Two questions today! One about whether it’s worth continuing pumping when your milk supply is really low, and one about the mechanics of wearing a hands-free bra.
I am exclusively pumping for my 19 month old who was born with a complex heart defect. My milk supply is really low, and I’m struggling with not getting nearly as much milk as I would like (about 5 oz total/day with five pumping sessions of about 20 minutes plus hand expression). I have three kids, so things like waking up to pump, pumping every 3-5 hours, etc just seem ridiculous. But my milk is so good for him.
Any guidance on whether to try to push production back up? Or how to know when to wean from the pump? How do I decide to be done -I’ve been nursing for almost 6 1/2 years straight! I hate to see that relationship (albeit in altered form with my third) end prematurely.
Any guidance on the emotional side of things? I’ve spent so much time grieving that he isn’t nursing at the breast it seems doubly unfair that I cannot control how long he gets breast milk! Thanks for any support.
I’m so impressed that you have been breastfeeding for 6.5 years – that is awesome!
I totally understand not wanting to quit before you’re ready. I am struggling with the same thing with my youngest. She is about the same age as your little one, and I’m still nursing her in the mornings, but I can’t imagine my supply is more than an ounce or two at this point. Part of me wants to just quit completely and part of me is sad to stop because I know she’s likely my last baby.
As to what you should do – I think there are really two questions in your email: one about supply, and one about ending the breastfeeding relationship. As far as the breastfeeding relationship goes, I think that you should keep going as long as it works for YOU, as long as YOU want to keep pumping. If you’re not ready to quit, I don’t think you need to quit just because your supply isn’t what you’d like. But if you need more time to yourself/sleep, and you are ready to stop, I 100% think that you should stop. Breast milk is awesome but what your little one needs more than breast milk is a happy you. So I think you should do whatever makes you (more) happy.
If you decide to go this route, you could take it slowly and see how you’re feeling before totally committing to weaning. Maybe drop one session and see if that’s more manageable and you don’t need to continue with the weaning process just yet. Or pumping less frequently might feel great, so you could decide to continue on and wean from the pump.
If you went the other way and deciding to continue pumping and try to ramp up supply, I would recommend pumping for at least 120 minutes a day (so maybe adding a sixth pumping session) and maybe trying some supplements.
Best of luck to you with your decision!
I see you talking about using the hands free bra. I have one but find it very difficult to get on and hooked up. It’s not worth the effort to take off my shirt and regular bra and then put that on, especially at work. Any tips or suggestions on getting set up and going with the bra?
What kind of hands-free bra do you have – is it the kind that you zip up in the middle (between your breasts)? What I did with this kind of hands-free bra was push my shirt UP and pull my bra cups DOWN Then I zipped the hands-free bra up OVER my bra. I also usually wore a tank top under my shirt because I didn’t like the way that the pump bottles felt against my stomach – they were too cold.
Also, if I wasn’t leaving the house, I’d just leave my hands-free bra on all day.
Please feel free to add any suggestions or thoughts in comments!