While the rate of improvement will vary for each woman—it will depend on your milk supply and your baby's skill—most of the time you can solve your breastfeeding situation in two weeks, and sometimes after only two or three days.
If you follow each phase, or function, of the plan, you should get good results. To help you gauge your success, here's how a situation typically plays out:
This is good! The amount and type of supplement will vary with each situation. Here are some examples.
The purpose of pumping is to drain your breasts so your milk supply will increase. Up until now this probably hasn't been happening, but when you start pumping after each feeding, you're taxing and demanding more from your breasts. This can result in your pumping yields dropping during the first few days. Don't worry—just keep supplementing and pumping, and the situation should resolve itself.
If your supply is good and the problem is mostly with your baby's ability to access your milk, you might not have much of a problem with pump yields. In fact, you might not need to use any other form of supplementation besides your own breast milk. This is good, but it doesn't mean your supply won't need to be increased in order for your baby to get a full feeding. If you're only supplementing with your own breast milk and your yields are good, your feeding problem will likely be resolved in a few days.
This is a great sign of improvement. It's why it's important to log both your pumping yields and the amount of supplementation your baby takes each time.
At this point, the only supplement you need is coming from your own breasts. If your baby is still taking significant amounts (over an ounce and a half) of your own pumped milk after each feeding, you'll still need to supplement.
This if often when everything comes together and breastfeeding begins to work. Your baby may start to reject the supplement in the bottle or only take small amounts of half an ounce or so. He might be able to access a full feeding from your breast alone if you give him more time on the breast. Keep him on longer than the 25 minutes you've been doing up until now and see how he does. Don't overdo it, though. After you've fed him a bit longer—from 40 to 45 minutes at the most—take him off, supplement and pump. Continue to pump after feedings until you're sure he's getting a full feeding from your breast each time. This could happen suddenly or gradually.
Once you've reached the above milestones, you can start to drop pumping sessions one at a time. It's best to drop one session and wait a couple of days, then lose another at the opposite end of where you dropped the first. So if you dropped the 3 a.m. feeding, you'll lose the 3 p.m. one next. It might take 2 weeks to wean yourself completely off pumping after feedings; slower and gradual is always better, so that's fine. You'll want to make sure your baby is able to "drive" the supply on his own, and that he isn't doing well only because you've been keeping the supply up from pumping.
Tips for success
Source: Heather Kelly is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)