He Eats More Than I Pump!

QUESTION

Dear Kathy,
My son is 4 months old. He was not taking a bottle from husband. Since he will now take one, we try to give him a bottle everyday. He will eat 7-8 oz. from the bottle. When I pump at the same time I only get 3 oz. This has been going on for at least a week. It does not seem normal! What can I do? Also I do not believe that he has gained weight for a couple of weeks.

Kendra

ANSWER

Hi Kendra,
Thanks for writing in with your question. Can I ask you a couple of questions?

  1. Why do you feel like you need to give your son a bottle every day? Are you afraid that he suddenly won't take one again?
  2. Does he seem hungry to you at this point?
  3. How many times a day are you pumping? Are you using any supplements?

Please write and let me know. Then I can give you some more specific guidance. In the meantime, let me answer generally.

First, babies always take more from a bottle than from the breast -- whether it's breast milk or formula. It's just a characteristic of a bottle. So just because he is taking more than you are pumping doesn't necessarily mean that he needing that much from you or is following short 3-4 oz. It just that it is possible to overeat with a bottle.

Second, one of the dangers of introducing a bottle -- especially when he is taking so much in a feeding -- is that you cut down on the number of times a day that you are emptying your breasts (either via breastfeeding or pumping). That can cut into your supply. That being said, I'm not convinced that you have actually dropped your supply. If you are concerned, one thing you can do is take him to the doctor and have him weighed. Let's not assume there is a problem unless there really is one.

If your supply really has dropped, you'll want to start increasing the number of times a day that you are either pumping or breastfeeding. Check out my Web site (www.breastfeedingmadesimple.com) for more information on how to build your supply back up.

Please don't panic. If there is a problem, we can get you back on track.

Please feel free to get in touch with more questions. I can help walk you through this.

-- Kathy Kendall-Tackett, IBCLC

Kathleen Tackett

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.