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Pumping Pointers

Dec22

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesHi,

I’m due in late January with my first baby. I’ve had an easy pregnancy (knock on wood) and am planning to continue working until I go into labor and then return to work after my 12 weeks of maternity leave. I would love to exclusively breastfeed, but I also do not want to be tied to my baby all the time. I have a pump, but how do you get started? And when should I start? I want to hopefully get my supply to a point that I can freeze milk so that I can do crazy reckless things like leave my baby with Grandma for a night, but I just have no idea how to do it. Do you have any helpful tips or pointers or things you wish you’d known? Can you help, Boob-Master?

Thanks!
Megan

Okay, before I type another word, please promise me that sometime in the next month, BEFORE the baby arrives, you’ll find a local lactation consultant. Ask your friends or your OB/midwife, or even your future pediatrician’s office for a recommendation. If you can’t seem to get a specific “oh I used this woman and she was wonderful” recommendation from anybody, call La Leche League and get some names and do some interviews. You’ll want somebody with a good bedside manner, a breastfeeding philosophy similar to your own, and someone who — on the off chance that you run into trouble — is not going to be completely insane about supplementing and/or other nursing aids.

(My first LC spent the first 15 minutes of our visit bitching about formula in the hospital bags, likening it to “sending a crack baby’s mother home with drugs,” riiiiiight before she put Noah on the scale and realized how much weight he’d lost and that he actually NEEDED that formula in order to escape being rehospitalized. And then she wondered why I sat there sobbing for the rest of the appointment. And then probably wondered why I made my next appointment with SOMEBODY ELSE.)

My initial LC experience aside, I will testify to the skies that a good LC is essential, and not even just for first-time mothers. My LC’s office was a great resource for low-cost breastfeeding supplies: everything from pillows to gel pads to prescriptions for the absolutely essential All Purpose Nipple Ointment (APNO) and for helping me spot potential problems (think thrush or mastitis) before they turned into bigger problems. And my LC was a wonderful all-around postpartum resource for me, who would give me the encouragement and pep talks I so desperately needed AND give me permission to like, go out for dinner and a movie and leave the newborn with a grandparent, because she was a big believer that even exclusively nursing moms Need A Damn Break. And after struggling with supply problems the first time around, she came up with a plan ahead of time to start amping my supply up from the day Ezra was born. And it worked! Oh lands, did it ever work.

The pump, incidentally, was a big part of that plan. (Along with teas and herbal supplements.) So I admit I personally never had the experience of pumping just for daycare and nights out, at least not initially. My dreams of breastfeeding Noah exclusively were dashed long before my maternity leave was up, because I simply couldn’t pump very much milk at all, nor did it seem to be “enough” to keep my supply steady and level once I was back at work and using it instead of actually nursing all those hours.

I had a much more successful relationship with the pump the second time around and was eventually able to store and freeze plenty of extra milk while nursing exclusively at home, but the way I got there was unique to my situation. I pumped for 10 extra minutes after EVERY FEEDING from like, the DAY I BROUGHT EZRA HOME. I basically tricked my newly postpartum body into thinking I had twins, so it upped my supply accordingly. This is…well, probably not what you’ll need to do, without known or suspected supply problems. Again: a lactation consultant will be able to tell you everything that you need to know about pumping, for you and your boobs and your baby and your schedule and your wishes. Breastfeeding and pumping are not really one-size-fits-all with a set of established rules that work for everybody. Go get yourself a customized plan.

If I HAVE to commit to typing out some general tips I learned, well, here goes:

You can really start pumping any time. It’s best to feed the baby first, then add on five to 10 minutes on the pump immediately post-feeding. That way you aren’t denying the baby any of that essential milk while your body is still figuring out how much to make. HOWEVER, this approach can lead to oversupply problems, if you start before your body has regulated itself. Or it can help with undersupply, like it did for me! Ohhhh, good lord, I KNOW. Again: a good LC will help take the guesswork out of the “when to start” and “how often” question.

No matter WHEN you start or how often you pump, don’t expect to necessarily be stockpiling ounces and ounces of milk right from the start. And don’t assume that just because you can only pump an ounce and a half in 20 minutes means that’s all your poor baby is getting during a 20 minute nursing session. I cannot stress this enough: Your baby is way, way more efficient at getting milk out than the pump.

Pumping takes practice. So there’s this thing called “letdown.” It’s a…kind of a reflex, I guess, where your body realizes the baby wants milk and suddenly WHOOSH, you feel your boobs tingle maybe even swell a bit and you realize WHOA, there is milk there and the milk is ready and baby needs to EAT. NOW. It can be triggered by simple timing, the sound of your baby’s cry or the feeling of his breath on your chest or even just the smell of his head or clothing. The letdown makes it easier for your baby to get milk, and it also makes it easier for express milk via the pump. But since it’s a hormonal, mental thing, you may realize that you put the pump to your boobs and…nothing. Very little milk, and the slightly unsettling realization that you feel like a damn dairy cow. So you have to figure out ways to trigger the letdown (unless you’re pumping post-actual feeding). Some women use a photo of their baby or visualization techniques. I had the most success with smelling Ezra’s clothing or blankets, but also found that turning on a sink faucet worked pretty well too.

(God, just typing that triggered a phantom letdown feeling. BOOBS ARE WEIRD.)

And lastly, since you mentioned you already bought your pump: Don’t open it yet. Don’t even take the shrink-wrapped or bagged-up parts out of the box to examine them. You may not ever actually use that pump. While the plastic manual/hand pumps and double-electric pumps sold at the baby stores seem like a totally essential item that YOU MUST BUY BEFORE BABY IS BORN OR ELSE ALL IS LOST, the fact is that they simply don’t end up working for a decent-sized segment of the breastfeeding population. Both times, I needed to rent a hospital-grade pump for the first few months in order to actually, you know, GET MILK OUT OF MY BOOBS. Eventually, with Ezra, I was able to return the rental and downgrade to the popular Medela Pump-in-Style. (Never with Noah, though. I ALWAYS needed the heavy-duty pump that went up to 11, so to speak.)

The Pump-in-Style is a GREAT pump for working moms with healthy, established supplies…but seriously, it’s expensive and should probably only be purchased once you KNOW for a fact that you are headed back to work with a healthy, established supply and not before. I registered for a pump when I was pregnant with Noah and multiple people warned me not to bother, and to simply request a rental at the hospital, but I didn’t listen, because BABY THINGS! I NEED TO BUY ALL THE BABY THINGS! Yeah. I totally should have listened, because I never, ever used whatever pricey Avent pump thing I initially ended up with.

Anyway, that’s probably all the general pumping advice I can offer without getting (even more) uselessly specific to my specific experiences. And I probably could have saved us all a LOT of time by just beginning and ending with the lactation consultant bit. So just go back and re-read that first paragraph and go find yourself a bona fide Boob Expert to guide you through the Incredibly Natural Process Of Breastfeeding That Women Have Been Doing For Centuries But For Some Reason It’s A Lot More Complicated Now Than Back When We Were All Just On The Fields & Tundra Or Whatever.

__________________________________________________________________
If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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36 Responses to “Pumping Pointers”

  1. pogita Dec 22 at 10:50 am Reply Reply

    The way I built up supply was to feed the baby on one boob and then pump the other one. Whoa boy did I ever have supply. I started a couple days after the baby was born and continued through my six week (Thank you oh so generous state university’s “family friendly” policy) maternity leave.

    I had a ton of milk stockpiled and the baby gained weight like crazy. I’m pretty sure my LC devised this plan based on my particular situation though. So make sure you find an LC you like. Some of them are amazing and some of them are awful. You don’t want to find out the one you chose is awful while you are all sleep-deprived and confused….

  2. Olivia Dec 22 at 11:00 am Reply Reply

    I pumped for 11 months after going back to work. 1) Amy is so right about the baby being way more efficient at removing milk then the pumps.
    2)From my personal experience, if you seem to be pumping way more milk then you need, be cautious about reducing the amount you pump. Your supply may dip and it’s hard to go back up.
    3)Some babies eventually figure out if they just wait until mommy comes home they can get the fresh stuff instead of the bottled. It’s called reverse cycling and it’s when a baby will drink only a litte from the bottle to hold off hunger during the day, and then nurse a whole lot while mama is home. I offer this up so your care provider doesn’t worry too much if baby seems to be eating very little.
    4)Amen to LCs and/or La Leche League where you can get advice and maybe meet other pumping mamas.

  3. liz Dec 22 at 11:57 am Reply Reply

    My son HATED breastfeeding. He liked facing out and, since I was huge even without the extra oomph lactating gave, it was a struggle to get him latched on.

    So.

    I pumped for nine months and supplemented with formula and we all wound up okay.

    But

    For WEEKS I felt like a failure because I couldn’t feed my son the way I had expected

    So!

    Remember that it’s a process, and that it will have ups and downs and I totally third the advice to get cosy with a LC now.

    And also, Medela’s hands-free pumping attachments (needs a special bra) will allow you to read, or knit, or eat your lunch while pumping. They saved my sanity and are completely responsible for extending my pumping.

  4. M Dec 22 at 12:12 pm Reply Reply

    Amalah gives great advice here, and I just want to corroborate it by sharing with Megan a bit of my experience.  First, while LCs can be worth their weight in gold, they often have conflicting ideas about what might solve particular problems.  Therefore, the “shop around” approach advocated by Amalah is a fantastic idea.  (I had a lot of problems [for a lot of specific reasons] with breast feeding my son during his first month, and–of the [six] different LCs and LLL-ers I sought out for help–my breast-feeding specialist of a pediatrician helped me the most).  Second, I would suggest that you actually return the pump.  I, too, bought a (very expensive) pump too early, and although the pump worked fine for me (the Pump in Style), insurance would have covered it if I had simply waited a bit longer (my son ended up in NICU, and the LCs there could and would have prescribed the pump for me).

    Finally, I also want to say that breast feeding really is really easy for a lot of Moms.  It wasn’t for me (although, after getting the help I needed, I was able to regulate my over-supply and continue to stock away a very healthy reserve for daycare and date nights), but it is and has been for a lot of women I know.

    Good luck!

  5. kenandbelly Dec 22 at 12:22 pm Reply Reply

    I’m with Pogita– pumping on the other side while nursing can work really well!

    Since my babe was nursing as I pumped, letdown wasn’t a problem. I liked that it meant that the bottle would contain the same mix of foremilk and hindmilk that she got during a nursing session– pumping after nursing results in a bottle with mostly hind milk. It meant that the overall contents of the bottle were consistent with what she got during a nursing session. I also appreciated how it helped condition my body and my baby to a schedule of more intense, less frequent nursing sessions. Being able to go 4 or so hours comfortably between nursing sessions was super helpful– I could pump a bottle during our last nursing session in the morning before I went to work, pump only once during the workday (two bottles worth at lunchtime), and then pump another bottle while nursing as soon I was home from work. This routine worked great for us– childcarers had plenty of bottles to give her during the day when I was at work and I was able to build a small stock of milk in the freezer as well.

    I used the Lansinoh pump and recommend it.

  6. eva Dec 22 at 12:47 pm Reply Reply

    I third the pumping left boob while feeding from the right.  I do it about twice a week with a Medela Swing pump and now that my baby girl is 3 months old, I get about 3 ounces per pump.  When she was a newer newborn-y baby, I’d only get about 1-2 ounces.  I only say this because you will meet moms who say they get like, 5 oz per pumping, or that their left boob leaks out a good 4 ounces per feeding without a pump so they just hold a freakin’ CUP there….and it’s all normal.   I pumped from day 1 with my first baby and didn’t remember to start until #2 was 3 or 4 weeks old.

  7. Nora Dec 22 at 1:03 pm Reply Reply

    One other recommendation, if the pumping is uncomfortable, or pinching, or hurting in any way, change the “horn” size. I don’t know what the part is technically called but the first one I had was too small and really hurt. I had a rental from a local baby-stuff store and when I returned it to actually buy one, I was complaining to the clerk about how it hurt and she gave me a smaller size “horn” to try and it felt sooo much better, I didn’t grit my teeth every time I had to pump.

  8. IrishCream Dec 22 at 1:05 pm Reply Reply

    I pumped for the first three weeks while my daughter and I were struggling with breastfeeding, and then I took a couple of months off. When I started pumping again two weeks before my return to work, I was super stressed because I could only pump two or three oz, and my girl was eating waaaay more than that per bottle. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I produce four – six oz twice a day while I am at work… It had not occurred to me that I would have more milk for pumping when I was not simultaneously feeding the baby. Duh!

  9. Angela Dec 22 at 1:07 pm Reply Reply

    If you have 12 weeks of maternity leave, I might recommend holding off on starting pumping until your baby is a few weeks old (unless you have supply problems/actual medical advice that says otherwise, of course). The whole learning-to-nurse process left me really sore for a good week or two after my daughter was born; pumping would have been really uncomfortable. I rented a hospital-grade pump when she was about 3 weeks old, I think. By then things had toughened up and pumping went pretty well, and I still had plenty of time to build up a supply in the freezer before I went back to work.

    Once I figured out that pumping did work for me, I returned the rental pump and bought a used breast pump on craigslist. People are squeamish about this for some reason, but folks, the milk never goes in the actual pump itself! I just got new horns and tubes and was good to go.

    I also did the nurse on one side/pump on the other thing (although I didn’t do them at the same time…wow, in retrospect that would have saved me a lot of time!). I tried to get myself into a similar schedule as I would be doing at work (2x/day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon), just to get used to it.

  10. Emoly Dec 22 at 1:13 pm Reply Reply

    I can’t recommend http://www.kellymom.com enough.  The site is evidence-based and moderated by internationally board certified lactation consultants.  They have helped me out of a jam more than once.  

  11. Ginger Dec 22 at 1:40 pm Reply Reply

    I’m going to add one little tiny practical tip that allowed me to pump while at work for 9 months:
    Don’t forget the lanolin. It sounds silly, but in the beginning I thought I couldn’t use lanolin while pumping for some reason until an LC told me differently. I almost gave up on pumping because WOW was it uncomfortable–until I got that little tip. It made it so much easier, and I kind of wish I hadn’t gone 3 weeks without knowing that bit of info.

  12. jL Dec 22 at 1:44 pm Reply Reply

    Get the hands free pumping bra. It will be your best friend. It is awesome. You can find it right next to the breast pumps in the baby section at Target for about $28. It is AWESOME. I was able to pump in the car b/c of it and send lots of emails :o)
    Pumping during the first few days/weeks, for me, were so isolating b/c I would feed my twins and then hand them over to visitors and have to go pump for 10-15 minutes. By the time you get everything done, washed, and breathe – it is time to start all over again. So set up a pumping station/room that is comfortable and where you have access to a TV, computer, book or something to take your mind off the fact that you might be missing out on cuddle time and visitors b/c you have to pump.
    Use a hospital grade pump at first. They are crucial.

    Also, I got really overwhelemed with breastfeeding a month or so in and decided to exclusively pump. After a few days of that my supply went way down and never really recovered so just something to keep in mind.
    We had four lacatation consultants in the hospital and every one of them told us something completely different – and it was usually the opposite of what the lady the day before told us – so find one you like and stick with her if you can.
    Finally, it took my babies 6+ weeks to really get the hang of breastfeeding. Once they become less floppy it gets SO MUCH easier! So hang in there and stick it out even when it seems hard and you are scared your sweet one isn’t getting enough. It will be okay! Good Luck!

  13. Jaymee Dec 22 at 1:58 pm Reply Reply

    I love that you mentioned a phantom letdown. I thought I was crazy for sometimes having the feeling of a letdown even though I stopped breastfeeding 4 months ago.

  14. Olivia Dec 22 at 1:58 pm Reply Reply

    Angela, it’s not just about some women being sqeamish to buy a used pump. Pumps are medical equipment and most medical equipment is not recommended to be shared. And unless the pump is a Closed System pump (like Ameda or a couple others; Medela is NOT a closed system) there is a possiblity of milk getting into the pumping system which cannot be cleaned. It probably works out okay most of the time, but it’s something to consider.

  15. Hannah Dec 22 at 2:28 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter refused to nurse (and was jaundiced, so had to be fed formula right out of the gate, so to speak). So I pumped for 7 months and just fed her the milk in a bottle. if you’re worried about your supply, you can always supplement with formula, and a reasonable LC will be down with that. On the pumping bra thing – just buy a $15 sports bra at target, cut holes out approximately where your nipples are, and stick those “horn” things in. It’s way cheaper than the actual pumping bras, you can get whichever one is more comfortable, and when the dog eats it (argh, argh), you can just go buy another one. The most important thing to remember – whatever you do is fine. Your baby is amazing and awesome and will love you no matter what, so don’t stress out too much about whether your breastfeeding is happening like it’s “supposed” to.

  16. Angela Dec 22 at 2:31 pm Reply Reply

    Olivia: I get that, I really do. And obviously proceed with caution blah blah blah. But seriously, even in the very unlikely event that milk got into the pump itself (and seriously, I do not see how that is physically possible with the pump I had, where the tubing was connected to a chamber on the horn physically separated from both the horn and the collection bottle, and I would have seen any milk that got into the tubing LONG before it got anywhere near the actual pump), I don’t see any way it could come BACK and come in contact with you or your pumped milk. The suction is going the wrong way, you know?
    Obviously, research carefully, decide what risks you’re will to assume, I am not a doctor, etc etc. I personally was comfortable with just replacing the horns and tubing, and I was more than happy to spend $50 on a perfectly good pump rather than $200.

  17. liz Dec 22 at 3:00 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, and 8 years later, I’m still getting some let-down and the occasional leakage…risks of reading while pumping. Books are a let-down mechanism.

    Yeah.

  18. Olivia Dec 22 at 3:10 pm Reply Reply

    Angela, you just desribed a “closed system” pump, and yeah, I’m comfortable with those being shared. I’ve just recently lent mine out, acutally.

  19. Ms. K Dec 22 at 4:46 pm Reply Reply

    I just wanted to emphasize that lots of women have a pretty easy time nursing their babies, and that it gets easier the longer you do it (the first 6-12 weeks might be really tough, but if you stick it out, it gets really easy. And it makes life easy. Whenever your baby needs to eat when you are together…just pop ‘em on the tit. Yep. :)

    It also gets easier, at least supply-wise, the more children you have. Because your breasts actually grow more ducts, so to speak. So Amalah had troubles her first pregnancy, but that already gave her boobs some extra ductwork…so when she had her second kid and worked at supply, it came. Voraciously!

    Even women who had breast-reduction surgery can often successfully nurse their children. A friend of mine gradually built up supply over many months, always nursing her child at the first sign of hunger, then supplementing.

  20. Kate F Dec 22 at 5:36 pm Reply Reply

    My insurance paid for my Pump n Style–I got a vague “latch problems” Rx from the midwife on call the day we went home. When we’d called to ask about getting pump covered when I was pregnant we got a flat No, but magically it was once I had the baby. So try that! They delivered it to our house that day.

  21. Rachael Dec 22 at 6:21 pm Reply Reply

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, so sorry if this has already been stated, but do NOT freak out if you can’t feel any letdown reflex. I never felt one single, solitary tingle at all, whatsoever, and had a healthy, 90th-percentile-baby and was able to nurse until 9 months (when we both were ready to stop), with the first 6 months exclusive.

    I also had chronic oversupply too… so don’t stress the let down thing! :)

  22. liz Dec 22 at 8:01 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter (now 8.5 mos old) has been EBF since the beginning mainly by pumped milk. We had a latch problem from the beginning even the LC’s couldn’t fix, eventually she got the hang of it and we would nurse occasionally, but what worked for us was pumping and feeding in a bottle. I agree w/Amalah to get your LC ahead of time etc and don’t buy the pump until your supply is established, I don’t like the pump i got for work, i don’t feel as empty, even though i pump the same amount
    Here are other tips that I found worked
    1. try your best, but sometimes even if you have tried everything, breast feeding doesn’t work out. I had multiple friends who had serious problems and so i went into the whole thing thinking if it doesn’t work it’s not the end of the world and I was elated when it did, but I didn’t beat myself up when we supplemented with formula the first few days. So I feel like by going into it with that mentality it made it seem less frustrating!
    2. It’s not easy! Movies and other moms make it look easy, but it’s not and it takes time and work so again don’t beat yourself up! Just take it one feeding at a time. Anyone who tells you it’s easy/natural probably is blocking the first few weeks from their memories!
    3. I found that while pumping (I still am renting the hospital grade pump – 8 mos later) that massaging helps.
    4. I started pumping in the hospital, don’t be afraid to ask to get started there
    Good luck!

  23. Ali Dec 22 at 9:33 pm Reply Reply

    PLEASE find a LC before you give birth! I didnt ( I also went into labor 7 weeks early, whatever) and thought that I would just consult with whomever was on staff at the hospital. I still wish that I had not been shocked beyond the ability to speak and told her to remove her hands from my body and my child and send her supervisor in. I never saw another LC because of that and in retrospect I really regret it. I was a first time mom with nobody to tell me how things were suppose to go.

  24. Jess Dec 22 at 11:07 pm Reply Reply

    OMG – I thought I was the only one who experienced “phantom letdown”. I get that feeling whenever I gush to one of my pregnant friends how much I loved being pregnant and then I remember my (now 13 month old) daughter’s head smelled, and how tiny her little hands were…here we go again. :)

    If nothing, an LC will tell you that you are a wonderful mom and how lucky your baby is to have you, and that is the most wonderful, happy-tear inducing thing someone can tell you.

  25. qwyneth Dec 22 at 11:08 pm Reply Reply

    My baby had suck problems, and even though I eventually got the hang of latching him he never got the hang of extracting milk from my boob. So, I pumped and supplemented for about six months, at which point he decided that he would no longer sit still for me to pump. My supply rapidly dwindled after I cut out the daytime pump sessions, so I tossed in the towel.

    As for the bra thing: you can buy the hands free bras or cut slits in a sports bra, but the REALLY awesome thing to do is buy a super cheap NURSING bra and cut slits for the flanges. It’s cheaper than the handsfree bra, you’ll get a better fit than with a handsfree bra, and you can nurse and pump handsfree at the same time! Win-win-win!

    Whichever pumping bra you choose, be careful to get a good fit. I’m pretty sure my first handsfree bra gave me mastitis. It was tight, as I thought it should be, and it turned out that part of one of my breasts was smushed in such a way that it wasn’t emptying. Section of breast not emptying + torn up nipples = mastitis!

    Speaking of torn up nipples, use bacitracin on your nipples from the start to ward off mastitis. It was Horrible.

    Good luck, and congratulations!

  26. Brooke Dec 23 at 10:36 am Reply Reply

    If you decide to get a used pump, see if you can find a LC who can check the suction for you. They eventually stop working so well. and it isn’t always easy to tell.

    You will get more milk in a warm room, so try not to pump where it’s cold. I found I got more milk if I read while pumping. Just staring at the bottles made me think about it too much.

  27. Chaya Dec 23 at 12:03 pm Reply Reply

    I hope nobody takes this the wrong way, and I know it doesn’t address the actual question.   But, for another data point.  Just for context, I nursed my first three kids for close to 18 months each.  I am currently (literally even!) nursing my 4th, who is 2.5 months.  I have had supply issues of some kind with all, and needed to supplement with 3 out of 4 with formula.  And, kid 4 has been the hardest in terms of this, and getting him fed is still a struggle, and he still gets formula daily.  My pediatrician has an AMAZING lactation center, with a full time pediatrician just for bf issues, who works with their own lc.  With their support, I probably could have upped my supply by tons of pumping\sns etc.  i worked as hard as I could for some time, but see above, 4th kid!  i hate hate hated pumping, it means for me that either my baby is crying, i am using the miniscule amount of kid-free time that i have on pumping, or i have to throw the whole mess of kids  and house on my husband whenever he walks in the door, which i am not willing to do.  The ped i was working with was amazing about being realistic as to what i can do, and didn’t push me\make me feel like a failure.  currently, i don’t pump, the baby gets a bottle of formula after nursing a few times a day and that ‘s that.  formula isn’t poison. (Assuming no allergy issues!)  breastmilk is a whole lot better, and pumping is important if one is working for supply reasons, I know all of that.  but I don’t want somebody reading this thread and feeling horribly guilty for NOT pumping.  

  28. lindswing Dec 24 at 1:49 am Reply Reply

    At first, it’s usually pretty difficult to get much milk from a pump (I got less than an ounce each of my first few times after about 30 minutes).  I found that drinking tea (usually Mother’s Milk tea) and flipping through pictures of my son while sitting somewhere comfortable helped a LOT, as well as consciously taking deep breaths and relaxing my shoulders.  I managed to wedge the flanges between the sides and flaps of my nursing tanks/bras for hands-free pumping without cutting any fabric.  Does that make sense?  And flange size is very important!  If it’s uncomfortable or you’re turning purple, buy a different size.

    I went to a weekly breastfeeding support group led by an IBCLC until my son was probably 6 months old, and it was probably the smartest thing I did.  I didn’t have any particular challenges with breastfeeding (and I’m still nursing my 15 month old), but I was in school and working almost from day one, and the support was invaluable.  

    Good luck!  

  29. JanM Dec 24 at 11:22 am Reply Reply

    @Rachael – I have never felt it either! I nursed my 1st for a year and I just had my 2nd, and I’m not feeling a “letdown tingle” with her either.
    A pump can be good to have on hand for engorgement as well – I needed one a few weeks ago for my huge boobs-tiny baby problem, and it worked so well at just emptying me enough that she could latch.

  30. Julie Dec 26 at 12:36 pm Reply Reply

    On the flip side, if you’re lucky enough to have a high supply, sometimes pumping an ounce or two before feeding the baby can help. For the first feeding of the morning, I tended to have too much supply, so I’d pump an ounce or so to keep the poor kid from choking on the first gushers. That let me build up a small reserve so that I could have a bottle to leave with someone if I was going out for a few hours, to get him used to taking a bottle before day care. Then once he was at day care, I would just pump at the times of day when I would normally be able to feed him, and be able to get enough to keep up with him, with an occasional supplemental pumping at home at nights or weekends to get a bit ahead if I started loosing my buffer zone.

  31. Amy J Dec 28 at 10:38 am Reply Reply

    I currently pump at work and I am lucky if I get enough to cover what she eats at daycare. The mother’s milk tea helps, but I find the taste disgusting. I have finally just decided that I will do what I can and not beat myself up over it. I also (gasp) use a nipple shield when I feed the baby. It was the only way to get her to latch at the hospital and I just have not gone through the trauma of weaning her off of it. Oh! I get far less milk on Mondays than the rest of the week. How is that for random (non-helpful) information? Good luck, it is hard but worth it.

  32. Andrea Dec 28 at 11:28 am Reply Reply

    I’ve nursed three children, with three COMPLETELY different experiences, the third one being the most difficult. (You’d think experience helps, but, yeah, not so much.) A good, like-minded LC is super-important. A well-established supply in crucial. I agree with most everything above. But I would like to add something I wish I knew then, especially the third time. Do not be hard on yourself. If it works out, yay! If it doesn’t, it will still be okay. Your baby will still be smart and healthy and loved. Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to care for your child, and many times it works as nature designed it to. But sometimes, it doesn’t. And it’s not your fault if it doesn’t.

  33. Heather Dec 30 at 11:02 pm Reply Reply

    I too pumped for 10-20 minutes after feeding my baby. It worked great but man, it was so hard during those early morning hours! Good luck!

  34. Heather Dec 30 at 11:02 pm Reply Reply

    I too pumped for 10-20 minutes after feeding my baby. It worked great but man, it was so hard during those early morning hours! Good luck!

  35. tiffany Jan 01 at 9:49 pm Reply Reply

    Tips for those who don’t have time for let down: 1) drink about 16 oz of water, milk, or juice 15 min before you pump, 2) get a nice, quiet isolated room to pump in, 3) set up your supplies and get comfortable and 4) massage the tip to simulate the tongue pushing of the infant for about 30-16 seconds then 5) pump, and if necessary, massage breasts for faster extraction. Found that it worked for me and two of my gfs, so thought I’d pass the info along.

  36. heather Jan 04 at 5:01 pm Reply Reply

    I also fervently encourage you to find a good lactation consultant, and to keep looking for one until you find the right one. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it ain’t always easy and nothing will make you feel more like a personal failure as a new mother like bfing struggles. I speak of personal experience here – though now I have a happy, healthy toddler who weaned at 16 months.

    As for pumping, doing it while you’re nursing the other side is the best way to get the most milk in the least amount of time. If I used my medela PIS it distracted my baby, so I had a little hand pump that I would use. Incidentally, keep an extra hand pump in your car or your office. In your sleep deprivation you will forget your pump at home – a hand pump is a life saver. Also, the book the Milk Memos is a wonderful resource for working and pumping Mommas.

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