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Milk Supply
By Jane Squires, RN, IBCLC

Janes SquiresQ. I have a 10 week old, and I feel like my milk supply is decreasing. I would usually get a let down sensation about every three hours. Now I don't. Also she is only eating from one side and seems satisfied, then the next feeding eats from the other side. So this means my breasts alternate for a period of 6 hours. Is this ok - or is this leading to my low milk? I have tried feeding her and then pumping the other side and nothing comes out.

A. Questions about milk supply vary from person to person, and baby to baby.

Three questions need to be answered:

  • Is your baby gaining weight appropriately, and staying on the initial growth curve?
  • Is your baby satisfied after feedings?
  • Is your baby wetting 6-8 diapers in any 24 hour period?
If you answer yes to these questions, it sounds like your milk supply is ok.

Pumping: It depends on what type of pump you are using. I have only had success with the hospital grade pumps, where you attach the pump to your breast, and turn on a switch. It is much easier to pump and get a let down when you do that, than to use the battry pumps, or hand pumps.

Most hospital grade pumps cycle 60 plus times per minute, about the same amount of cycles your baby sucks in a minute. The pharmacy pumps, where you use your finger to develop suction only cycle about 7 times per minute. That is a huge difference in pumping. It has to do with the negative pressure that the pump builds up before the fluid can be removed from one place to another. So depending on what type of pump you are using will depend on whether or not you will be able to build up enough pressure to bring out the milk.

Is it ok for the breasts to go "unused" for a 6 hour period? Yes. Your baby has "scheduled" herself, and because of her nursing pattern, each breast has more milk than it did before. So if she is satisfied and happy after feedings, is wetting and stooling and continuing to gain weight, it sounds like everthing is ok. Many women report that they do not feel the let down after a while, and also many report that they have insufficient milk, because the breasts have become soft again. This is perfectly normal.

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