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Newborn and Infant Care

Milk supply

06/05/1998

Question:

My 8 month old son seems to be thriving and eating solids fine. My milk supply is down as I expected. I prepare his bottles with the professional model medela pump while I am at work. Lately I can't seem to get enough milk for the next day. (He usually drinks 5 ounces at each meal). The last 3 days I can barely fill the bottles 3 ounces each. Is this natural to have a sudden drop in supply?

Answer:

To answer this really requires more information. What are your (and your son's) goals for breastfeeding? How many times does your son breastfeed in 24 hours? When you are home, do you breastfeed first before giving him solid foods? What is your work day like, e.g., how many hours are you and your son apart? Do you breastfeed your son before going to work and how many times? How often do you pump and what pumping routine do you use, etc? (BTW, I assume by Medela "professional model," you are referring to the Pump-in-Style? If you are referring to a mini-electric, it was not designed to maintain milk production for someone employed full time.) Whether it is "natural" to have a sudden drop in supply depends on the breastfeeding/pumping routine.

Milk production is fairly simple. The more that is removed from the breast through breastfeeding or pumping, the more that is made. The less that is removed, the less the breast makes. Look at your routine. Is your son eating more solids and breastfeeding less? Research indicates that solids replace breastmilk in the diet; babies don't eat them in addition to breastfeeding. (The average 8 month old still breastfeeds 4-8 times a day.) Are you pumping often enough at work (varies depending on goals, hours mom and baby apart, etc.)?

If you want to increase production (and this depends on your/your son's goals), increasing the number of daily breastfeedings and/or pumpings is the bottom line. Plus give your supply a few days to rebuild--a mom essentially breastfeeds/pumps today to make tomorrow's milk. If everyone is happy and meeting goals, you could continue as is and ask your sitter to complement the available breast milk with 100% baby juices (or another accepted fluid) as the week goes on.

For more specific information that is individualized for your situation, I'd suggest contacting a La Leche League (LLL) leader or a lactation consultant (LC). Many LCs don't charge for phone calls. To find a LLL leader near you, call LLLInternational at 800/LALECHE or go to their web site at: //www.lalecheleague.org/. The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) has a list of certified lactation consultants by city. Their number is 919/787-5181 or you can query via their web site at: //www.erols.com/ilca/.

I hope this information is what you are looking for. If I can be of more help, don't hesitate to contact this site again. The best of luck.

Sincerely,

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC

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Response by:

Tina   Weitkamp, RNC, MSN Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati