F.T. asks from Athens, GA on October 10, 2008
Keeping up Milk Supply While Decreasing Breastfeeding
Hi, I have twin girls, age 14 months. I am still breastfeeding them twice a day (morning and night) and then they get whole milk the other feedings. I work 6 hours a day, so this works really well. I'm not ready to wean them, and at this time, they are showing no interest in weaning. The problem is that my milk supply is low, I'm a little worried I may just dry up and I want to be able to keep nursing them for a few more months, at least. However, I really do not want to increase the feedings from more than the 2 a day I'm doing now, because in some ways, my babies are really "partially" weaned, and I'm not sure I want to go back to feeding multiple times a day and pumping. Does anyone know if I can increase my milk production through taking fenugreek and keep it up when only nursing 2 times a day? Thanks! F.
So What Happened?™
I had just bought the fenugreek and then read your wonderful responses and realized that I had plenty of milk to continue to feed my babies the 2x a day I have been feeding them. They are satisfied after the feedings and I'm confident I can continue to offer this to them for at least another month or two. I feel good about this decision and I think they do too!! thanks again, F.
K.L. answers from Atlanta on October 12, 2008
S.P. answers from Charleston on October 11, 2008
Yes, fenugreek should keep your supply up but it works better with more frequent stimulation either by pumping or extra nursing. I think it's great that you've chosen to allow your girls to nurse this long! Please give the fenugreek a shot and good luck!
S. Pruitt, formerly an expert pumper for Fallon and now a successful nursing mom of 12 week old Phoebe
D.W. answers from Charleston on October 13, 2008
Fenugreek and use a pump. I would pump once during the 6 hour work day. I heard that after 7 hours, hormones go back to normal after the last nursing session, so that should break it up nicely.
That said, my sweet girl still gets milk when she nurses and I quite pumping during my 8 hour day about 4 weeks ago. She's not complained to me either about her supply. I no longer get that "full" feeling or feel much of a letdown anymore.
A.A. answers from Atlanta on October 11, 2008
Hello F., same thing happened to me when my son was 16 months; I was pumping morning and evening at that time, didn’t want to increase the number of pumps and my milk production reduced drastically. Took fenugreek but that didn’t help at all. Our lactationist at Wellstar told me the only thing that will work is to increase the amount of pumping or feedings. The more you feed the more milk you make.
Hope this helps.
A.H. answers from Savannah on October 11, 2008
Hi F.! You can't keep up your milk supply if you aren't willing to increase your breastfeeding. There are a lot of natural remedies that people use to try to increase supply, but along with that you have to be willing to nurse frequently.
In your post you mentioned that your babies are "really partially weaned". I think that it is normal to want to continue breastfeeding as long as possible, but there does come a point in time where the breastfeeding relationship ends. So, I wonder if this isn't an emotional issue with you....realizing that your girls are growing up. It was an issue for me too....I felt like weaning meant that they didn't 'need' me anymore. Does that make sense? Both of my girls self weaned at 13 months and 10 months. It was extremely difficult especially when my 2nd quit so early...it was very upsetting to me.
S.M. answers from Atlanta on October 13, 2008
Fenugreek didn't help much when I had milk supply issues, but it's very inexpensive and harmless, so give it a go. If you really want to increase the supply, I think you may have to increase the nursing. Are your babies complaining during or after nursing? If you think it's more milk that they want, you can follow up a nursing session with a little cow's milk in a cup or sippy. But please consider allowing them to continue nursing even if you feel like you are "drying up," because there is sooo much more to nursing that just the milk, especially as they grow into toddlers.
Maybe your babes aren't even really missing the milk much.
You know, even with very little milk, many babies enjoy the snuggly comfort, the routine, the closeness and security, hearing your heartbeat while you stroke their hair or kiss their faces. It calms them when they are stressed out, lowers their cortisol levels (the "stress hormone"), and even regulates their heartbeat. The psychological needs that are fulfilled with nursing are just as important as the milk, maybe even more at this age.
I know some mothers wean their babies when they feel they are "nursing for comfort, not for milk," but it seems misguided to me. Perhaps you have heard the expression "I stopped nursing because she was using me as a pacifier." To which I have found this wonderful response:
"You are not a pacifier; you are a Mom. You are the sun, the moon, the earth, you are liquid love, you are warmth, you are security, you are comfort in the very deepest aspect of the meaning of comfort.... but you are not a pacifier!" -- Paula Yount
Here's what the kellymom website says about comfort nursing
"Comfort nursing is normal. If baby were not comfort nursing he would need to be sucking on his hands or on a pacifier. The breast was the first pacifier and the one that all others are modeled after, so don't be afraid to allow baby to use it in this way. There are studies that show that comfort nursing is healthy for your child, too. All babies need to suck - some more than others. It ensures that they survive. If your baby seems to be comfort nursing *all the time* and this is more than you can handle, keep in mind that this will probably ease some as time goes by. In the meantime, you may find that carrying baby in a sling or a carrier on your body will lessen his need to comfort nurse so much. He may just need to be close to you at times and seeks out nursing as a way to do that.
"Comfort nursing serves a purpose, too. Studies seem to indicate that this type of sucking overall decreases a baby's heart rate and lets him relax. It seems to have a very positive effect on his whole physical and emotional well-being. Don't be afraid to allow this type of nursing. Breastfeeding is more than just imparting fluids and nourishment. It's a way to nurture your child as well."
G.O. answers from Spartanburg on October 11, 2008
If you are taking care of yourself (water, good diet, etc.) then you're body should respond just fine and provide milk for the feedings that your girls need, even if only once or twice a day. The key is consistency. If they nurse at the same times each day, then your body knows to produce milk at only those times. I've heard a lot of people say they "dried up" once they decreased feedings, but I suspect that it's just that there is no longer a dramatic let-down or really full breasts because of the decreased demand. If the girls seem to be satisfied at their 2 feedings, then they are getting enough. I nursed my son until 17 months and the last couple of months were only once a day at bedtime. It does "feel" different because you don't need to produce as much milk, but it doesn't mean there isn't milk there when it's demanded/needed.
D.H. answers from Atlanta on October 11, 2008
I used Fenugreek and it helped me keep it going, but it didn't give me a huge supply because my daughter was a weak 'sucker'.
I would try Fenugreek first because it's very inexpensive and if that doesn't work, I'd switch to Blessed Thistle. That is more expensive, but can actually make adoptive parents begin to lactate.
K.L. answers from Atlanta on October 12, 2008
I took fenugreek to increase my milk supply and it worked. I didn't have an overabundance, just more than before. It may work well for you. There is also a tea you can buy called Mother's Milk Tea made by Traditional Medicinals. I have found it at Kroger in the health food section. It helps also.