Help? 10.5 months and supply dipping...

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-20-2008
Help? 10.5 months and supply dipping...
6
Tue, 04-20-2010 - 12:55pm

Hi - I actually posted this on the working and pumping board but wanted to post it here too in case you could answer any of my questions too... Thank you so much for reading! Let me know if you have any questions...

It's been a while since I've posted - for such a long time things had been going so well for us working and pumping wise - I had over supply for the first 8 months then finally just dropped to only 1 work pump at around 9 months. One of the reasons I had such great supply was because we co-slept for most of the night and he enjoyed eating almost hourly.

We finally have been doing sleep training and working towards night weaning. Last week he ate only twice most nights and that really made my supply dip. We had a slip in our training and he came to bed with me Saturday and last night and I noticed that he doesn't seem to be getting much milk. Also - I normally get 9-10 ounces in my 15-20 minutes of my one pump a day. Monday I got 7 and today I got 5.

Right now Jack is 45 weeks old (10.5 months) and I have 7 weeks left until he's one. I had planned on slowly weaning him when he turned one. I had wanted to start to offer less and substitute in frozen milk (I have about 500 ounces) and cows milk instead of feedings. I had planned to stop pumping at work at the end of May.

At this point I don't have a huge problem weaning early if my supply is choosing this time to really go. I haven't ever had to take herbs or eat oatmeal or anything like that and I don't want to increase my pumping either. I'm ok with not making it to a year if that is what is happening. Nursing has been amazing for Jack and I but it's also been a bit of a sleep crutch for him and we've struggled with night times for quite some time.

Anyway - I'm just a little unsure of how to proceed. What I would like to do is keep nursing, keep my one pump and dip into my frozen stash for his daycare bottles (he has 2 - 5 oz bottles while I'm at work). Normally he wouldn't always finish them both - but yesterday he drained both of them and she thought he acted like he wanted more and today he's already drained the 1st one. He never drains his bottles. (Almost never - never is a strong word). Back to my point - if I could just keep my 1 pump and supplement with my frozen stash for daytime feedings that would be great. However - I doubt that it's just my daytime supply that's decreasing. He seems to be wanting to nurse more in the morning and evenings too - like he's not getting as much.

I guess how do I know? Part of me is thinking that maybe I should switch to a nighttime bottle instead of nursing - since I'm trying to taper down his middle of the night feedings anyway? That way I would know he got a good feeding in before bed? Last night I felt like he barely got any and when he woke just 3 hours later and wouldn't stop crying - I figured he was hungry. I guess part of me is thinking that I need to make sure he's full before bed.

Now he does have 3 square meals a day - but didn't eat a big dinner last night. We ate kind of late and he was cranky then.

So - I'm wondering - should I try a bottle before bed tonight? Any thoughts on that? I'm not 100% sure he'd go for that and not nurse - but I could pump afterwards I guess just in case he demanded to nurse instead of the bottle.

I know the more bottles I give him that's just going to tank my supply more - but I don't really know what to do. I mean if I try that - then will I be ok to nurse him in the morning? How will I know if he got enough? Would direct nursing only in the morning and early evening plus his 2 bottles at daycare and 1 at night be enough?

How will I know if my supply goes more and he's not getting enough at those feedings? We have always been a one side nurser - so in the morning I could offer him both sides during the time before I leave for work... and then have him get both in the afternoon when I get home? Then give him a bottle and pump after he's asleep?

I don't know - this is all so confusing to me.

I know a lot of this has been rambling and me typing my way through some of my thoughts. But any advice or ideas are welcome.

One more note - if my supply does totally leave - my dr did give me the ok that Jack is fine to start on cows milk early at 11.5 months if necessary - if I ran out of my back up supply early. So I don't have to try him out on formula which is good.

Ok - what do you think? Thanks! Kim

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-10-2009
Tue, 04-20-2010 - 1:39pm

Hi Kim, thanks for stopping by. I've put my two cents in below in red.


We finally have been doing sleep training and working towards night weaning. Last week he ate only twice most nights and that really made my supply dip. We had a slip in our training and he came to bed with me Saturday and last night and I noticed that he doesn't seem to be getting much milk. Also - I normally get 9-10 ounces in my 15-20 minutes of my one pump a day. Monday I got 7 and today I got 5.


Do you realize that the average mom can pump 1-3 ounces per session (both breasts combined)? The 5 ounces you're pumping per session is still WAY WAY above the average. Just because your pumping output is a bit lower does NOT mean you have low supply.


At this point I don't have a huge problem weaning early if my supply is choosing this time to really go. I haven't ever had to take herbs or eat oatmeal or anything like that and I don't want to increase my pumping either. I'm ok with not making it to a year if that is what is happening. Nursing has been amazing for Jack and I but it's also been a bit of a sleep crutch for him and we've struggled with night times for quite some time.


Is your concern strictly because of the decrease in your pumping output? Any other reason like weight gain or diaper output decrease? Can you help me understand why you'd think you'd need to stop nursing entirely because of your pumping output decreasing?


Is eating oatmeal or taking fenugreek an option for you or are you opposed to that?


Most moms working an 8 hour workday need to pump 2-3 times during their workday to get enough breastmilk for the following day. Sometimes they have to throw in a few extra sessions evenings and weekends too. I don't want to come across too harsh but I think to expect to continue to pump 10 ounces at a session only pumping once during your workday is just unrealistic. If you're not willing to pump additional times, during the workday or evenings and weekends, you'd need to supplement with your frozen stash or with formula, until cow's milk can be offered. However, choosing to supplement rather than pump more definitely does not mean that you need to wean right now. Many moms even after stopping pumping at work continue to nurse morning and night for months or years.


Back to my point - if I could just keep my 1 pump and supplement with my frozen stash for daytime feedings that would be great. However - I doubt that it's just my daytime supply that's decreasing. He seems to be wanting to nurse more in the morning and evenings too - like he's not getting as much.


That sounds like a plan to me if pumping more isn't your choice. He may just be going through a growth spurt or a developmental phase where he wants to nurse more to reconnect with you. I would suggest just going with that and not assuming it's a reflection on your supply.


I guess how do I know? Part of me is thinking that maybe I should switch to a nighttime bottle instead of nursing - since I'm trying to taper down his middle of the night feedings anyway? That way I would know he got a good feeding in before bed? Last night I felt like he barely got any and when he woke just 3 hours later and wouldn't stop crying - I figured he was hungry. I guess part of me is thinking that I need to make sure he's full before bed.


So - I'm wondering - should I try a bottle before bed tonight? Any thoughts on that? I'm not 100% sure he'd go for that and not nurse - but I could pump afterwards I guess just in case he demanded to nurse instead of the bottle.


I know the more bottles I give him that's just going to tank my supply more - but I don't really know what to do. I mean if I try that - then will I be ok to nurse him in the morning? How will I know if he got enough? Would direct nursing only in the morning and early evening plus his 2 bottles at daycare and 1 at night be enough?


I wouldn't suggest switching to a nighttime bottle instead of nursing. That would entail more pumping on your part and just double work IMO. Taking away those direct nursing sessions might impact your remaining supply as well since pumping doesn't stimulate supply as well as direct nursing which I think you already know. I guess I'm not certain what the advantage of going to a pumped bottle at bedtime would be. Can you help me understand? Is it strictly because you think he'd sleep longer (which I don't think would work)

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-20-2008
Tue, 04-20-2010 - 2:36pm

Thank you for your reply!

I do realize that I've always had oversupply and that I've always pumped much more than most. That is why at 9 months I was able to successfully drop to just one pump a day and not have to dip into my frozen stash at all. For the first 8 months I got 15 ounces in my 2 daytime pumps.

I know that my pumping output does not mean I have LOW supply. But how can I describe that after 10.5 months of nursing I just know my supply is down. Maybe it is just now working itself out and is not going to be in over supply anymore - and will just be closer to normal supply. I feel like I can just tell. I know breast firmness isn't a good indicator either - but I can tell you that they are MUCH flatter and squishier the last few days than they have been since before I got pregnant. Again - I know this doesn't mean that it's going or gone - but it is lower and I can just tell.

I don't want to stop nursing entirely. I would really rather not. My ideal would be to keep nursing as much as possible. However with that said I do wish to stop nighttime or at least drop to one nighttime nursing. Until the last week he was literally eating every hour or two all night long. I just don't want to do that anymore. I think he and I are finally ready for him to sleep in his own bed and not nurse to sleep each and every time he wakes. In order to do this - we've been working with a sleep coach and are sleep training and working towards trying to night wean or drop to just one feeding.

That is the reason I am considering trying the bedtime bottle. Since I'm trying to wean him from eating all night long - I want to feel confident that he got a good feeding in before he goes to bed. Our sleep training is involving some tears and I think I might feel more confident if I knew that he had a decent feeding. Like last night - I fed him after 3 when he woke the first time, because it really felt like he didn't get much at his last feeding. I'm trying to eliminate feeding him so often through the night. My thought is that I could do the bedtime bottle then pump - just until we get him night weaned or down to one feeding around 5am. If after a week or so of success with that - I would want to try to switch back to nursing before bed if it worked and if the pump was able to keep me with some supply there.

I do want to continue nursing up to a year at least but not so much that I want to increase my work pumps or take herbs or eat oatmeal...

I guess one of my questions is at this age - 10.5 months - what ARE good indications that supply is going. What I mean is - right now it is probably just regulating. How do you know when it goes? Does that make sense? I can't go by wet diapers because he has water during the day too - but he has always had plenty of wet diapers. Weight gain? Well he gained weight like a CHAMP for the first 5-6 months then really leveled off. I don't think he really has gained much in the last 3-4 months. But I think that's normal for a EBF baby too. So what ARE the indications of supply leaving this late in the game?

So in other words - let's say I continue giving him 2 5oz bottles while I'm at work - I nurse him from both sides when I get home or between 4 and 6... Then I give him a 5oz bottle @ 8pm then pump... and nurse him from both sides between 5 and 6:30 am. How will I know if this is enough milk? He'll be having the opportunity to have 15oz from bottles - how will I know if the other nursing sessions are enough? And on the weekends - how will I know if he's getting enough when he's only nursing?

I've just never had to worry about if he was getting enough before and this is new to me. I was home with him last Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday and I will be this Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday (my day care provider is out those days these 2 weeks).

Also - his stools have significantly firmed up since we started trying to night wean him and cut down his night time feedings. He used to go every morning like clockwork and it was always very loose and runny. Now all of a sudden it is VERY thick and he's not even going every other day. At first I just thought it was because he wasn't getting all the extra milk that he got during the night.

Thank you for your help! I really apprecaite your advice!

Kim

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-12-2006
Tue, 04-20-2010 - 4:31pm

I think you can safely say that drastically cutting back your daytime pumping sessions and also your nighttime nursing sessions that your supply is going to be less. You're demanding less of your body. So it will make less. As long as you do continue to request it to make milk (such as when nursing at home with your son), it will continue to make milk for those feedings. It won't stop making milk for those feedings until you stop requesting milk from your body at those times but not having those nursing sessions at all.

So your supply is lower - of course because you've asked it to stop making about 1/2 the milk it was making by decreasing your nursing / pumping sessions by half. But it doesn't mean your supply is low for the feedings you're still offering.

I also have had a baby that nursed every couple of hours at night (she had issues w/ solid food anyway so I wasn't comfortable even attempting night weaning) but she's nearly 3 and only began starting to sleep through the night in the last month. I saw her increase her daytime food intake (actual food not daytime nursing) BEFORE she quit waking to nurse at night. When moms do cut out nighttime nursing sessions and baby does begin to sleep through the night - either via sleep training or naturally - baby will still require the same amount of calories so will take more of them during the day. Yes, this may mean he may want more milk during the day. You don't want to pump more, which is fine, if you have a freezer stash to use or want to supplement with formula during the day (known as partial weaning when mom uses formula while at work and nurses when with baby directly).

As for the nighttime bottle, there is not any research that shows feeding baby a bottle or solids or anything else at bedtime will increase their likelihood to sleep through the night. There really is no reason to offer a bottle at night. I know you're thinking that you can make sure he gets a full feeding, but in all honesty, if you just let him nurse as long as he wants before bedtime, he'll get a full feeding anyway. He may want to switch breasts a couple of times. This is fine. And will help your supply at that time. If he is requesting more milk than normal at that nursing session right now (due to growth spurt or developmental / comfort nursing), your body will adjust in a couple days if you give it the time to do so.

My final thought: is has AF returned? If not, I suspect - especially with the sudden decrease in nursing - you will see her very soon. For many women, there is a dip in supply (related to hormone fluctuation) right around the time of ovulation. This is not likely to be noticed if baby is nursing on demand (he might request to nurse more frequently or something) but you wouldn't be measuring a pump output. But if pumping, you may see the dip. The dip only lasts for a few days before things normalize again and the fluctuation can actually be counteracted by taking a calcium / magnesium supplement.

Follow up with thoughts /questions.

HTH

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-20-2008
Tue, 04-27-2010 - 2:15pm

I just wanted to post a follow up 'THANK YOU' for talking me through everything last week. I think I may have been having a little sleep deprivation melt down thinking that my supply was leaving. I ended up NOT having to use an nighttime bottle - but nursed from both sides and things have been FINE! I was waiting till I was back at work and pumping again yesterday and today to report and I got 7 ounces yesterday and 8 today which is plenty! If I can get that much I'll only have to use 1 5oz bag of frozen each week to make our 10 ounces needed.

So thank you - things seemed to be fine and I haven't had any more times where I felt like he wasn't getting as much as he used to. Maybe it just took my body a few days to adjust to feeding him more during his daytime nursings to make up for his no nursings at night.

Thanks! :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-10-2009
Tue, 04-27-2010 - 10:01pm

Kim, I'm so glad that things are back on track and headed in the right direction.


THanks so much for the update!


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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-20-2007
Wed, 04-28-2010 - 10:10pm

I was wondering too, if your supply took a big hit, if your flange needs to be changed. If there's a microtear, that can make your supply dip too.

Just thought I'd toss that out there. :)

Loral


Loral