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Thread: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    15

    Default Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    Hello, I'm new here and came in search of advice. I'm a first time mom to a little baby boy, he's 4 months old now. I went back to work part time when he was 3 months (2 days a week) and now I'm working 3 days a week. I'll return to work full time next month.

    Breastfeeding has been going GREAT for us. At birth, he latched on right away and its been smooth sailing. I'm not one of those women who is just overflowing with milk, but he seems to be growing fine and making the appropriate number of diapers, so I haven't been worried about supply. Until pumping. Dun dun dun.

    The problem is that I can't pump much of anything. My biggest pump of the day- I get 2 oz. The rest of the day I barely get an ounce combined from both breasts. My baby takes 3 3-oz bottles a day while I'm at work, and my pumping output during the work day is barely 4 oz. That's spread over 3 pumps.

    So far working two days a week I have been able to avoid supplementing because I pump all the time on my days off. I can pump while he is eating the other side, and get an ounce or so each time. If I do this seemingly a million times, I can build up a few bottles. I pump an hour after he goes to bed at night and am able to get an ounce. I also go home on my lunch break and nurse my baby, so that he only needs to get 2 bottles. However, now that I'm working 3 days a week I am already fallen behind. My mom said he still seems hungry after eating the 3 oz, and I won't be able to go home at lunch everyday.

    My question is- is there something wrong with me? I keep reading other posts and nobody seems to have as little pumping output as me when separated from their babies. I am terrified that my supply is going to decrease now that I am separated from my baby so much. This is causing me a great deal of anxiety as breastfeeding my baby is so important and I feel guilty enough leaving him to go to work, and now I am not able to provide enough food for him as well.

    I am using a Medela PISA. I've tried a bunch of different flange sizes and none seem to make a difference. I've tried fenugreek and other herbal supplements. I eat oatmeal with flaxseed meal in it every day for breakfast. I pump for at least 20 minutes a time, 3x a day (every 2 hours while at work).

    Any ideas? Am I the only one who just can't pump? I am almost through my freezer stash and will have to supplement with formula soon.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Ontario
    Posts
    582

    Default Re: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    Is your PISA new or second hand? Maybe the white membranes need to be changed? Have you tried doing breast compressions while you pump? Have you tried a manual pump at all? I know some women respond better to the manual one than the electric. The only other thing I can think of would be to rent a hospital grade pump to see if that improves your output. Hopefully some of the more experienced pumpers will have some other ideas!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Texas, USA
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    I am pumping for my second child everyday while I work full time and I pumped for my first one as well. Are you using a hands free pumping bra? I find that by using a pumping bra not only is it easier to compress the breasts, but I seem to get a better seal on the pump and in turn pump more milk. Are you drinking enough? I find that especially when I am at work and attempting to pump extra for my daughter, my supply is less when I don't get enough water. THe only other advice I can give is try to relax. Ha Ha right. I find the more stressed I am whether it is do to work home milk, etc... the more my supply suffers. I also take herbs and the one that really increases my supply the most is something called shatavari. Check with a lactation consultant to find out more about it. Pumping is hard and definately not fun but it is worth it. Keep trying!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,710

    Default Re: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    Good advice from the PP. If it's not the flanges, I agree that the strength of the pump might be something to look into. A second hand pump might not be giving you the power you need, or if the membranes are old you might not be getting a good seal. Breast compressions really help me get more out of pumping. Another thing to consider is whether you are relaxed. If you are tense, that can really inhibit the letdowns.

    Also make sure the nipple is nicely centred in the flange - even if you have the right size, if it's squished against the side that can be a problem.

    No, there's nothing wrong with you! Some people just don't respond as well to the pump as other people. I was always jealous of my coworker who could just pump once or twice a day and get enough to feed her baby for the whole day, whereas I was squeezing four pumping sessions in and pumping extra at home like you in order to get enough (I could pump at my desk, so with a handsfree pumping bra I was able to work and pump).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,710

    Default Re: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    Also, are you pumping from the battery pack or an outlet. I discovered the hard way you can think you're getting good power from the battery pack when you're really not. When I switched to outlet power suddenly my output went up by a huge amount.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    Thanks for the responses so far!

    My pump is indeed a secondhand pump, but I got it from my best friend who got it new a year ago and only used it a couple of times as she never ended up breastfeeding. I have not replaced the valves and membranes yet though, so that is something to try. I will do that tonight.

    I am definitely NOT relaxed when I am pumping and that is probably a huge part of this problem. How does one relax with your boobs hooked up to a suction machine? Is it even possible? Still, I do manage two letdowns in the 20 minutes and still that totals only a couple of ounces. I also do not have a place to pump at work. I know it is the law that they have to provide me with one, but unfortunately I have a very small office and there isn't an extra room. None of the offices have doors either. So, I am pumping in the bathroom, using an outlet, but I have to sit on the toliet. Yeah, unpleasant. I think I am going to try to pump in my car and see if I have better results. I wish I could just pump at my desk. Then I could pump frequently enough to make things work. The stress of not being able to feed my baby is getting too much. My mom is pressuring me to supplement with formula during the day, because it is stressful for her to have to worry about whether or not there will be enough ounces. I have to stay up until midnight to pump a measly ounce every night so that I can barely patch together the 6 ounces I leave for him in the morning. To make matters worse, he's kind of on the skinny end of the weight charts so I have the nagging supply concerns in the back of my head.

    Anyway, that's another tangent. Thank you for the responses! I am going to try tomorrow with the new valves and membranes.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1,941

    Default Re: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    you can try to rent a hosp grade pump. You can rent one for a day, week or monthly. I found the hosp grade pump to work the best. I am not one to overflow woth milk, but I Was able to pump the most with that.

    good luck!
    Mommy of 4,
    3 who I watch over, 1 who watches over all of us

    J- 8/20/05 pumped breastmilk for 11 months due to his cleft lip and palate!

    M- 10/17/07 my precious baby lives forever in her mommys heart

    M- 3/31/09 my special gift, she helps heal her mommy and daddys heart. Nursed for 4 years and 10 days, self weaned the day her baby brother was born!

    E-, new little miracle born 4/11/13, my BIG baby! Born 8.6 at 38 weeks. At 9 weeks nearly 17lbs, at 12 weeks nearly 20lbs, at 6 months nearly 23lbs, at 8 months nearly 25lbs and all from BREASTMILK


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    miles from nowhere
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    11,086

    Default Re: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    Mama, it sounds like you are doing a great job providing milk for your baby. And absolutely keep doing that and keep troubleshooting ways to do more. But there's nothing wrong with you. Some women just don't respond as well to the pump. I didn't. Your output sounds about like mine was when I went back to work. The most I ever came home with was 5-6 ounces and that was on a rare good day. I was never able to pump enough to cover what my kids were taking. They were supplemented with formula during the day. Am I saying this is what you need to do? Absolutely not. I've seen many many mothers here who didn't pump well and were able to get around pumping difficulties in various ways and never have to supplement. I just want you to know that if you can't, it doesn't mean the end of your breastfeeding relationship. I continued to exclusively nurse my children when I was with them. They never got bottles when I was available to nurse. I let them nurse on demand, even at night (my daughter was a frequent night nurser, my son not so much). That kept my supply up and kept our nursing relationship going. I nursed my daughter until she was two and never had supply issues. I suppose the main point I'm trying to make is that pumping issues don't have to mean supply issues and supplementing doesn't have to mean an end to nursing.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,710

    Default Re: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    Ah, pumping in the bathroom - definitely not a great way to relax!!! One thing that worked for me was to get my mind off it, by distracting myself. In my case, usually checking work emails - you could try bringing a book? I would also really encourage you to try breast compressions if you're not already doing that.

    One thing to try if you're doing extra pumping sessions is to try to squeeze them in the early morning rather than late evening. I find I get almost nothing pumping in the late evening.

    But still.here is right - if you do end up supplementing with formula, you ABSOLUTELY can still have a long-lasting and beautiful breastfeeding relationship.

    Also, once you get through the next few months, you can start adding solids to the picture, and while that shouldn't replace the breastmilk for nutrition, it might take the edge off a little if you're only short by a couple ounces, and make your mom a little less stressed about the situation.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Not a "good pumper". Need advice.

    still.here and manitobamommy, thank you for the reassurance. I think my biggest fear about supplementing is that I will no longer be able to breastfeed. I picture it incrementally destroying my supply! It is reassuring to learn that it is possible to supplement and still nurse. Still.here it is also really nice to hear that I'm not the only one barely able to pump anything! I'd really appreciate any tips for making supplementation work, because as much as I don't want to, I think that is the direction we are going. I tried to pump this morning with the new valves and membranes. I pumped for longer- 25 minutes, and only got under 2 ounces. I am at the point where I almost can't think of anything else to try. I will continue to try for the month of Feb while I am working only 3 days a week, but after that I don't see how I can make it work.

    I am going to try pumping in my car next week, with a book to distract myself as suggested. Currently I focus on looking at pictures of my baby, but that just makes me dwell too much on the milk situation. I will try to think about something else entirely next time.

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