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Thread: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

  1. #1

    Question Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    Hello Ladies,

    I am a first time mom- here is my general situation. My son is about 8 wks old now. I have returned to work at about 6 weeks. I have an extremely busy schedule at work (work in a lab at a major research institution trying to finish my PhD, AND find a new job), and although I try to find pumping breaks I cannot pump more than twice during a work day (9-10 hours). Three if I am extremely lucky. We have had to formula supplement him when I am not there- he is generally doing well so far in terms of weight. Once I get back from work he cluster feeds until 10 pm when he falls asleep for a good 4-5 hours, and after that he wakes up every 2-2.5 hrs to feed until I leave for work. Weekends I exclusively breastfeed him through the day. My parents live with me and watch him when me and hubby are at work. Now here are my questions:

    1. I get about 2-3 oz from one breast and 1-2 oz from another during each session pumping- since the last week, is this volume normal at this time? (I constantly feel like I am producing less) Is there any way to increase milk supply from the less-producing breast at all? Is it normal for the milk supply to vary between days and sessions? Over time as his demand increases, I am just afraid that my milk output while pumping won't keep up.


    2. I will be traveling for 3 days (total) for an interview across the country next week. Flight time is almost 8-10 hrs each way. I will be taking my breast pump along, but does anyone know about TSA regulations regarding carrying breast-milk? I will have an ice pack and on my way back I plan to put the breast milk bags in a cooler bag in my checked bags for the milk I have already pumped. Can anyone suggest a better way of transporting the milk back? Will the milk stay alright over 8-10 hours this way?Just don't want to throw out 3 days worth of pumped breast milk.

    3. Also, since the two work days will be pretty full and I have no idea how accommodating the prospective employers are going to be about my pumping on an interview- can not pumping for two work days at this point hurt my milk supply? I typically have not felt engorgement until this point.

    4. Can pumping for more than fifteen minutes on a medela double electric pump (freestyle) hurt your milk supply at all? My son normally stays on about fifteen-twenty minutes on each breast and since I cannot pump more than twice at work- I was wondering if pumping twenty minutes instead of fifteen can boost my milk supply a bit.


    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    Hi mama, welcome to the forum! I'm a scientist mom too so very familiar with trying to fit pumping in while doing experiments! So, to answer your questions:

    1) Your pump output is normal. Pump output varies from mother to mother and depends to some extent on storage capacity, ie how much milk the breasts will hold before milk production slows. And yes, pump output varies from breast to breast and from time to time. Usually pump output is highest earlier in the day and gets lower as the day goes on. However, one thing you do want to be on the lookout for is a decrease in daily pump output over time. This suggests that the overall demand to your breasts for milk is too low, and needs to be increased in order to increase supply. If you can, do try to include that third pumping session in the day. I basically planned my experiments around pumping! Of course sometimes there is nothing you can do if you have a very packed day.

    2) It's fine to transport milk while traveling by air. Definitely don't throw it out! Personally I did not check milk because I was too worried about something happening to it, so I carried it on with me, which you are allowed to do. Just let them know when you are going through security that you have breastmilk. They do a special inspection but you do not have to adhere to the 3 ounce rule - you can take as much as you like. Here's the link to the TSA website that discusses this: http://www.tsa.gov/traveling-formula...milk-and-juice. You might want to print the information and carry it with you in case you run into an uninformed TSA agent.

    I carried my milk in cooler packs. The milk is fine for 24 hours that way. Here are the breast milk storage guidelines from kelly mom: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/m...e/milkstorage/

    Some mothers ship the milk back on dry ice. I haven't personally done that but you could consider that as well.
    I have pumped in various airports. If you need to pump on the flight, you might want to bring a manual pump with you as well - one mother on here pumped on a long flight with a manual pump under a poncho!

    3. It would be best to try to find some time in the day to pump. Not only does it hurt your supply not to pump, but you do run the risk of getting engorged or a plugged duct or even mastitis which is not what you want to deal with when you are on an interview! Even if you have not felt engorged up until now, that does not mean you won't if you go all day without pumping. One suggestion I have is to contact the administrator handling your itinerary and explain the situation. She may be able to build in some breaks in the day for you without labeling them as pumping breaks (for example, a break for "preparing your seminar" or something like that).

    4. Pumping for longer HELPS your milk supply. Supply and demand. The more you pump or nurse, the more you send the signal to your body to make milk. So definitely if you can pump longer, do that. Even if you are "pumping dry," ie no milk coming out, that still is good for stimulating supply.
    My personal experience with the Freestyle was not that great. So if you do feel like you are seeing a drop-off in your pump output, you might want to consider upgrading your pump, for example by renting a hospital-grade pump.

    It's great that you are cluster-feeding at night, nursing at night, and nursing on demand on the weekends - those are all GREAT ways to stimulate supply. It's tiring to wake up at night to nurse but so good for supply.

    Good luck with the interview!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    Also wanted to add a couple more things.

    Baby's milk demand while you are separated is about 1 to 1.5 ounces per hour, usually in portions of 2 to 4 ounces. So max 15 oz for your 10 hour day. And the 10 oz or so you are pumping may actually be enough. You want to be sure baby is not being fed too much during the day because that will decrease baby's motivation to nurse when you are together in the evening/night.
    Here is some information about bottle-feeding baby in a breastfeeding-friendly way:
    http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfedbaby.pdf
    http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/e...reastfed-baby/
    http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/f...ottle-feeding/

    Baby's demand for milk, after the first month, does not continue to increase. So you shouldn't need more in a month or two. Sometimes baby can go through a growth spurt that lasts a few days, but then milk intake returns to normal.

    http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/

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    Default Re: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    Excellent advice from the PP. I love her advice about building some "prep" breaks into your interview schedule. It's a good idea regardless of whether or not you're pumping- it's so easy to get over-scheduled and exhausted. I remember one time when my DH was interviewing, and he had back-to-back meetings across a large campus in a rainstorm, followed by a seminar!

    Additional travel tips:
    - When you get on the plane, let the flight attendants know that you are going to need to pump. They may be able to make a space available to you.
    - Bring a large shawl or poncho or something, just in case you get stuck pumping in a not-so-private place.
    - If you're going to cross an international border, make sure you bring your adapters. You don't want to discover that your plug won't fit the socket!
    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!"

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    I just want to personally echo that pumping longer than 15 minutes is not only okay, but often necessary to maintain supply for some moms. I have been doing at least 20 minute pumping breaks for months and months now--most of that session is "pumping dry," as it were. It takes me that long to get to a second letdown, which I need! As long as pumping is comfortable for you, with well fitting flanges and no pain, definitely lengthen your pumping sessions if you can make it work.
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    Thank you all so much, this was so very helpful.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    I am worried in particular about one aspect though- Aren't people in general happy with the freestyle pump?? The LC I spoke to at the hospital birthing center told me any Medela double electric pump should really be fine for my pumping needs. What are the signs to watch out for if the pump starts malfunctioning?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    A mom's response to pumping, and to a particular make/model of pump, is something which is as individual as she is. The Freestyle is a good pump for some moms, not so much for others!

    If you find that your output is really dropping, or you feel like the suction on the pump is not what it used to be, then it's probably time to try a different machine or at least to get new membranes/tubing for the one you have. Since your pump opportunities are so limited, I think it might really help to consider a more high-powered pump. A Pump in Style is, I think, a step up from the Freestyle, and any hospital-grade pump should be an additional step up.
    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!"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    The Pump In Style Advanced has definitely worked better for me than the Freestyle, and I know some of the moms on here have had even better success with a hospital-grade than with the PISA. The hospital-grade rental also has the advantage that you rent it month-by-month so you can try it out and see how you do with it without having to commit another couple hundred dollars. It took me longer to get the same out of milk with the Freestyle than with the PISA, and over time I was having a harder and harder time getting the milk out. And I'm someone who has really high pump output. I used the PISA with baby one, the Freestyle for the most part with baby 2, and then I went back to my same PISA with baby 3. One time with baby 3 I was at home and needed to pump and my PISA was at work, so I pulled out the Freestyle and even though it was making noise and my nipple was moving back and forth a little, it basically was not able to extract any milk. So I don't know, perhaps the Freestyle just poops out more quickly than the PISA. It's annoying, because Medela markets the Freestyle as their top-of-the-line product, and it's the most expensive, so many moms end up getting that thinking it's the best one, but then end up with a less-than-optimal experience. Anyway, just something to keep in mind. I actually found it somewhat convenient to have two pumps, one at work and one at home, and in certain situations the Freestyle is nice - the fact that it is so lightweight and portable, and that it can run on a battery, are advantages, but I think it is overall less effective. This is completely personal opinion! Of course, there are also non-Medela pumps out there - and in fact some of those companies follow the WHO Code of not marketing bottles etc., whereas Medela is not code-compliant. For example the Hygeia Enjoye is supposed to be a good pump.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Questions from a first-time (frantic) mom, please help.

    I also own the Freestyle and the PIS. I am a low-to-normal pumper, and was not ever able to extract as much milk with the Freestyle as with the PIS. Like at this point, ten months in, I get less than half what I would with the PIS if I have no choice but to use my Freestyle. But I know plenty of folks have done just fine with the Freestyle. It does seem to vary quite a bit from mom to mom.
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

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