Today’s first question is about exclusively pumping with a brand new baby – will milk supply increase over time on its own, what to do if not, and how to combine breast milk and formula in the meantime.
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I am six days postpartum and have made the choice to exclusively pump. The doctors were worried about her loss in weight since she had lost 10% in 48 hours, and they were worried about her jaundice levels. They asked us to supplement with formula until my milk came in which it finally did yesterday. (Yay!)
I have two questions:
- So far I’m only able to pump 1 oz (sometimes 2 oz) each time I pump. I know there are a lot of methods to increase milk supply, but is it normal for it to gradually come in? Or will my milk supply increase over time? I keep hearing everyone talk about how they are able to produce 4 oz or more in one pumping session, and I am not even close to that. I’ve been trying to stay hydrated, eating oatmeal, taking fenugreek, etc., but doesn’t seem like it’s helping quite yet.
- Do you have any suggestions for transitioning from supplementing to strictly breast milk? It seems like my milk supply is not enough and she is still is hungry after she drinks everything I pump. I’m hoping my breast milk will be plenty for her soon once I can start pumping more!
Congratulations on your brand new baby! As far as supply goes, since you didn’t specify how often you’re pumping, I’m not sure what your total output in a day is. (Pumping four times a day would be 4-6 oz per day, while 12 times a day would be more like 12-15 oz.) Either is normal – I was just wondering because the latter would be a lot closer to meeting your baby’s needs.
To answer your question – milk generally doesn’t come in gradually. Kellymom has a great primer on how milk production works, if you’re interested. At a very high level – once you deliver your placenta after birth, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop quite a bit, causing your milk supply to ramp up from the drops of colostrum that you were producing to much more. Later, after 6-12 weeks, the process of supply and demand takes over.
That being said, milk supply and hormones are different for everyone, so it’s possible!
What I would suggest focusing on over the next week is your pumping schedule. Make sure that you are pumping at least seven times a day (8-10 is better, but I would make seven the minimum), and for 120 minutes total per day. The times don’t need to be the same every day, just make sure that they are reasonably well spaced out.
Between this and your hormones possibly shifting some more, you supply may come up over the next week or two, or you may have to work to boost your milk supply. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things with the water, oatmeal, and fenugreek. (Regarding the fenugreek, have you noticed whether or not you have smelled like maple syrup? That’s the key to knowing if the dose is right, so if you take it and you do not smell like maple syrup, you may want to consider increasing the dose.) You can also try power pumping.
Regarding your second question – there are a couple of ways to combine formula and breast milk, but I would suggest feeding breast milk first and then supplementing with a formula chaser if necessary. You can also mix it together to get baby used to the taste, but then if they don’t finish it you have to throw the entire bottle out (versus a breast-milk only bottle, which can be saved for the next feeding). When you’re ready to transition to feeding breast milk, you can just drop the formula step.
My newborn is 11 days old and won’t latch consistently, so I am having to pump almost exclusively. We have been feeding her using a syringe that holds an ounce, but she is consistently drinking two or three syringes per feeding and she gets frustrated between syringe changes. Do you have any recommendations for bottles or nipples that we can use? I still want to nurse her so I am looking for something that I can go back and forth with.
Syringe feeding (and triple feeding in general) is exhausting and super challenging. Hang in there!
There are some bottles that are supposed to be “better” for breastfeeding babies (see this list). You might have to try a couple before you find one that works.
In the meantime, I would get two more syringes and have them ready to go to make it less stressful.
My little one is four months old. I started exclusively pumping when she was in the NICU. (She was born 10 weeks early and spent 60 days in the hospital). During this time, I used a rented hospital grade pump most of the time and my personal pump when I was on the go.
Now that she’s been home for two months, I’ve used my Medela pump, which I purchased new when she was born, 6-10 times every day and it’s starting to do weird things. Have you ever had a pump run down this quickly?
A pump should definitely last for more than a year, and assuming it’s under warranty (usually it is if you purchased it less than a year ago and are the original buyer) I am almost positive Medela will replace it for you if you call their customer service. I used my Freestyle pump for 44 months (14 of those were as an exclusive pumper, and the others while at work and for extra milk) and it still works.