Q&A: breastmilk supply going down at 5.5 months

Toni writes:

"HELP!!  My second daughter is 5.5 months.  I'm still breastfeeding exclusively - but am losing milk - more every day.

I work 3 days a week outside the home - and she started eating solids about 4 weeks ago.

I had this same problem with the 1st one - but it seems to be coming earlier.

I'm wondering what's the best way to give her enough food - but still try to nurse her as long as I can?

Do I bottle feed her after I nurse her?  (Keep thinking that I'll lose more milk this way).  Do I wean her during the day (b/c this seems to be the problem time) - but continue at night?  (I'm leaning towards this b/c of the loss of milk).

Tried Fenugreek - nothing major.  Was thinking of beginning to wean around 7 months anyway - but feel guilty about everything at this point.

At my wits end.  Please help!"

It sounds like your daughter is 1) getting more into food so she nurses less, and 2) getting to that alert active stage in which she has no time for nursing during the day because she's too busy exploring and doing other things.

I think you're on the right track with weaning during the day and nursing at night, since I doubt you're going to be able to get your daughter more interested in nursing during the day anytime soon. Your other option would be to add a couple of pumping sessions throughout the day to increase your supply then. I don't know if you have the time or ability to do that while you're at work.

To make sure you keep up your supply at night, I'd add a bowl of oatmeal as a bedtime snack (it can be instant--it doesn't have to be the kind you cook on top of the stove) and add in a pumping session right before you go to bed (you can pump and eat oatmeal at the same time) and right after her first morning feed. Also make sure to stay away from mint at night, since it can reduce supply.

You can't force a baby to nurse during the day, but you can probably get her to increase her intake at night (while she's drowsy and it's so comforting and there's nothing else to distract her). So if you can preserve your supply at night, which should be easier than trying to maintain the supply when your daytime schedules vary so much, you can keep on nursing indefinitely.

Try the oatmeal and pumping in the evening and morning, and let me know what happens.