When I was pumping seven or eight times per day, I really looked forward to the time when I could drop a pumping session. Even though I planned to keep my total amount of pumping time in a day the same, it’s still a pain to stop what you’re doing, find a place to pump (if you’re not home), get hooked up to/unhooked from the pump, and store the milk. It’s so much easier to do that four times a day than eight!
Making the decision to drop a pumping session when you’re concerned about your milk supply can be hard. Here are some things to consider.
What will happen to my milk supply if I drop a pumping session?
As much as I wanted to drop a pumping session, I also worried about how it would impact my supply.
The thing is, you never know what’s going to happen as far as supply goes when you drop a pumping session until you drop it (and sometimes, you don’t really know until a few weeks later) – it could go down, it could stay the same, or it could even increase.
So how to decide to drop a pump when you don’t know what it will do to your supply? I put together the below flowchart based on my experience (my own and what I learned from reading exclusive pumping message boards for over a year).
The Should I Drop a Pumping Session? Flowchart
(Supply regulation happens between 2 and 8 weeks post-partum. Some new moms will have more milk than then need at first, and then the body will adjust and regulate it down. You can generally tell that this is happened when you feel less full or engorged and when you leak less often.)
One thing that I firmly believe (and tried to reflect above) is that if you are losing your mind from pumping too much (or just don’t want to pump so much), that trumps everything else – you should drop a pumping session. The most important thing that you can give your baby is a happy YOU – not an extra two ounces of breast milk.
I made a couple of assumptions in putting this together:
- The first is that you want to maintain your supply – if you’re trying to wean, you aren’t concerned with keeping your supply (in fact, you’re actively trying to make it go down), and you should therefore ignore this chart and drop sessions as quickly as you can without getting clogged ducts or mastitis.
- The second assumption is that you haven’t already dropped a pumping session within the last two weeks. If you have, I would recommend waiting at least that long, and preferably a little longer.
- Finally, I assumed that you want to drop a pumping session. If you have concerns about supply and are perfectly happy with your current schedule, then there’s no need to drop a pump just because the below chart says to – this is intended more for exclusively pumping moms who are itching to consolidate their pumping time. (Though I’m guessing that that includes most people reading!)
I’ve decided to drop a pumping session. How do I do that?
There are a few different ways to do this (much more detail about how to drop a pumping session here):
If you aren’t prone to clogged ducts or mastitis, cold turkey may the be the easiest method. However, if you’ve ever dealt with either, slowly reducing time or volume would probably be a better option.
Finally, remember that when you drop a pumping session, unless you’re weaning, you should always keep your total amount of pumping time in a day the same! Add the time from your dropped session back to the other sessions in order to maintain your milk supply.