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Thread: Pumping with small breasts? Low supply!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    11

    Default Pumping with small breasts? Low supply!!

    Hi there. I'm new to LLL posts, but LOVE all the support going on around here!
    Here's my problem: my milk supply is dropping, as I see now is common with those of us that have to work and pump. I've seen the Stanford video everyone's posted that was totally and completely inspiring, and I was so sure that if I used those methods I'd just double my output...

    Unfortunately, the whole breast massage/hand expression thing is extremely difficult when one has small breasts. I know, you'd think even a small-breasted gal would be larger when breastfeeding... still only maybe a small B cup when I'm totally engorged! So how on earth am I going to make what I need for my DD? She's almost 8 months old and I can only pump about 5 or 6 ounces in an 8 hour day (she usually drinks more like 7 or 8 -- we're doing solids twice a day also)! I don't have time to pump much more... usually twice, every once in awhile I can squeeze in a QUICK third pumping.

    I've been on the fenugreek and mother's milk tea, and they worked for awhile, so I backed off on taking them, and now that I've started them again they're not working as well. Wanting to think about the prescription meds for milk supply, but hate the thought of taking medications and would love to make it work without them!

    Any advice would be SOOOOOO appreciated!
    Married to my best friend mommy to my first sweet girl (6/10/09)
    most of the time, a few days a week

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    110

    Default Re: Pumping with small breasts? Low supply!!

    Hello!

    Funny, I thought of myself as a BM nazi :-)

    First-- Take a breath. :-)

    I had milk supply issues like nobody's business. And we got through it! Remember it might seem like an endless problem but it's really just a short time before things change and you are in the next phase of things!

    Breast size and pump output are not directly related. I have always struggled with pump output, and I have average sized breasts.
    My cousin, with extremely small breasts ( also a small B when engorged) was able to get 8 ounces of milk out of ONE PUMP session!!!

    I have never had great pump output, and thus ended up pumping a LOT-- I was away from my infant about 30 hours a week, and I pumped 7 days a week up to 7 times a day to be able to leave him just 9-10 ounces a day on the 3 days that I was out of the house!! It was a major effort, but in retrospect it was just a few months until he was eating solids like a pro!

    Remember that allowing your baby to nurse on demand when you ARE home can make up for a lot, because nursing session can provide a lot more milk than any pumping sessions.

    As far as supplements, I used:
    daily:
    oatmeal
    9 capsules fenugreek (3, 3 times a day)
    Mother's milk tea 4 cups a day
    Skin-to-skin session at least once a day (nursing with our tops naked)
    Small pump sessions between nursings.
    Breast compression during nursing.

    GOOD LUCK! you are almost at the year mark!!
    for me, I found that at the 1 yr mark things got REALLY really easy and it's been pure pleasure to keep up nursing since then!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    5,883

    Default Re: Pumping with small breasts? Low supply!!

    How long are you pumping each time? Are you pumpn through more than one letdown? Three oz per session is decent. I think the problem you are having is not pumping enough times and possibly long enough at each session.

    When I pumped to replace a feed I had to pump through two letdown to get 3 oz and that took 15 minutes minimum. Can you pump in the car on the way to work hands free? that would probably help.

    Also, as pp indicated there is no correlation between breast size and milk supply. A lady I know nursed four children with breasts that amounted to nipple only in size. Even lactating she wore training bra size and she could hold a bottle under one side whole nursing on the other and get 2-3 oz in the bottle. Her mom was flat chested and the same way.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Pumping with small breasts? Low supply!!

    Thank you both for the replies. Sorry it's been so long since I've been on here. But now I'm even more discouraged cause it seems my supply is dwindling even more since my family has had a majorly stressful week.

    To answer sleckey, thank you for the support!! I needed that! And I'm doing the oatmeal and some fenugreek, but only maybe 4-6 capsules a day, so I'll try upping that, and doing more mother's milk. I was worried it would be too much... And yes, I do need to do more skin-to-skin, both for her and for me! As far as the *small* pumpings between nursings, I'm so scared she won't have enough when she does nurse! I already feel like she nearly drains me dry!

    Now for both of your questions on either number of pumpings or length... I just don't know how to do it more often at my job. I work at a hospital, and sometimes am so busy I even have to only pump once. Yes, I know that the law regulates the number of breaks you have, but sometimes it really is so busy that I don't get the full time. And to sixyearplan, I've never been able to achieve a second letdown. I do use compression and maybe get A TINY bit more out, but not even maybe 1/4 of an ounce. I know every bit helps so I do still try, but like I said, I don't have time to keep trying most of the time. And I could try pumping on the way to work (yikes it sounds scary!!) but usually it's like 5-10 minutes after I nurse her, so don't know if I'd even have any left!

    Thank you again for the ideas and support... keep 'em coming! I'm so tired and frustrated, and the thought of even having to supplement with one bottle a day makes me feel so discouraged and guilty! Not to mention the fact that people say that even doing that will make your supply drop even more... Thank you again!
    Married to my best friend mommy to my first sweet girl (6/10/09)
    most of the time, a few days a week

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    144

    Default Re: Pumping with small breasts? Low supply!!

    I, too have small breasts and have to pump since I work full time. It is HARD and I give you for sticking with it with a demanding job. I think that small breasts have nothing to do with supply. Some women seem to have a set capacity. I know that I seem to have to pump more often to get enough that I need for a day (approximately 12 oz.) than others. My average pump session yields 2-3 oz., so I have to pump at least 4-6 times a day to get that amount. I know it is not easy, but one thing that helped me was pumping while I ate breakfast before LO wakes up. That was often a very productive session since it is early in the morning and prolactin levels are high. I also pumped in the car. Get a hands free setup, turn on the pump before you leave, turn it off when you are done with your commute. I used a nursing cover to be discreet.

    Pumping through 2 letdowns is also huge! I can sometimes double my output at a pumping session if I pump through 2 letdowns. It takes me 20-30 minutes to do that. I know you are busy at work, but if your state has laws that protect you, then I would take advantage of them. If your employer gives you a problem, go to HR. It's not like you will be pumping for eternity. Most women pump for a year (give or take a few months).

    Don't EVER worry about pumping and not having enough for LO. It's all demand=supply. When you pump you are training your body to make more milk! I would often pump in the car on the way to pick up DD and then sit down and nurse her immediately after. She would sometimes get impatient that she had to work for the milk, but I would just tell her, "good things come to those who wait." The more often you empty your breasts, the more milk your body will produce. Our bodies are amazing in that way! Your LO will always be able to get milk out, no matter when you've pumped last because your body is ALWAYS making milk.

    You CAN do this if you are committed. Remember, you have to advocate for yourself at work, and to be successful you will need to pump more than once a day. I know that can be tricky with scheduling, but perhaps you can approach your employer if you are finding you can't get a 30 min. lunch and 2 15 minute breaks to pump during your shift.

    Good luck to you!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Pumping with small breasts? Low supply!!

    Just to give you feedback about it not having anything to do with the size of your breasts - I'm currently wearing a size F bra and I'm lucky to pump 10 ounces a day. I definitely don't pump as often as I should (no breastfeeding - just pumping) but at the highest point ever, I was at 16 ounces in one day, and that only happened once. I'm thinking quite seriously about quitting soon as it's an awful lot of effort over 10 ounces - lately I've been going WAY too long without pumping and even then I'm lucky to get 5 ounces in one session and that's after going 12 hours without pumping. Some of us just aren't made to be high volume pumpers I guess. Good luck though, you've done an amazing job already - keep at it.

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