Wondering whether or not you should drop a pumping session? Some exclusive pumpers would like to pump less often, but are worried about their milk supply. Here’s what to consider.
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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!
What will happen to my milk supply if I drop a pumping session?
Making the decision to drop a pumping session when you’re concerned about your milk supply can be hard.
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). Your supply could go down, it could stay the same, or it could even increase.
So how do you 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 that might help you decide.
The main things that you want to take into account are:
- Your milk supply
- Whether or not your supply has regulated
- What you can handle
The Should I Drop a Pumping Session? Flowchart
Supply regulation usually happens by 12 weeks postpartum, and it just means that the extra hormone “boost” than you may have after birth has worn off. After your supply regulates, supply is driven solely by demand.
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.
- 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 above 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:
- Drop the session cold turkey (meaning you just stop pumping at this time)
- Slowly decrease the volume pumped at the session you’re dropping
- Slowly decrease the time pumped at the session you’re dropping
- Move sessions closer together until you can safely drop one.
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.
Much more detail about how to drop a pumping session here.
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.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea of whether or not you should drop a pumping session! Ask any questions you have in the comments.