Dear Lactation Consultant,
My son is almost 5 months old and my supply had decreased in the last month. It first began after I traveled for 2.5 days without him (I pumped the entire time). Now I am being treated for a yeast infection of the breast (I recently experienced soreness and minor bleeding).
My son also has a cold. He seems less interested in nursing. When given a choice between breast and bottle, he seems to prefer the bottle. I have just been treated for the yeast infection and he is concurrently receiving treatment for thrush.
Personally I had hoped to nurse for at least 6 months (I was able to nurse my previous child a long time -- 13 months). I work full time and pump during the day, but the supply has definitely decreased. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to increase my supply.
I'm sorry to hear that things have been so challenging lately.
Given what you have described, it's not too surprising that your supply has decreased. Time away, baby's change in nursing pattern, your baby having a cold....all these things can add up to few times a day emptying your breasts, which can have an immediate impact on your supply.
There are some things you can do. First, make sure that you are emptying your breasts at least 8 times a day (with either pump or baby). What type of pump are you using? If you are not using an electric pump, you may want to rent one for the next month or so.
When you are together with your baby, try to keep him skin-to-skin as much as possible. Carry him in a soft carrier. Sleep next to him. All of these things will increase your supply.
As for his apparent preference for a bottle, that can sometimes happen when you are separated or your supply goes down or he has a hard time breathing at the breast (like when he has a cold). The good news is that you can coax him back to the breast. Try to just hang out with him at the breast, but not when he is frantically hungry. You might also want to use your pump to get milk flowing and use breast compression when the flows slows. (We have some information on this on our BreastfeedingMadeSimple.com site).
Please let me know how things go with you. In the meantime, try to gradually ramp up your number of pumping sessions (you might try every hour when you are home, say, in the evenings -- just to get things back on track).
Hang in there. It sounds like you have caught things in time.
-- Kathy Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC
Dr. Kendall-Tackett is a health psychologist, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and Research Associate Professor of Psychology specializing in women's health at the Family Research Lab, University of New Hampshire. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association in both the Divisions of Health Psychology and Trauma Psychology. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is a La Leche League leader, chair of the New Hampshire Breastfeeding Taskforce, and the Area Coordinator of Leaders for La Leche League of Maine and New Hampshire.
Dr. Kendall-Tackett is author of more than 140 journal articles, book chapters and other publications, and author or editor of 15 books including The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood (2005, Hale Publications), Depression in New Mothers (2005, Haworth), and Breastfeeding Made Simple, co-authored with Nancy Mohrbacher (2005, New Harbinger). She is on the editorial boards of the journals Child Abuse and Neglect, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse and the Journal of Human Lactation, and regularly reviews for 27 other journals in the fields of trauma, women's health, interpersonal violence, depression, and child development. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is the "Ask a Lactation Consultant" columnist on Pregnancy.org and serves on the Board of Directors of Attachment Parenting International.
Dr. Kendall-Tackett received a Bachelor's and Master's degree in psychology from California State University, Chico, and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University in social and developmental psychology. She has won several awards including the Outstanding Research Study Award from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, and was named 2003 Distinguished Alumna, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, California State University, Chico.