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She told herself she wasn’t worried. But as Kaylie stood at the open fridge, staring at her chest instead of food, it was clear that she was. How could this happen? After six weeks of breastfeeding, overcoming sore nipples and a bad latch, she thought they’d nailed breastfeeding. So why were her boobs suddenly quitting on her? She wondered if low milk supply in the evening is even a thing or if she’s going crazy.
It’s always been obvious that it was time to nurse because her boobs would get hard as rocks – now she glared at the 2 soft traitors on her chest. Too full in the morning, empty as her coffee cup at night.
A wail from the living room reminded Kaylie that she never did get her snack, and now Asher is ready to nurse. For the last few evenings, he’s been upset about her milk supply too. He’d latch, then pull off and cry. Over and over for hours. Nothing she
What Kaylie didn’t realize — and what I wish I’d been there to tell her — is that everything she experienced was normal. That her milk supply had regulated, not dropped, and she was making what Asher needed instead of a bunch of extra milk. And that Asher’s unhappiness had nothing to do with her soft breasts. That she was doing everything right.
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I wasn’t there to tell Kaylie, but I can tell you. Believe me, if you have a good milk supply, it’s good all day. And if you have a low milk supply, it’s low all day.
There have been studies showing that milk production drops a little bit late in the afternoon. But when that happens the fat content increases to make the milk more filling (so it takes less to satisfy a hungry baby).
Your boobs aren’t letting you down every evening. I swear.
As moms, we have a misconception about our breasts. We think of them in the same way as milk storage bags. If it feels big and firm, it’s full of milk. If it feels small and soft, it must be just about empty.
Here’s the problem with that logic: breasts are milk makers, not milk containers.
Even if there’s not a single stored drop in your breasts (not gonna happen, but stay with me here) — even if there’s not a single stored drop in there, your breasts can still make milk on demand. Actually, the emptier a breast is, the faster milk can be made.
Then why is my baby fussy while breastfeeding in the evening?
Fussy evenings are a real struggle for many moms. For me, it started at 6 o’clock every evening, as if my baby had set an alarm to remind himself to scream at me for the next 4 hours. I’d offer the breast, he’d nurse for a few seconds, then bellow unhappily. Then I’d try again, and again he’d pull off and fuss at me. I’d walk him, swaddle him, sing to him, beg him to stop crying, and cry with him. Nothing worked.
What made it worse was that my husband was standing on the sidelines telling me “the baby’s hungry” and “he’s not getting enough milk.”
Oh and my mother? So helpful. She swore that she never experienced this with any of her kids because she did
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In my gut, I knew I was doing this right. But I started to doubt myself. Because of
The crazy thing is, fussing in the evening is completely normal infant behavior – and it affects bottle-fed babies too. Let’s repeat that – it happens to bottle-fed babies too!! It usually starts when the baby is about 2 weeks old. The worst of it occurs somewhere around 7 weeks. No matter what you do, he isn’t satisfied. And then by 3 or 4 months of age, your baby will have outgrown this awful ritual.
This is totally normal. YOU’RE DOING GREAT, MAMA!
So if you have any doubters standing on your sidelines telling you that you’re doing something wrong, tell them to pipe down and do something useful.
What are the signs my breastmilk is decreasing?
Still not convinced your milk supply is strong? Okay, fair enough. There are some tell-tale signs of low milk supply.
- If your baby acts unsatisfied after every feeding (and not just in the evening)
- If your baby’s weight gain slows drastically (get him to the pediatrician ASAP if there’s weight loss after 1 week of age)
- Your baby has less than 6 wet diapers in 24 hours
- Your baby’s pee is darker than usual
If you notice these signs, it’s time to get busy on a boost-my-supply plan!
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How to get relief from
Before I tell you how to get relief, let me first tell you how NOT to do it. Don’t give your baby a bottle. Not only do you run the risk of overfeeding your cranky little guy, but you could potentially hurt your milk supply.
I hate to say this, but there’s not a way to make fussy evenings just stop. No one is 100% sure what’s even causing them, but they happen to breastfed and bottle-fed babies in the same age group.
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BUT even if you can’t stop them, you can still make them a little easier. Try some of the following:
- Dismiss the idea that there’s a problem. If this happens at the same time every evening — and not during other times of the day — it’s the typical fussy evening. Even if your baby refuses the breast or unlatches to complain about the breast.
- Don’t fight it. Settle on the couch or in bed for a snuggle fest. Nix your shirt, and just hunker down for an evening of skin-to-skin contact. And Netflix.
- Wear your baby in a wrap. (There are theories that babywearing throughout the day will minimize evening fussiness. It’s worth a try.)
- Hold your baby in your arms while you take a short stroll outside.
- Vacuum. Wait, what? Believe it or not, the sound of a vacuum soothes some babies. And it might get someone besides you to clean the floor. Win-win!
- Give your little one a bath and rub him down with lotion. I really love this lotion because it’s 100% edible, has no scary chemicals, and it feels awesome on your skin.
- Try to de-stimulate your baby. Swaddle him and take him into a quiet, dark room. You don’t have to sing/hum/talk/shush. It’s enough to hold him close.
- Get rhythm! If de-stimulating didn’t help, turn on some soothing music and dance or sway with your baby. The rhythmic, repetitive motion might be just the ticket.
- When you’ve just about had all you can take, hand the baby to his daddy and step away. There’s something mesmerizing to a baby about the sound of their dad’s voice. I think it’s the extra bass.
Fussy evenings are a normal part of life for many babies. Since they occur at around the same time as a mom’s milk supply regulates, causing less-full breasts, it’s no wonder a lot of moms believe their milk supply is low in the evenings. But this just isn’t the case!
So instead of assuming there’s a problem or fighting the evening tantrums, take a deep breath and appreciate the fact that this is temporary. You can either just accept your lot with a fussy youngster and snuggle his cranky self while offering the breast, or you can try one of the calming techniques above. Having used all those techniques, let me just say they work!
What’s the best advice you have for getting through evening witching hours? Please comment below and share!
Bonyata, K., BS, IBCLC. (2018, January 2). Cluster Feeding and Fussy Evenings. Retrieved from https://kellymom.com/parenting/parenting-faq/fussy-evening/
Pitman, T. (n.d.). Losing Your Milk: What Seems Like Dwindling Milk Can Actually Be Normal Changes in Baby and You. Retrieved from https://breastfeedingusa.org/content/article/losing-your-milk-what-seems-dwindling-milk-can-actually-be-normal-changes-baby-and-y
Yount, J. (n.d.) Fussiness. Retrieved from http://www.mother-2-mother.com/cc-baby-b.htm#Fussiness