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Thread: Pumping for work and irregular milk supply

  1. #1

    Default Pumping for work and irregular milk supply

    I have been back at work part time (Tuesday through Thursday) for about 20 hours a week for the last month (baby is now 11 weeks old). I breastfeed when I'm with baby and pump when I'm at work, usually 2-3 times. By Saturday, my supply is up especially on the right side to the point that it sprays out when nursing. However, it usually decreases by Monday. This week, it was so low that I pumped very little out of the right side on Tuesday and had a noticeable breast size difference. Today (Wednesday), I'm noticing it start to increase again. Baby is still satisfied after nursing, so I know there is still plenty of milk. Any advice for keeping my supply more regular throughout the week even with pumping?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Pumping for work and irregular milk supply

    Milk production naturally goes down or 'regulates' sometime after age 2-3 months. This can feel dramatically different. This is because in the very early weeks, many moms make more than enough milk.

    Milk production will also vary over the course of a single day. It also goes up and down according to baby's immediate needs-for an extreme example, if baby is ill, baby does not want to eat as much, nurses less, and production goes down so mom is not engorged. Then if baby is about to hit a growth spurt, baby will nurse very frequently to bring production back up. This type of thing goes on all the time, usually in a subtle way that is little noticed, if baby is cue fed (nursed on cue.)

    When pumping is added into the mix, that changes the natural order. It may be imperceptible and not a problem at all. When it IS a problem, it is usually due to the pump not being as 'effective' as baby (and or/mom cannot pump as often as baby would normally nurse, and/or, the pump is malfunctioning) all of which would cause milk production to go down over the work week.

    So I am not sure what would make the production increase during the part of the week you are at work during the day and consequently pumping. So I guess the next question would be, what would make it be 'up' by Saturday but down by Monday? Does baby nurse more often on the work days (during the time you ARE home?) Could it be that with the pump both sides get more stimulated/milk extracted than with nursing (maybe because baby is a 'single side nurser’ and you are (I assume) using a double sided pump?) I don’t know the answer, these are just guesses. But if you can figure out why production would appear to be up like that on Saturday that might help in finding a solution.

    Of course, if your baby is gaining fine on your milk, as you say, there is no milk production problem. Is there a particular reason you want to increase production at these times it seems 'low?"

    EDIT Also if baby is nursing/milk is being extracted more often overall on the days you are home, milk has less time to build up in the breasts. This is good for milk production, actualy, but it does change how breasts feel and 'behave." It is when milk has built up in the breasts for a while, typically, that a mom might see "spraying."
    Last edited by @llli*lllmeg; October 30th, 2013 at 01:52 PM. Reason: Thought of something else

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pumping for work and irregular milk supply

    Thanks for your advice. I do use a double sided pump. Baby usually nurses on both sides, longer on one than the other, but occasionally only nurses on one. I am not as concerned with the low supply as I am with the oversupply on the weekend - she has a hard time when the milk flows so fast.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Pumping for work and irregular milk supply

    Although pumping is often less efficient in stimulating supply than nursing, there are some moms who are somewhat hyperresponsive to the pump. So maybe your supply is actually increasing over the course of the week due to the weekday pumping? Do you find that you are routinely having expressed milk left over? If so, you could experiment with doing a bit less pumping, so that demand and supply are more closely aligned. As Meg mentions though, over time you may find you have less "oversupply," so be prepared to increase pumping if you find you are not getting enough expressed milk. Alternatively, you could live with the current relative "oversupply," (if indeed that's the issue) and use techniques to help baby with fast milk flow.
    Laid-back positioning, a picture is shown here which you can experiment with: http://www.llli.org/docs/00000000000...astfeeding.pdf

    And/or, letting some of the milk spray into a towel or burp cloth, then letting baby latch on again.

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