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Thread: am I buying trouble?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    294

    Default am I buying trouble?

    I've been back at work about 5 weeks now. My baby is almost 4 months old. I'm working M-W-F in the office and T-Th from home. When I'm working from home, I mostly nurse but sometimes dad (who stays at home) will give a small bottle if I really need to focus and then I'll pump at my desk. I'm pumping every 2-3 hours at work and I pump a few times a week at home as well.

    My first week back at work, I was pumping sometimes up to 8 oz in one session. Now I'm never getting more than 4. I've been keeping track of what baby eats and what I pump, and when I don't bring home at least as much as she ate in a given day, I will try to make up the deficit by pumping that evening. This has happened a several times. There were four times where I was unable to pump enough in the evening to make it up and I came up short by an ounce or two. Two of those times were in the past week. Most days I do manage to pump an ounce or two more than she ate that day.

    In the last 5 weeks I've made exactly 12 oz more than she ate. However, an additional 25 oz have gone down the drain due to baby not finishing a bottle (some of that has been corrected as we work out strategies but some of it is unavoidable).

    The difference between what I pump and what she ate has been decreasing though. More and more I'm coming up a couple of ounces short and pumping in the evenings. I'm also trying to pump after I nurse on the days that I work from home to try to stimulate my supply.

    I have about 100 oz stored in the freezer so I have a bit of a cushion but I don't want to start depleting my stash because that would mean my supply is not keeping up with my baby. I am mainly concerned about when the baby starts daycare 5 days/week in another 5 weeks or so because I expect they are going to be throwing away more of my milk than my husband has AND I won't be working at home 2 days (where I can pump more freely and pump after nursing).

    I'm not sure if I should be worried or not. I don't see how I'm going to keep up once baby is in daycare. I am not sure what to do about it except pump more on the weekends (I don't do a lot of that now) and maybe try to fit in an extra session at work (seems impossible).

    One reason I'm so paranoid about this is because I had supply issues early on and it was pretty stressful to learn to breastfeed while supplementing every feeding with EBM, then formula, then working on my supply with the pump after every feeding, all at the same time. I need to remember that if I did need to supplement again, it would be more like sending a bottle of forumla to daycare, which is not such a big deal. But it seems like such a slippery slope and I don't really want to go there.

    Sorry this is so long (and boring! ). I like to over-analyze everything if you haven't noticed. I am a scientist, I kind of can't help it. I think I'm mostly just frustrated and venting. But if anyone has any tips or similar experiences, I would love to hear from you. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    California
    Posts
    418

    Default Re: am I buying trouble?

    You're not in trouble YET, but it does sound like you could be headed that way if you don't change something. It usually gets more difficult to pump enough as time goes on; many working moms hit a 'wall' with pumping in the second half of the first year when they see their production decline and have to start pumping more frequently and/or supplementing, so if you're just barely pumping enough now and your daughter is 4 months, you may want to do something to increase your supply now so you don't run into worse problems later.

    What is your work schedule like, and what is your pumping schedule like? Can you show us a sample schedule of how your workday usually goes, with your pump times and how long you pump, etc.? You should ideally be pumping every 2-3 hours and thoroughly emptying the breast each time. The amount of time to empty the breast varies, but is usually in the range of 15-30 minutes. It is a very good idea to do some breast compressions while pumping too, to ensure your breasts are completely emptied; this will increase pump output a bit also. Also, what kind of pump are you using, and have you replaced the replaceable parts recently? If it's a Medela pump, this means the white membranes and the yellow pieces. They wear out and this can cause issues with pumping. If you can answer some of these questions we can help you troubleshoot your pumping and figure out how to pump more efficiently and/or fit in another pumping session to increase the amount you're pumping.
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    1,293

    Default Re: am I buying trouble?

    hi there. my first thought when reading your post was to stop milk from getting thrown out. can you give us some feedback on your lo eating schedule with times and oz when you are away? you can give small amounts in bottles and this should eliminate the tossing of milk.

    as for the pumping compressions like PP said are a great idea while pumping. here is a basic list that comes to mind when trying to maintain your supply while pumping:

    1. get a hands free bra if you dont have one

    ** not only does this allow for compressions and help overall but I used to pump in the car on my commute in everyday. this eliminated the need to pump right away when i got to work. so i was still getting my 3 sessions in at work but one on the way in too and on days where i needed extra i would also pump on the way home.

    2. hand express for a min or two at the end, it can be amazing for overall production. it takes a little practice but try it and you will find your way. i can link a video if you need.

    3. maximize your pumping time by leaving your pump stuff set up if you can.

    4. try to relax while you pump, music, breathing etc.

    5. if you can add in a session here and there just to stock some extra milk that is good. like if your lo falls asleep early and you want to add in a quick session that is good.


    all that being said, dont overstress about it. i found i had started a bit of oversupply at one point, but really its hard to find a balance between being prepared with stashed milk and pushing yourself a bit too much. keep in touch here and keep at it. you can definitely do it. before you know it your lo will be one and you will not need to pump.

    stay on top of it and stay on top of the wasting of milk. that is totally unnecessary.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    106

    Default Re: am I buying trouble?

    How much is baby eating when you are gone? How long are you gone? How much do you pump a day? How big are baby's bottles? Is AF back yet, or are there any signs of it?

    On average baby should drink 1 to 1.5 oz while you are gone. Bottles should be anywhere from 2 to 3.5 oz. Perhaps smaller bottles would lead to less waste?

    I had reduced supply the week before AF came back...maybe slightly longer. I remember taking apart my pump to make sure everything looked good.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    294

    Default Re: am I buying trouble?

    Thank you all for your helpful replies. I'll try to give more details.

    My work and pumping routine: I've been lucky in that I've been able to ease back into a full-time schedule, so my first couple of weeks back I worked a lot of 1/2 days and shorter days. The past couple of weeks I've worked more full days. A "full" day for me would be to leave the house at 8 am, arrive at work at 8:30, leave work at 4:30 and arrive home at 5. My routine has been to pump from 8-8:30 while I drive to work, then at 11, then at 2, then nurse at 5. If baby is sleeping when I get home, then I'll pump at home because it will have been 3 hours. But my husband knows when I'm getting home so he usually times her last bottle a little so she's ready for me at 5. But like I said, so far, I've often worked shorter hours than that and I've been pumping at least as frequently. Like today I left home at 8:30 and left work at 3:30 so I pumped at 8:30, 11, 1:30 and then nursed at 4. This is all just to say that I have been on a pretty easy schedule so far, so I wonder if my output is going to drop further after a few more weeks on a full schedule.

    I usually pump 3-4 oz per session (when pumping replaces nursing). So if I pump 3 times, I'll get somewhere between 9 and 12 oz, which is usually just about what she ate, sometimes just short of what she ate. Then I will pump again at home that evening and try to make up the difference. I don't really time my pumping sessions, but I usually pump for around 20 minutes. I just pump until I get a letdown that is a tiny trickle and I let that finish (on my commute I pump for 30 minutes but nothing is coming out at the end). I have very large breasts and hand expression has always been awkward for me but I am getting better at it. I will try a few minutes of hand expressing at the end. I will also replace my valves and membranes. I have a PISA.

    Bottles: She's eating just between 1 and 1.5 oz per hour while I'm away. When I'm gone a full day from 8-5 she usually takes between 10 and 12 oz. My husband is pretty well aware of all the issues with bottles and overfeeding and I feel pretty confident about his ability to read her hunger cues and not pushing her to finish bottles, etc. I usually leave 3 oz bottles plus a couple of smaller ones in case he's not sure if she's hungry or if I'm getting home soon and he just wants to give her a snack.

    Pumping: I have a handsfree bra, I do compressions while I pump. I go to a lactation room and it's a hassle. I do pump in the car on my way to work. I am a little weary of pumping on my way home, and pumping when I am at home with the baby in general. This is probably mostly due to my experience when she was a newborn (I was pumping starting when my baby was 2 days old because she went into the NICU at that point for a week which is what led to my early supply issues). When I was pumping with the Symphony during our first month and then supplementing with EBM, I got to a point where I was able to pump much more than baby needed, but she still was only getting about 1/2 of each feed directly from me (based on before and after weights with IBCLC). One day my LC told me to just stop pumping, and lo and behold, she immediately started nursing really well and gaining over an ounce a day with no bottles. It really seemed like what was happening was that my breasts were being emptied every two hours by the pump and she was unable to get anything from them because I was pumping it all out. She is of course much stronger now and a more efficient nurser now so maybe that is not such an issue but it made me really scared of pumping when she might want to nurse soon. Anyway, huge digression.

    I am not sure if this matters, but I do have one breast that produces a lot less than the other. This has been the case since the very beginning. I feel like the lower producing breast is maybe getting worse. So I've been trying to start the baby on that one to make sure it gets emptied every time she nurses.

    And, no sign of my period, but who knows. We're still nursing at least a couple of times overnight (we usually bed share or she's in a co-sleeper).

    In addition to the hand expression and new valves and membranes, which are great ideas, thank you, I am thinking that probably I need to add another pumping session in at work. Like, pump at 8 on my commute, then at 10:30, 1 and 3 maybe? I'm also thinking about renting the Symphony again and using it on the days I work from home and pumping after most feedings during evenings and weekends. That is what really helped my supply before. That would also allow me to leave my PISA at work which would be nice.

    Ughhh!!! I hate pumping!!!

    Sorry again for the extreme length of this!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    106

    Default Re: am I buying trouble?

    Has baby done any additional nighttime or morning nursings lately? If that is the case, your pump output would go down a little while your body catches up to make up for the extra sessions. But you should eventually catch up, even without adding extra pumping sessions.

    I think in general I've had a much easier go with pumps than some moms. The only things so far that I've had throw me off were either hormonal (AF, pregnancy, etc.), or caused by baby emptying me more fully in the morning. The pump parts are a good suggestion...I certainly hope it's something simple. Only 3 to 4 oz even on the first pump of the day does seem low, unless your baby just got done with you.

    No crazy diet or exercise plans either?

    Pumping is in such a weird spot. It is so easily measurable sometimes it can send you into tailspins you may not even notice when you are EBF.
    Last edited by @llli*lidarose; September 21st, 2012 at 10:24 PM.

  7. #7
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    Mar 2010
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    Northern Cal.
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    Default Re: am I buying trouble?

    So why are you losing 25 oz to wastage? I'm trying to understand. That's a lot. Unfinished breastmilk can go back in the fridge for later in the day (or is even good at room temp for a couple hours).


    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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    Feb 2008
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    SoCal
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    Default Re: am I buying trouble?

    I'm confused, wher is the wasted 25 oz coming from?
    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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    294

    Default Re: am I buying trouble?

    So, I dumped about 6 oz at one point early on because we thawed 2 frozen bags and then realized that it was only good for 24 hours and since I never work at the office 2 days in a row, it was wasted. That obviously won't happen again. Also, in my first couple of weeks, I would call home at like 1 pm and say I was coming home (I was having a really hard time being away from baby at first; it's gotten a little better) and my husband would say he just started a bottle, so then maybe we'd lose 3 oz. Now, we are starting with smaller bottles AND I'm on a more regular schedule AND he knows when I'll be home and also he knows better how much she'll be likely to eat so a lot of that is getting worked out. But there is going to be an ounce lost here and there because she doesn't finish a bottle and it's the end of the day, right?

    I still feel like I need to produce significantly more than she eats though because she'll be in daycare in a few more weeks. I've met with her caregivers and they are very informed and sympathetic about breastfeeding. They said that if she's acting hungry but she just ate an hour ago or I'm coming to get her soon, they'll give her an ounce and see where she's at. They are also happy to call me when she wakes up from her morning nap if it's close to lunch time and I will go over and nurse. Things like that are great. But the center's policy is if she starts a bottle they will let her work on it for an hour and then it goes down the drain. So I'm imagining quite a lot of breast milk will be wasted.

    I guess there are a couple of things that could be skewing this pattern of decreasing production that I'm seeing. When I first started pumping I wasn't pumping in the car. I would pump 3 hours after the last time she nursed. She might nurse at 7 but not that much and then I would pump at 10 and get like 8 oz of milk. Which might have made it seem like my supply was high but in fact I was just overdue for pumping and that probably wasn't good for my supply at all. Now, I'm pumping at 8 am in the car whether she nursed recently or not and then at least every 3 hours after that. So sometimes I'm pumping immediately after she nursed, and it's never more than 90 minutes after. So that might account for the first pumping session not being as productive as it used to be. Maybe I need to view that pump in the car as a bonus and still pump 3 times at work. But that would have me pumping every 2 - 2.5 hours which is going to be tough.

    Also, she is nursing more overnight. When I first went back to work we were usually putting her to bed in the co-sleeper. She tends to sleep longer stretches in there. The last couple of weeks I've usually had her in bed with me all night and she will nurse a few times through the night in her sleep. But this doesn't seem to decrease the amount of milk she's eating during the day much if at all.

    No crazy diets or exercise, I eat oatmeal for breakfast and whatever I want for the rest of the day as long as it's healthy food (with exceptions for ice cream). I try to get lots of water but I have not been as diligent about that as I was when I first went back to work. I can work on that.

    It's hard for me to know how much of this is normal fluctuations and whether it will balance out in the end and how much of it is my supply actually taking a dive. Tracking everything on paper (actually, there is an Excel spreadsheet involved) maybe isn't such a great idea because maybe I'm getting worked up about nothing but it does seem like I might be headed for trouble in the long term. Do you think I should rent the Symphony again? Do you think I need to pump an extra time at work?

    Thanks for all of your encouragement. This is very helpful!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
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    Default Re: am I buying trouble?

    Well, hopefully you will NEVER lose 25 oz in a week again! I understand wanting to pump a bit more than she eats, since you're trying to transition over to a new DCP. But you don't need that much, I hope. I wouldn't stress too much about it. Add another pumping session in the evening after baby goes to bed or in the morning (or pump on weekends). If you're worried baby will be hungry soon, just pump one side or stop pumping before you're "empty." There is always milk in your breasts even when they feel empty of course, but some babies are a bit frustrated getting put on a just-pumped breast, to be sure. Do you have a commute? Pumping in the car can be a great, low-effort way of getting a few extra ounces. Make sure to switch out those pump membranes frequently, use breast compressions at work, and keep nursing your baby as much as possible when you're together (including nighttime - really, night nursing is a GOOD thing for the working/pumping mom).


    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.

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