Two questions today! The first has to do with how to drop a middle of the night pump when you’re prone to clogs, and the second covers bringing up your milk supply with a newborn.
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My son is 7 months old, and I’ve been exclusively pumping he was five weeks old. I wanted to nurse so badly, and we had such a difficult beginning. After $400 worth of lactation visits, pediatric dentists, cranial sacral appts, etc, I was very depressed, in serious pain and starting to actually dread breastfeeding my baby. I started pumping on a whim with a hand pump, thinking I was just taking a break, and pumped around the clock to build a stash. I’m shocked I made it this long thinking back to how it all started. I love my Medela Pump in Style, and I’ve actually donated over 1,000 oz of breastmilk because it turned out I have a great supply!
I’m down to four pumps a day, six hours a part. My schedule is 8am, 2pm, 8pm, 2am. I could justify getting up in the night to pump because my son would be waking up for a bottle around then (my husband always does that feeding) but just recently he’s started sleeping great and sometimes sleeps through without a feeding. (I never ever thought the day would come!)
I’ve tried stretching out the time between pumps to every 8 hours so I could go down to 3 pumps but I got so painfully engorged I couldn’t. I get clogs often and have had mastitis and terrified of getting it again. Any suggestions?
I definitely hear you on wanting to get rid of that 2am pump, and I also 100% understand not wanting to get mastitis again! Mastitis is the worst – getting knocked down by it and having to take care of a baby AND having to pump is awful.
My first thought – what if you keep four pumping sessions at first, but respace them so that you can sleep 8 hours at a time? So something like 6am, 8am, 2pm, 10pm? The first few nights, you could even do a quick pumping session at 4am (or whenever it will be 6 hours since your pre-bed pumping session) to take the edge off? I’m thinking like 5 minutes or so. Then, you could move that mini-pumping session back by 15-30 minutes a day to make it more gradual until you can get to 6am.
Then, once you can get through the night okay, you can drop a session (the 8am session is the obvious candidate). My thinking is that it might be easier to separate going 8 hours with dropping a pumping session since you are so prone to clogged ducts.
Also, there are a few things that you could consider doing before you start – start taking lecithin (it helps prevent clogged ducts) and possibly get a lactation massager – it can help you get clogs out more quickly if you do get one.
(*Note: LaVie makes two lactation massagers – a smaller one with just vibration and a warming massager that has heat AND vibration. They are both super helpful – use the code EPUMP on their website for 10% off!)
Great job pumping for this long and donating all of that breastmilk!
More information on dropping pumping sessions here.
I gave birth three weeks ago. I pump eight times a day with a brand new electric pump and I supplement with formula. My baby now drinks 3 oz at a time, but I only pump 2 oz at a time. I spend 20 minutes pumping because that is what I have been told – and in the middle of the night, that is all I have patience for. I would love to be able to pump the full 3 oz and not have to use formula but I am not sure what to do. Will my supply be increasing soon?
Congrats on your new baby! Three weeks is really early and I think you can bring your supply up, but I also think that you will probably need to actively try. My first suggestion in your case would be to try fenugreek. I tried it at 3 weeks postpartum, and had a really positive experience with it.
Another thing that I might try is power pumping, if you can (this depends on how well your baby sleeps/if you have help caring for him). While your baby is sleeping or someone else is watching him, watch a hour length show, and pump on and off during the show, 12 min on/8 mins off. (Maybe you could find something on Netflix, or a DVD that you can look forward to watching every night while you power pump? That might help make it somewhat fun.) This will simulate cluster feeding and hopefully tell your body to make more milk.
There are other ideas for increasing milk supply here. Good luck!
And a few more bonus “questions” from the search engines:
How much extra do your boobs weigh when you’re breastfeeding?
I have no idea, but you will be carrying some extra weight from the weight of the milk you’re producing. (For example, 8oz of breast milk would be half a pound.) If you want to eliminate that from the number on the scale you could try weighing yourself right after you pump or just subtracting about a pound.
When to discontinue fenugreek?
There are a few scenarios:
- You have started pumping the amount of milk that you want to be pumping: In this case, you’re all set! You can discontinue it.
- You haven’t seen an increase, but you also don’t smell like maple syrup: Consider increasing your dosage.
- You’ve smelled like maple syrup for awhile (at least a few days), but are not seeing the increase that you’d like: You can keep taking it for a few more days if you want, or you could discontinue it now and try some other options, like power pumping or domperidone.
Please feel free to add any suggestions or thoughts in comments!