Will my milk supply dry up now that I sleep all night? Babble.com’s Parental Advisory.

Image source: Thinkstock
Image source: Thinkstock
My two-month-old baby has been sleeping nine-to-ten hours straight every night for a couple weeks without feeding, and I’m feeling my supply dip down. My bras are getting loose. I have breastfed exclusively since day one. Her weight gain and health are fantastic, so the doctor doesn’t think the sleepiness is an issue. But I’m worried I’ll run out of milk way sooner than I’d like. Should I start pumping during the day and feeding her some formula? This is my second kid, and I had no supply issues with the first one (but then, she never slept). – Snooze you LoseDear Snooze,

When we researched our book, we learned a lot more about breastfeeding than we ever thought possible. One of our favorite tidbits, direct from Catherine Genna, lactation consultant and advisor on the From the Hips, relates specifically to your situation. Here’s the deal according to Catherine: the first month is when your body is deciding how big a milk factory needs to be built. If you feed often and exclusively, you’ll build a bigger factory. Since you’ve been feeding exclusively and your baby has been gaining weight, you’ve very likely laid the groundwork you need for maintaining supply.

But. If you are not emptying your breasts for ten straight hours every night, your supply will indeed dip. Sleeping through the night often affects supply. But if you want to re-up and maintain it, you are likely to be able to do so by breaking up the ten hours with a nighttime pumping session. This will effectively trick your boobs into thinking your baby is eating while she’s actually sleeping, and if you do it often enough, they’ll keep making milk for that feed. Waking up in the middle of the night to pump is probably not that appealing. Does your baby go to bed earlier than you do? If so, you can pump right before you go to sleep to get another round of breast stimulation.

It’s easier to maintain supply with a strong nurser than with a pump, so you want her to feed as much as possible during the day. Daytime pumping and supplementing may actually result in less milk in the long run. Another idea to increase supply would be to pump for a while after daytime feeds. That way you’re stimulating production while making the most of your real live baby’s sucking power. You may get very little to nothing. But after a while, you may notice your production start to increase.

If you’re really concerned, there’s always the option of waking yourself up to pump in the wee hours. But in your situation, it doesn’t seem like this is a good first step. She’s big, she’s healthy, you’re surely exhausted. Why waste sleep if you don’t know you have to? And on that note: Good luck and good night.

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