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Thread: Supply Issues during Baby-Led Weaning

  1. #1

    Default Supply Issues during Baby-Led Weaning

    I work full time and my 15 month old daughter has been in daycare since she was 5 months. She started "solids" (really, just licking things and making funny faces) at 6 months and now eats snacks and meals. When she's at daycare, she gets a 2-3 ounce cup of breastmilk either with lunch or afternoon snack. Whether I pump twice while at work, or just once, I get a total of around 2-3 ounces. I used to have massive oversupply, but it seems like that's where my supply is at for now.

    On days I work, she breastfeeds 3 times a day: morning wake up and twice in the evening (before dinner, and before bed). BUT, when she and I are together on weekends, she's still only been nursing 3 times - morning wake up, early afternoon, and before bed (she drops the pre-dinner one). A couple of nights a week, she wakes up around 4am for an extra nursing session and then falls back asleep but most nights she sleeps through until ~5/5:30am.

    On a day where she suddenly wants extra nursing (mid-morning AND early afternoon nap; or early afternoon + pre-dinner + pre-bed) I don't have enough milk. It seems like she can barely get anything out for the mid-morning snack. She gives me sad lip, frantically baby-signs "milk" and "more" at me, and then cries hysterically. I feel awful. Last night (after nursing 3 times earlier in the day), I ran out of milk during her pre-bed nursing of all times! She was a little upset at first, but eventually snuggled up for story time.

    I'm torn between trying "starting to wean" and get rid of this mid-morning nursing for good (keeping the early afternoon nursing in for now) OR trying to find ways to increase my supply. I have tried adding in pumping sessions (for a week or more) and it usually only adds about 1 ounce to my total [pumped] supply. I had planned on nursing to at least 18 months and then trying to make it to 2 years, so I'm a little shocked to have supply problems already. My problem with the "don't offer, don't refuse" strategy is that when she asks to nurse, I often don't have enough supply to accommodate her wishes. I'm willing to except that maybe I need to wean, but I'm afraid she'll just cry her little heart out for wanting more mama-milk-snuggle time.

    Any thoughts/suggestions/anecdotes from previous experience would be greatly appreciated. I'm happy to have made it this far, but would love to hear other's thoughts! [And thank you, in advance.]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Supply Issues during Baby-Led Weaning

    Welcome to the forum!

    A lot of moms start out with massive oversupply, but by the time their babies are a year old most of them are down to having just enough. Our bodies are smart, and they don't want to waste energy producing unneeded milk, so they "read" the difference between how much they are making and how much the baby is taking and use that difference to adjust supply.

    If you decide you want to increase your supply, the best thing to do is to nurse more and pump more, and to do that consistently. Adding in one pump session here and there is great, don't get me wrong! But if you really want to signal your body that more milk is needed, you want to pump/nurse more every day.

    If you decide that increasing supply is too much trouble at this point, I still don't think you need to start actively refusing to nurse. Your LO might have some tough times as she gets used to the fact that your supply isn't as abundant as it used to be, but eventually she's going to accept that it is what it is, and accept that while she can get unlimited snuggles out of you, more milk just isn't going to happen. If you want to hasten the process a bit, you could offer a sippy cup of milk after nursing, and see if that helps with the crying.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: Supply Issues during Baby-Led Weaning

    Just out of curiosity--do you think your baby might be getting upset because she is actually still thirsty when she's trying to nurse and she's not getting the amount of milk she wants?

    I am nursing a 20 month old, and I would say my actual milk supply is relatively low at this point. I do still pump once a day at work and usually yield 2 oz. But my child literally nurses all.day.long when we are together, and I'd say less than 50% of those sessions are about the milk itself anymore. But sometimes my daughter will come to me and ask to nurse when she is really, really thirsty, so if she pops off and gets frustrated, I usually ask her if she wants some water. And that always seemed to do the trick! Offering a drink wasn't ever something I thought to do at first, because I was still in the infancy mindset of "all liquids at the breast" but truly, at this stage of the game I just do not make enough milk to fully satisfy her demand for hydration.

    And for what it's worth, offering water when she was frustrated and thirsty has not, in my estimation, hastened my child's weaning path in the slightest. I don't actually know anyone else who has a 20 month old nursing at the frequency my daughter does!
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Supply Issues during Baby-Led Weaning

    Thank you so much mommal and sonogirl! My daughter does drink water and some cow's milk during the day. When I offer her either when my supply "runs out" she usually swats it away and gives me her cute sad lip before crying some more. I think you're right that it's definitely more of an emotional thing at this point. The last time she had a "nursing melt down", I put her in my Beco inward facing and we went for a walk - she seemed to mostly want snuggles and eventually recovered from the "no milk" problem. I'm hesitant to add in too many more pumping sessions, primarily because pumping at work is already such a bear for me - trying to make time in a private place is much harder than I had hoped it would be, and my pumping output is pretty crappy. I am comforted in hearing some encouragement to continue to try to nurse when she wants. Hopefully, her emotional needs and my supply will sort of balance out. She's just starting to get really into hugging, so maybe that can be a new comfort for her as well.

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