Worried about milk supply for my 13 month old

I am still breastfeeding my 13-month-old son, but I feel like my milk supply is diminishing. Let me explain. He eats solid foods three times a day. He usually has a very small breakfast... part of a bagel, lunch and dinner. He nurses five to six times a day for as long as he's not distracted... :) His morning and after nap feedings are usually the longest.

My problem is that in the last 2 months or so I've noticed my breasts don't get nearly as full as they used to... Like not even close! They never leak anymore and hardly ever feel full to the touch. And when I try to pump a bottle I can hardly squeeze 3 to 4 ounces from both sides put together. This may not sound unusual but I used to be able to pump 8 oz. from each side at one sitting! I'm worried he's not getting enough. I hardly ever feel my let down reflex kick in, but I can see milk on his lips when he lets go. I can't pump a full bottle for when I'm away from him, and that makes leaving him to go to school difficult.

How can I increase my milk supply again? Do I need to worry about it? My son is right in the 50th percentile on the growth charts and seems to be growing fine. The reduction in my supply seems to have correlated with the start of my period.... Could that be why it happened?

Any advice would be great. I've read all the articles on increasing production of milk but they all seemed to be geared towards younger children My son already nurses quite a few times a day and since I'm not even going to contemplate waking him up at night to nurse more, I'm stuck! Please help!

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Don't worry - I won't even think of suggesting you wake your little guy to nurse in the middle of the night. It sounds to me like he is getting just the amount of milk he needs.

From your description of bountiful milk expression early on (8 ounces per side!!) it sounds like you have a very abundant milk supply. Now, the amount of milk you are expressing is closer to the average amount expressed. Although it can be worrisome, since you have difficulty expressing enough milk to leave for the times you're separated from your baby, it sounds like you still have a great milk supply.

You didn't mention how often you're separated from your little one. Even if you go to school full-time, you shouldn't need a lot of expressed milk for your toddler. Since your baby is eating 3 meals a day, along with breastfeeding, you may want to leave the expressed breastmilk, along with more solid foods, and other healthy drinks for while you're away. He will enjoy nursing when you're together and have solid foods (and a bit of your milk) in your absence.

Remember supply and demand. It is very normal and expected to see a decrease in your milk supply as solid foods become more and more a part of your baby's diet (replacing some of his breastmilk feeds). This is a very important reason it is good for parents to hold off on solids until close to a baby's 6 month birthday. Breastmilk is the nutritional priority during a baby's first year of life.

I would not be concerned about the changes you have noticed in your breasts. As nursing progresses these changes are inevitable and normal. In a typical child-led weaning situation, your baby will gradually cut out nursing sessions until one day you find yourself no longer breastfeeding. (And sometimes, because it is so gradual, it can come as quite a surprise!)

As far as the return of your period, the reduction in your milk supply will only last for a couple of days. With frequent nursing this decrease should be only temporary. My guess is that as solid foods are becoming a more important part of your little one's diet he simply needs to spend less time at your breast, slightly decreasing your milk supply. See my letter, Milk supply greatly reduced after menstruation, for more information. My best wishes in mothering!

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