Today’s question is about dealing with both nipple pain from pumping and decreasing milk supply with a newborn.
My seven year old was born three weeks early and never learned to properly latch, so I am exclusively pumping for him. I just had another baby, and like my older son he was born three weeks early and has struggled with latching on. I think I naturally favored the pump vs. pushing for breastfeeding since that is what I’m more comfortable with.
He is now two weeks old and I’m having so much trouble! I’ve had multiple clogged milk ducts, huge cracks in both nipples, and my supply is definitely decreasing. I’m still pumping every 2-3 hours, as painful as it is.
I’m meeting with lactation tomorrow, but somehow I feel they will frown upon my decision to only pump. How do I increase my milk supply when dealing with nipple pain from pumping?
Sorry you’re dealing with all this!
For the clogged milk ducts – it sounds like you are doing all the right things with pumping every 2-3 hours to get them cleared. One question – are you using the same pump that you used with your seven year old? If you are, it could be that the pump motor isn’t working properly anymore, and you could fix the issue by replacing it. (Especially since your milk supply is decreasing – it could be that the milk is there, but you’re not getting it out.) Other options to clear them quickly are using heat, using a manual pump in the shower, using a comb to work the clog out, or a lactation massager:
The other thing that I thought of with regard to the nipple pain is breast shield size. Definitely bring your pump and breast shields with you to the lactation consultant tomorrow and have her look at them to make sure that they fit you properly, because that could be the issue. Pumpin Pals could also be a good option.
Regarding the supply issues – if it’s not your pump, it might be related to your nipple pain – clogged ducts lower your supply, and if you’re tensing up when you go to pump because of the pain that could be another reason that your supply is decreasing. So, fixing the nipple issues might fix your supply issues.
If you fix the nipple pain while pumping and still want to increase your milk supply, one option that worked really well for me was taking fenugreek. I took it at about three weeks postpartum and saw a dramatic increase in supply – from 24 oz to 35 oz over a few weeks. One thing that’s good about fenugreek is that you only have to take it for a week or so and then the supply increase should last long-term. You can ask the lactation consultant that you see tomorrow what she thinks.
Good luck with the lactation consultant! I know what you mean about worrying that she will frown on your decision – I felt that way too. At least you already know that you can make exclusive pumping work for you.
A few more bonus questions from the search engines:
How many times a day should you power pump to increase breast milk supply?
Once is good, depending on how much time you have. Most people really only have time to sit down at the pump for an hour or so at a time at night, after their babies are in bed or while their partner is home to care for them. I think anything more than two power pumping sessions per day is too much time tied to the pump.
Best time of day to power pump?
All other things being equal, I would guess that the best time to power pump is probably early evening, since that’s when babies cluster feed, and you want the pump to imitate your baby as much as possible. Having said that, I think any time that you can fit it in is beneficial!
How long does it take to get rid of the maple smell when you stop taking fenugreek?
In my experience, no more than 24 hours.
Storing breast milk at night?
Obviously, breast milk can be stored at night the same way as during the day. But what I think this intrepid searcher might have been trying to find out is if you can leave breast milk out overnight in preparation for a feeding? The answer is generally yes, but depends on the temperature in your home and how long it will be before the baby drinks the milk.
At room temperature, fresh milk is fine for 4-8 hours. When I needed pumped milk for night feedings, I would bring the milk upstairs with me to bed and feed it at room temperature to my baby when he woke at night. If he didn’t wake up until after 8 hours had already passed, I did dump the milk, but this was really rare. (Unfortunately for me, he woke up at 4am like clockwork for months!)
Please feel free to add any suggestions or thoughts in comments!References
- Bonyata, Kelly, IBCLC. “Human Milk Storage.” https://kellymom.com/store/freehandouts/milkstorage01.pdf
- Medela. “Medela Breast Shield Sizing Guide.” https://blog.medelabreastfeedingus.com/2015/05/medela-breastshield-sizing-guide/