24 answers

Milk Supply Dwindling with 9 Month Old

I have been exclusively breastfeeding my 9 month old daughter since she was born. I've worked full-time since she was about 3 months old, and I pump 2-3 times each day at work. Lately, I'm struggling to get even 9 ounces of milk each day. I pump both breasts 2-3 times at work, and then I pump one breast while I feed her from the other one 2-3 times in the night and morning. I'm taking fenugreek, I've increased my water intake, and I'm still struggling to get enough milk. My daughter is a good eater and gets 3 meals (of baby food/simple table foods/finger foods) every day, and the sitter is reporting that she seems to be wanting more milk. Her weight gain has also slowed (she was in the 50th percentile and is now in the 20th), although she is thriving in every other way. My question is this.... Should I start supplementing with formula now? I hate to introduce something new, especially when I want to start introducing cows milk and slowly start weaning away from daytime breast milk bottles in a few months when she turns 1. Two transitions seem silly if I can avoid it, but I want to do what's best for my baby. Has anyone else experienced this? What should I do for my daughter?

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So What Happened?™

Thanks everyone for all of your answers- it's good to hear this happens to a lot of moms. It sounds like everyone has tried something a little different. We tried some formula this weekend, because to top it all off, I left all of my hard earned mommy's milk locked at work this weekend and won't have it for my daughter to take to the sitter's house on Monday! My daughter refused the formula, so I've been pumping like crazy to get enough for Mon! I guess she knows what's best for her :). I think I'll continue trying with the pumping and maybe increase her food intake to help her feel more satisfied. Thanks again for the help!

Featured Answers

HI,
The same thing happened with me at 9.5-10 months.
I ended up just formula in a couple of weeks.
I just supplemented with formula, and never used a bottle. Just the sippy cup, i think from Avent. You can change out the top from bottle to different stages of sippys.
Hope this helped:)

More Answers

The same thing happened to me but I lived in denial for awile.. I started giving her yogart along with breakfast, to see how her body reacted to cows milk. I would nurse her in the morning, give her breakfast, lunch, dinner and nurse her b4 her second nap and at bedtime. She would only get water in sippy cups. But your doc will tell you that your supply does go down, bc your child is getting nutrition from other sources. I never did the formula, for the same reasons you stated..I just never liked the idea of making 2 changes in her diet. Actually, my daughter started waking up in the middle of the night at about 7 months and she was still waking up every night at 11 months. I finally had a lightbulb come on and came to the conclusion that my milk just didnt have enough fat in it to keep her full. If you ask your mom, she'll say back then they would start their children on cows milk at 6 months..and everyone did it. My daughter loved whole milk, she was so satisfied I felt guilty for not giving it to her sooner. And she stopped waking up during the night. Hope that helps:)

Great job exclusively breastfeeding!

Just a couple of things that weren't previously mentioned...

-Fenugreek can work better if combined with Blessed Thistle.

-The best pumps out there for working mothers are made my Medela (Freestyle, Pump In Style, and Swing) and Ameda (Purely Yours). If you have one of these you can have the suction on your pump checked to make sure that it is performing the best...if it has been less than a year the manufacturer will send you a new one if it isn't.

-You can try using warm compresses and massage. These encourage let-down and milk flow. Also, when the milk starts to trickle you can stop and wait for a few moments and then start again, this also helps encourage let-down. Using faster cycles to trigger your milk and then slower cycles to empty your milk after a let-down can produce more milk in less time.

Good Luck...I will also reiterate that checking in with a lactation consultant is always a good idea. They are so full of knowledge and the smallest things can make a huge difference!

Hi E.,

I'm a certified breastfeeding counselor and a Registered Dietitian specializing in infant nutrition. Personally, I'm also the mother of a wonderful 11-month old boy who is exclusively breastfed. Congratulations to you on breastfeeding for 9 months!

First, I wanted to comment on your daughter's growth--what you've stated is perfectly normal for a breastfed baby. Exclusively breastfed babies grow very differently from formula fed babies. The World Health Organization actually has different growth charts for babies that are breastfed. Breastfed babies tend to gain weight rapidly during the first few months of life, and then they gain weight very slowly after that. Basically for your daughter, as long as she's not losing weight, and she's thriving in other ways, she's fine!

Like many moms, I also experienced a decrease in milk supply between 6-9 months. I think it's simply a result of babies eating more solids and not needing as much breastmilk. I work full time, and I usually pump twice a day at work. I was able to increase my milk supply by doing a little more pumping at home. After I put my baby down to bed at night, I would pump. Not much would come out, but I was stimulating my body to produce more milk, which is the important part. On the weekends, I would also pump after my baby's first morning feeding. The key is just to get more stimulation so your body will make more milk.

Different things work for different moms; just try what you think you're capable of and know you've done such a wonderful thing for your baby to breastfeed for 9 months. Best of luck to you, and hopefully you won't need to supplement with formula, but it's not the worst thing in the world if you have to. It can be difficult to get your body to produce as much milk from pumping as just putting the baby to breast.

HI E.,

I had the same experience with both of my kids. I was off for 3 months, pumped at work, and around 9 months they just didn't seem to be getting enough. Both times, I tried to keep it going, but it just didn't work out, so we supplemented with formula (we waited for cows milk until 12 months). With my daughter, we had already started supplementing, b/c I was not getting enough pumping done at work. In both cases, it was fine.

It worked out fine for both and the biggest thing I had to deal with was my own feelings about not making it "as far" as I wanted. So, I think that whatever you decide to try/do, be gentle with yourself. You've done an amazing job and it required lots of commitment!

S.
Mom of 4yo and 7yo

E.,

Try pumping about 30 minutes before you nurse for a few days to increase your demand.(baby can get more milk out than you can pump) If you can take a few days off of work? Or Over the weekend. I also pump for a strait 20 minutes, even though milk stops after about 10 minutes. It keeps the stimulation going it has worked for me so far. And see if your demand increases your supply. I have a 6 month old and I hope to nurse him until 1 year as well. I have my days that I get more than others. Try not to fret over it as well, the more strees you have obout it the less favorablly your body responds. Also contact your lactation consultant and see what they can suggest. good luck1

You'll find that if you start taking flax oil daily you will see your milk production back up to normal. Try taking 3 tablespoons a day (in a protein shake makes it easy) with 3 tablespoons you get the added benefit of fat burning for you and it will halp your babies brain development. Flax is an omega 3, very good for you so don't freak about drinking so much oil.Vuy it in the refrigerated section of your local health food store or whole foods.Don't bother with capsules, too hard to get the full amount.

My kids did that too. They had high caloric needs but I couldn't keep up. Instead, they nursed ALOT at night. Can you nurse more in the evening and morning? Also what helps (because my 13 month old is still always hungry at night) is to feed him high caloric foods during the day. I try to give him lots of chicken and meat. I think introducing small amounts of cows milk before 12 months is appropriate.

If she's eating solids and gaining weight as you say, there's probably little need to worry.
But if you do want to boost your supply, an herbal supp that works better than fenugreek is vitex-you can get it at mot health food stores. It can also be used with fenugreek (no contraindictions).
To ensure she's getting all the nutrients she needs, you may want to add a multi-vitamin. Shaklee's Infant-Lea is very complete and is a powder which can be mixed in with breastmilk, juice, water, applesauce, etc. I'd be happy to send you info on this if you want.

Maybe you should talk to your Dr about starting her on cow's milk a little early. It sounds like you will still be pumping and breastfeeding so she will be getting the nutrients.

Something that worked for me was increasing the number of times I pumped for a few days. essentally your telling your body that there is a demand for more and it will respond with more milk. Babies naturally go through spurts where the nurse/eat more often due to growth and then settle back into a regular pattern, you need to mimic that while pumping for the same affect.

Personally, I think to have exclusively breastfed to this point is awesome and you should be really proud of yourself. Even if you have to supplement a little bit at this point you are still continuing to give her breastmilk and any breastmilk she gets is of great value even if it's not her sole form of nutrition...heck, you're "supplementing" with baby food! I nursed my daughter til age one with some formula supplementation along the way. It helped me for people to be encouraging and supportive because I truly believe that stressing about your milk supply starts a vicious cycle...you stress about milk so you try all you can to boost it, then you become exhausted thinking about it and stressing about it which inhibits your supply, etc. I think you should do the best you can and be proud of yourself. I will tell you that I was referred to a lactation consultant through my pediatrician and it was of enormous help and gave me peace of mind. Something that she suggested that I hadn't heard elsewhere is that mother's milk tea is more effective than fenugreek but you must cover it while it steeps. Good luck and try to relax...you are doing GREAT!!!

Hi E.! I had the same issue with baby #2 and baby #3. I was able to nurse my first child throught the first year but with the next 2 kids my milk supply dropped dramatically between 9 and 10 months. With baby #2 I fought it and tried the herbs and pumped in between feedings to try and boost my milk supply. It worked slightly ( a couple extra ozs a day) but for me it wasn't worth the trouble. I decided to go ahead and switch them over to straight cows milk at 10 months (I know... GASP, how dare I).

My pediatrician even said that although the American Academy of Pediatrics says to keep baby on formula until they are 1 year, I wasn't going to "ruin" my baby by introducing milk a little early. My kids were great eaters when it came to baby food so they were getting their vitamins and nutrients from the a wide variety of baby fruits and veggies. They just needed the milk for fat and protein. I know my response will be different than most but I did want to let you know that it's ok if you do decide that switching baby now is the best option for you. My kids are happy and healthy! Kudos to you for nursing this long while your at work, I commend you! :)

i have heard that waiting longer in between pumpings actually helps (like instead of pumping every 2 hours try pumping every 3 or 4) also caffeine can start to affect supply as well as water intake. Sometimes too much water affects supply as well. I go to a breastfeeding group and this seems to be a common problem around this age and these are the things the lactation consultant said to try. Also your child is probably consuming solids and can drink water from a sippy cup. Even though they are getting less milk your milk has the same amount of nutrients (it just condenses). You may want to contact your local La Leche League for more help and support from other moms that have been there

HI,
The same thing happened with me at 9.5-10 months.
I ended up just formula in a couple of weeks.
I just supplemented with formula, and never used a bottle. Just the sippy cup, i think from Avent. You can change out the top from bottle to different stages of sippys.
Hope this helped:)

I had the same issue. I pumped like crazy and took fenugreek. To answer your question, the best thing for the baby would be to continue breastmilk or formula until 1 year. At 9 months we started dairy foods and tried to introduce formula. He wouldn't take anything until he was almost 11 months (soy formula) and by then I couldn't pump more than 1 oz in the whole day. He was eating a ton of table food but still fell significantly on the charts. Try formula because she'll only be on it for a short while, she'll regain her weight and she should transition easily to cows milk. My son had no issue being on soy formula and then switching to soy milk 2 months later.

My supply went way down at this age too. I think it is mostly because by this age babies have begun to get their nutrition from baby and finger food. I went down to just breast feeding before bed and in the AM. Then I just stopped cold turkey. This worked for me and we just went to formula until 12 mo. (she had already had it mixed with baby cereal so it was no big deal) Good for you! Some Moms don't even get the chance to BF for as long as you have! So, if you have to supplement then this is just the time to transisition to the next stage in your babies life. Good Luck!

This sounds strange but your answer might be beer. I've had a nurse and a doctor tell me to have a beer to increase milk supply. I don't drink much alcohol so this was a tall order for me. My mom and my best friend sat withe me for support and we all had a Corona. We hate beer so it was a wonderful gesture and really helped. Also you can try Earth Mama Angel Baby Milkmaid Tea. I haven't tried it but I've tried some other products and found them very effective. So if you are leery about beer or simply hate it the way I did you could try the tea. They carry it at Whole Foods. Good Luck!

I nursed my six children till they were 2 yrs old. I had plenty of milk. I took alot of brewers yeast. It worked.Introducing her to cows milk,having 150 carsigins all kinds of stuff not good for babies. As soon as I did that here come the sinus infection colds ect. I fostered 50 babies and gave them soy formula and soy milk. even plain yogert.Now I have a easy powerful way to protectand nurish your health and milk supply and even good to give sm children.If i was pregnant nursing i would be taking this you can bank on it. A new liquid formula vitimins minerals 174 nutraceuticals ez fruits & vegies all in 1 oz a day!!!! Moms today need this stuff with all the concerns they are dealing with, my gosh this is my way to help you. www.v4l.com/nancyschacht you can see testimonies and 16 pages of ingredients for youself. May the Lord bless you. thanks for listening. N. mom of 8 grandmother of 6

I nursed both my girls for a year, but they started to wean themselves by nine or ten months. I started to introduce milk to them in a sippy cup at that point. They never really used a bottle at all....just went right to the sippy cup. She may still want to nurse for comfort, but she will get her nutrition fine in other ways.

I started cows milk at 10 1/2 mo in a sippy cup at meals. with 2 of my kids and they did fine. I think my cousin started even earlier. Talk with your doctor and see what they say..do you have allergies in your family, if not it may be fine to make the switch when the breastfeeding is over.

I have a 9-month-old as well and am exclusively breastfeeding. My supply has gone down as well, but it seems to coincide with how much she is drinking. Do you think this might be possible for you? Is the doctor concerned about her growth? If not, I wouldn't worry too much. One thing I have noticed is that I get more if I wait longer between pumpings (2 good ones vs. 3 where I try to squeeze out as much as possible). I have the same plan to start directly on cow's milk and avoid formula use. BTW, cow's milk isn't what causes the baby to get sick...it's that he or she isn't benefiting from your immunity anymore on top of the fact that the shard immunity usually only lasts the first 6mo even if breastfeeding. There's no reason to be afraid of using cow's milk after 1yo. (Of course, you can always buy organic as well.) Hope this helps :) I'm right there with you!

I had a slowdown at 6 months, and managed to continue bfeeding until 1 year. I did the herbs too - fenugeek, mother's milk tincture, drank tons of water, ate oatmeal, papaya, almonds. What really helped me was a prescription from my doctor for Reglan. I know it a risky drug, because it isn't for milk production (actually for digestive issues). However, it helped my supply immensely. There are side effects like anxiety & depression, so if you are prone to this, I would not recommend. I did not experience any side effects. At the very end, I had to supplement with a little formula, so I would do 1/2 bmilk, 1/2 formula. That way I knew my son was still getting my milk. Good luck.

I had this same problem with all three kids. My kids had breastmilk exclusively. I was pumping 2-3 times per day at work. Then, around the 6 month mark, my supply, which was so great in the initial months that I had a freezer full of frozen milk, started tapering off. At about 7 months I started supplementing with formula. I didn't know about fenugreek--maybe I could have gone on longer by using that.

My theory is that I could only fool my body with the pump for so long. My first child had a severe dairy and soy allergy which I found out the hard way. Be careful if you have a family history of allergies. For the other two kids, I went to soy first, then regular formula. I have to say the transition to formula (except on the first one)was extremely easy. If you're worried, you can even start mixing the formula and breast milk to help ease the transition. Don't worry about the two transitions. At this age, your child is starting to be introduced to a variety of foods, and the milk becomes much less important.

Dear E.,
My son was around 10 months when my milk supply started going down. I couldn't supplement with formula because he wouldn't take it. I instead turned to increasing his food intake (around 9-10 months their digestive systems actually start pulling nutrients from the food they consume)and increased his intake of water from his sippy cup. At 11 1/2 months I transitioned him to cows milk. He made this transition without any mishaps! Good luck and hope this helps.

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