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Thread: Do I still need to pump at night to protect supply?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Question Do I still need to pump at night to protect supply?

    When I brought my baby home from the hospital, I was dismayed to find that I couldn't sleep as long as him; I would wake up with uncomfortable breasts and often had to pump in the middle of the night for relief. Since I had way too much milk, I tried to only pump a little bit for comfort and not to drain my breasts. I often spent much of the night uncomfortable.

    Eventually, as my milk supply settled and wasn't so excessive, I got into the pattern of just pumping before bed, right after the baby's last feeding, so I could sleep longer. I did drain my breasts.

    Lately, as I returned to work two weeks ago, I've found that time is a commodity in short supply. So I've been trying to do without the bedtime pumping, and more often than not I manage to make it through the night without pumping.

    Supply was never a concern when I was at home and exclusively breastfeeding. My child ate often (averaging closer to 1.5 hours than the typical 2-3 in the literature), but he seemed satiated, and I never had to supplement.

    However, my 11-wk old child seems to be eating copiously from a bottle. Yesterday, my husband (who is taking two weeks off from work), fed him 20 oz. from a bottle. In the same day, I pumped only 10.5 oz. In a usual day of work, I think I pump about 12-15 oz., but he eats as much as 18. At this rate, I'll burn through my freezer stash in less than a month.

    Should I resume nighttime pumpings to help with supply? Or will it not matter because it's a different time of day? (I seem to be especially low in the afternoons, after I've drained off the nighttime excess with my 9am pumping or with an extra 7am pumping.)

    Extra bonus question: Are we overfeeding the little guy? He has always had continual spit-ups throughout the day, from the day he was born, so it's difficult to judge if he's overeating. I'm wondering if part of the solution may be to just feed him less. I don't want him to become a roly-poly bottle-fed baby!

    Last edited by @llli*h26; October 23rd, 2014 at 02:40 AM. Reason: add a comma

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Northern Virginia

    Default Re: Do I still need to pump at night to protect supply?

    I think the little guy is overeating. I've been told from this forum and I believe Kellymom that 1 to 1.5 oz per hour away from baby is a good range, although some babies need a little more or less than that. I am away from my LO about 9.5-10 hours, and he has about 12 oz on average (four 3 oz bottles, about every 2 hours while I'm gone). Often when someone is new to bottle-feeding breastfed babies, they do the old-school formula method of feeding baby until they're full. But with breastfed babies it's more about mimicking breastfeeding. Don't worry -- I think a lot of us made that mistake at some point. We overfed my daughter for about a week, and she was refusing to breastfeed almost the entire night! Once we got it right, things got better.

    The small, frequent quantities is a difficult thing to get caregivers to understand, in my experience, because babies will often want more (whether it's milk or sucking) as soon as the bottle is empty. I always tell our caregivers to try a pacifier or distraction, and if baby still seems hungry after about 15 to 20 minutes, then he can have another ounce. Here's a link to help:


    Is baby just sleeping through the night? You could try to wake them up once to feed. Otherwise, you may way want to keep one pump in just to be safe. Once you start feeding baby a smaller amount through the day, he may actually wake up to eat at night.
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Louisville, Kentucky

    Default Re: Do I still need to pump at night to protect supply?

    I agree with filmmommy.

    Additional question- is baby either bed-sharing or room-sharing at night, or is baby in a separate room where it might be more difficult to notice and react to any potential night-stirring/waking?

    This is something I really had no idea about before starting my own breastfeeding journey, but it is also totally okay to offer to nurse whenever YOU want, or whenever it seems like your body is indicating it would be helpful (through engorgement, for example). This can even be done with a baby who is sleeping ("dream-feed"). If pumping at night is a pain, you may consider a dream feed before going to bed yourself?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Central FL

    Default Re: Do I still need to pump at night to protect supply?

    Agree totally that you and hubby and any caregivers need to learn about paced bottle feeding and giving smaller bottles and then giving a break before giving more by bottle since if baby is almost prone and a bottle is tipped up into them, they just swallow and can drain the bottle before they realize they are full and then the tummy being stretched out they may get used to really big meals which isn't necessarily good for breastfeeding and if baby is being overfed during the day it may be harder for mom to get baby to nurse at night which can really hurt mom's supply since pumping is always harder and less effective than a baby with a good latch.

    Sleeping through the night is also not always desirable for milk production, especially if mom doesn't have a huge storage capacity. Night nursing is good for supply and easier/more pleasurable than pumping.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Do I still need to pump at night to protect supply?

    Agree that baby may be getting overfed during the day. On the other hand, it depends how often baby is able to nurse while you are home. If baby is allowed to take a very long sleep stretch (More than 4-6 hours) every night, and this leads to less nursing when home, this may mean baby does need more milk during the day. This (regular long stretches of not nursing) is also not usually a good scenario for continued normal milk production especially after the return to work. So my first suggestion is to encourage baby to nurse more overnight or at least during your own waking hours. If baby is being swaddled or using a pacifier or sleeping in a separate room from you, those practices can lead to longer sleep stretches so sometimes just changing those habits lead to baby waking with more typical frequency to nurse. Of course, if baby is being overfed during the day, that might well lower nursing frequency at night...so it's a chicken or the egg thing.

    This article explains not only paced bottle feeding technique, but also cue feeding with bottles and tips for helping baby be eager to nurse when mom is home: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf

    Video demonstration of paced feeding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH4T70OSzGs

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