Ask Judy: How Can I Get My Milk Supply Back Up?

Dear Judy, I returned to work in April and was pumping 3 times a day. I found that I would get a good amount in the morning but the mid day session and afternoon sessions would not yield quite as much. I reduced my pumping to twice a day because I was getting the same amount in the afternoon session pumping only twice as I was when I combined the mid-day and afternoon sessions while pumping three times.

I guess my question is, is it better to pump more often or does it matter since I am getting the same amount with fewer sessions? My baby is 8 months old and I had a really good supply until just a few months ago when we went on vacation and it seems to be going down lately. I am not sure if it matters but things were great until July when we traveled to Wyoming. Due to travel times, I went around 15 hours without nursing or pumping then the next day we were so busy with family stuff that I went almost the entire day before I pumped. Needless to say I was extremely engorged both days. After that it seems levels have steadily dropped. I was getting up to 20 ounces from both feedings now I am lucky to get 12-15. I usually send 16 ounces to daycare (not that she ever drinks that much) and then we need 8 ounces for our bedtime bottle. I do not supplement with formula. I do have to get some of my freezer stash out once or twice a week now where before our trip I was able to put 12-18+ ounces away away every week.

I would like to increase my supply so that I don’t have to take anything out of the freezer. Thanks for any advice or tips – Carrie.

Hi Carrie,

I have found that while in the short term you can get the same amount by condensing two pumping sessions into one, over the long term it will end up decreasing your supply. So I would recommend pumping more frequently. It sounds like your supply took a dip when you went on your vacation and now that you are back and pumping less frequently, it isn’t bouncing back. I would recommend that you do not combine your pumping sessions into one. Remember that your body gets used to the times that you pump – so if you don’t pump for a few weeks at a particular time, then it will take a few times before your body starts producing more milk at that time.

Here are some tips to help you get your milk supply back up to where it used to be:

1) Nurse your baby as often as possible when you are together – nurse before giving solids
2) When you are pumping, pump for a full 15 minutes, even if you stop producing milk. The extra stimulation with help to increase your supply and send signals to your body to make more milk
3) Try to pump at the same (or nearly the same) time every day – consistency helps with milk production
4) Try pumping for 10 mins, turn your pump off for 2-3 mins, then pump again for 5 mins – this ALWAYS gave me a 2nd let down
5) Make sure you are using the correct size flanges with your pump. Your nipple should not touch the inside walls of your flange at all while you are pumping. Many moms need a larger size flange when they are pumping as their nipples swell when expressing milk. Going up a size can often increase milk production.

For more pumping tips, please take a look at my pumping tips article.

Do you have any advice for Carrie? Did you combine feedings while working? Did you ever have a dip in supply? What did you do to get your supply back up? Please leave a comment to help this mom out!

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