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Thread: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

  1. #1

    Default Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    Hello moms - I'm at my wits end! I am trying and trying and trying but I just CANNOT seem to increase my pumping output. I have been downing fenugreek, oats, goat's rue, more milk plus, lactation cookies, gallons of water .... I've tried my own pump (Ameda purely yours), a friends pump (medela PIS) and a rented hospital grade pump (Ameda Lact-E - though they told me it was 7/8 years old!) I tried replacing the membranes and even tried the pumpin' pals breast shields. I've tried pumping more often (every hour), longer (45 minutes), pumping before I feed her, after I feed her and pumping one side while feeding off the other, massage, compressions - all to no noticeable avail.

    I've been able to see no more than a minor increase and it hasn't been consistent. When I am very lucky and haven't pumped in a while I am able to get almost an ounce out of both sides. In fact for about a week this stayed consistent, but my output seems to have dropped again. Last night after my LO had been sleeping for 4 hours I expected to get a solid pumping but STILL only got barely an ounce! Recently I get about 1/2 - 3/4 ounce on each side lately.

    My LO is a little over 3 months. I feed on demand when I'm with her which is almost always (and also makes fitting in pumpings when I'm with her hard) I have been back to work for a little over a month now, but I am only working two days a week. She is with a nanny these two days for about 8 hours and the nanny is telling me that she is crying and crying for more milk. The other day she told me she took THREE 3 oz bottles and then napped for three hours. I know this is too much. I suspect the nanny is offering her too much milk, I know that a baby will take it from the bottle even if they don't "need" it. But the nanny claims she seems hungry still otherwise and doesn't sleep as well. Regardless, I do still suspect she does in fact need more than the 3oz bottles I prepare, but I am pumping all week day and night just to be able to have five 3oz bottles to send her with. I am not coming even close to pumping a full feeding, even when I pump at work.

    She is my 2nd child. My son (now 5) was in NICU for six weeks and I pumped gallons of milk, only to end up donating it all because I simply didn't need to give him bottles! Now I need them and can't get the milk out!

    I am in good shape, tired - but that is to be expected, eat well but maybe not enough? I am on the Nora B mini pill and am wondering if this could matter? i drink very occasionally now. One drink is all I can tolerate these days. I do feel it when I'm "full" of milk, but not bursting after it's been several hours like I was before. But I also remember this with my son - after a while my breasts never looked or felt full but there was plenty of milk.

    Also, LO has been sleeping poorly at night the last week or two. I don't know if this is related or how.

    I am going to tell the nanny to give her less because I simply can't produce. I don't want her to be hungry but I also don't want milk wasted just because she *will* take it. I am trying very hard not to turn to supplementing with formula. VERY hard - this would somewhat devastate me (And I do NOT mean that as a criticism or judgement on anyone who does, it's just a personal preference for me. We all do what we have to do)

    I feel like I won't be able to stay on top of this. I do NOT feel that it is a supply issue, but rather a pumping output one. What can I do?! Any advice would be appreciated!

    *edit* but what if it IS supply - how can I tell? Usually when I pump then feed, I can hear her swallowing still. But frankly she ALWAYS cries when I take her away from the breast, but it's usually fine after a pacifier and 20 seconds.
    Last edited by @llli*jpolizzi5; October 10th, 2013 at 11:41 AM.

  2. #2
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    Aug 2012
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    533

    Default Re: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*jpolizzi5 View Post
    Hello moms - I'm at my wits end! I am trying and trying and trying but I just CANNOT seem to increase my pumping output. I have been downing fenugreek, oats, goat's rue, more milk plus, lactation cookies, gallons of water .... I've tried my own pump (Ameda purely yours), a friends pump (medela PIS) and a rented hospital grade pump (Ameda Lact-E - though they told me it was 7/8 years old!) I tried replacing the membranes and even tried the pumpin' pals breast shields. I've tried pumping more often (every hour), longer (45 minutes), pumping before I feed her, after I feed her and pumping one side while feeding off the other, massage, compressions - all to no noticeable avail.

    I've been able to see no more than a minor increase and it hasn't been consistent. When I am very lucky and haven't pumped in a while I am able to get almost an ounce out of both sides. In fact for about a week this stayed consistent, but my output seems to have dropped again. Last night after my LO had been sleeping for 4 hours I expected to get a solid pumping but STILL only got barely an ounce! Recently I get about 1/2 - 3/4 ounce on each side lately.

    My LO is a little over 3 months. I feed on demand when I'm with her which is almost always (and also makes fitting in pumpings when I'm with her hard) I have been back to work for a little over a month now, but I am only working two days a week. She is with a nanny these two days for about 8 hours and the nanny is telling me that she is crying and crying for more milk. The other day she told me she took THREE 3 oz bottles and then napped for three hours. I know this is too much. I suspect the nanny is offering her too much milk, I know that a baby will take it from the bottle even if they don't "need" it. But the nanny claims she seems hungry still otherwise and doesn't sleep as well. Regardless, I do still suspect she does in fact need more than the 3oz bottles I prepare, but I am pumping all week day and night just to be able to have five 3oz bottles to send her with. I am not coming even close to pumping a full feeding, even when I pump at work.

    She is my 2nd child. My son (now 5) was in NICU for six weeks and I pumped gallons of milk, only to end up donating it all because I simply didn't need to give him bottles! Now I need them and can't get the milk out!

    I am in good shape, tired - but that is to be expected, eat well but maybe not enough? I am on the Nora B mini pill and am wondering if this could matter? i drink very occasionally now. One drink is all I can tolerate these days. I do feel it when I'm "full" of milk, but not bursting after it's been several hours like I was before. But I also remember this with my son - after a while my breasts never looked or felt full but there was plenty of milk.

    Also, LO has been sleeping poorly at night the last week or two. I don't know if this is related or how.

    I am going to tell the nanny to give her less because I simply can't produce. I don't want her to be hungry but I also don't want milk wasted just because she *will* take it. I am trying very hard not to turn to supplementing with formula. VERY hard - this would somewhat devastate me (And I do NOT mean that as a criticism or judgement on anyone who does, it's just a personal preference for me. We all do what we have to do)

    I feel like I won't be able to stay on top of this. I do NOT feel that it is a supply issue, but rather a pumping output one. What can I do?! Any advice would be appreciated!

    *edit* but what if it IS supply - how can I tell? Usually when I pump then feed, I can hear her swallowing still. But frankly she ALWAYS cries when I take her away from the breast, but it's usually fine after a pacifier and 20 seconds.
    People with far more expertise will weigh in, but one question and then some thoughts: if you were to stand over a sink or toilet at pumping time and hand express aka milk the girls, would the milk flow? If yes then I think there's still more experimenting to be done with the pump even though you've been through a lot. The pump that worked for me was the Medela Symphony Hospital Grade, which I rented from November 2012 to September 2013 and for the FIRST time ever I am now successfully using a NON hospital grade pump. (My daughter is 15 months). I use the pumpin pals flanges and found myself shifting sizes from time to time. Some say do compressions while pumping - I pretty much am full on self-milking under the flange. I can only imagine the havoc I am wreaking on my boobs. Most days I can work away or do a conference call and pump as I've been doing it so long, but back when my little girl was 3 months I absolutely had to look at photos and videos (with sound) while pumping to get things rolling and get a let down. I even recorded her making various noises using the voice memo feature on my phone. I'd put my earphones in an listen to her cooing - I think I had some giggles back then, even crying. Although that made me sad.

    My pumping capacity got so much better month by month. I remember 3 months being very hard and me getting very worried about not supplying enough for home. Or running out of freezer stash. However that never happened. I hope some or all of this is helpful.

    P.S. Before succeeding with the Symphony I failed with a double electric Tommee Tippee pump AND a Medela PISA both purchased brand new by me.
    Last edited by @llli*debbers; October 13th, 2013 at 09:33 AM. Reason: Corrected an error: I'm finally back to a regular pump, but I needed the hospital grade for nearly 11 months,
    1st time mom over 40 to Alex(andra) b: 7/14/12

  3. #3
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    Oct 2009
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    2,628

    Default Re: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    are you saying the nanny gave her 9 oz of breastmilk in one feeding? That is way too much. 3-4 oz should be max. And if that doesn't work to get her to sleep, then rocking, walking, patting, pacifier, wearing in a sling, etc, can all be tried.

    Some people respond to a pump better than others. I think PP gave you some good suggestions.
    Nursed my sweet daughter 3 years, 3 mos.

  4. #4
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    May 2006
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    21,235

    Default Re: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    Yeah, did the nanny really feed your baby 9 oz in one go? If so, that's a ridiculous amount to feed her, regardless of what is in the bottle, and it's time for a serious talk about appropriate amounts, alternative soothing methods, etc.

    You mention being on the mini-pill. The data on the progestin-only pills seems to show that they do not have an impact on milk supply, which is why these pills are typically prescribed as being "okay for breastfeeding". However, there is at least good anecdotal evidence that SOME women find that the minipill has a negative effect on supply. This is why I personally believe that if a mom who is on the minipill suspects a supply issue, she should go off the pill and try a non-hormonal contraceptive method instead.
    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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    Oct 2012
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    2,214

    Default Re: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    Agree with above. What is most striking to me is that you had an easy time pumping with your first baby and a tough time pumping now. And that you feel like there's plenty of milk in there. And that the pumps you've tried are either not that great (Purely Yours) or used/old (your friend's PIS and the 7-8 year old hospital-grade). Putting it all together, it does sound like you may have a pump issue. Although you've already tried three different pumps, I do think it's worth trying a better/newer pump if that's possible. And yes, eliminating the 9 oz feeding and doing a trial off the mini-pill.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    One more possible avenue to explore- nighttime sleep. Is your baby a "good" sleeper? Long stretches of nighttime sleep can result in lower overall output. If your baby has consistently been sleeping >6 hours, you might want to add some middle of the night nursing or pumping sessions and see if that makes a difference in yield.
    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!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
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    89

    Default Re: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    I'd see if you could get a medela symphony rented from somewhere. I've had great success with it, better success than any other Medela actually. Also, I'm sure you've tried but have you changed the membranes and such? I just did that and it's made a HUGE difference.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    Thank you all SO much for your advice.

    My gut is telling me what you've all mostly suggested that the issue is probably with the pump. I was really disappointed when I went to the hospital and all they had were these old ameda pumps. They are "in the process" of updating to the symphony. But now, I will hunt one down! Someone above asked if I could hand express after the pump stopped pulling milk out and the answer is not usually more than a squeeze or two, but I think that is just me not doing it right. Because when I pump and then feed her either immediately or shortly after I can hear her swallowing and often even gulping. (as if the pump took the work out of waiting for the letdown away for her) As an experiment yesterday I pumped with the hospital pump and when it stopped, I switched to the medela PIS just to see what would happen and I got another half ounce or so total. Not a lot - but something!

    She *was* a good sleeper but has had a slight backslide and as suggested above I have started adding in middle of the night pumpings the last few nights - pumping on one side while she feeds from the other since she usually only eats off one side for night feeds anyway. That seems to have helped - not a huge output still, but a good way to squeeze in a few extras. After I calmed down a bit and began to think a little more rationally - I think another problem is that I need to be more consistent with WHEN I pump. I am trying to pump 3,4,5 times a day but the timing depends on when she happens to be sleeping or with nanny. If I'm able to go two solid or even three hours my output is better, but it is hard to go that long between pumping AND feedings when I'm with her all day and feed her when she wants.

    I also had some clarification from the nanny regarding her feedings. (I think the three 3oz bottles was a fluke and she didn't finish the third till after her nap - but I was horrified!!) She said that she's eating the same overall amount I've been sending, but less frequently and therefore more at a time. Yesterday I sent four 4oz bottles and she was there 11:45 - 5:30 and when my husband picked her up she had one full bottle left. This is FAR more reasonable than what I was understanding!! But still means I need to pump 16 oz every 3 or 4 days!

    And yes - it is most baffling to me that I had no problem pumping with my son. My theory on that is that 1) I was exclusively pumping every two hours religiously and 2) because I wasn't even able to attempt BF him until he was 6 weeks - my body simply didn't know to prefer the baby and became used to the pump.

    Thanks again so much. I appreciate the advice and it is just nice to VENT to someone other than my husband who I'm sure feels pretty useless in this area, even though he tries his best to assure me it'll be fine.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    I think you still need to work with your nanny on feeding. Three 4 ounce bottles over a 6 hour separation is still overfeeding. The rule of thumb is 1-1.5 ounce per hour of separation, and this amount will never increase, even as baby gets older. It's not reasonable for you to provide 12-16 ounces for such a short separation, because that's excessive intake for baby.
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Extremely frustrated with pumping!

    So she ate 4oz, slept for two hours, woke up, ate 4oz, an hour to an hour and a half or so later STARTED 3rd bottle but fell asleep and slept for an hour or so, woke up had more of that 3rd bottle then the rest 1 1/2 hours later. It seems to me that she has a big appetite when she's doing the bulk of her sleeping in the early afternoon, but then it tapers down to small meals later in the day. Can you elborate on what seems too much? the quantity or the frequency? I thought 4-6 oz per feeding was normal at this age....?

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