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How Long Do I Follow the Care Plan to Increase Supply?

You should follow the Care Plan to increase your milk supply until your baby is able to get a full feeding from your breasts every single time.

The rate of improvement will vary for each woman because the combination of your milk supply and your baby's skill are unique. You might need to follow the plan for 2 or 3 days or for a week or 2, but you shouldn't need to follow it for more than 2 weeks.

Your goal is to be giving your baby a bottle out of choice, not necessity. You should be able to go out during the day without taking your bottles and pump. In other words, you should be confident that your baby has the ability to get a full feeding from your breast each time.

There are certain signs that will tell you if you're on the right track to increasing your milk supply—signs that indicate you're getting to the point where you can begin to drop pumping sessions one by one. Here's how a situation typically goes:

  • Your baby begins to take some form of supplement after every feeding. This is good! The amount and type of supplement your baby takes will vary with each situation.
  • Your pumping yields may drop, and it might seem like there's an increase in supplementation volume. Don't worry. It's common for pumping yields to go down a bit during the first few days because pumping taxes your breasts. Keep pumping and supplementing, and the situation should resolve itself.
  • Pumping yields will go up and formula supplementation will go down.
  • You become "formula free," meaning that all supplementation is your own pumped milk. Some mothers never need formula and use their own milk to supplement the entire time.
  • You go into "over supply." What you're pumping is now more than what your baby needs. That's a great sign!
  • After all of the above signs are there, you can start to cut back on pumping. It's best to drop one session at a time, then wait a couple of days and drop another one at the opposite end of when you lost the first. So if you dropped the 3 a.m. session, you should lose the one at 3 p.m. next.

You may need to take 2 weeks to wean yourself completely off pumping after feedings; slower and gradual is always better. That's because you'll want to make sure your baby is able to "drive" the supply on his own and he isn't doing well only because you've been keeping the supply up from pumping.

As we mentioned above, every mother and baby is different. Some moms can rely solely on their own milk they pumped for supplementation, while others will need to use formula. 

Tips for success:

  • There is no set timeframe to follow the Care Plan. Depending on your personal situation, it could take 2 to 3 days or 1 or 2 weeks. However, you shouldn't follow the plan for more than 2 weeks.
  • The success of the Care Plan depends on your persistence in pumping. The faster you increase your milk supply, the sooner you'll be supplement free.
  • It's important to keep track of how much you've pumped and how much supplementation your baby took every time so you can see your progression.

This information is courtesy of Bravado Designs, the brand synonymous with women's breastfeeding success for 18 years.

Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)