Why Has My Pumping Output Decreased?

I love when we receive emails with questions that our blog readers could benefit from!  Here is a question from one of our mamas who is wondering why her pumping output has decreased.  

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Hi Robin!

I met with you awhile back when I first went back to work to set up a good pumping schedule.  It has worked like a charm these last 6 months.  Thank you for that!

My little guy is about to turn one and I’ve noticed a big reduction in my pumped breast milk the last few weeks. I’ve gone from pumping around 25 ounces of milk/work shift to around 15 oz.  It feels like it happened overnight. I’m just wondering if you have any suggestions on things I can do to get milk back or if this is just a normal progression.  I’m not ready to give up breastfeeding yet, but want to make sure he is getting enough milk.  He has been eating ALOT of solid food for about 5 months, so I’m sure this has had an impact on my supply :-(

Thanks for your time!

N

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Hi N,

I am thrilled to hear that our plan worked so well for you!  That is awesome!  

So, pumping output can dip for many reasons, regardless of baby’s age.....

1. Baby is sleeping through the night.  When babies start to go longer stretches in the middle of the night without eating, it can cause a mom’s milk supply to dip overall.  If your kiddo is going to sleep a few hours before you are, you can consider adding in a dream feed or pumping before you go to bed so that your breasts don’t go for such a long period of time without removing milk.  Also, if your kiddo wakes up in the middle of the night, you could consider breastfeeding at that time, rather than soothing back to sleep right away, if you are worried that your supply is dipping too low.

 

2. Pump suction is losing its stamina (which is HUGE and definitely common!)  I would recommend getting your pump suction checked immediately.  Many lactation consultants have pump suction gauges to check the pressure created when running.  A less-than-stellar functioning pump can definitely decrease pumping output, even when supply is right where it needs to be.  Renting a hospital-grade pump will also help you determine if your own pump is not working as well as it should.

3. Pumping frequency has gone down while at work.  As moms get closer to that year mark, many prefer to cut down on the pumping frequency at work.  Sometimes they are able to keep up their supply when this is done.  Others find that their milk supply is more sensitive, so it requires that extra pumping session.

4. Baby is eating solids before breastfeeding (when mom is with baby), so he isn't as hungry when breastfeeding. Up until about a year, solids should be offered after breastfeeding so that babies are getting the bulk of their nutrition from breast milk and getting solids after their bellies are more full.  

5. You got your period and are experiencing a temporary dip. When mom’s hormones are shifting due to her cycle, this can temporarily dip her supply.  

6. Something else has changed in mom’s routine…. More working out on a regular basis, not eating enough calories per day, recovering from stomach flu or a cold, etc.  Again, all temporary.  But, make sure that you are eating at least 2000 calories a day to keep up your supply, as well as even extra, if you are working out.  If you are recovering from an illness, this will take a few days to rebound once you are feeling better.

That being said, 15oz of pumped milk at 1 year is pretty awesome!  At this point, your little guy doesn't need much more than that to complement all of the whole foods he is eating.  Plus, that doesn’t even take into account how much breastmilk he is getting from you while breastfeeding.  As long as he isn't getting frustrated at the breast, then just keep on plugging along, knowing that a breastfeeding baby should always be able to take out more than the pump.

Hope that helps!  Definitely get your pump suction checked, asap, and let me know if you have any other questions.

Warmly,

Robin