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Thread: Exclusively pumping, pumping taking too long-- please help

  1. #1

    Default Exclusively pumping, pumping taking too long-- please help

    Hello everyone,
    I am hoping for some advice.
    I have been exclusively pumping my LO for 8 weeks now. She was unable to latch and nurse properly since she was born quite small and so pumping has become the best way to provide her nutrition.

    I started out pumping every 2hours around the clock and have since gradually increased my pumping sessions to every 5 hours. I typically make about 40-45oz a day, so consider my supply to be pretty good. My big concern is that my pumping sessions are incredibly long.

    I very rarely am able to pump for 20minutes as is recommended. My "short" sessions usually last about 40minutes and I often feel that I need to pump for at least an hour so I can get the breasts to empty. At 20minutes, I usually only have about 4oz and I tend to make closer to 8-12oz per session and so I don't want to stop pumping.

    Does anyone have suggestions to expedite pumping?

    I use a Medela pump in style pump. I use the Pumpin Pals flanges. I have experimented with various flange sizes, various pumping speeds, I perform hand massage for the majority of each pumping session, I do what I can to relax... etc.

    Please let me know if you have suggestions! I'm not sure if I can continue to pump for my girl if the pumping continues to be so long each time.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Exclusively pumping, pumping taking too long-- please he

    So right now you pump about 4 or 5 times a day? And how much do you get at each pump session- about 8 ounces at a time? How much milk is your baby eating each day? Typical intake for a breastfed baby is between 25 to 35 ounces per day.

    I guess you were told that you have to pump until you are "empty." This is a milk production increasing technique. If it is taking over 30 minutes to "empty' the breasts, and you are producing more milk than your baby needs, there is probably no reason to keep doing that.

    HOWEVER, you have to consider that even if your milk production is more than enough now, this does not mean it always will be. We know that generally speaking, EPing moms have a more difficult time with maintaining normal milk production for the time they wish to lactate than do nursing moms. So that is something to consider if you reduce overall time with the pump. However, it is generally understood that frequency of milk extraction is more important when maintaining normal production levels, because when there is a long time between pump sessions, the body begins to get the message to make less milk.

    I am thinking that you are pumping very infrequently, at least as compared to how often a baby would actually nurse, which would be 8-12 times a day or more, which is what one is trying to replicate (as close as is reasonable) when eping. So it makes sense in that case, that pumping less often means each session will take longer. The "20 minute" guideline is assuming the eping mom is nursing with a frequency of about every 3 hours or more often.

    So, what if you increased the frequency with which you pump, but pump for a shorter period of time?

    What if you tried increasing pumping frequency again to 6-8 times a day, and then just pumped for 20 minutes. That would be much closer to the frequency that a baby would normally be nursing. If you did that, would you still get enough overall milk? And how would you feel- would your breasts feel less full between sessions, more comfortable? or the opposite?

    Because I think what is happening now is 1) You make lots of milk, even more than your baby actually needs each day, I assume? 2) You are pumping with very low frequency, so your breasts are getting very full and it is going to take that much longer to extract the milk. I also suspect 3) that you are a mother with a very large breast storage capacity, which is why you are able to go so long between pump sessions and have breasts so heavy with milk without having great discomfort. There is also a possibility (in my opinion) that 5) the infrequency that you pump and the accompanying build up of large amounts of milk in the breasts is causing your breast tissue to swell slightly, making milk extraction a slower process.

    Also, there is no specific age after which it is impossible to bring a baby to the breast. Children several months old and even well over a year old have been brought to the breast. So if you wish to consider trying to nurse your baby let us know and we can direct you to information on that subject.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Exclusively pumping, pumping taking too long-- please he

    with all the above, particularly the following:

    So, what if you increased the frequency with which you pump, but pump for a shorter period of time?
    I would only add that when pumping more frequently but for less time, you may or may not feel as if there is still some milk in the breast at the end of a pump session, compared to when you were doing much longer but less frequent sessions. Either way, it's okay. As MaddieB said, pumping to "emptiness" is not really necessary as long as you are getting enough milk at the end of the day.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Exclusively pumping, pumping taking too long-- please he

    Thank you for the response!
    To answer some of your questions.
    Yes, I am overproducing for my baby. I have been working to build a good freezer stash for her to allow me to feel comfortable returning to work (I work very long shifts) as well as to allow myself to stop pumping when I feel I am ready and give her more time with the benefits of breastmilk. I am not sure how long I will be able to pump for, so I want to have as much as I can in the freezer for her.
    She takes in about 23-26oz day.
    You are correct in that I pump 4-5x/days, I try to pump 5 x but sometimes with my work schedule that is just not possible. I get an average of 8-11oz per session.
    The reason I pump 5 times a day is practical for me. I started pumping less frequently when I noticed that when I accidentally missed a session my milk production completely compensated for this. I have experimented with the number of pumpings/day over a month or so and found that my overall production was no worse (in fact, it got a little higher when pumping LESS frequently). I produce better when my breasts are fuller for whatever reason.
    I should also mention that even when I was pumping every 2 hours around the clock, which I did for 4 weeks, most of my sessions were 30minutes or so in length but I did have at least a few 45 minutes to 1 hour sessions even then. Pumping always took me a long time.
    After 20minutes of pumping, I usually have only a few oz of milk, so it would be difficult to stop pumping then. Yesterday I experimented with stopping after 30minutes-- I only got 5z total which is a huge reduction from my normal amount. I made 11oz the previous session which was over an hour in length. It feels wrong to stop with so little produced, but maybe if I stick to it longer it will balance out. I'm not sure. Either way, on days when I am working, pumping more often would not be an option for me and so I worry that if my body again gets used to pumping more often that I will be very uncomfortable while at work.
    In terms of discomfort felt with the breasts getting very full-- for whatever reason the breasts don't feel too bad until the 5 hour mark. Pumping at 4 hours, for example, they still feel fairly empty. I don't know if this is related to the size of my breasts as they are quite large naturally.

    Thanks again for the input!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Exclusively pumping, pumping taking too long-- please he

    I understand that your perception is that pumping less frequently increased your milk production. This may have happened for any number or reasons. But I can promise you that low pumping frequency over time is NOT the way to tell the body to keep making milk.

    As I explained above, you seem to have a very large breast storage capacity. This is what would make it ok to pump as little as 6-8 times in 24 hours as I suggested. I do not think you can keep pumping 4-5 times and expect milk production to not be compromised.

    Unfortunately nature does not care about what is convenient. A mother's body is expecting to have milk removed as often as a baby would need to eat, and that is more than 4-5 times in 24 hours for at least the first 6 months. If you give the body a not normal message in terms of frequency of milk removal, the body is likely to not behave normally.

    If you are going to keep pumping with way below normal frequency, you are probably going to continue to have long pump sessions, although as your milk production reduces, presumably they will get shorter. When a mom has OP, some reduction in milk production is likely at any time, but especially at around 3 or 4 months- this is a time many moms find that milk production reduces considerably, if they have been making more than enough prior. I also think it is likely your milk production will reduce perhaps more and more quickly than would be typical due to the low frequency pump schedule. This is especially so if you pump for less amount of time, but at the same low frequency. Of course, at this point you make more than enough so it may be some time before your milk production dips below what is enough for your baby, so perhaps reduction in milk production is not a big concern to you. Many moms with op wish to reduce their milk production, understandably.

    If you want to try pumping more frequently but for a shorter amount of time, it will probably take a little time for your body to readjust. I guess I should have suggested that you reduce the length of sessions slowly and gradually after increasing frequency of pump sessions. When it comes to this kind of thing, it always makes sense to implement changes gradually with an eye toward lowering the impact on your health and your milk production. Sudden big changes can cause problems, in other words, and milk production patterns do not change on a dime.

    I would also add that your breast pump is not designed for extremely long pump sessions. Of course it is not designed for super frequent pump session either- this is a pump made for moms who are nursing baby at home and only need to pump 3 times a day or so while at work, and for a normal length pump sessions. This is not to say it is impossible to EP with such a pump, but some moms do run into issues. Have you considered trying (or have you tried) a rented hospital grade pump?
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; September 22nd, 2015 at 08:59 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Exclusively pumping, pumping taking too long-- please he

    Thank you again for your responses.
    I was basing my pumping on a book that I read about exclusively pumping which suggested that the total duration of pumping is more important than the number of pumping/day and discussed dropping sessions in the way that I had followed. I guess this is something that there may be differing opinions about. I will try to increase my pumping frequency on my days off from work and hope for the best. Very good idea about renting a hospital grade pump-- I will look into that.
    Thanks again!

  7. #7
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    Jun 2009
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    Default Re: Exclusively pumping, pumping taking too long-- please he

    I am taking my information from sources like the Nursing Mothers Guide to Making More Milk, kellymom.com., The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, etc. These sources use evidence based sources for their recommendations, and their recommendation regarding frequency vs. length of pump session is that frequency of milk removal is more important for overall production than length of sessions, although both things are important as well as pump performance. But of course not every nuance of milk production has been completely studied! I would be interested in that book you are talking about, lots of moms struggle with EPing and if there is a way to decrease pump frequency safely and effectively I am sure that would help many moms.

    Also here is simple infographic regarding this milk storage capacity thing that I was taking about. This explains why a lower frequency of milk removal works fine for some moms but not others. : http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/blog/...-capacity.html

  8. #8

    Default Re: Exclusively pumping, pumping taking too long-- please he

    The EP book is called Exclusively Pumping Breast milk: a guide to providing expressed breast milk for your baby, by Stephanie Casemore. The book, in my opinion, can be a bit wordy and repetitive at times but it is also filled with a lot of information about EPing with many tips as well as just breastfeeding in general.

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