Pumping & supply

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Rachel Levine, BFA, RLC, IBCLC 3 years ago.

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     Siobhan Marissa Mason 

    I have been EBF my almost 12 week old with minimal bumps in the road. I started pumping tk store milk for my return to work when she was about a month old (took a little to find the right size shields) and would get 1-4 ounces total every night before I went to bed. I was told this was great! I go back to work next week so I started pumping in the morning after her first feeding as well as before bed. It was going really well but this morning I got NOTHING!!! I usually pump for 10 minutes in the morning since she just ate & 20 at night since she generally sleeps 8 hours and I want to make sure Im nice and empty.

    Any advice or am I worrying for nothing. Im a first time Mom so everything with breast feeding makes me worry. She was a peanut to start and remains a peanut (5th percentile on growth charts) so without mich reserve I want to make sure she gets what she needs.


    Hi Siobhan,

    First of all – great work EBF for 12 weeks!

    Don’t panic about not having a great pumping. That probably means that your baby took a bit more than she has been taking, so there was little or no “leftover”. Many babies have a little “growth spurt” at around 3 months – so it is entirely possible she need a bit more milk at night. Don’t give up on that pumping session, the volume will increase again.

    Also – most breastfed babies from 1 month to about 6 months take in about the same volume of breastmilk each day. The average is between 3.5 and 4.5 ounces each feeding. Remember – when calculating baby’s intake, you need to consider how often she is feeding. For example – if your daughter’s average intake is 32 ounces a day, she could take that in in any number of ways: 4 ounces 8 times a day, 5.3 ounces 6 times a day, 8 ounces 4 times a day – see what I mean?

    Babies are just like the rest of us. Sometimes we want a 4 course meal and dessert, and sometimes we just want a snack. Each meal is different.

    Also, remember, if you are pumping at work, then the majority or all of the milk she will get the next day is the freshly pumped milk. You only need to go into your freezer stash if you have a bad pumping day (happens to the best of us!). So don’t feel like you need a freezer full of milk in order to be prepared to go back to work.
    A couple of feeds x 10 days (20 servings), meaning 2 work weeks’ worth of milk, is plenty to keep in the freezer stash.

    The other important thing is to teach your baby’s caregiver how to help your baby pace her feedings – otherwise baby may be overfed while you are at work, and your stash will dwindle. Take a look at this video which explains what paced-feeding is, and why we want our breastfeeding babies fed this way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH4T70OSzGs

    I highly suggest that you read this article by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC. I think it is a MUST READ for all breastfeeding women returning to work (make sure you click on parts 1 and 2): http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/blog/2010/8/13/the-magic-number-and-long-term-milk-production-part-1.html

    I hope this helps.



    This is scary to me! My son wants to control how quickly he gets to eat so he has been holding his own bottle for several months now. He started screaming about 6 weeks ago when he finished so we assumed he needed more. Now he won’t eat from my left breast at all and he is only eating from my right for about 7 minutes. I talked to the daycare workers today about pace feeding him or even just feeding him rather than letting him eat by himself and they suggested I get nipple with smaller holes. He has gained about 6lbs this last 2 months. Should I be concerned? What is the best way to go about correcting this issue?


    Hi Jessica,
    No need to be scared. Remember, you need to consider how often he is eating in 24 hours. If he is taking in for example, 6 ounces at a time, he is probably eating just 5 or so times a day. (in this example,for a TOTAL in 24 hours of about 30 ounces.) If he was eating 4 ounces at a time, he might be eating about 8 times a day. Babies don’t eat much differently than we do. Sometimes we want a full course meal, sometimes a light snack. Not every breastfeed gives baby the exact same amount.

    Older babies are often able to get enough milk from the breast as they need in 5-7 nminutes. Newborns will usually take much longer than that.

    As far as the bottle goes. usually I would suggest that the baby is fed with the slowest flow nipple, as this is most comfortable for most breastfed babies.

    If you are concerned that he is eating too much each feeding, I would suggest you start to teach him the paced-feeding slowly over the course of several days or more – but remember, like in the “Magic Number” article, his intake over each 24 hours will not vary much, so he’ll need to need to eat more often if he is taking in less.

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