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Thread: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

  1. #1
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    Feb 2012
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    Default 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    Hi, I'm still nursing my nearly-two-and-a-half year old son. We nurse maybe 3ish to 4ish times a day on average (more on the weekends usually). I don't think my milk supply is that great anymore but I haven't tried pumping in awhile so I don't really know. I just notice that I generally only have one let-down per session anymore. Also I can go a solid 16 hours without nursing or pumping with only minor discomfort. So I'm guessing my supply is pretty low. Also my son has remarked a couple times, after nursing for a few minutes, that there's "no more milk" left on that side (like, it is there initially, but after a couple minutes nursing on that side there isn't any more). Other times there seems to be as much milk as he wants though.

    Anyway, my dad is having hip replacement surgery in late May and is very anxious about it and understandably would like me to be there (I'm a doctor and I think the idea of having me there makes him feel more secure). I don't feel comfortable leaving DS for more than about 24-36 hours, so I'm planning a VERY SHORT trip, arriving the day of surgery and flying back late on the day after surgery. I don't think for such a short trip that it makes sense to bring DS--the disruption in his routine isn't worth it, and having a toddler underfoot with my dad in the hospital would not be great either.

    DS has managed before with me being gone for nearly 24 hours, although he was very clingy for a week or so after and wanted to nurse ALL THE TIME. (He told me he wanted "more and more and more nu-nu (our word for nursing) because he missed me". Sweet). So I think DS will be fine, although not too happy about me being gone.

    I'm just wondering, at this point in our nursing life, is it necessary for me to bring a pump with me while I'm gone? When we were apart for almost 24 hours, I didn't pump, although I did get a bit uncomfortable, and I think my supply took a hit when I did that twice in one week. (My son seems to be working diligently to get my supply back up ever since). I can hand express some, although I don't think I get as much as I do with the pump, so that would probably be alright for my comfort but I don't know about the effect on supply. I am willing to bring a manual pump if necessary; the electric seems like too much trouble at this point. I have never used a manual pump though and don't know how well it would work.

    I have mixed feelings about my son still nursing so much at his age but I don't think I want this trip to precipitate weaning. I want him to do that on his own accord and his own schedule. He seemed sad the couple of times he remarked that there was "no more milk" left. I'm concerned that if I don't pump or hand express or anything, my supply will take a big hit and it will encourage weaning. Which wouldn't be the end of the world at this point, but this isn't really how I would prefer for it to happen.

    I realize this is mostly a matter of personal preference, but any advice re: whether to bring a pump or if hand expression for comfort is enough? Do you think my supply will take a major hit if I DON'T pump for 30-36 hours and just hand express for comfort?

    Thanks in advance for any advice!
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Default Re: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    Not pump advice, but perspective around nursing frequency. Don't worry for a moment about your son nursing 3-4x/day at 2.5. My son is the same age and still nurses 10+ times per day. Every child is different and will progress at his own rate.

    I know you know this, but I recall your receiving pressure from your DH to scale down nursing, and I wanted to offer reassurance that it isn't wrong to allow your DS to maintain a moderate nursing frequency past 2.

    Hope your trip and your dad's surgery are smooth sailing!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    Thanks, alphawoman I appreciate the reassurance. DH has been better lately--I don't think his opinion has basically changed but maybe he's decided it's not worth the fight. He shocked me recently--DS had a double ear infection with a fever above 103 F and DH's parents were visiting. DH informed his parents that I would be nursing DS as much as possible while he was sick, per the doctor's instructions, and that I would nursing in the living room, not going to the bedroom to do it. I was amazed, since, as you know, DH is generally not that keen on me nursing at this point, and I've never nursed in front of DH's parents, not even when DS was a newborn. Anyway I was very proud of him, putting his child's well-being above all else. The doctor made it pretty clear that it was important that DS be allowed to nurse unrestrictedly while sick, both to get fluid into him as well as for comfort, and DH took that to heart, so that was good. Nursing at this age is a parenting point we still don't really agree on, but at least we're not fighting about it and DH is tolerating it without any comments. So, I'm pleased about that. It's a lot better than it was. I don't agree with every single parenting thing he does either and I think some degree of mutual tolerance is in order.
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 29 months and going strong! for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    Can you self express? By hand I mean? I never figured out how but if you can no need to bring the pump. It might be good to have something just in case you get really full and it hurts, or worse, give yourself a plugged duct. Do you have a cheap hand pump?
    We , , , and with my little monkey, born 9/30/2012.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    I went through a similar thought process the last time I traveled, which was from a Thursday morning to Friday evening, so similar duration trip. In the end I decided trying to pump with a manual (or hand express) would be too tedious, so I took the electric pump. Anyway, I think you would be okay with a manual or with hand expression as needed for comfort, but if you decide to take the electric, here is what I did: I packed my purse into my rolling carry-on, and used the pump as my "personal item" during the flight - just stuck my wallet in there for easy access to my ID etc. That way I could still do carry on while having the pump with me. I also thought about taking the pump out of the bag and packing that, but I was worried about it getting banged around.

    Glad to hear DH is being more supportive - that's great that your pediatrician was so affirmative about breastfeeding while DS was sick! Hope your dad's surgery goes well.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    Thanks, everyone.

    Garsmum--I am able to hand express and that would be sufficient for comfort, I think, but I'm not sure what it would do to my supply. I definitely don't think I get out as much hand expressing as I do pumping, I'm just not that efficient at it.

    Bfwmom, thanks for the advice re: the electric pump, I'll consider it. I'm sure I'd get a lot of crap from DH and my dad if they realized what I was up to which is somewhat of a deterrent. (DH definitely does NOT think I should be working to preserve my supply any more but it's not his decision). Anyway I'll consider it.

    Honestly unless it's going to cause a major hit to my supply I'd really prefer to hand express for comfort and be done with it. If it IS going to cause a major hit to my supply then I'll pump. I'm not sure at this point in lactation how long it would take without milk removal for my supply to decrease significantly...is 30 hours really gonna matter especially if I hand express a bit? I am ovulating if that matters and my supply is already pretty low.

    I pumped last night as I was working an overnight 16 hr shift and only got about an ounce from both sides combined. This was about 7 hrs after I last nursed DS. That made me a little sad...at one point I was a MILK MACHINE and clearly that stage is over. I know at this stage nursing isn't really about nutrition and is more about comfort and connection and I also know DS can probably extract more than a pump but it does make me think our nursing journey is winding down. I know it's natural but it's also natural to be a little sad about it.

    Anyway--my big concern is whether just hand expressing for 36 hrs is going to do major damage to what's left of my supply. I think if my supply drops much more it might precipitate weaning and this isn't how I want that to happen. Last month, I went 24 hrs without any milk removal (no hand expression, nothing) for 2 days in a row because of a crazy period at work. I only nursed 2x in between the two 24 hr periods without milk removal and I think my supply took a big hit from that and hasn't recovered. So if that's going to happen again then given my goals of allowing natural weaning and preserving what's left of my supply, I should probably pump.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    I think that since this is worrying you (which I understand!), why not just take the electric pump? Because let's say you don't take the pump, and your supply decreases, and DS weans shortly after. Well, that may or may not have anything to do with the trip, but you might FEEL like it had to do with the trip. So why not just take that out of the equation? As for DH and your dad, you could sell it as a comfort issue, ie that without pumping you'll get pretty uncomfortable after 36 hours, and taking the electric pump is the easiest way for you to deal with that.

    The whole pumping thing, in my mind, is a way to reconcile our modern lives with our ancestral ones. The modern you has decided that she wants to go on a quick trip without DS. The ancestral you is not ready to wean. The pump helps you reconcile those two facts. I understand why pumping to maintain supply for a two-and-a-half year old seems a little crazy to the modern you. But I think the ancestral you gets it.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    I like the modern you vs. ancestral you point!

    Another reason to take the pump is to deal with things like engorgement, plugs, or mastitis. If one of these adverse events pops up while you're on your trip, hand expression might not be enough to deal with it. That's why I would at least consider the conservative course of taking the pump.
    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: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    Thanks, bfwmom and mommal. What you guys are saying makes sense. I'll go ahead and bring the pump and if DH or my dad notice/comment, I'll sell it as a health and comfort issue.

    On a side note am I weird that I'm sad about my supply going down? I was kind of upset that I could only pump an ounce yesterday. I think it really did take a hit last month when I stupidly went two 24 hr periods without milk removal. Is it crazy to try to raise my supply at this point? I think my son would like it. He's still quite emotionally attached to nursing and has seemed sad a couple times when there wasn't as much milk as he wanted. I could hand express a bit at work a few times a day and maybe that would help? Or is it a once it's gone, it's gone thing at this stage of the game, now that DS is older and I'm back to ovulating? I'm really feeling like I'm nuts for being sad over this but "ancestral me" as you out it is sad nevertheless. Maybe I just need some time to get over it.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 36 hour trip--is pumping necessary?

    I don't think it's weird to be sad. Fertility, kids, nursing are all emotional issues to me - not to mention the effects of all the hormonal changes! As for ovulation, I've always gotten my period back pretty early postpartum (before 6 months), and though I sometimes see drops in supply before my period, I don't think ovulation per se dooms you to low supply. More likely as DS has tapered down how much milk he's drinking, your supply has gone down accordingly. But if you feel like work and not nursing as much has contributed to that as well, no harm in trying to boost supply a little. I don't think of hand expression as a big booster of supply, but it can't hurt to try. Better yet, a little nursing vacation with DS? (But if you do that, maybe don't tell DH that's the purpose - "I just want to take off a couple days with DS...")

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