Is This the End of Nursing?

Updated on December 21, 2009
J.F. asks from Nashua, NH
11 answers

My son just turned 5 months old and he has been exclusively breastfed until now. He is a big boy (16 lbs) and he just began getting frustrated when on the breast. I figured he probably isnt getting as much as he would like. I haven't been feeling "full" lately either so I don't think I am producing that much milk anymore. I always nurse he only gets 2-3 bottles per week while I am at work. Is it normal to stop producing milk so early when your constantly nursing? I began giving him a formula bottle followed by nursing which he is taking 4-7oz of formula at a time. I feel guilty switching him so soon I was really hoping to get to a year. I would still like him to get some breastmilk, should I just be pumping and adding a few ounces of breastmilk to formula or continue nursing and following with the extra formula?

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So What Happened?

ooops! I meant that I was following nursing with the bottle of formula. Thanks for all of the advise, I am trying not to give hime formula anymore, I have tried switching positions which seems to work a little better. I think he probably was getting enough, I was just worried. Thank you!

More Answers



answers from Lewiston on

DON'T feel guilty! My boys thrived on formula. For whatever reason, my breasts just didn't produce enough milk. Attempts at breastfeeding were disastrous and incredibly frustrating for me and the babies, and the kids would have starved if not for formula. Do yourself a favor and go to formula full time. I hate how society makes moms feel like a failure nowadays if they don't breastfeed. That's so wrong - it's not for everyone. I had to just about argue with the nurses when I asked for formula. I said look, I know my body, I know that it doesn't work for me, so GET ME SOME FORMULA!!!! It was ridiculous. Anyway, my point is make it easy on yourself. The baby will be just fine, and you will have more energy to keep up with him when he starts toddling soon!



answers from Hartford on

This happened to me (breasts stopped feeling full, not able to pump a lot of milk) when my son went from sleeping 6 to 7 hours at night. This happens to many women (but not all) when they go for long periods without nursing (especially at night). If this is the case for you, you might find the info on this site helpful:

Also, if you are giving him a bottle, make sure you are pumping with a good quality pump at least every 2-4 hours - because your body will make less milk if there is less demand.

My milk supply came back after about a week of pumping at night. I still regularly make sure I pump at night (and occassionally during the day) in order to maintain my supply.



answers from Portland on

Hi J. - just a quick response - by 5 months, you shouldn't feel "full" anymore. You should feel normal really and nursing sessions are often faster, b/c your child has become more efficient. He may be getting frustrated, b/c he is teething. Happens all the time. And ALWAYS start with the breast and top with a bottle when you have the choice. He might be full or won't finish what's in mama and this WILL affect your supply. (Did I understand that right - or maybe you are already doing that...) If you really want to stick with nursing then nurse more often and give a bottle less and pump when he is taking a bottle. You can also take Fenugreek for a quick boost to your supply, but you have to nurse like crazy or pump for it to turnover to your "norm"

good luck!



answers from Boston on

Try not to stress, first of all. The full feeling goes away once your body gets used to nursing. It has nothing to do with supply. So don't let that make you think you are no longer producing as much.

Certainly any breastmilk is better than no breastmilk but there is no reason to think, based on what you've written, that there is a supply problem. Babies are much more efficient at getting milk from the breast than a pump is. If you only pump, and just to add a few ounces here and there, your supply is likely to diminish.

Adding formula definitely will decrease supply, especially if you are giving that to him first. This is not my opinion it is a fact. He is filling up on formula and then having a little dessert from you. The amount of milk you produce is based on supply and demand. Your supply will meet the demand (except for the small percentage of women who have problems producing milk, but that probably is not you since it's been fine thus far).

There can be a little lag in the supply when babies go through phases where they are upping their milk needs (5 months is a normal time for this it seems). That's totally normal and if you just stick with it after a few days your body will be producing what he needs. But if you are adding in formula, he is requesting less milk and then your body thinks he is satisfied with the amount it is producing and won't up the production to meet the need.

Another thing to consider is that babies have fussy periods or times when there is so much going on for them that they get impatient nursing because it does take a while and they just want to go go go.

There really are a number of reasons they can act like he is that really don't signal a supply problem. Have you considered calling your local La Leche League leader? I don't know where you are but if you go to, you can find a link to the LLL groups in your area. A leader can be very helpful to helping you figure out what is going on and offering solutions for sorting it out.

Since you are feeling guilty about the formula, you should try to get back to exclusively breastfeeding so you don't have bad feelings about it. Or if it is a case where you cannot produce enough milk, talking through the issue with a LLL leader or lactation consultant will help you figure that out so you won't feel badly about it. Whether you choose to go to formula sooner or not, you need to be happy with the decision. Good luck!



answers from New York on

when my baby was around that age, I thought she's "frustrated" on the breast because she'd come off quickly, but then I realized she simply became more efficient and doesn't need as long.
Then when she started solids she did have a fussy phase when she wasn't so interested in nursing, buy I just kept offering and she eventually became more interested again.

I never supplemented with formula because I thought it'd decrease my milk supply, but my sister does half and half and the baby likes both, so if he seems hungry after the breastfeeding, I don't think adding a bottle would really "sabotage" your breastmilk.

as to pumping vs. direct nursing - isn't nursing always more efficient?



answers from Phoenix on

I think it's a little harsh to say that formula is bad or that it will sabotage your milk supply. However, if you are going to supplement with formula, which is perfectly fine to do, you should supplement AFTER you nurse him. If you do it the other way around, he won't take as much breast milk as he will if you nurse him first. You should most definitely be pumping while you are at work. Depending on how many hours you work, you should pump every 2-3 hours while away from your baby. Whatever you do, don't give up on breastfeeding. Any breast milk your son can get is beneficial. Keep up the good work and good luck!



answers from Boston on

Hi J.,
I've had the same problem recently. My milk supply has suffered since I went back to work part time. But, I think it is fairly easy to get your supply back up. Drink lots of water, pump frequently (on the other side when you're nursing too) and drink Mother's Milk tea (it has fenugreek in it). Good luck!



answers from Springfield on

That 'full' feeling tends to decrease as the baby grows older. I weaned my third child at 26 months and at that point, although I know he was getting lots of milk, my breasts did not feel full they way they did when he was a newborn.

However, if you keep giving your son WILL sabatoge your supply and force the end of breastfeeding. He's probably going through a growth spurt. Rather than giving him formula, let him nurse as much as he wants to help your supply grow to will it should be. Stop with the formula! He doesn't need it, and the formula WILL screw you up completely.

This is the baby's way of increasing your supply naturally. Formula BAD. Don't need! Will destroy your supply and your nursing relationship! LOL.

Edited to add: no matter what anyone else says, if you intend to keep breastfeeding, feeding formula after nursing is the worst possible thing you can do to your supply. Yes, this includes formula AFTER you nurse.

Your baby needs to nurse more frequently to bring up the supply, not rely on formula. Formula is so often pushed by doctors, hospitals...and other mothers....and is the reason the US has such terrible breast feeding rates. Your baby doesn't need formula.

If you WANT to switch to formula, that's fine, go right ahead. But if you WANT to continue breastfeeding, the formula needs to go until your supply is where it should be.



answers from Boston on

Any time you add bottles or forumula to the routine in breastfeeding it will effect the amount of milk you produce.

Also, lots of other things can impact your milk production. Stress, medication, harmones, etc...

You can try using fenugreek or some other "mother's milk" type tea/herb to increase production. Also, drink lots of water!

I acknowledge your wanting to get to a year! Congrats on making it five months!!! You never know how breastfeeding will go. Do what you can and know you've already done a great service for your little one! Good luck!



answers from Boston on

Hi J.,

I dont' think this is necessarily the end of nursing. My daughter went through several "fussy" phases. I would start to worry that she wasn't getting enough or that she was going to wean before I was ready, but in the end they were just phases and she was fine. My experience is the more you worry about your supply, the more stressful nursing is. Just decide what works for you. If supplementing with formula or feeding breast milk from a bottle is what you want, then go for it. Try to relax (much easier said than done i know!), drink plenty of water and enjoy your time with your little one.



answers from Boston on

If you're concerned he's not getting enough to eat, I'd switch the order you're nursing/formula feeding him. Nurse first so he'll put more demand on your body to make more milk, then if he's still hungry give him some formula. It's not unusual to hit some lulls as he hits growth spurts and your body takes a few days to catch up. Also, you do eventually feel less "full" even though your body is producing enough milk. Make sure you're eating and drinking enough (LOTS of water) and try to get enough rest. And if you switch to formula don't feel guilty. You've already given him a big head start.

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