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Thread: When can I stop pumping?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Default When can I stop pumping?

    I'm a first time Mom and I gave birth to a tiny, but healthy preemie girl at 33 weeks 4 days on 2/27/12. For the week that she was in the NICU before coming home I pumped to build supply and to ensure that she would only receive breast milk. Since coming home, she has been exclusively breastfed with the exception of a few bottles of expressed breast milk.

    I have continued to pump after each feeding, because although I feed her on demand and she is gaining weight like a champ (at least an ounce a day since being home), she still only feeds from one breast at a time. Length between feeds ranges from 1-4 hours. We rented a Medela Baby Weigh Scale so we could get an accurate idea of her intake from each feed, and she ranges from 1-2.5 ounces whenever she eats. Since she's still so small, she only weighs 5 pounds 10 ounces, that seems sufficient to quell her hunger as well as ensure a steady weight gain. Her output is great too, 8 wet and 5-7 dirty diapers a day.

    I was just wondering, when can I (or should I) stop pumping? No one told me what to do once we left the hospital. My supply seems good. I can usually pump at least 2 ounces from the breast she hasn't fed on, and usually about another ounce from the one she has. While this is great because I am building quite the freezer stash for when I go back to work in June, I feel like all I ever do is breastfeed, pump, and clean pump parts. It's getting exhausting - especially overnight. Not only that, it pretty much ensures we can never leave the house. When can I safely forgo the pumping without affecting my supply? Is it too early? Should I wait until she has reached her feeding maximum?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: When can I stop pumping?

    My baby was full term 8 lb 11 ounces and has always only taken 1 breast (with the exception of growth spurts). I personally think if she is taking in that much at a feeding she is fine, especially with the diaper count. You really want to be careful now that your supply is established that you don't cause oversupply with all the pumping.
    Mom to Kaleb born 7/24/08......clueless about BF and began to supplement. Supply was gone at 8 weeks.

    Sarah Beth born 11/29/11.....found this forum(lifesaver) and glad to say she has only had BM since day 1 and we are still going strong!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Southern NM

    Default Re: When can I stop pumping?

    It is not unusual for a baby to only take one breast, especially at the beginning while your supply is regulating. I would put the pump away until you have to go back to work.
    I am Erin--happily married to the nerd of my dreams for 15 years
    High School Science Teacher
    Mother to: Thing 1 9/23/01, bf 15 mo, diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma 1/29/02, officially cancer free for ten years in August 2012
    Thing 2 6/6/05, bf 12 mo, obsessed with dynamite
    Glowworm 2/18/11, bf 15 months and counting

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: When can I stop pumping?

    My oldest was born at just under 37 weeks, about 6.5 lbs. and I pumped after every feeding for the first 4-6 weeks due to using a nipple shield and supply concerns. I ended up with oversupply! So this is a good question to be asking

    Since your baby was (slightly) more than 34 weeks premature and so small, I think it would be really great if you could discuss this with an IBCLC. However, here is what I would usually say for a term or near term baby without health issues:

    So, baby is gaining well when exclusively breastfeeding? That suggests you can certainly stop pumping. Nurse frequently for several days and watch output. (Poops, especially) If output remains good, you are good. If you keep pumping so often you could give yourself oversupply and that is no fun. If baby is getting supplements, (such as formula or a fortifier) then you may need to pump to make up for those feedings but maybe not so often. Try to stop giving unnecessary bottles of expressed breastmilk. Nurse instead.

    Baby should be nursing FREQUENTLY, at least 10-12 times in a 24 hour day for around the first 6-8 weeks. That is a MINIMUM frequency. A newborn will normally nurse very frequently, even more than once an hour, part of the day, and maybe take one stretch of 4 hours sleep a day. Maybe. With such frequent nursing, it is perfectly normal and OK for baby to take only one breast at a time.

    You may need to wean yourself off the pumping. If you feel engorged or overfull between feedings, offer to nurse. If baby will not nurse, then pump 'just to comfort." Anytime you feel full, that is sending a message to your body to slow down milk production.

    Nice article on what is normal and expected with a breastfeeding newborn: http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/newborn-nursing/
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; March 25th, 2012 at 12:36 PM.

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