Today’s first question is about getting started exclusively pumping and supplementing with formula in the early days, before your milk comes in.
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 minutes 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.
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 different reason to stop pumping, then that’s fine too. If you have a few extra minutes, though, I’d keep going until the milk stops flowing or you need to stop.
As far as how often to give formula, here are some tips for pumping and supplementing with formula. In short, if you are exclusively pumping, then one way to do it is for every feeding (8-12 times a day), you would give her whatever pumped milk you have on hand and then follow it up with a formula “chaser” if she’s still hungry. Another option is to wait until you have about enough pumped milk for one feeding, and then make that a breastmilk-only feeding and others formula-only feedings. That might save in bottle washing.
If you are triple feeding (nursing, pumping, and bottle feeding to increase supply), what I did was the following – nurse, feed the pumped milk and a formula chaser if it wasn’t enough, and then pump. So my baby got maybe an ounce or two of formula “chasers” each feeding in the early days until I got my supply up.
Here is some more information about exclusively pumping when you have a brand new baby.
I am celebrating six months of exclusive pumping this week. I’ve dropped down to four pumping sessions and have not seen a decrease in supply. Same thing happened when I dropped from six to five pumps. My body seems to make about one 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 everybody is different, but I am curious to know how things went for you.
Congratulations on making it 6 months!
My supply did stay pretty much the same until I got my period back. (I was at three pumping sessions per day and nine months postpartum when this unfortunate event occurred.) After that, it was a slow slide down to weaning – I lost maybe three ounces a month. I would lose the supply when I got my period, and then it never fully recovered like it’s supposed to, so that each month I pumped a little less. But before that, dropping pumping sessions 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 might mean that fenugreek isn’t going to work for you. Check out some other options here!
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. With the Willow pump, you can do pretty much anything.
Please feel free to add any suggestions or thoughts in comments!