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Thread: Pumping: Pumping Often vs. Pumping Longer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Default Pumping: Pumping Often vs. Pumping Longer

    Quick question ladies! Some of you might be familiar with my little run-in with Mastitis. Ever since recovery, my LC has been working with me to lower my milk production, so I wouldn't run into plugged ducts/engorgement/Mastitis again. Instead of pumping every 2 hours... we've extended it to 3-4 hours.

    Now this worked great - my milk production has gone down and I no longer get plugged ducts everyday... the only problem is, now it's gone down so low, I don't think it's going to last in the long run. I wish to increase my milk supply once more, but before I do so, I'm hesitant to go back to my old routine (where I was chained to the baby... pumping/feeding the baby every 1-2.5 hours and if I was late or skipped a feeding, I would get a severe case of plugged ducts and a tendency to get bad quickly). I've spoken to my LC about my situation and she had regretfully (but bluntly) told me that it was going to be hard for me to increase my milk production without the risk of getting mastitis again. She had also told me the cold-hard truth: that woman who return to work full-time often find it hard to keep up with breastfeeding and the majority quit.

    Sidenote: Work doesn't always give me the luxury of pumping on time and there are times when I'm so tired (after working 2 jobs), I pass out at night and can't wake up...not even with the baby crying in my ear. One night, DH said the baby was crying for a full 5-10 minutes and I didn't even stir. Since we have bottles of breastmilk/forumula in the fridge, he ended up feeding her.

    As of now, I'm getting an average of 1oz/hour, which is clearly not enough for the baby.

    My question is simple: Does it help milk production if you are pumping longer, instead of often? For example:

    Instead of pumping every 2 hours for 10-15 minutes, will pumping every 3-4 hours for 20-30 minutes be helpful?

    If this does't help, maybe I really need to hang my head in defeat and face the possibility of drying up soon...
    Proud of Baby

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: Pumping: Pumping Often vs. Pumping Longer

    I really don't know what to advise you in terms of the mastitis issue, but I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will be along shortly. In terms of production, 1 oz/hr is actually fine--baby probably drinks anywhere from 20-30 oz in 24 hours so an ounce per hour is about on target. Some people find pumping longer does help milk production, but for most people pumping more often is the way to go. You just have to try it and see. If you are able to get more than one letdown by pumping for longer, that may work. I pump for 30-40 minutes every 3-4 hours at work and that works fine for me, but my baby is also older (almost 7 months). If you have a 3 month old, and issues with mastitis, I wouldn't recommend going more than 3 hours without pumping. Sorry.

    You don't have to dry up if you don't want to! Don't give up. Breastfeeding while working full-time is challenging but many women here have done it successfully for a full year or longer. I was really worried about being able to pump enough when I went back to work but it's been fine. I only work about 30 hours a week though and my job is very flexible in terms of being able to pump whenever I need to so I haven't faced as many challenges as some of the people here. But, there are quite a few people who have worked full time, pumped, and made it to a year! We can help you if you want to do that

    Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than me will be along shortly to help you out, but you sound discouraged and I didn't want to pass your post by without responding.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Pumping: Pumping Often vs. Pumping Longer

    The keys to making more milk are a) frequency of milk removal and b) intensity of milk removal. So pumping for longer time periods and more competely draining the breast will always be useful. However, whether or not pumping longer is a substitute or at least a good exchange for pumping more often is a very difficult question to answer because the answer is different for every woman, based on her individual milk storage capacity. Some moms can store large quantities of milk in their breasts for long time periods without supply going down. Others cannot.

    Regardless of what the answer is for you, there is no reason to think that you will be unable to keep up or that you will quit or that you will "dry up". I know lots of women who have worked full-time and pumped for an entire year. Some of them with nice, flexible jobs that allow them plenty of time and space to pump, others with jobs which are inflexible and require them to go long periods without nursing or pumping. (The latter set of moms just need to adjust their pumping/nursing schedule to extract more milk outside of working hours.)

    Milk doesn't just dry up. Milk supply isn't like aset of keys, that you can just lose. It is like a garden: ignore it, by skipping feedings or pumping sessions, and it will wither. Tend it, by nursing and pumping, and it will flourish.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    New York

    Default Re: Pumping: Pumping Often vs. Pumping Longer

    I understand your reluctance to returning to a routine of pumping/nursing every two hours. It must be difficult to be apart from your baby and not be allowed to pump frequently enough to stabilize your milk supply. your LC did you a disservice by "telling you a cold hard truth" that is not verified. Many women are able to work full time and continue to breastfeed. Like everything else we do, it takes planning and tenacity.
    DD#1 July 1986 VB
    DD#2 April 1988 c/sec
    DS#3 April 1990 VBAC
    DS#4 June 1993 VB
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    In Peace

    Default Re: Pumping: Pumping Often vs. Pumping Longer

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*esthervegan View Post
    I understand your reluctance to returning to a routine of pumping/nursing every two hours. It must be difficult to be apart from your baby and not be allowed to pump frequently enough to stabilize your milk supply. your LC did you a disservice by "telling you a cold hard truth" that is not verified. Many women are able to work full time and continue to breastfeed. Like everything else we do, it takes planning and tenacity.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Shakedown St.

    Default Re: Pumping: Pumping Often vs. Pumping Longer

    with everything that's been said so far. Perhaps your LC would know more women who successfully continue to breastfeed after returning to work if she was a little more encouraging rather than being so pessimistic. Lots of mothers find a way to make it work.

    You are still within the range of where you need to be with pumping. The guidelines are 1-1.5 ounces per hour. Adjusting your pumping schedule just a little bit (perhaps squeeze in one extra pumping session or pump just a little longer) should get you to where you want to be pretty easily. I would just make sure to only extract as much as you will need for the next day to avoid an oversupply and return to the clogged ducts and potentially mastitis.

    When I first went back to work I was teaching a 4 hour class and would sometimes go 5 hours without pumping depending on what needed to be done before/after class. It wasn't ideal, but I got through it without an impact on my milk supply.

    Working two jobs on top of being a mother is going to leave you exhausted no matter how you feed your baby. I think breastfeeding is advantageous because it is a super quick way way to get baby back to sleep during teething, milestone, and other miscellaneous middle of the night wake ups. At least thatis how it has worked out for me.

    Good luck!
    K. Sophia - Mama to my little lactivore, the amazing Mr. X (11/10).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: Pumping: Pumping Often vs. Pumping Longer

    At this point, I don't believe you will regain your supply to the point of oversupply.

    I tend to severe oversupply. I had no idea his bad until I had to EP for my fourth. I was pumping 50 oz OVER what he was eating (30-36 oz in 24 hours) at one point. I cut back when the freezer was totally full. And even when I tried to pump again as often, I never got back to that level. After my pump broke, and I was pumping with a less effient pump for a few days, and I got mine back, I still never recovered.

    My point...if you need to pump say every 2.5-3, I think you will be fine. What you are making at 1 oz/hr is actually normal.

    Longer may get you a second letdown, but it also can just make you sore. If you were EPing, I would say to shoot for 120 minutes of pumping every 24 hours. Tailor from there since you can breastfeed too.

    The LC is right, to some extent. Many working mothers find pumping difficult and either lose supply or quit. IMHO, it is because they dnt get the correct advice and they don't have the proper support. You have access to both
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Pumping: Pumping Often vs. Pumping Longer

    Pumping is difficult. And it gets downright frustrating to keep doing so after a certain point, at least for me it did - with both kids. But that did not stop me from pumping over a year for the first one and to a year with the second.

    What kind of work do you do? Is there any way for you to make the pumping your first priority?

    Maybe you could find a new LC. This one sounds kind of mean.

    Mommy to
    Lilah 10/08 nursed 25 months
    Beatrix 01/11 nursed 30 months

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