A few years ago, I used to answer questions I’d get over email in blog posts, as a sort of exclusive pumping advice column. (I also answer them in my newsletter, which you should of course subscribe to!) I’m going to try out bringing it back. Here are today’s questions!
I’m Pumping Every Three Hours and Need More Sleep
I started exclusively pumping when my daughter was 2 weeks old, due to latching issues. She was losing weight and the doctor said we had to supplement. I asked if I could try pumping and bottle feeding, which the doctor allowed me to try. My daughter started thriving and so began my journey! I’d never considered EPing before. I knew I’d pump when I went back to work, but this was a whole new world.
My daughter is now 7 weeks old and I’m 5 weeks into this adventure. I have never had to supplement with formula! I’m blessed that since the second week of EPing, I’m making more than enough to feed my daughter– pumping about 40 oz/day. It has been a rough ride, with both thrush and mastitis having been a factor. But I’m determined to stick with it until my daughter is at least 6 months old– hopefully longer!
I would love to get your opinion on something. I’ve been pumping 8 times per day almost every day since I started. I’ve aimed for between 2-3 hours between pumps, including during the night. I’m getting to the point where I need to get more than 2-1/2 hours of sleep at a time in between pumping sessions. My daughter has started sleeping for 4-5 hour stretches! Yet, I’m still waking myself up to pump. Sometimes I lose 2 hours of sleep at a time if my daughter wakes up to eat around the same time I’m pumping and I’m awake for both.
I’m concerned with losing supply (being only 7 weeks post partum), as well as concerned about developing mastitis again if I go longer between pumps or drop a pump. I’ve read your Dropping Pumps post and would be interested in your opinion on what might help in this situation?
Thank you for all of your support!
My story is so similar to yours with the weight loss and then a thriving baby after starting EPing! I’m glad to hear that things are working out, and it’s awesome that you have such a great supply.
I also understand the need to sleep! So with pumping 8 times per day, I think you could really go either way – either drop down to 7 sessions per day or keep pumping 8 times, but with a longer break at night. I think 7 sessions is still good at 7 weeks post-partum, especially given that you have oversupply (as long as you increase the session time so that your total time per day spent pumping is the same). You should be fine either way – I would just make the change gradually to reduce your risk of mastitis.
How to do that? If you decide to stay with 8 sessions, you’ll want to move one back so that you’re getting more sleep in one block, so I would move it back half an hour a night. As an example, say you pump at 12:30am and 3:30am – what you would do is stretch the 12:30am to 1am, then 1:30am, then 2. Then you could move your 3:30am back to 4 or 4:30am and you have 8 sessions, but a longer block of sleep.
On the other hand, if you decide to drop one and go down to 7 sessions, you do the same thing, but just completely drop the session you’re moving. Again, say you pump at 12:30am and 3:30am – you would stretch the 12:30am to 1am, then 1:30am, then 2, and then just drop the session.
Can I Drop Two Sessions at a Time?
I am struggling with pumping, working full-time and having a husband who works out of town. I would love to reduce my amount of time spent pumping. My question is, can you drop 2 sessions at the same time? I would love to reduce from 7 sessions a day to 5. I was thinking I’d drop my middle of the day session and my 2am session. I am concerned my supply will drop or I’ll get a clogged duct. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated!
You can definitely drop two sessions, and I think it definitely makes sense when pumping that often is such a struggle. (You are doing awesome – solo parenting is hard!)
I would drop one session at a time, but you can do them back to back. I would drop one (probably the middle of the night one first), wait a few days, then drop the middle of the day session. You should be able to do it in a week and a half – I would take three or four days to gradually drop each session plus three or four days in between.
If you’re worried about clogged ducts, it might not be a bad idea to try lecithin – it might help you avoid them while you drop sessions.
One other thing I wanted to mention – you said you’d like to reduce the amount of time that you spend pumping. I think if you want to maintain your supply, you should consolidate the time you pump rather than reduce it. So you do 5 sessions per day, but add the time from the two dropped sessions to your remaining sessions. Good luck!