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Thread: Is it OK to pump just once to completely empty breasts?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Is it OK to pump just once to completely empty breasts?

    I feel like I am having a new problem every day. Last night, I posted another thread about my DS cluster feeding to the point of projectile spitting up several ounces at a time (I have oversupply, confirmed by LC yesterday).

    Well now this morning I woke up with very bad pain in my right breast, and it has become engorged as well. It hurts just from the motion of walking around even with a supportive bra on.

    I also suspect a mild fever - I have been feeling freezing cold all day but it is 74 degrees in my house and I should not be feeling cold. I also feel mildly achy all over. I took my temp a few hours ago and it was 99.4, but that was about 30-40 min after I had taken some Tylenol for a headache. I have since taken Advil for the breast pain, so any temp taking won't be accurate.

    When I took a shower this morning I massaged my breasts and hand expressed a little, but that did not help the pain. So after DS nursed, I went ahead and used my manual pump to pump 1 oz out of my painful breast. That helped a little, but not much. I was afraid to pump any more than that - this was the first time I have pumped at all since DS was born (he is 10 days old).

    About an hour ago I woke DS up to nurse but he only nursed for exactly 1 min before popping off choking on milk, and went right back to sleep. So I cannot count on him to remove enough milk - he always takes only one side, and never nurses more than 5-10 min at a time. He has TONS of wet diapers and has already exceeded his birth weight by 2 oz so I know he's getting plenty even with the short one-sided nursing sessions all day.

    I do not feel any lumps in my breast, but my breasts are SO large (like J cup) that I wonder if there is a clogged duct deep inside that is being masked by surrounding soft breast tissue? The pain feels fairly deep in there.

    I've also been checking periodically for any red marks, and so far none.

    So my question is this: I know pumping is a bad idea when you have oversupply... but do you think it would be detrimental to do 1 thorough pump session now to empty both breasts so I can get past this and avoid coming down with mastitis?

    I have no experience with mastitis, so I don't know if this would be a smart thing to do or not.

    Please help, thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Is it OK to pump just once to completely empty breasts?

    Well I ended up calling my OB to report this situation and ask for advice. She said it is likely that I already have mastitis brewing, so she is prescribing an antibiotic for me. Phew. She also said she doesn't want me to pump because it will only make the existing oversupply worse, which is what I knew logically but it was soooo tempting to want to just empty that painful breast and be done with it (at least temporarily).

    In other news, DS just nursed on that side a little while ago and it did relieve the pain some, so there's hope.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Is it OK to pump just once to completely empty breasts?

    Hmm, not sure I agree with your doctor's advice. My understanding is that when mastitis is suspected, it is more important to empty the breast and deal with the mastitis in the short term than to worry about oversupply in the long term. You definitely want to nurse the baby more on that side if he is willing to eat from it- mastitis can cause the milk to taste salty and many babies refuse it on this basis. If he's not, then I would say the pump is actually a necessity.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Is it OK to pump just once to completely empty breasts?

    A while back LLLMeg posted an article about mastitis management from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine that is geared towards healthcare professionals. Here is what they say about effective milk removal:

    "Effective milk removal

    Because milk stasis is often the initiating factor in mastitis, the most important management step is frequent and effective milk removal. Mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed more frequently, starting on the affected breast. If pain prohibits letdown, feeding may begin on the unaffected breast, switching to the affected breast as soon as letdown is achieved. Positioning the infant at the breast with the chin or nose pointing to the blockage will help drain the
    area. Massaging the breast during the feeding with an edible oil or nontoxic lubricant on the fingers may also be helpful. Massage should be directed from the blocked area moving toward the nipple. After the feeding, expressing milk by hand or pump may augment milk drainage and hasten resolution
    of the problem. There is no evidence of risk to the healthy, term infant of continuing breastfeeding. Women who are unable to continue breastfeeding should express the milk from breast by hand or pump, as sudden cessation of breastfeeding leads to a greater risk of abscess development than continuing to feed."

  5. #5

    Default Re: Is it OK to pump just once to completely empty breasts?

    Hi hope you're feeling okay.
    To answer your specific question yes it is okay to pump just once to empty the breasts. This is in fact part of a protocol for severe over production which is known as the full drainage and block feeding method. It is something a mom probably does not want to do without talking to a lactation consultant, however it is something that has been studied and is recommended in certain cases of severe overproduction. Yes it is certainly true that "extra" pumping increases milk production. But sometimes it appears to help to empty the breast early and then start block feeding but that's for dealing with overproduction.

    When the mother has mastitis going on, she probably does not want to be doing any kind of block feeding at that point. The most important thing to do at that time is to empty the breasts as thoroughly as possible and as frequently as possible. Of course it's usually best and easiest if this is done by baby. However if pumping is needed to do this then in those cases it is okay to pump in fact it would be important. Once the mastitis this has cleared up, if mom needs to be taking additional steps to deal with overproduction then she can do so.
    The long time LLL mantra for mastitis is "empty breast, lots of rest." don't forget the lots of rest part!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Is it OK to pump just once to completely empty breasts?

    Also, while a plug and mastitis are often related or coexist, they are not the same thing. You could treat mastitis with antibiotics and still have a plug. You could also move the plug out, and still be suffering from mastitis.
    Kelly mom has a good article describing the differences between the two. We also have a nice short suggestions tip sheet on this site specifically for plugs and another one for mastitis. If you search 'toolkit' on this site, you will find those articles on the page that says "tear-sheet toolkit."

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