Whether you're a breastfeeding mom who sometimes pumps or an exclusive pumper, you may notice dips in your milk supply from time to time. A decrease in supply can be really frustrating (especially when you're running on limited sleep). Often a mom will start analyzing they're lifestyle to see if something is causing it: Is it something I'm eating or not eating? Is it my pump or any of the accessories? Am I drying up? Before making drastic changes it may be worth looking at the tiny thing that could be the reason you aren't pumping as much milk as you used to.
It may be as simple as increasing the number of times you pump a day. The number of ounces of breast milk your baby needs a day generally follows age appropriate guidelines. Kids Health explained that a newborn's breast milk intake will be quite different than a one and two month old. If you're exclusively pumping, the website Exclusive Pumping provides sample pumping schedules that suggest the number of times you should be pumping a day based on the age of the baby. The site noted that with a newborn it's important to establish a milk supply and stick to a schedule at first, but it becomes less imperative with three and four month old babies.
If you're using the age appropriate guidelines and recommended sample schedules and supply still seems low when pumping, Le Leche League International (LLLI) suggested moms up their pumping frequency. The site also stressed that moms should increase how often they pump, rather than increasing how long they pump. For example, if you pump two times for 30 minutes, it may be time to switch to three pumps for 15-20 minutes. You're still getting the same amount of time, but you're stimulating your breasts more often which causes your body to produce more milk.
Every mom's schedule is different and mom's of newborns and little babies are bound to be exhausted. Pumping more frequently might seem like the last thing you want to do (with limited sleep). Finding a way to do it without cutting into precious sleep time may be a challenge, but possibly really worth it if it works to increase your milk supply when pumping.
Even if it doesn't work out, there is no reason to feel guilt. There are a plethora of reasons for why a nursing mom pumps on occasion or a mother pumps breast milk exclusively. There are a bazillion reasons why one woman may have success with breastfeeding and pumping, and another does not. Every mom is really just doing their best given the situation they're in.