Breastfeeding/Low milk supply


Dear Sally,

I have breastfed my son exclusively since birth.  When he was 7 months old, I had to stop breastfeeding for 8 days.  During that time, I only pumped 4 times per day and did not realize that the pumped output would not only diminish over time but possibly not ever rebound either.  Prior to the break, I pumped 25 ounces per day at work (10 AM to 5 PM) for my son and breastfed on demand at all other times.

When I resumed breastfeeding after the 8 day break, I saw that my pumped output diminished drastically and I went from pumping 25 ounces to about 10 ounces per day between 10 and 5 PM.  My son is now 12.5 months is not eating many solids - he consumes one decent meal per day.  I am pumping about 8 ounces per day now in 3 pumping sessions and breastfeeding on demand when at home.  

Is there anything I can do to raise the supply and if not, should I continue to pump or should I stop pumping and see if he will consume more solids by day?  He can only fall asleep with a bottle of breast milk or nursing.  I have tried fenugreek and domperidone and neither has helped.

My goal was to breastfeed my son for as long as he liked but given my low milk supply, I am not sure if this is a real possibility anymore.  Will my milk dry up completely if I stop pumping at work?

Should I supplement with formula?  

thank you,

Dear Sarah,

First, congratulations for giving your son the best start in life by breastfeeding him! It sounds as if you nourished him very well and had a very impressive level of milk production, since you were able to pump 25 ounces a day.

With your 8-day break, it's probable that you may not resume your previous level of output. You can continue to pump and see what happens, but with your son's age now, he no longer needs the breast milk as much as he did. You can now give him whole milk. You don't need to give him formula. Also, he should now be eating a variety of solid foods in addition to milk. I talk about starting out a child on solid foods in my book (see below) -- most children of this age like fruits (mashed bananas, pureed cooked fruits, etc.) and finger foods like cooked peas, Cheerios, etc. Then you can move on to vegetables and meats.

And yes, if you stop pumping and also stop nursing, your milk will dry up. The most comfortable way to do this is to stop one pumping or feeding session at a time, so that the drying up process will be gradual.

Best regards,
Sally Wendkos Olds
Author, THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING: Olds & Marks, 4th edition, September 2010, published by Workman Publishing, and available in most public libraries, bookstores & La Leche League chapters.  


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Sally Wendkos Olds


What do you want to know about breastfeeding? I can tell you what`s good for the baby, what`s good for the mother -- and the father, how it`s related to a woman`s sexuality, how working moms can nurse, how to overcome obstacles, and lots more. As the author of THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING and author or coauthor of 8 other books and more than 200 articles about child and adult development, I can offer sound, sensible advice on breastfeeding, child care and family issues.


I nursed my 3 daughters and am the grandmother of 5 breastfed children. My book THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BREASTFEEDING (written in consultation with pediatrician Marvin S. Eiger, M.D.) was first published in 1972, and in 1999 came out in an updated 3rd Edition by Workman Publishing & Bantam Books. It is now a classic, with over 2 million copies in print. I am now revising this book for a fourth edition, consulting with pediatrician Laura M. Marks, M.D. This new edition will be published September 2009. I welcome any and all suggestions for the new edition. I coauthored college textbooks A CHILD'S WORLD: INFANCY THROUGH ADOLESCENCE, and HUMAN DEVELOPMENT; both are leading texts in their fields and have been read by 2 million students. I am the coauthor of HELPING YOUR CHILD FIND VALUES TO LIVE BY and RAISING A HYPERACTIVE CHILD, and author of THE WORKING PARENTS' SURVIVAL GUIDE & THE ETERNAL GARDEN: SEASONS OF OUR SEXUALITY. My newest book, A BALCONY IN NEPAL: GLIMPSES OF A HIMALAYAN VILLAGE, published in 2002, tells the story of the way of life in a remote village in Nepal, where all the women breastfeed! My book, SUPER GRANNY: COOL PROJECTS, ACTIVITIES, AND OTHER GREAT STUFF TO DO WITH YOUR GRANDKIDS, will be published March 2009. I speak often to professional, parent and general audiences and make many radio and TV appearances.

Credentials I received my B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where I minored in Psychology, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude.

Other points of interest I have received national awards for my writing, and am a former president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. I am listed in the World Who's Who of Women, International Authors & Writers Who's Who, and Contemporary Authors, and am a member of several professional and civic organizations. I believe: that all parents are working parents; that parents employed outside the home need special support; that mothers' well-being is crucial to their children's welfare; and that the family is the best institution in the world and the one for which we are least prepared. My thrills come when parents or kids tell me they were helped by my writing or speaking or just understanding. To find out more about me, go to

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