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Thread: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

  1. #1
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    Aug 2012
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    Default Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    I'm sure this topic's been discussed many times here, but I was wondering if you guys know how much (or how little) and when I should be pumping to help relieve engorgement due to oversupply in the middle of the night. I have been block feeding for about 2 weeks now, used cabbage leaves for about a week, but since my baby sleeps pretty well at night I still have major discomfort in the wee hours of the morning. (She is almost 7 weeks btw). Instead of giving up bfing, I have decided to try pumping to relieve the situation and help me sleep better (I was seriously stressed and in tears very often!).
    My question is: should I do a full bottle-sized pump to freeze for the future, or would pumping only 1-2 ounces to relieve discomfort be a better way to do this without worsening the oversupply problem?
    (Links to previous posts about this are appreciated too!)
    thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    if you want to tame the oversupply, pump as little as possible. none, if you can manage it! just enough to take the edge off so your body doesn't think there's new demand. i have a friend who still can't pump even once, at 9 months, wihtout careening back off into oversupply. too much milk really can be a big problem! hang in there, because it really does get so much easier. don't give up now.
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    Your supply is still regulating so the supply you have not may likely not be there months from now. Most of us had an abundant supply in the beginning, but I echo the pp. Pump as little as possible and you can try hand expressing to relieve engorgement, or dream feeding baby while asleep.
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    Ugh. I was addicted to a middle of the night pumping session for months with my first, so I feel your pain (I remember your pain!).

    Honestly, with my second (and this will be unpopular advice with some), I just put a boob in her mouth. She will often nurse when completely asleep, help me take the edge off, and go back to sleep. That's the ideal scenario.

    Second best would be to just hand express a small amount to take the edge off. HAnd expression doesn't stimulate oversupply like the pump does.

    If you do pump, just pump the least amount you possibly can to take the edge off. If you've been pumping every night, you'll have to slowly wean off it by pumping less and less. That will help your body adjust and make less milk. Unless you want to pump every morning at 3:30 a.m. like I did for five months, and build up your stash that way. That was super fun! Just kidding. Oh my goodness, there are better times of day to work on your stash!


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    I only got the pump yesterday out of desperation. I am tired of being in tears from the pain and constantly worried about getting mastitis again! I used to do a bit of hand expression in the middle of the night, but I just get drip-drip-drip and it doesn't do much for my comfort. Yesterday morning I said I either need to pump or just quit and go to formula, but in my heart I really don't want to stop bfing because there ARE moments when it's wonderful, not to mention how portable it is. I am just tired of being engorged all the time! And dream feeding doesn't work - I wake her and she gives me two-three minutes before she's back in a deep sleep!
    What about sage or peppermint or even going back on the pill? I've been doing the cabbage leaves for a week and even though they come with a warning about drying up your supply, I haven't had much relief...

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    mama, at 7 weeks, hardly anyone's supply is regulated. that tends to happen around 12-14 weeks. you're having a harder time of it due to your oversupply, but i GUARANTEEE you: hang on for 5 more weeks and your world will look very different. almost everyone leaks at night at 7 weeks. it's annoying, and a lot of laundry, but it generally ends very soon. yes, you need to watch out for mastitis. but you will NOT be engorged all the time for very much longer. seriously - hang on for a couple more weeks. these weeks, while hard, are going to be WAY easier than formula in the long run (not to mention cheaper, and healthier for you and baby). hang on!

    also remember - you can't "just quit". particularly as you're worried about mastitis. you would have to wean yourself anyway, and that might take just as long as just waiting for your supply to regulate.

    and you don't really have to "wake" a baby for dream feeding - they will root in their sleep.

    i don't think it's a bad idea to keep doing cabbage leaves, but supply can be finicky so if you introduce other changes go slow - you don't want to dry it up too much.
    DS1 6/7/11
    DS2 10/29/13

    Nursing, pumping, cloth-diapering, babywearing, working professor mama with the awesomest SAHD ever.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    Sage and peppermint might be worth trying, and keep up the cabbage leaves! You can get this under control, I promise you. My oversupply was BRUTAL, and I remember the pain clearly!

    But don't do BCPs. The risk of completely losing your supply is very high. It may not seem possible right now, but hormonal birth control would be more likely to completely dry you up than take the edge off.

    I completely agree about mastitis and not quitting. One hidden blessing of oversupply is that it makes it hard to just quit breastfeeding, and oversupply moms are thus more likely to work through their problems and continue to nurse. After Joe was born, I really struggled with engorgement and it was so painful I really wanted to quit, but I couldn't, because I couldn't even reduce my supply a little bit, let alone quit, without clogged ducts and mastitis! That sucked, but I did figure it out, and I am so glad I didn't quit, you know? I have a wonderful sense of satisfaction at having nursed my little guy for as long as we did.

    If you must pump at night, pump. Just don't empty the breast entirely, okay? Try to just take the edge off. 12 ounces is a ton, so that would be too much. Maybe just a few ounces (like under 4) would help you take the edge off? Then each time, pump a little less. Your body will adjust to this, or your baby will start waking more, or something will happen to get you through. Hang in there!! We've been there, and lived to tell the tale. It isn't forever.


    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    I only got the pump yesterday out of desperation. I am tired of being in tears from the pain and constantly worried about getting mastitis again!
    If you are in this much pain, I would say, you need to get the milk out! In fact, I would say, if you are crying from the pain, you have waited entirely too long. Yes, pumping will increase your supply, and ideally you don’t want that- on the other hand, the painful engorgement is an immediate issue that must be dealt with, while dealing with overproduction is often a gradual process.

    But my question would be-why pump? It's a pain. What about simply encouraging baby to nurse? i know you said it does not work-bur bear with me for my story-

    I also have overproduction, and my month old baby is also a great sleeper, which also led directly to me getting insanely engorged, ginormous plug, and mastitis a couple of weeks ago. Yes, you want to avoid repeating that!

    But personally, I am not even attempting to block feed. I feel it is too early, (for me) since milk supply ramps up for the first 5-8 weeks and then, if mom is not doing anything to unnaturally increase production, will typically level off to what baby actually needs. In other words, in my PERSONAL exp-and this is my third baby with oversupply-I have not needed to hassle with block feeding. Instead, I cue feed, let baby nurse one side at a time and nurse as long as she wants, AND if I start feeling full- before engorgement if possible- I encourage baby to nurse even if she seems not interested. With this super sleeping baby, that has meant setting an alarm at night and waking baby up every 2.5-3 hours, which would be normal nursing frequency at this age for a well gaining baby whose mom has normal milk production. I've been doing that for about two weeks now and I reset her clock (I hope) because the last two nights, she woke up about and started to root about 15 minutes prior to my alarm going off.

    btw, No, she would not nurse everytime-it varied-but i would hand express and try again later. You could pump-just 'to comfort'-and try again next time if baby really will not nurse. Also if you are using a pacifier or swaddling I suggest, don't, not while trying to get os under control.


    also remember - you can't "just quit". particularly as you're worried about mastitis. you would have to wean yourself anyway, and that might take just as long as just waiting for your supply to regulate.
    Exactly. Oversupply is a major hassle, no doubt. But it's a typically a very temporary hassle, with many remedies and approaches-you just have to find the approach that works for you. Leaving aside the health risks to you and baby of not nursing, sticking with nursing through the hard times is worth it! Breastfeeding nearly universally gets easier and easier with time, becomes far easier than bottles, and becomes a mothering tool many moms would not know what to do without--a constantly available, no thought or preparation or purchase needed, take-along tool-that provides instant sustenance, comfort, and sleep aid for your baby.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    re above post- btw my husband reminded me I was not able to dream feed when i woke up baby at night, at least not at first. I set the alarm and my husband would get up to change her diaper and that woke her up and then she would nurse. There are many ways to wake baby if needed.

    But re your original question-if you are engorged overnight and nursing baby more often is not a solution for you, then pumping just 'to comfort' should relieve the engorgement without increasing supply too much-especially if the problem is partly a long sleep stretch. I suggest don’t even think about how much in volume you are pumping, think about how it feels.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Default Re: Pumping to help relieve oversupply

    I really appreciate everyone's comments - thank you very much. I live in Italy (hence the screen name - Mamma di Liv - Liv's mom), and everything stops here in the summer so the local LLLI doesn't have meetings, nor does the hospital where I gave birth. I have really felt alone in dealing with OS and almost everything - my two girlfriends with new babies have their moms and sisters close by so they have a LOT of help, whereas I only have my husband and he obviously works. One ff'd from the beginning and the other one doesn't seem to have had any problems with her boobs at all! You guys make me feel not so alone!
    The night before last I pumped to comfort (approx. 1.5 oz) at about 4:00am. Tonight I decided to try the dream feeding. In the end she woke up fairly regularly (no swaddling!) so I just put the block feeding on hold and went with whichever side was more full. It's 7am and I just put her back to sleep (God bless Dr. Harvey Karp! If you don't know who that is - look him up!), and I will start back with block feeding and cabbage leaves when we get up in a few hours.
    Anyway I just really wanted to thank you all!

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