Re: Pumping Difficulty
I'm also finding less supply when pumping than I expected. I started pumping to build up a stash so I could spend more than 2-3hrs from 6mo in one stretch, but am getting maximum 2oz per session. How fast (slow?) should I expect my supply to respond to pumping? I'm pumping 2x/day (after am feeding and after bedtime feeding)? I've also been taking More Milk tincture, eating oatmeal everyday, etc. (all the standard helpers), for more than two weeks, but I don't notice and increase in the amount I pump. Thanks!
Re: Pumping Difficulty
I am sorry, but I'm a little confused or a little unclear as I'm trying to understand your situation. Would you mind clarifying a few things? Is this right? You have started pumping only recently? Your goal is to have a stash in the freezer? Are you also working or otherwise separated from your child during the day such that you have been pumping at other times? You have been doing 2 pumping sessions consistently after AM and PM feedings and are not seeing an increase in output, correct? How old is your baby? You mention 2 oz, is that per breast or total for the pumping session? Are you double pumping? What type of pump are you using?
My first reaction, while not fully understanding your situation, is that 2 oz is not a bad output if it's in addition to an already full pumping or nursing schedule. It depends on your child's age. By a few months old, the supply/demand nature of breastfeeding has really kicked in and most mothers are producing as much milk as their babies need, not a whole lot more. Pumping at the same time each day is a good way to increase supply, in that it tells your body that you need milk at that time. It can take a number of days for that new pumping session to produce much.
I'm wondering if perhaps your schedule would permit pumping at a time that isn't immediately after a nursing session, as many moms find that pumping right after nursing leads to smaller quantities (though that milk is typically richer, fattier, higher calorie hindmilk, for what it's worth.) Some moms find that they can build a small freezer stash for emergencies and occasional outings by pumping on one breast while breastfeeding on the other side. You get the benefit of the baby's natural ability to cause a letdown in that case. Additionally, it might be helpful to know that a woman's milk supply is naturally at its highest in the morning, typically milk supply peaks sometime in the wee hours of the day (might explain why some babies are reluctant to give up that 2 AM feeding - the milk fairy came while they were sleeping! ;))
The amount of milk produced (much less remove with a pump) varies widely woman to woman, so it's hard to say if 2 oz is a lot or a little. For some women that might sound like a goldmine, others might be able to pump that in 2 minutes. It's also worthwhile to explore the type of pump you are using, they are not all created equal. Some women find that they respond better to one type of pump versus another, or even that they can express enough milk manually using Marmet's technique (I can get you a link if you're interested) to avoid pumps entirely.
Sorry to ask so many questions in response to your question, but I want to be sure I understand the details! I'm sure other mothers who have been in your situation might have input as well - I look forward to seeing their thoughts.
LLL Leader, IL
Re: Pumping Difficulty
Hi Karen, Thanks for replying! It looks like I accidentally started a new thread; I meant to follow on to another one. Anyway, I'll try to clarify.
>You have started pumping only recently?
Yes. I have started pumping again after 6 months in order to build up a stash so that I can leave my 6-month-old with a sitter or my husband for a few hours. I've only had a break of one feeding in the last six months and I need a recharge.
>Are you double pumping? What type of pump are you using?
Yes, I have a Medela PIS that I got when DB was born. (I pumped exclusively for 3wks after he was born due to latch issues). So I'm double pumping. I was shown how to adjust the suction and speed to imitate DB's stimulation and I get a let-down after about 20min.
> Are you also working or otherwise separated from your child during the day such that you have been pumping at other times?
Nope. I'm now a SAHM and spend the rest of the day playing and feeding on demand :-)
>You have been doing 2 pumping sessions consistently after AM and PM feedings and are not seeing an increase in output, correct?
Yes, for 2-3 weeks, I've been pumping once in the AM (while DH watches DB before work) and once in the PM (after DB is asleep). No noticeable increase in supply. I actually think what may be happening is that I'm building supply, but that DB is taking more at his AM and PM meals because it's there.
>You mention 2 oz, is that per breast or total for the pumping session?Maximum total output for both breasts has been 2oz. Usually it's about 1oz. After 2-3wks pumping, I think I have been able to freeze enough for only 3 feedings. In addition, for a few days everything I pumped went to rice cereal, since we just started with solids. After a few days of that (pumping and running downstairs so DH could feed DB with what I just pumped), we made the decision to use formula with the cereal instead of milk.
>I'm wondering if perhaps your schedule would permit pumping at a time that isn't immediately after a nursing session.
I've tried this a few times but don't know how to make it work. DB's natural "schedule" is such that he's awake for about 1.5hrs, then takes a 30min nap. I've tried pumping toward the end of his time awake, but it's difficult to pump while also trying to watch him. If I start pumping when he falls asleep, he seems frustrated with low supply when he wakes up 30min later. Someone suggested, however, to keep at this method for a few days, bascially letting the pump get the easy milk that's built up since the last feeding, and letting DB do the work to get more, since he's better at stimulating the breast anyway and this may build up supply faster. I guess it would mean a few days of a fussy DB, but at this age, that's probably not the end of the world. He's also just started solids, so I'm not worried about him starving :o What do you think of that approach? Would it let me build up a small freezer stash faster? Any other impact that might have? I've also been working on longer naps, though not just for pumping reasons!
You also mention pumping on one breast while breastfeeding on the other side. I guess I could try that, though DB is a very active and curious little guy, and I have my doubts that the pump would survive more than a few sessions :D
I understand your points about supply being set at this point, and about pumping at the same time each day. That's what I've been trying to do. I was initially a bit discouraged b/c when I last was pumping, I was producing a whole lot (like 12oz!), but that was when DB was less than a month old, and he wasn't eating it at the breast, so it's a little misleading for me to compare to then.
I've also heard about the peak in supply in the morning, which is why I've made sure to do a session in the morning. Maybe I should try even earlier.
Thanks for reading all the details. I'm curious to know what you think.
Re: Pumping Difficulty
Thanks, Beth, that clarified things a lot.
The thing that first crossed my mind in reading this is that when a mom is separated from her child at a time when he/she might normally nurse, it's best for her to pump at or near that time as a way to maintain supply and stay comfortable, as missed feedings can lead to engorgement and other painful problems. Working mothers typically pump on day 1 what their baby will eat on day 2, for example. The reason I mention this is that as you begin your adventures out without baby (what excitement! LOL, funny how the little things make us happy!) provided you can figure out the scheduling, you can pump during (I've used the car adaptor for my pump while in the parking lot waiting to meet up with girlfriends!) or immediately before your outing, and that milk should be able to be added to your stash for use during future outings.
You also mention your child has started solids. That means baby can eat solids while separated from you as well. While in the first year solids are mostly for practice, they do put some food in baby's tummy to work on, and many moms find that they can time a trip out for a haircut around the baby's "lunch" of strained peas and barley cereal. :)
As for your pumping schedule, your theory that your child is taking more at feedings near the time when you're pumping may be true. Or it could be that at any one point in time your output via a pump is only an ounce or two. You can try to increase pumping frequency, but with the above points about other ways to stretch what you do have, you may not need to.
Another point worth mentioning is the idea of "scheduled time off" but within your home or nearby. Some mothers make arrangements with their husbands or other caregivers to be "on duty" for say a 2 hour period on Saturday mornings. Mom can sleep in, take a bath, read a book, etc. somewhere else in the home, but be available for emergencies and/or nursing needs. I know in my family unless something like that is truly scheduled (and, LOL, this often entails sending an email to my husband and getting him to physically put it on the calendar!), it may not happen. Other moms find that as their child develops a more predictable routine, they can nurse, leave, run errands or what have you, and return in time for the next nursing session.
While it sometimes seems like babies needs are overwhelming and intense, in the grand scheme of things it is quite a short period of time that they need us so intensely (says the woman who has a 4 yr old who barely blows her kisses at school dropoff time!) It can help to remember that this time is a short one. That doesn't negate your need for personal time, but I just offer it as a point of perspective. :) I know I find myself getting down from time to time, as being the at-home parent is DRAINING to say the very least. However, the kids are growing so fast, changing so quickly, that the thing I was complaining about last week is ancient history by today.
I hope some of this is helpful! As I mentioned before, anyone else with input or insights, please add them! And if you have additional questions, please let us know.
LLL Leader, IL