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Thread: Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

  1. #1
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    Default Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

    Ok ladies, I've been trying to pump wean based on the great advice I got on this forum, and had success up to a point, but now I'm stuck and needs ideas!

    It took about a month to gradually reduce from 3 pumps/day to 1/day during the workday, which went fine. But now I've been at 1 pump mid-day for several weeks, and I'm not sure how to cut that one out. LO (14 mos) still nurses frequently enough when we are together (probably 5-7 times per 24 hrs, between night nursing, wake-up, bed-time, nap-time, etc), it seems he's keeping my supply high enough that I can't go the 9 hours away from him without pumping! By about 2pm at work I'm pretty full and need to pump just for comfort, and I get 4-6 oz easily in about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, LO is rejecting all expressed milk at daycare now -- he's just doing solids & water, so we quit sending the EBM since he was refusing it completely. So that pumped milk isn't being used (I'm freezing it anyway, maybe I can think of a use for it later). I'm worried that if I try to force it I'll end up with plugged ducts or mastitis. My local LLL leader said to just think of that 1 pump session as "pumping for comfort and to maintain supply" and not stress about it, but it's such a drag to pump when LO isn't even drinking the milk! I'm over it.

    So what do you think ladies -- do I just deal with it a little longer, keep pumping 1x/day until LO cuts back enough nursing on his own that I'm physically able to go the whole day without? Or do you have any suggestions on how I can proceed with full pump weaning?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

    Hi mercystreet! So, I'll share my personal experience, in case it's helpful. As I've mentioned before, I pump weaned (completely) at a year. Before that I had one plugged duct in the whole year. After pump weaning I started being plagued by plugged ducts - basically weekly. Especially after on-demand pumping during the weekend, I'd be super-full during the early part of the week, get a plugged duct, then have to deal with that. A couple weeks ago I went on vacation with the kids and was nursing on-demand for 10 days. Well, I knew I'd have problems if I tried not to pump, so went ahead and pumped once a day. And like you, easily getting 4-6 ounces in a short pumping session (haven't paid attention to the duration, but I'd guess about 10 minutes). One day I tried not to pump and got the big old hard lump. So now it's been two weeks and I seem to be stuck pumping once a day! Now I'm contemplating whether to just keep pumping once a day, or try to wean down again and deal with the plugged ducts.... Although on one hand I TOTALLY hear you about being over it... I am SO over it... on the other hand, if I think about it objectively, it doesn't take me THAT long to pump, and maybe it's better than spending hours dealing with the plugged ducts. Fortunately, my LO is drinking the EBM. I guess in your case, maybe you could come out of your milk donor retirement?

    All this to say, maybe your LLL leader is right? I guess you could try and see what happens if you stop pumping, and beat a hasty retreat back to pumping if you have problems. Or you could just keep pumping until you start feeling more comfortable during the day. I'm dying to know when that point is! The one other thought, that actually mommal suggested when I posted about this, is to consider taking a supply reducer on Monday. I've been too fearful of doing that - I mean, it's more important for me to be able to keep nursing LO than to get rid of the pump completely - but if ongoing pumping is really driving you crazy, that could be something to consider too. Anyway, thanks for posting, I've actually been contemplating writing a similar post, glad to know I'm not the only one in this situation!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

    Maybe you could just put off your afternoon pumping sessions by 15 minutes each day until you're just not doing it anymore. You can always just pump if you feel you're getting plugs. Have plugged ducts been an issue for you in the past? If not, I wouldn't think it would start now. You just might get a bit uncomfortable while you wait for your body to adjust.

    But take my words with a grain of salt. I just quit pumping cold turkey, from two sessions a day to none. I had the pump there if I needed it, but I never did.

    ETA: It's really not all that much about how much your baby is nursing outside of work hours. It's more to do with your body getting used to the timing of it. My daughter would nurse constantly when we were together. All night long and all weekend long. But after about a week of not pumping I didn't even notice not pumping at work, except sometimes on Mondays I'd feel a little fuller than usual.
    “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.”
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

    I am assuming that since you were working full time you have a double electric pump. I agree that setting that whole thing up can seem like a major pain, even though you can probably do it in a matter of seconds without thinking. You don't need to pump a lot of volume now, so you don't really need that kind of pump. Have you considered getting a small manual pump? In my mind it would make that one "pumping for comfort" session seem less burdensome. Less equipment, less bottles, less fuss.

    There are lots of things you can do with your milk, like mix it into LO's oatmeal or other food. I hear it is good in coffee
    My little man was born 12/17/2010.

    Baby girl was born 4/30/2014.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

    Or you could donate... You'd make someone phenomenally happy.

    What if you didn't pump 4-6 oz, but stopped after 2-3? Removing enough to restore comfort, but not fully emptying the breast could allow you to slowly transition away from that last session.
    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!"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*bfwmomof3 View Post
    Hi mercystreet! So, I'll share my personal experience, in case it's helpful. As I've mentioned before, I pump weaned (completely) at a year. Before that I had one plugged duct in the whole year. After pump weaning I started being plagued by plugged ducts - basically weekly. Especially after on-demand pumping during the weekend, I'd be super-full during the early part of the week, get a plugged duct, then have to deal with that. A couple weeks ago I went on vacation with the kids and was nursing on-demand for 10 days. Well, I knew I'd have problems if I tried not to pump, so went ahead and pumped once a day. And like you, easily getting 4-6 ounces in a short pumping session (haven't paid attention to the duration, but I'd guess about 10 minutes). One day I tried not to pump and got the big old hard lump. So now it's been two weeks and I seem to be stuck pumping once a day! Now I'm contemplating whether to just keep pumping once a day, or try to wean down again and deal with the plugged ducts.... Although on one hand I TOTALLY hear you about being over it... I am SO over it... on the other hand, if I think about it objectively, it doesn't take me THAT long to pump, and maybe it's better than spending hours dealing with the plugged ducts. Fortunately, my LO is drinking the EBM. I guess in your case, maybe you could come out of your milk donor retirement?

    All this to say, maybe your LLL leader is right? I guess you could try and see what happens if you stop pumping, and beat a hasty retreat back to pumping if you have problems. Or you could just keep pumping until you start feeling more comfortable during the day. I'm dying to know when that point is! The one other thought, that actually mommal suggested when I posted about this, is to consider taking a supply reducer on Monday. I've been too fearful of doing that - I mean, it's more important for me to be able to keep nursing LO than to get rid of the pump completely - but if ongoing pumping is really driving you crazy, that could be something to consider too. Anyway, thanks for posting, I've actually been contemplating writing a similar post, glad to know I'm not the only one in this situation!
    Hmmm... well it's good to know I'm not alone! Thanks for sharing your experience. Seriously, all the "real life" ladies I know who pumped, when I asked them this question, were all "Oh, I just stopped pumping and it was fine!" Grrr. You're right - it doesn't really take that long or cause that much hardship, and in the grand scheme of things it's a minor annoyance. Or maybe I just have to stop worrying about what will happen if I cut ties with the pump, and just DO IT and see what happens.

    My milk bank won't accept donations after baby is 1 year ... so I would have to do an informal mom-to-mom donation. But I might consider it, depending on how long this goes on!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*still.here View Post
    Maybe you could just put off your afternoon pumping sessions by 15 minutes each day until you're just not doing it anymore. You can always just pump if you feel you're getting plugs. Have plugged ducts been an issue for you in the past? If not, I wouldn't think it would start now. You just might get a bit uncomfortable while you wait for your body to adjust.
    Good suggestion (moving pumping back in 15 min increments) -- I will try it! Thanks.

    Plugged ducts haven't been an issue historically but I have had mastisis in the past. I guess I was just feeling paranoia because that uncomfortably full feeling is pretty strong. But perhaps you are right and they won't become an issue if they weren't before?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*still.here View Post
    ETA: It's really not all that much about how much your baby is nursing outside of work hours. It's more to do with your body getting used to the timing of it. My daughter would nurse constantly when we were together. All night long and all weekend long. But after about a week of not pumping I didn't even notice not pumping at work, except sometimes on Mondays I'd feel a little fuller than usual.
    I'm going to hope that my breasts get the memo soon! So far they are oblivious to the fact that there is no nursling nearby from 9-5 ;-)

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*sassypants View Post
    I am assuming that since you were working full time you have a double electric pump. I agree that setting that whole thing up can seem like a major pain, even though you can probably do it in a matter of seconds without thinking. You don't need to pump a lot of volume now, so you don't really need that kind of pump. Have you considered getting a small manual pump? In my mind it would make that one "pumping for comfort" session seem less burdensome. Less equipment, less bottles, less fuss.
    Yup, I have a PISA. I also have a Harmony but it takes me sooooo loooong that even though it's less equipment, it's more of a time suck. The PISA is way faster.

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*sassypants View Post
    There are lots of things you can do with your milk, like mix it into LO's oatmeal or other food.
    If only he would accept spoon feeding or soft foods ... he's not so keen on utensils, except to use them for enthusiastic drumming and flinging. Loves his finger food. I have used the breastmilk to bake him muffins, pancakes, etc. but there's only so much we can bake. I also made him some breastmilk popsicles (mixed BM with strawberry puree) thinking he'd enjoy the treat during this TX summer heat. He loved it, until he tried to bite it -- then he got MAD and threw it across the room (three times). I tried to demonstrate non-biting popsicle technique, but I wasn't able to get him to try it again! Boo.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Pump weaning plateau -- suggestions?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    What if you didn't pump 4-6 oz, but stopped after 2-3? Removing enough to restore comfort, but not fully emptying the breast could allow you to slowly transition away from that last session.
    That's a good suggestion too. I tend to just turn on the pump and then not pay attention to it for a while (just zone back into my work). But yeah, I should be a little more attentive and then I can watch the ounce amount and slowly cut back that way. Thanks!

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