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Thread: More milk for morning and evening nursing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    17

    Default More milk for morning and evening nursing

    Recently I was breastfeeding my youngish toddler mornings and evenings, and my son and I would like to keep that up. However, I returned a week ago from a 5.5 day business trip, and even after 3-4 pumping sessions/day on my trip and extra pumping/nursing since I got back, my already minimal milk has pretty much dried up due to the terrible inadequacy of my pump. (To date, every reduction in breastfeeding has been foisted on us after either a business trip where my pump did a terrible job or a vacation with in-laws where I didn't speak up for myself to make nursing a priority. Learn from my mistakes!)

    My son's new habit is that, after he's gotten the pathetic half ounce or so, he starts switching rapidly from one side to the other, only spending a few seconds on each side, but still sucking. And he is persistent. He will keep it up for several minutes, and when I tell him it's all gone and try to cover myself, he grabs at my shirt with evident frustration and says "more". He also gets cow's milk during the day, so breastfeeding is not his sole source. He has plenty of access to milk and attention outside of breastfeeding.

    Questions:

    1. I'm wondering if his behavior in continuing to suck does anything to improve milk supply or if it's really just a goofy comfort ritual. (I am guessing the latter.) Is there any benefit at all from the nursing stimulation on my milk ducts once they're empty?
    2. Also, I've heard that emptying the breasts more frequently is better for increasing supply than draining them really thoroughly. I would appreciate suggestions of how many pumping and nursing sessions I should be trying to add. He has slept through the night since he was a couple of months old, so it would not be practical to add night feedings (followed by brushing his mouth full of teeth).

    My son is 16 months, and he loves his breastmilk. I know he's old enough that we could just let it go without much disappointment, so this post isn't as important as those from you mothers with young babies, but I know that all breastfeeding is valued here. My son and I thank you for reading and responding.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    24,794

    Default Re: More milk for morning and evening nursing

    1. I'm wondering if his behavior in continuing to suck does anything to improve milk supply or if it's really just a goofy comfort ritual. (I am guessing the latter.) Is there any benefit at all from the nursing stimulation on my milk ducts once they're empty?
    There is actually quite a lot of benefit to supply when you allow a baby to nurse on a "dry" breast. First, milk is constantly being made so even if you feel like the milk must be gone, and you can't squeeze or pump any out, the baby is probably able to get some drops out. Second, milk is created not only be milk removal but by stimulation of the breast by the baby's sucking. Sucking releases oxytocin, oxytocin goes to the brain and triggers increased production of prolactin (the milk-making hormone). That's why you can build supply by nursing or pumping more frequently: you are using stimulation of the breast to signal your brain to make more milk.

    2. Also, I've heard that emptying the breasts more frequently is better for increasing supply than draining them really thoroughly. I would appreciate suggestions of how many pumping and nursing sessions I should be trying to add. He has slept through the night since he was a couple of months old, so it would not be practical to add night feedings (followed by brushing his mouth full of teeth).
    While it is typically true that when it comes to improving supply, frequency of nursing/pumping beats duration or completeness of emptying, it is actually best if you can aim to increase all three metrics at once. Your question remains very difficult to answer because every woman is different- in how her body responds to more nursing or pumping, in how she responds to a particular brand of pump, in how interested her baby is in nursing... All we know is that more is better, and going long stretches without nursing/pumping (e.g., overnight) is not good for supply. So if you can either wake your baby for a "dream feed" or two, or pump in the night, it will be good for supply. I know this isn't the answer you want!

    All that being said, your baby is 16 months old. At this point, nursing is often as much about comfort as it is about food. It's the mothering tool you reach for when your baby needs to be soothed to sleep, or when he gets hurt, or when you need to reconnect at the end of the workday. So if you choose not to do the work of boosting supply, it's okay. You can continue to use nursing as a tool in whatever way works for you, without worrying quite so much about milk supply.

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