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Thread: Am I pumping enough to keep my supply up?

  1. #1

    Default Am I pumping enough to keep my supply up?

    I have a 3 (almost 4) month old at home and work part time Monday - Wednesday. I have noticed that now she has dropped her night feedings (she will sometimes still have one early in the morning), that my pumping supply at work has gone down and just my pumping supply in general. I have just gone back to work a few weeks ago and feel like I am struggling to make sure I pump enough. Here is my typical schedule:

    7:00 AM - Nurse
    10:00 AM - Pump at work (or if at home nurse)
    1:00 PM - Pump at work (or if at home nurse)
    4:30 PM - Nurse
    7:00 PM - Nurse
    9:00 PM - Pump
    4:00 AM - Nurse (sometimes, she sleeps all the way through to 7)

    When I first started back to work, I was pumping 6 - 7 oz in the morning, 4-5 oz in the afternoon, and then about 4 oz at the 9 PM pumping session. Now that I am into the swing of things, I am struggling to get 4 - 4.5 at the 10 AM, maybe 4 at the 1 PM and 2 - 2.5 at the 9 PM. So far, it's enough to satisfy her needs, but I am concerned that it went down so much. My question is, do all working mom's do a pumping session in the morning or how many times a day do you fit in a pump to ensure you are getting enough stimulation? I don't really have time to do a morning pump every day and would of course prefer to sleep if I can, but if it's necessary to wake up and pump at 1 AM to maintain my supply, I will. I failed to produce enough for my first baby and it broke my heart when I had to stop and move to formula, so I am going to try to do what ever I can to make it work. I just know friends and family that didn't seem to have to try so hard to get what they needed. I would like this to be something that I can continue to do without it being that I never get sleep until I am done breastfeeding. I just thought that your body was supposed to supply what ever is demanded of it, meaning that if your baby stops at night, it will adjust to that and produce enough during the day. Why would my supply go down then? I just feel a little confused on what I should do and worried that this is going to be so complicated and that I won't make it as long as I would like to. Any advice is welcome and appreciated!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Am I pumping enough to keep my supply up?

    Hi emrose2. Your previous pump output of between 4-7 ounces was on the high side. The output you are having now is actually more like average. It may be that you were over producing before and, like most moms who overproduce in the early weeks or months, you are seeing the natural decline in production that occurs after about 2-3 months. Biologically, our bodies wish to make enough milk, not more than enough, so unless we are giving our body the signals that say "more milk please" our bodies will assume it is time to ramp down production. This does not mean you do not make enough for your baby. But it probably does mean you are going to have to pump more often if you want to express more milk by pumping.

    I just thought that your body was supposed to supply what ever is demanded of it, meaning that if your baby stops at night, it will adjust to that and produce enough during the day.
    This is almost how it works, but not quite. Yes your body will respond to what is demanded of it. Most babies need to nurse at least 8 times in 24 hours minimum and usually do not go more than maybe about 5 to 7 hours overnight without nursing. So that is what the body expects- frequent nursing and nursing overnight. If that is happening, your body recognizes there is a growing baby that needs to be fed and makes enough milk. When there are long stretches of no milk removal, or less frequent milk removal overall, then your body gets the message that it should make less milk.

    How much milk is your baby getting on your work days? It sounds like you are separated from baby for about 9 hours a day, and are currently pumping about 10 ounces. How much more than that is baby eating from bottles on those days?

    There is the possibility that your overall production will be harmed and reduce below what baby needs due to the extreme long stretch of 9-12 hours daily of no milk removal and the overall infrequent milk removal of 7 times in 24 hours. Most breastfed babies nurse between 8 and 12 times in 24 hours, and at this age perhaps take the a 5- 6 hour sleep stretch (although many do not do that, or not every night.) Some moms have very high production and very high milk storage capacity and infrequent milk removal is less of a problem for them. But the average mom is probably going to see some milk production issues down the line with only 7 times a day milk removal, especially if half that time it is a pump and not baby removing the milk. Also less frequent nursing means that during the distraction months (4-10 mos or so) nursing strikes or breast refusal is more likely.

    but if it's necessary to wake up and pump at 1 AM to maintain my supply, I will.
    I do not think that is necessary to specifically wake yourself up in the middle of the night to pump in order to increase your milk production. I think it would help both with milk production going forward and breastfeeding longevity overall if you encourage your baby to nurse more often overall. Since you work 3 days a week, that gives you 4 other days to encourage baby to nurse more often. Also if baby is with you from 4:30 until you go to bed, does that give you more times in the evening, before you go to bed, when baby could be nursing than baby is right now? And yes, it is ok to wake a baby to nurse. However this is often not necessary. Babies can and do nurse in their sleep. Also, sometimes removing any sleep inducers (swaddling, pacifier, baby sleeping in a different room from you) helps baby wake naturally more often. Also many babies who sleep long stretches early on become more frequently wakeful at night a few months later. This is entirely normal, as true sleep consolidation does not typically occur until a child is well past baby-hood.

    Also, regularly troubleshoot your pump. Pumps can malfunction just like any other machine, and sometimes there are issues that hurt pump performance but is otherwise not noticeable.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; April 11th, 2017 at 12:34 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Am I pumping enough to keep my supply up?

    maddieb, thank you so much for the reply! It really helps me. So far, I have been able to pump enough for my daughter to eat while I am away. I was just feeling paranoid that it was going to keep going down and that I would have to stop like I did with my eldest. I was supplementing with my eldest at this point, so I have never made it this far. My 3 month old currently eats 8-12 oz while I am away at work. I am usually able to pump about that, so it's not a problem yet, but I just want to make sure I keep it that way.

    You have given me some great ideas for what I can do while I am at home with her and on the weekends. I am going to keep trucking and try some other things at home to ensure that my milk supply stays up for the long term (nursing her more often if I can and/or doing a dream feed before I go to bed). I know she is out of the ordinary (just like my first) with sleeping so long at night. I guess my babies just like to sleep!

    This really gives me some encouragement that I will be able to continue to nurse her for as long as I would like to and I really needed that. Hats off to all the ladies who are nursing and to those that have to work. Thank you so much for your support and advice. It is so helpful to have some community from knowledgeable people and some reassurance that I am doing the right things. I really appreciate it!!

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