Kelly Murray is a Larken Lineup expert and the Founder of Kelly Murray Sleep Consulting– providing sleep training programs, consulting, and support to families with new children. She is a sleep consultant of five years and a mother who has gone through her own sleep training experience. Kelly has two children as well as the experience of 15 years in women’s and children’s healthcare allows her to develop a method to help new families get the sleep that they need.
Sleeping and feeding go hand in hand– so both are critical to consider whether you are creating a sleeping schedule or a feeding schedule. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, Kelly shared some of her advice for how to maintain your milk supply when you move away from night feeding and your child begins to sleep for longer stretches of the night. Sleep training shouldn’t stand in the way of your feeding schedule and Kelly’s “4 Step Method” is designed to create a smooth transition as you make this shift. It's important to note that these are general recommendations, and because everyone's circumstances and preferences are unique, we always advocate for finding a routine and/or method that works best for you!
Step 1 - Pump Before Bed
Kelly recommends that right before bed, you pump one last time to ensure that your breast milk is drained. You can store this milk to use later, so this final pump does not need to be in conjunction with a feeding time.
Step 2 - Pump At Night When Needed, But Do Not Drain
As your baby adjusts to not feeding at night, so will your body’s natural milk regulation. If you wake up in the middle of the night feeling engorged, don’t pump until your breasts are drained. Instead, leave some milk unpumped, but only as much as leaves you feeling comfortable. If you drain your milk supply, your body interprets this as a need to produce more milk and will not slow night time milk production. However, over time, if you do not drain your milk at night your body will begin to naturally produce less milk.
Step 3 - Start Reducing Pumping Time
An important part of making this transition is decreasing your breasts’ dependency on pumping in order to reduce your milk supply. You can begin this process by limiting your pumping times, starting with stopping your bedtime pumping session. If you choose to continue to pump at bedtime to build up some backup supply, that is also a completely acceptable approach. However, if bedtime pumping is not for you, you can begin by decreasing your time by five minutes each three days. Eventually, you will be able to work down to not pumping at all.
Step 4 - Incorporate the Power Pump if needed
As we have established, supply and demand is how you shift your body’s natural breast milk production. For example, when a baby is going through a growth spurt, they will cluster feed, meaning that they feed frequently over the course of an hour, in order to increase demand. Your body naturally responds by supplying more milk.
If you feel that you have decreased your milk production at this phase in the process and want to get it back up, you can begin incorporating a power pumping session into your day. In order to power pump, you want to create a cycle that mimics a cluster-feeding baby.
- Pump for 20 minutes.
- Rest for 10 minutes (no pumping).
- Pump for 10 minutes.
- Rest for 10 minutes.
- Pump for 10 minutes.
Kelly recommends using nap time as an opportunity to take a power pump with a hands free pumping bra to give yourself a break. The Larken X hands-free nursing and pumping bra is a great choice and one of our bestsellers because of how it makes pumping more comfortable and convenient, especially when you need a break.
She also advises that you need to stick with trying this new schedule for at least three to five days if you want to see a difference because it takes a few days for your body to respond to this feeding shift. Kelly says that she used power pumping to help keep her supply up when she exclusively pumped for both of her children.
Once you are ready to stop power pumping, you can start skipping a pumping step (steps 1, 3, or 5) every other or each day. Eventually, when there are no pumping steps left, you can stop power pumping entirely.
Kelly has had much success with this method allowing her clients to achieve a sustainable feeding schedule, as well as a sleeping schedule that allows the baby to become an independent sleeper and allows you to get full nights of rest. For more direct support from Kelly, you can schedule a consultation with her to discuss your sleeping and feeding concerns and goals.
After nine months of pregnancy and the early stages of raising a newborn, all new parents deserve and need sufficient sleep to care for themselves, their baby, and their family. It is so important to learn about how different aspects of raising a child (sleeping, feeding, etc) can work in synergy to facilitate a happy, healthy family. Hear from more experts this month in our Larken Lineup series.
As always, our content is not medical advice and does not serve as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your doctor and health team for medical advice.