4:30.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Default Re: Pumping at night

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*chad View Post
    I know the pump isn't as sufficient as the baby, I just didn't know about interrupting his sleep to nurse him.

    What is your sleeping arrangement like these days? It's possible that if you provided the caregiver with 12 ounces instead of 15 and then let him tell you when he was hungry, he'd probably nurse more at night. Is he sleeping right next to you or do you physically have to get up to feed him? I found that when we were right next to each other if he was hungry or wanted mama comfort he'd smell me and sense me and then wake more. But then I never had to get out of bed because I could just reach over or if you're bed sharing just sleep with your top open and they eventually learn to latch on their own.
    When DS was in daycare they would always ask for an "extra bottle" and I pulled from my freezer stash but insisted they feed that first and not dip into the extra bottle unless there was an emergency and I couldn't be there, which never happened. Sometimes I would get so frustrated because they would feed him right before I walked in. That's when I realized I did not have a breastfeeding friendly daycare!
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Pumping at night

    Keeping baby close/bedsharing helps a lot with the nighttime feeds, also makes them less tiring. One idea for daycare is to give 4 oz bottles with 1 oz "frozen" toppers as needed. That way they feel like they at least have the option for more milk, but they have to go to the trouble of thawing it and preparing it - perhaps enough of a disincentive that they are not ROUTINELY giving that 5th ounce. For your separation 12 oz is about as much as he should be getting the day. Also important to point out that there are other ways of soothing baby than putting him into a milk coma. Rocking, holding him, putting him in the swing, entertaining him in some other way with a song or an activity, perhaps using a pacifier if he will take it.

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