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Bye Bye, Milk Supply

By EmilyBMalone |

An un-welcomed dry spell.

I feel really lucky that for 10 – almost 11 – months, Cullen and I have been blessed with a really great breastfeeding relationship. Despite a few ugly bouts with mastitis and Cullen’s refusal to take bottles for many months, overall things have gone really well. A good latch, a healthy supply, minimal leaking, adequate nutrition – you can’t ask for much more than that.

But recently, something has changed. Cullen got a bad cold two weeks ago, and I knew he was having trouble eating as much as he usually does. His stuffy nose prevented him from eating for long stretches of time, and he mostly snacked for a few minutes at most. At the same time, we traveled home to Ohio – a 3 hour time difference and a change in our usual routines and schedules. Things were definitely a little off for a few days.

Suddenly, I noticed that I felt significantly more…empty.  I used to go 3 to 4 hours between feedings, and one of the ways I knew it was likely time to eat again was that my breasts felt heavier, and well – bigger. Suddenly 3 hours would pass and I’d still sort of feel like a deflated balloon. It wasn’t my imagination either. My letdown felt a lot less intense, and Cullen’s feeding time has pretty much halved. Enter – PANIC.

Even though Cullen is 10 months old and I plan to wean him around a year, I still selfishly wanted it to be my choice. I didn’t want it to happen quite so quickly. Honestly, I’m not ready. I know that this is relatively normal for being this far into breastfeeding, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly. I haven’t changed anything with diet or medications, so I think his temporary decrease in feedings is what set it off. I just hope it’s not too late to get it back!

I’ve stepped up his feedings and have temporarily added a few more in. He’s also been waking up in the middle of the night, which makes me think he’s hungrier than normal. I used to just soothe him with a pacifier during night wakings, but this week I’ve been feeding him in hopes that my supply will come back. I’ve also added in an evening pumping session, and I am eating everything in sight. Avocados, olive oil, nuts, chocolate – the more the better. It’s tough work, I tell ya.

I got a bit more than I had been from last night’s pumping session, so I’m hopeful that perhaps things are headed in the right direction. It seems kind of silly to be obsessing about milk supply this late in the game, but, like I said, I wasn’t planning on weaning quite this early or this quickly. Let’s hope I don’t have to!

Read more from Emily on her personal blog Daily Garnish, where she creates healthy vegetarian recipes, recaps her latest running adventures, and chronicles life as a new mom to her son and two crazy dogs.  You can follow along on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest too!

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About EmilyBMalone



Emily Malone shares her adventures in cooking and parenting on her personal blog, Daily Garnish. Read bio and latest posts → Read Emily's latest posts →

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12 thoughts on “Bye Bye, Milk Supply

  1. Erin says:

    Congrats on doing so well with breastfeeding! Did Cullen ever take a bottle? I’m currently having bottle wars with my 11 week old. I have to return to work in a few weeks and it is stressing me out!

  2. Katie ks says:

    There is a tea that helps supply. And fenugreek. We added in milk at 10.5 months with a drop in supply and then weaned on his bday. Pumped for 10 days to avoid mastitis and totally done now. You will get thru it :)

  3. Sarah G says:

    Just as important as any tea, food, or supplement… SLEEP always helps my supply tremendously. You know how all the books say, spend the day in bed with your baby. Do it. Very tough given C’s energy level… but, my suggestion is to do what you can to slooooooooooow down and do nothing but eat and drink water and giggle together for a day or two, and your supply will probably come back!! GOOD LUCK!

  4. koolchicken says:

    I really hope you get your supply back up, or at least manage to keep what you’re currently producing. I don’t know how you feed but I’ve heard of some women pumping on one side while they’re feeding on the other. Of course that only really works if you only offer one side, or he’s refusing cause he’s full. But it might help, it couldn’t hurt.

  5. Celia says:

    While it is normal (hate that word!) to lose the “full” feeling but still have milk once you’re well into breastfeeding, it’s not normal to experience a sudden drop in supply just because you’re reaching what we think of as a milestone. Maybe try a galactagogue like fenugreek? Good luck!

  6. Cassandra Watson says:

    I highly recommend Making Mama’s Milk. She is WAHM who produces many flavors of wonderful cookies full of all the “herbs and things” to help increase supply like fenegreek. Now that I’m back at work I eat one or two cookies a day so that I can pump plenty for daycare. But whenever I feel like I’m a little low I eat two or three at one sitting (with plenty of water) and get a good boost in supply. I would recommend getting just one batch to start since Cullen is getting older but for a mother with a newborn, she offers monthly subscription plans.

  7. maria says:

    Not crazy at all to be worrying this late in the game about milk supply. A number of factors can affect your supply at any point in time. I am Gabby’s mom and frequent commenter on your blog. I never had a great supply and had to work very hard for it, and since I worked 3 days a week, I experienced many dips in my supply. One of the most effective things I took was Goya Malta. You will find it in the hispanic section of the grocery store. It is a malt drink, and let me tell you–it works wonders! I started weaning at 10 months due to an endless pattern of clogged ducts and officially nursed for the last time at 11 months. There was definitely a sadness, but now, I find that our extra snuggle time before bed has been a nice (and less stressful for me personally) replacement. You have to be ready to wean though and do it slowly. The drop in hormones needs to be gradual, and Cullen will need an adjustment period as well. Gabby tended to wake up at least once during the night during weaning just to be held. My husband thinks it was her way of transitioning too. Good Luck!

  8. Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) says:

    Beer always ups my supply! I know you don’t drink, but I think a non-alcoholic beer would have the same effect. We are just nursing morning and night now and it’s crazy how small my boobs look and feel. So different.

  9. Christy says:

    A similar thing happened to me. I breastfed my son for 14 months without a problem so I was expecting to do the same with my daughter, but at around 8 months my supply plummeted. We blew through the freezer reserves and unfortunately at around 9 months I had to start supplementing with formula. It could have been stress, dehydration, travel, lack of sleep–all of the above probably. But once I relaxed about feeling like I failed and got comfortable with the formula, I was really a lot happier. She is 10 months now and I will keep nursing as much as I can and wean her at a year

  10. mkl says:

    So unfair that it only takes a day to lose your supply but a WEEK to get it back. But it will come back!

  11. Renee says:

    Hi Emily! Just a few things I learned from my lactation consultant:

    first, it’s totally normal for your breasts to feel empty after breastfeeding for awhile. It’s just your body adjusting and is not a sign of losing supply.

    Second, as babies get older they become much more effficient at nursing so it takes less time. Also, your milk is a lot fattier so they don’t need the same quantity.

    When my son was around Cullen’s age I had trouble pumping enough. I think my body just stopped responding as well to the pump because luckily I’m still able to nurse him whenever he likes. He’s 15 months now and the supply is still strong.

  12. beth says:

    I totally know how you feel! My period came back when my son was 6 mos old and my milk dried up pretty quickly after that. It was really hard for me to handle and I felt awful about it, until a friend said this: Instead of feeling sad that you didn’t make it as long as you wanted, be proud that you made it as long as you did! There are a lot of women who aren’t even able to do that! Hearing that finally enabled me to stop beating myself up and instead bne happy knowing that I gave it my all and did everything that I possibly could. And that’s all you can do, right? So don’t beat yourself up mama! Be proud cause you done good!!

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