Three questions today – milk supply after getting your period back, feeding an older baby milk pumped when she was much younger, and talking to your doctor about exclusively pumping.
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Thank you for your all of your wonderful information. It helped me get started when I made the emotional decision to start exclusively pumping when my baby was 13 weeks old. I started off by pumping six times a day and gradually decreased to four times a day over a six week period. I didn’t see a noticeable change in my supply.
However, my supply dropped by about six ounces a day once my period started, and I haven’t been able to get it back up. I’ve been taking fenugreek three times a day. It has helped but I’m not back up to my original volume. Is it possible to increase my supply again or am I stuck at this new lower volume?
Also, I would love to experiment with decreasing to three pumps per day in a month or two. If I notice a large supply drop by doing this, will I be able to increase my supply again if I add a fourth pumping session back in? I’m afraid to drop a pump since I’ve already seen a drop in my supply.
I had the same issue with both of my babies. With both of them, I got my period back at 9 months postpartum, and my supply slowly dropped and there wasn’t much that I could do to bring it back up. (I struggled a bit with that emotionally, because I had previously had a great supply.) I did have a little success with oatmeal – I got an extra ounce or so on the days that I ate it for breakfast. Lactation bars also helped, with about the same increase.
Anyway, I think you might still be able to bring it up to where it was, but it would be a bit of work – some options for this might be pumping for longer, power pumping, doing a lot of breast compressions, etc. Also, with regard to the fenugreek – make sure that you smell like maple syrup and are at the right dose. If you felt very strongly about it, you might also try domperidone. (You would have to get a prescription from your OB or your baby’s doctor.)
At the same time, don’t feel bad if nothing works. Fighting hormones can feel like trying to run up a down escalator while carrying dumbbells – it can feel like you’re working really hard and getting nowhere.
As for dropping to three pumping sessions, it’s hard to say if you could bring it back up if you switched back to four if your supply did drop. I would plan on switching back fairly quickly if you do notice a dip – test it out for a few days, rather than a few weeks.
Here are some tricks for getting more milk when you pump that might be helpful:
How do I bring it up to my doctor that I want to exclusively pump from the beginning? It’s just personal reasons, I’d rather not breast feed directly. And also how do I go about breast pumping from the beginning (as in at the birthing center)?
I don’t want the doctor to try to talk me into breast feeding. I’ve done my research and I know what I want to do, I just don’t know how to relay that to my doctor. Do I even need to tell my OB?
Congratulations on your pregnancy! To be honest, I don’t think you need to tell your OB before your baby is born. If he or she asks you if you plan on breastfeeding, you can honestly say yes (because exclusively pumping is breastfeeding).
As far as the birthing center goes, that is a little trickier. If you tell the nurses that you plan on breastfeeding, they will likely ask you to try to nurse in the delivery room, if everything is fine with you and your baby. Is this something that you would be up for doing? If so, you can try nursing that once and them just pump in your room once you get a room (or once you get home). If that’s not something you’d be comfortable with, you could tell them you want to give the baby formula to start with and then try pumping once you’ve recovered a bit from the birth.
(Updated 7/18: I wrote a full post about exclusively pumping from birth with more details and ideas.)
I have a bunch of milk stored in the deep freezer. I know it stays good for 6-12 months. I am wondering if it’s okay to give an older baby milk that was pumped for a newborn. My baby is three months old, and I’m trying to see when I could stop pumping and just use freezer milk. But if I stopped pumping at nine months, will she be okay for a few months on older milk?
Yes, that is totally fine. Your baby can drink milk pumped for a 1-3 month old when she is older. While the constitution of milk does change a bit as the baby ages, there are no recommendations against feeding older babies milk that was pumped when they were younger. So as long as the milk is in the deep freezer, you’re all set for 12 months, just like you said.
(Updated 7/18: I asked a lactation consultant this question, and she confirmed this was fine. You can read her answer here.)
If you want, you can rotate the milk (you feed your baby some of the older frozen milk and freeze new milk), to keep your stash more recent, but it’s not necessary.
Please feel free to add any suggestions or thoughts in comments!