I’ve been successfully breastfeeding for 22 months now; however, it was definitely not easy and at times super stressful.
Then……the stress started. I stopped feeling “full”. Olivia seemed to not get full. I wasn’t pumping that much anymore I thought this is it, I’m drying up. I was wrong.
So many women mistake your supply stabilization for “drying out”. You don’t feel full all of the time so, obviously you think your supply has dropped. At first you’re basically nursing round the clock. Every 1 to 3 hours so your body is constantly making milk. When you breastfeed you have 2 sources of milk. What’s in the boob “on tap” and what’s in your milk ducts “on reserve”. What’s on tap is the Foremilk and the reserve is Hindmilk. Foremilk is more clear and is meant to hydrate baby and calm them down when they are in a panic for food. Hindmilk is where the baby gets full, happy, in that milk coma. Hindmilk is where all the nutrients are. Read more: Foremilk vs Hindmilk
When you are nursing a newborn non stop, your Foremilk is always readily available. It builds up, then when baby cries, your reserves drop hence the full feeling. After a few months, your baby is feeding less times per day, so you no longer need that extra Foremilk on tap. Latching your baby, their saliva and sucking will stimulate your reserves to drop. Baby will get a little Foremilk then the good fat Hindmilk.
Breastfeeding is simple supply and demand. Your body doesn’t know if you’ve had 1 child or 4. It produces what it’s told to produce. If you pump in between feedings you will trick your body into thinking it needs more. This is how you can start to build up a reserve supply in your freezer. Read more: Breastfeeding supply and demand
Lastly, if you do want to increase your supply, you need to increase your demand. Latch baby often and power pump every once in a while. Power pumping is pumping for 10 minuets, every hour, for an entire day, latching baby in between as needed. Power pumping tricks your body into thinking your baby is demanding more. Read more: Power pumping
This all being said, this is just information for those who want to continue breastfeeding. A fed baby is best, so don’t stress if you do stop and switch to formula. Supplementing with formula will decrease your supply even more so be prepared to stop breastfeeding once you start supplementing.
Also, my advice if you don’t want to breastfeed into that second year like I’m currently doing, is to stop before your baby hits 1 year. Stop once you start introducing mostly food and your baby will have an easier transition of giving it up. Whichever feeding baby is most dependent on, stop that one first. For most it’s the night time feeding. Most advice says to taper down and cut that one out last, but better cut the head off the snake first and start with the most important. The rest will be easier from there. Once you transition to food, but you’re still nursing, baby will get attached to having both and it’s nearly impossible to quit without a fight and lots of tears.
But, if you’re willing to give that sacrifice and nurse into the second year, pat yourself on the back and know that it’s doing great things for your little one! Read more: Breastfeeding into toddlerhood