Help a Mama Out

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

Help a Mama Out: Dealing with the Biting Breastfeeder

Oh, that sweet infant gummy smile!  So serene.... so innocent.... so adorable.  But all toothless mouths must come to an end and teething starts another fun developmental stage for your little one.  Teething can also stir up some anxiety in the breastfeeding mama, which we are hoping to aleviate today.

Will my baby bite me?  

Do I have to stop breastfeeding?  

Most moms have felt a clamp down on their nipples from their teething babes once or twice, but it doesn’t mean that your breastfeeding relationship has to come to an end.  No need for those new teeth to be a deal-breaker!

We turned to the wise breastfeeding mamas on Facebook to offer some tips for dealing with a biting breastfeeder.  As always, your advice was amazing.  Here is what you had to say.

Help a Mama Out: Tips for Talking with your Boss about Pumping

'Help a Mama Out' Topic of the Week:

Tips for Talking with Your Boss about Pumping

What's your best tip for discussing your pumping rights/schedule with your boss? 

Shelly Hovies Rogers: Be assertive with your rights, but be flexible and willing to work with your boss and coworkers.  I found my workplace to be quite accommodating to me when I nicely, but matter of fact, told them what I needed.  Also, although I didn’t have to quote the state law, I familiarized myself with it, just in case I needed to use it. 

Kelly Reyes: Before I left for maternity leave, I discussed my need to pump with my boss and then HR, just to make sure we were all on the same page.  When I had issues with the way the ‘wellness room’ schedule was being managed, my boss went to bat for me and fixed the problem that day! 

Marie Bishop: My best advice is to know the law and stand up for yourself and your baby.  In states, such as California, it is required by law that your employer provides a non-restroom space that is private for you to pump.

Meggin Dueckman: We just talked about it!  We’re all pretty close at work, so it was no problem.  I was the first of our staff to want/need to pump at work.  Mind you, here in Canada we get a year of maternity leave, so it’s not as common for people to want to pump as frequently when they return to work.  I only pumped 1 times a day at work, more for my own comfort!

Jamie Howell Swope: As a teacher at a school, it wasn’t an easy process, but I went in knowing the law and advised my principal ahead of time why I wanted to meet with her.  That way she had time to think about how to make it work, too.

Kat Picson Berling: I was really lucky in that 2 of my coworkers were pumping moms, so they had paved the way.  I told my boss that I was going to take 2 pumping breaks at x and y time and I will be in this office and it will take 15 minutes.  He was fine with it.  I’m not going to lie…. Because I had a cubicle at work, it was sometimes difficult to find a place to pump.  Even our HR coordinator wasn’t sympathetic for me.  Just make sure to know the law. 

Chantel McComber: My advice would be to put your fears aside.  Sometimes it’s hard as a working mom to ask for things because not everyone has them.  Remember that you are doing this for your health and your baby’s health and those are two things that should always come first.

Jennifer Haak: When I discussed my date of return, I told my boss that I needed a lock installed on my office door and I explained why.

Andrea Blanco: First, know your right.  Be sure that your company falls under those rights.  Then file that information away and try *not* to use it as it can be perceived as a threat (and no one likes to be threatened.)  Second, have a plan in place.  I find that if you’re willing to have the conversation in advance, go into it as sweet as possible, and have it all planned out as to how it will work for you (with consideration given to work environment/demands/pumping law.)  Then, it is much harder for your employer to say no. 

For each state’s detailed workplace pumping law, please check out www.breastfeedinglaw.com

Also, don't miss The Boob Group's most recent podcast episode, Workplace Lactation and Your Pumping Rights!

Thanks to everyone who responded to our questions on our San Diego Breastfeeding Center and The Boob Group Facebook pages.  Check back every Tuesday for a new Help a Mama Out tip!

Help A Mama Out: Ways Partners Can Bond with Baby Besides the Bottle

Help a Mama Out Topic of the Week: How does your partner bond with your baby besides giving a bottle?

So many partners who take my prenatal breastfeeding class want to know how they can start bonding with their babies besides giving bottles.  Here are a few articles about partner support, as well as YOUR fantastic tips about how your partner and baby bond together.

Help a Mama Out: Overcoming Nursing in Public Anxiety

‘Help a Mama Out’ Topic of the Week: What are your favorite tips for overcoming anxiety about breastfeeding in public?

 

Sandy: Take along a support person

Melanie: Practice in front of a mirror.  Another thing that helped me was to just focus all of my attention on my baby.  I learned not to look around for a reaction from a stranger.

Miranda: Bring a light shawl to cover up, and remember, you are protected by law to breastfeed in public!

Marie: Have someone with you who is either a) also nursing and has no issues nursing in public or b) is super supportive of you nursing in public.  Also, the first couple of times, go somewhere you are already comfortable, like a local bookstore or Starbucks. 

Sara: So whatever makes you most comfortable!  Practice, practice, practice!  So it in front of people you are comfortable with first, then adjust slowly.  Find your comfort zone and be happy with it.

Kat: I started going to places and having play dates with other moms who nursed in public.

Keep Austin Nursing in Public: Check out The Badass Breastfeeders free e-course: Becoming a Badass Public Breastfeeder.  Know your rights (breastfeedinglaw.com).  Surround yourself, even if it’s only online, with a support system.  Breastfeed in a bubble… I never pay much attention to those around me when I’m nursing.  I’m not looking around for real or possibly imagined dirty looks or sideways glances.

KC: I wore a nursing tank with a t-short on top.  Undo the tank from the top and lift your shirt up from the bottom and use that to shield yourself until baby latches.  Then the shirt just rests on the baby’s cheek.  Second he popped off, I pulled my shirt down and fixed the tank from the top.  It helped me feel like I wasn’t exposing everything to everybody.  My friends called me the ‘stealth nurser’ because no one knew I was nursing.

Lisa: Practice in a breastfeeding support group.  Also, just do it and your comfort level will increase over time.

Raquel: Try practicing breastfeeding in a carrier.  I nursed all 3 of my kids in my ergo.  Not only was I hands free, but no one was the wiser when I had the little sleeping hood over their heads.

Marybeth: Take a buddy – someone who will talk to you, smile and chat with you, and treat you like it’s normal (it is!!!) while you tackle your anxiety.

Amanda: Start gradual.  Start in your car with a cover.  Move to a quiet out of the way corner.  Eventually, you’ll just get rid of the cover (because your baby will hate it!) and feed anytime, anywhere.  I have Momzelle shirts, but you can easily make your own as well.  Keeps my tummy covered and lets me feed discretely.

Brooke: A deep v-neck shirt works great to pull your boob up and out….LOL!

Michelle: I use a muslin blanket when I’m out.  It’s nice and cool and you can tuck it into your bra strap for security.  You’ll be rocking NIP in no time!

Natural Parenting: Just start.  It may be awkward at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.  Also, what helped me was to nurse uncovered in front of a mirror at home – once I saw in the mirror what everyone else saw (i.e. how little flesh is really exposed), it made it a lot easier for me.

Stephanie: This video says it all

Help a Mama Out: Surviving Your Baby’s Witching Hours

‘Help a Mama Out’ Topic of the Week: What are Your Best Tips for Surviving Your Baby’s Witching Hours?

Ashley: Wearing the baby during the evening hours.  Prepping dinner earlier in the day so that I didn’t have to do it during my baby’s fussy time.  Setting aside special activities for my then 3-year old that she could do on her own or with little help from me, just in case I needed to be sitting on the couch, constantly nursing the baby.  Reminding myself that this was temporary and would pass!

Karen: Feeding a little at a time, more frequently.  I read when #4 had HORRIBLE colic that there are some cultures where babies never experience colic.  In all of these communities, babies are worn and are on and off the boob all day, so they eat small meals very frequently.  

Kat: Support from my husband was really crucial during this time. I would nurse my son and concentrate on him while my husband got dinner ready.  Holding and wearing baby helped the most.  Also, fresh air worked wonders!

Lori: Babywearing…. I would also batch cook on the weekend when Daddy was home so that come dinner time, all I had to do was heat it up.

Catie: Remain calm…. Baby seemed to sense the angst and it only made things worse.  Often baby and I both needed a breather.  My husband was deployed when my son went through the worst of it so handing him off wasn’t an option.  I would set him down in a swing or bouncy chair with a toy, walk to another room and take 30 seconds minimum to breathe, drink some water, etc.  If baby was happy, I took a break away from him since we were obviously over-stimulating each other.  Then, back to nursing, rocking, wearing, walking, etc…. until we could both get a good nap!

Janina: Babywearing, smaller feedings, burp a lot, white noise, gripe water at the first sign of crying, rocking, and time. 

Christina: Wearing and then walking – close to mom, plus amazing fresh air and rhythmic movements.  Sometimes getting into a warm bath with my daughter helped, too.

Shelly: Lowering my expectations.  Fussy babies meant nothing was getting done except baby care.  Going for a walk helped clear my head and the change of scenery almost always calmed them down.

Kathryn: Bouncing on the exercise ball and the vacuum was a lifesaver.

Grace: Adjusting my diet (cutting out gluten and dairy because those were his colic culprits).  Make the day less chaotic by staying home or no visitors, low lights, soothing music.  Skin to skin.  Take a warm bath with baby on my chest.  Baby massage with some coconut oil and lavender oil.  Colic Calm if it lasts more than an hour.

Turath: Our baby’s witching hour turned out to be a dairy sensitivity, so after I cut out dairy we haven’t had any problems.  Definitely babywearing!  This article has lots of great tips…. It’s sleep related, but I think many of the tips will work for calming a fussy baby.  http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/parenting/fussy-baby/31-ways-get-your-baby-sleep-and-stay-asleep

Rhianna: Try putting them to bed earlier.  Once we instituted a 6pm bedtime, it was MUCH easier!

Kenyatta: Wear them!  Familiarity (routine, music, lighting, smells) and calm.

 

Here are a few of my favorite articles:

A Checklist of 36 Time-Tested Baby Calmers 

The Phenomenon of Late Afternoon/Early Evening Infant Crying: Part 1

The Phenomenon of Late Afternoon/Early Evening Infant Crying: Part 2

Help a Mama Out: Weaning a Toddler

‘Help a Mama Out’ Topic of the Week: Tips for Weaning a Toddler

 

Kelly: Take it slow and take cues from your toddler.  We haven’t completely weaned yet, but in order for ME to keep our breastfeeding relationship in a good place, I had to take is down to 3x a day.  While I wanted to distract and push away when the little one wanted to breastfeed, what he really needed was a few minutes of cuddling before he was on to the next thing.  Once I figured that out, taking it down to 3x a day was a breeze and I feel like I could do this forever now (or at least until HE wants.)

Heather: Honestly, let the toddler decide when to wean.  That is what I plan on doing with my daughter.  She is 18 months and still nursing strong!

Heidi: Sit them down and have a little heart-to-heart – worked with both of mine!  It’s incredible how much they really ‘get it.’

Lolis: I got pregnant!  Just cut out feedings by distracting her.  Nursing is a two-way relationship and if you don’t want to do it anymore, then your feelings should be respected, too.  I thought I would end up tandem nursing, but she weaned when I was 30 weeks pregnant and has tried a few times since then, but I just distracted her to take her mind off of it.  I’ve said ‘no’ a few times, too.  Try to also offer a drink when they are trying to nurse because sometimes they are just thirsty.  I also wear shirts that make the boobies inaccessible.  We made it to 21 months and I’m completely ok with that.

Theresa: When my daughter was a little over 2 years old I became pregnant and nursing was suddenly very uncomfortable for me.  We took weaning very slowly and gradually, cutting it back to naptime and before bed.  We had lots of honest talks about how mommy’s body was changing and that nursing was uncomfortable for me (not that she hurt me) because of those changes.  I incorporated giving her a cup of unsweetened coconut milk before going to bed as ‘big girl milk.’  I really emphasized how special our snuggle time was to me and reassured her that it wouldn’t stop just because she wasn’t having mommy milk anymore.  It took several months and, to be honest, a few teary times for both of us.  She breastfed for the last time when she was 32 months and started referring to it as ‘baby milk’ instead of ‘mommy milk.’  Also, once I stopped nursing, I switched from wearing nursing tanks to a bra and T-shirt.  It seemed to make it easier for her to accept a gentle ‘I can’t.  Mommy is not wearing the right type of shirt,’ on the random times when she still wanted to try.

Susan: Just finished weaning my 15 month old and low supply played the biggest role.  Once those first few days of sadness was over (for me), it was a relief to know she was happy as a clam getting a full 6-8 oz of non-dairy milk and I felt great knowing she is healthy and thriving.  I’ve realized we all take a different path in this motherhood and nursing thing and we all do what we can for the well-being of our children.  I totally agree with Lolis that nursing must be a mutual two-way enjoyable experience and if mommy is done that must be respected as well.

Adrienne: Having specific times of the day for nursing helped us.  We loved first thing in the morning, naptime, and bedtime.  Then I could say ‘not now, but we can nurse at naptime.’ This made her actually ask to go to bed.  Of course, there were exceptions for major physical and emotional injuries, but this worked for us.  Distraction, staying busy, avoiding places that reminded her of nursing, offering something else instead (like a book, snack, drink, cuddle, etc.) also helped.

Donna: I use distraction as much as possible and tell him that they are empty when they are.  Eventually they forget and nursing is replaced by cuddles J

Kathy: ‘Don’t offer, don’t refuse’ worked best for me and my son.  Shortly after his second birthday, he just stopped asking one day.  Seems like a lifetime ago and I miss it!

 

Don't miss our Boob Group podcast episode: Breastfeeding Toddlers: Night Nursing and Weaning

Here are a few more articles on weaning and toddlers on our blog:

Gentle Weaning: What is the Process? 

Gentle Weaning: Techniques and Resources 

Toddler Nursing Part II: Toddler vs. Breastfeeding 

Toddler Nursing Part III: Super Breastfed Baby!

Help a Mama Out: Getting the Most Milk Out While Pumping

Alison: Massaging the breasts!  That’s the biggest helper for me.  Also, leaning over a bit, as gravity can sometimes help.

Nova: Crank it up if you can tolerate it.  If your pump has those little white membranes, change them once a month or so.

Sondra: Relax!

Melissa: Whenever I pump at work, I put a little coconut oil on the inside of the pump flanges.  This way the inside is lubricated and my areola doesn’t chafe alongside of the plastic flanges.

Laura: If I need to increase volume, I get into a pumping boot camp and spend an hour pumping with 10 minute intervals and 10 minute breaks.  Whenever I have a supply dip, this would bring it back within a day or so.  Also, I’ve had great output when I watch a comedy where I am laughing out loud.  And it never hurts to have my hubby give me a back massage just before pumping or during a break.  Also, my supply is related to my water intake, so I make sure to drink a minimum of 100oz per day.

Jen: Pump the full 20 minutes.  I always get a late let down of another ounce or so if I wait it out.  Also, a hands-free bra is a lifesaver!

Jennifer: A picture of my baby always helped when I was away from him.  Focus on him and how much you love him.

Ann: Relax for sure!  Lots of deep breathing and looking at photos of my sweet girl’s chubby cheeks.

Sarah: Staying hydrated (lots of water and coconut water) and pumping at the same times each day.

Stacy: Hands-on pumping (massage and compression), staying hydrated, and changing the cycle speed and angle of the flanges.

Veronica: Watching videos of my little one always made a big impact.

Lydia: Warm compresses, relaxed and comfortable, use the correct flange size and check the suction.

Pumpin' PalsAngelica: Pumpin Pals!  Made pumping so much more comfortable!

Ria: Massaging my breasts while pumping almost doubled the amount I could get!

Carmen: Hands on pumping!  See the Stanford pumping video about maximizing pumping.

 

Don't miss our Boob Group podcast episode about Maximizing Your Pumping Sessions

Help a Mama Out: Foods that Support Your Milk Supply

Help a Mama Out: Foods that Support Your Milk Supply

We know it can be difficult to eat those 1800-2000 (or more if you are exercising) calories a day to keep up a robust milk supply while breastfeeding, so here are some fantastic tips for delicious, easy, nutritious snacks!  Remember: Think healthy fats, complete proteins, and green veggies!

Here are some of the most effective milk production-supporting foods out there:

  • Vegetables: green leafy vegetables, onion, garlic, asparagus, carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms, and seaweed
  • Fruits: figs, dates, apricots, green papaya
  • Nuts and Seeds: raw almonds and cashews, sesame seeds, flaxseed
  • Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, organic butter, sesame seed oil, coconut oil, essential fatty acids (EFA)
  • Grains and Legumes: quinoa, amaranth, pinto beans, chickpeas, whole brown rice
  • Extras: brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast, green drinks (spirulina, barley wheat grass, alfalfa leaf, oat straw, kelp), ginger

Help a Mama Out: What to Do When Your Baby Refuses a Bottle

What tricks have worked for you when your breastfed baby refused a bottle?

Michelle La Plante: Bottle boot camp with daddy!  I left the apartment for the day, leaving baby and daddy there with plenty of expressed breastmilk and a bottle.  By the end of the day, they had figured it out.  (Kudos to hubby for this – it was tough on him to see her cry and fuss…. But, then again, his breasts didn’t leak at the sound of the baby crying!)

Amanda Garfinkel Young: Early and often worked well with my second.  With my first, the nanny had a good trick.  She held him facing out, looking out the window and fed him with the bottle in the other hand.  A little awkward, but it seemed to distract him from the fact that he wasn’t looking up at mama while eating.

Danielle Smith: Try lots of different bottles.

Stephanie Lorenzen: After trying a number of different bottles, we used a spoon and a shot glass.  We then moved on to a straw cup after 4 months of age.

Julie Chapin: As a nanny, I went through this.  Had to have mama away at first.  Plus, baby had to be laying or sitting out of arms… could not resemble nursing at all.  First successes were warm bottle given in a drowsy state as baby was waking in her bassinet.  Windows and toys distracting baby at other times or in a bouncy chair.  Had to use droppers and spoon feeding with a few babies leading up to the bottle.

Natalie Quebodeaux Cavender: Sippy cup!  Turns out he hated the warmed milk and not the bottle.  He likes mama’s milk cold when not from the tap!!!  LOL!

Jennie Bever: My first one took a straw cup fine.  Second one reverse cycled.  Now that he’s older, he’ll also take breastmilk warm in a straw cup.  He would also drink out of a regular cup, although it’s a bit messier!

Liz Anderson Weaver: At daycare, we have had to resort to using medicine droppers with two babies.  Then we tried ERERy NIPPLE EVER until we found their perfect bottle combo.  Both suck ‘em down like champs now!

Stacey Singh: I read that if you have the person who is feeding your baby wear the robe or another article of clothing you wear frequently, it can really help.  I had my husband try it and my baby actually did take a little from a bottle.  We’re still working on it though.

Sylvia Padilla Sullivan: We tried different bottles.  Because he is older (4.5mos), one with a pretty fast, easy flow worked better than the ones we had been trying (like when he was tiny and still learning to suck.)

 

Thanks to everyone who responded to our questions on our San Diego Breastfeeding Center and The Boob Group Facebook pages.  Check back every Tuesday for a new Help a Mama Out tip!