August 4, 2015 at 4:09 pm #5498pumpingissohardParticipant
My baby is 2 months old and I’ve been pumping 4x/day which yields a total of 12-14 ounces and supplementing the rest with formula, so it’s approx 40-50% breastmilk on most days. I can’t make more than 5 ounces at a time and that’s with pumping for 20+ minutes with a Medela Symphony and doing all the tricks. I’m wondering what will happen if I drop to 3 pumps per day? Will I make the same total amount or will my milk supply decrease? Is there any way to increase milk supply at this point (other than the usual fenugreek, more fluids, more pumping, etc)?
ThanksAugust 4, 2015 at 9:41 pm #5499SylviaFounder
Check out this infographic on breast storage capacity and magic number.
If your capacity is small, you likely need to empty more often to keep stimulating your body to produce milk, and very likely your total capacity will decrease if you drop a pump.
I have a small capacity too, and I find that I’m still pumping/nursing 6x per day, even at 11 months! It’s a real pain, but my capacity goes down a bunch if I do less than that and my personal goal is to make it to a year.
If you haven’t tried massaging your breasts before and during pumping to increase emptying, then that might help not only with the amount you prodice per pump, but may also increase your capacity.
Anyone else want to weigh in?August 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm #5502Sonya MylesIBCLC
Yes, decreasing pumping will decrease your supply. While it is about milk removal, it is also about breast stimulation and hormonal response to this stimulation.
I have heard (and I would need to search out the source, but I believe it was someone well versed with pumping, possibly Diana West, but don’t quote me on that yet)…
Ok, back to I have heard, that you should aim for a minimum of 120 minutes of pumping per day, but don’t be too stuck up on getting that done in x amount of sessions of 15 to 20 minutes each.
Have you tried setting up your pump in a central location that you walk past often? That way if you walk past the pump and you have a few minutes, you pump for a few minutes. When you start to get to the point where you don’t want to pump anymore, stop and move on. Remember, breastmilk is good at room temperature for anywhere from 4 to 8 hours, depending on how hot or cold the room is. This means you don’t have to wash and store milk right away, you can leave it sitting right there in the kits and walk away. Next time you walk by, try pumping again for a few minutes. This way you have smaller yet more frequent sessions of pumping, so have more frequent hormonal spikes which should help increase the amount of milk obtained. Every x number of hours, store the milk in the fridge, rinse the kits and set them up again. The website lowmilksupply.org details this process here: http://lowmilksupply.org/powerpumping.shtml
This is also a great resource for moms on different ways to increase supply. Skin to skin will also help increase your supply, and is fun to do as a bonus 🙂
For moms who are exclusively pumping, I often suggest having an additional kit, so that you don’t have to wash right away, you have a bit of time to get to the dirty kit, as you can rotate kits.
The truth of the matter is, is that pumping is hard to maintain and gets old really quickly, so I think you need to be kind to yourself here. You are doing an amazing job so far being able to provide so much milk for your baby, and if you feel that in your life right now, you cannot maintain 4 pumping sessions per day, and the process I detailed doesn’t fit your life, then know you are doing the best you can with what you have. No one said you have to go crazy trying to provide breastmilk for your baby, so stay sane, enjoy your baby and do what you can.
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