Maintaining Milk Supply

Breastfeeding is one of the greatest gifts you can provide your child, if you are able to, or choose to do so. We at Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby know the sacrifices you make to provide breastmilk to your baby whether it’s pumping in a closet at work, dealing with engorged breasts (and painful ones at that!) when you feel like you’re going to burst if you cannot pump or feed soon. We know the bond that is created when you breastfeed your baby and share that intimate moment. Breastfeeding is a beautiful connection, and it is truly a blessing for those who can, and maintaining milk supply is likely on your mind. 

As our babies grow, they will need fewer nighttime feedings and our certified sleep experts have put together some tips to help you as your transition from fewer feedings during the night as you begin sleep training. 

At first, you may be a little nervous that your supply is not as full, however, this is temporary, and your body will adjust quickly to a more plentiful supply as it transitions. If mastitis or clogged ducts are an issue for you, we have resolutions for that, as well. 

Our 4-Phases of Maintaining Milk Supply

Phase 1: Pump Before Bed

It is important to pump before you go to bed, so your breasts are drained. Store this milk for future use in the fridge or freezer. There are a lot of great freezer bags that can keep your milk frozen for future use. 

Phase 2: Pump When Needed, However, Do Not Drain

If your engorged boobs wake you up at night pump a little, be sure you do not drain them unless you are feeding your baby within 2 hours. By draining, you are teaching your body to refill as soon as possible again. Pump until your boobs feel comfortable and as you repeat this, your body will produce less during the night, and you will not wake up engorged and need to pump. This is also a great time to do a little hand expressing if you are comfortable with that.

Phase 3: Pump Reduction

After 3-4 nights, you can eliminate the bedtime pumping session we discussed in phase 1 if you would like. If you want to stock up, it is not going to interfere to continue pumping prior to bedtime. If you would like to eliminate the bedtime pumping, begin by reducing the time of pumping by 5-10 minutes every 3-4 nights until you have titrated down to not pumping at all. 

Phase 4: Power Pump

If by eliminating the bedtime and nighttime pumping sessions, you feel as though you are decreasing your supply during the day, a power pump session will help increase your supply. Remember, milk supply is created by the demand of your baby. If your baby is drinking a lot of your breastmilk, you will supply a lot of breastmilk. If they are weaning, you will start to create less until your baby is fully weaned and your breast stops producing altogether. 

Babies are prone to cluster feeding, which is when a baby goes through a growth spurt and feeds multiple times an hour. Power pumping mimics a cluster feed and encourages milk supply to make up for the reduction through the night. This allows you to produce enough during the day to provide and/or freeze enough breastmilk for your growing baby. 

When power-pumping, here are timelines we have created to help you produce the most milk: 

  • Pump for 20 minutes, rest for 10 minutes (no pumping during rest time)
  • Pump for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes 
  • Pump for 10 minutes

Pumping is a great time to catch up on sleep, if you are able to, or if you are at work, or want to accomplish some housework, a hands-free pump is a fantastic addition to your life. There are some great options available in the baby section at larger stores like Target and Walmart, and there are several online that have a lot of reviews to help you decide what works best for you. 

Supply and Demand

As you navigate through this new routine, do not become alarmed if you feel like you are producing less. It will take a few days for your body to adjust its supply. If you are someone who exclusively pumps, you will notice a change faster than those who both breastfeed and pump. If by day 5 you are not feeling like your supply is as plentiful as it was, give us a call and we can walk you through some steps to see what we can adjust. Everybody is different, though typically this works well and has generated positive results. 

When you see an increase in your supply, you can wean off the power pumping by 10 minutes every couple of days until you do not need to pump any longer. Again, if you are exclusive to power-pumping, you will not wean off the pump. Continue pumping as normal though you may not need to include the power pump routine we shared above. 

Give Us a Call

If you need extra support during this transition, we are happy to help you! Give us a call, send us an email, or contact us through our website for a remote consultation or session. We are parents ourselves and know how challenging new routines can be. Find us on social media and join the many parents who follow us for more tips, hints, and helpful routines. 

We are sleep consultants located in Denver, Kansas City, and Ft. Worth. However, we work with families all over the world!

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