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Thread: Exclusive pumping help

  1. #1

    Red face Exclusive pumping help

    My Lo is 9 weeks old. She was born 6 1/2 weeks early and stayed in the NICU for two weeks. In combination of being in the hospital and having a hard time latching I was unable to breastfeed, however since the day she was born I have been pumping. My supply has never been an issue, and I think might actually be an oversupply.

    I was pumping every 3 hours for about 20 minutes. However I am trying to reduce that. I honestly don't know if 20 minutes is sufficient or overkill.

    I am constantly in pain with both of my breasts, they never feel empty and constantly feel like I have clogged ducts. Recently I had a case of mastitis in my left breast. Ouch!

    I am trying to reduce the amount of times I pump in a day and honestly just trying to reduce the constant pain I am in.

    Any suggestions on how I go about reducing the number of times I pump, and helping to make my breasts feel better without the hard rocks in them?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Exclusive pumping help

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the new baby and on making it 9 weeks of exclusive pumping! That's a real achievement!

    Given that you feel constantly full and in pain, have recently had mastitis, and feel like you have clogged ducts, you probably do not want to be decreasing the number of times you pump right now. The best way to deal with fullness, clogs, and mastitis is to remove milk from the breast more frequently, not less. But instead of pumping for 20 minutes per pump, try making some of your sessions brief, maybe 5-10 minutes, hand-express rather than pumping if you can, and don't try to fully empty the breast. You're aiming to keep milk flowing and keep yourself comfortable, not empty yourself out and boost production even higher.

    How much milk are you pumping per day? If you can give us a sense of that, maybe we can help you figure out how to throttle back on supply and on pumping.

    I know that pumping sucks. 20 minutes spent on pumping, every 3 hours, means you are spending around 3 hours per day on pumping!!!! But now is probably not the time to decrease the number of pump sessions. Maybe in the future, when you have managed to get the clogs and oversupply sorted out, then you can work on decreasing to fewer pump sessions. But please keep in mind that while some EP moms can get down to just 4-5 pumps a day and still have enough milk for their babies, most EP moms need to pump more often in order to get enough milk and stay comfortable.

    The last question I have is, does the baby have any physical issue which is preventing her from breastfeeding? If not, now would be a great time to try putting her to the breast again. Who knows, maybe it will work and then you can ditch the pump! It might also be a way to deal with the fullness and discomfort between feedings- even babies who aren't nursing well, or who are "just" pacifying themselves on the breast, can help remove some of that excess milk.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Exclusive pumping help

    Thanks for the support.
    Currently I pump at 6, 10, 2, 6, 10, and once over night.
    Typically I pump 4.5 ounces each time. 3 ounces from one breast and then about half from the other.
    There is nothing preventing the baby from latching. I think a lot of it was mental on my side because I couldn't tell how much she was eating. In the NICU we were drilled that she had to eat a certain amount each time.

    If I start breastfeeding I wouldn't know where to start. How long should she nurse? Both breasts or just one?
    I am willing to give it another chance if it helps me feel better and she gets enough food.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Exclusive pumping help

    Update- I tried breastfeeding, she took to one breast but only nursed for a short period of time. She then pulled away. I was able to burp her and switched to other breast. She didn't latch and actually just fell asleep. She was sleeping so soundly I was able to move her into her crib. Is that normal? Now I am worried she didn't get enough milk at that feeding.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Exclusive pumping help

    Whoa, that's fabulous! A lot of babies are reluctant to take the breast after a long time period of bottle feeding. I would keep offering the breast every time she indicates that she is hungry, or even before. Offer when she seems mellow and calm. Offer when she seems cranky and wants to go to sleep. If you continue to ure bottles, offer the breast at the beginning and end of every feeding, so that baby learns to associate the breast with feelings of comfort and satiation.

    Meanwhile, watch her diaper output very carefully. As long as she is having enough wets/poops, she is getting enough to eat. Don't worry about baby getting a "certain amount" every time she feeds- that's a reasonable strategy for a NICU baby but is not necessary for a healthy, term nursling. For a healthy term baby, feedings are going to vary in size- sometimes baby will be ravenous and will eat 4 oz, sometimes she'll just want a little snack or a drink and will eat 1 oz or less. It's a mix of a few big and many small feedings that adds up to baby getting all her needs met in a day.

    In terms of how long baby should nurse, anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour at a time is normal. Some feedings will be long, some short. Frequency of feeding matters far more than duration. In general, a breastfed baby will eat at least 8x per day and most will nurse far more often, often 10-12x per day or even more frequently. Some of those sessions should take place overnight.

    Instead of thinking about whether to offer both breasts or just one, it's often better to take a "finish the first breast first" approach. That means allowing baby to spend as much time as she likes on breast A, and switching her to breast B when she seems finished with the first breast. So if she starts to fall asleep, or her suckling slows way down, that's a good indication that she's done with breast A and ready to try breast B. She may take breast B, or she may not. She may feed for a long time on breast B, or she may just have a quick snack there. She may even finish breast B and still seem hungry, in which case you offer breast A again.

    Seriously, fantastic news that baby took the breast last night. Keep us updated on how things are going, okay!?! Totally cheering for you over here.

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