Question: I have a 4 month old son. He weighs 20 lbs and is 28 1/2 inches. I am working full time and breastfeeding. I try to use a double pump at work but I don’t seem to be getting much milk anymore. It feels like my supply has gone way down. Do you have any tips on how to build up my milk supply? My poor little guy seems hungry all the time. I try to pump at least three times a day in an eight hour period but sometimes it’s just two times. Is that enough?
Answer: Many mothers find that keeping their supply up when they return to work is a challenge. Most moms don’t get the same stimulation when they are separated from their baby that they get when they are at home. At home, you tend to do little “snack feedings” throughout the day, and when you’re at work, you tend to pump on a set schedule. Also, there is no pump on the market that is as good a healthy nursing baby, so the stimulation you get is not the same.
Solutions range from pumping more often at work (this may not be realistic for you since you are already pumping 3 times); pumping after feedings or on the other breast when baby only takes one side at home; nursing more often when you are together (especially during the night), and feeding less during the day; using techniques to facilitate let-down when you pump; and supplementing with formula.
Unfortunately, drinking water or eating a special diet doesn’t have a big impact on your supply. I wish it was that easy. The article Increasing Your Milk Supply has more details about what works to boost your milk production.
Continuing to nurse after you return to work can be very challenging, but it is a real labor of love and is well worth the effort. It is especially challenging when you return to work with a baby this young, but even if you end up having to supplement with formula, it is worth hanging in there.
Anne Smith, IBCLC