Today’s first question is about getting started exclusively pumping with a brand new baby. (Have a question about pumping breast milk? Ask it here!)
I am new to exclusive pumping and I feel like everything I find when researching it is different than what the hospital told me. My baby is three days old. They immediately had me start supplementing with formula. So now I’m unsure how often to give her formula. Also if after 15 min of pumping and I am still getting milk, do I continue pumping until it stops? I just started to get 7-11 mls per session. I’ve already read most everything on your website and it has been very helpful. Thank you!
Congratulations on your baby!
To start with your second question, if you’re still getting milk after 15 minutes, then yes, I would continue pumping if you can. It sounds like your supply is starting to build up (which is awesome!) and you want to encourage it to continue. However, if you’re exhausted or your baby is crying or there’s a reason to stop, then it’s fine to stop. If you have a few extra minutes, though, I’d keep going until the milk stops flowing. (Hah, that rhymes.)
As far as how often to give formula, I’m assuming you’re not nursing at all? If you are only pumping, then one way to do it is for every feeding (8-12 times a day), is to give her whatever pumped milk you have on hand and follow it up with a formula “chaser” if she’s still hungry. Or you could wait until you have about enough pumped milk for one feeding and make that a breast milk only feeding and others formula-only feedings. That would save in bottle washing.
If you are nursing for some feedings and pumping to bring in your milk, I did this for awhile and what I did was – nursing, giving the milk I pumped and a formula chaser if it wasn’t enough, and then pumping. So he got maybe an ounce or two of formula “chasers” each feeding in the early days until I got my supply up.
I am celebrating 6 months of EPing this week. To celebrate, I’ve dropped down to 4 pumps and have not seen a decrease in supply. Same thing happened when I dropped from 6 to 5 pumps. I’ve never had an oversupply issue…my body seems to make about 1 ounce an hour regardless of how often I pump thus far. I guess what I’m wondering is, for the pumping schedules you listed, what did your supply look like with each schedule? Did it stay the same until a certain tipping point, or did you notice a decrease with each drop? I know every body is different, but I am curious to know how things went for you. Thanks so much!
Congrats on making it 6 months – that is awesome!
My supply did stay pretty much the same until I got my period back. (I was at 4 pumps per day and 9 months post-partum when this unfortunate event occurred.) After that, it was a slow slide down to weaning – I lost maybe 3 ounces a month. I would lose the supply when I got my period, and then it never recovered like it’s supposed to. But before that, dropping pumps did not decrease my supply, though I was careful to keep the total pumping time per day the same.
A few more bonus questions from the search engines:
Exclusively pumping different flange for each nipple?
I had never considered this, but I don’t see why you couldn’t get different sized flanges if you have different sized nipples. Just buy one of each size and then you have two sets that fit you! Perfect.
I smell of fenugreek and no milk?
How long have you smelled like maple syrup? Usually it kicks in within 24 hours of when you start to smell. If it’s been longer with than this, unfortunately, I think this likely means that fenugreek isn’t going to work for you. One possible next step might be talking to your doctor about domperidone. Good luck!
Can you walk around while pumping?
It depends on your pump! Some pumps, like the Freestyle, have a battery pack and can by clipped on to your clothes (or put in a large pocket). Other pumps (like the Pump in Style) can’t be taken out of the bag they come in and therefore aren’t easy to walk around with.
However, even if you can walk around, you really can’t do much. If you bend over (to pick something up, etc.) you will probably spill milk and get sad. Your range of motion is also not great. You could probably wash bottles while pumping, for example, but not clean the house or give your kid a bath.
Please feel free to add any suggestions or thoughts in comments!