pumping and milk supply

Next week is a very exciting week.  I’m going to start teaching again!  My hope was to get back into it between 4 to 6 weeks, and since Hunter turned 4 weeks yesterday, that puts next week at 5 weeks.  Right smack dab in the middle of what I predicted.

I’ll only be gone 2 evenings a week for 1.5-2 hours, which means I should be able to feed Hunter right before leaving and then feed him again shortly after I get home.  But, that might not be the case depending on when he’s eaten and if he’s extremely fussy those evenings.  I know Jacob will end up having to feed him too, so that means I’ll need a supply of milk for him.

Since I’m home and constantly with Hunter, I don’t really need to pump much milk, which is why I picked up a manual breast pump instead of an electric one. Plus the manual pump was so much more affordable too (which was a big deciding factor) and it had good reviews.

I picked up the Medela Harmony a week or so ago, which is a single manual pump system.  I finally opened it up and began trying to use it a couple days ago. I have to say, it’s definitely not as easy as what I thought it would be.

I ended up having lots of questions:
When do I pump?
How often do I pump?
Will pumping take away a meal for Hunter?
How much milk should I be seeing?
Do I pump right after he’s done eating or wait a bit?

I found some answers online — like the best time to pump is after the morning feeding, when milk should be highest.

So I tried that and this is about all I got from both sides yesterday, right after I finished nursing Hunter.

Then today I waited an hour after the morning feeding and I ended up with about half an ounce.  I never really got a good flow going,  but I also didn’t feel engorged or like I had much milk in there to suck out.

My first worry was that I’ll empty my breasts out in between his feedings, then his next meal will be skimpy.  Or since milk supply stays established by supply and demand, will I just make more then?

I feel like I make just enough milk for him.  Like he takes it all in at each session with not much left over.

Maybe I just need more practice with the pump?  Maybe just keep trying in between most nursing sessions to stimulate more milk production?  I really don’t know.

Have any of you dealt with the same thing?  Any advice or tips would be appreciated!

Heather

24 thoughts on “pumping and milk supply

  1. I usually pump an hour and a half after nursing (about half way in between the next feeding) and I haven’t had any supply issues. Just keep pumping and your body will eventually produce more milk. My little guy is 6 weeks old and that has worked for us.
    I also started with the manual pump and eventually just bought an electric. You will get more milk from an electric and I’m done in like 10 minutes. But they are expensive! I got a 25% coupon and some $5 off coupons from BRU and that helped with the cost!
    Good luck! He’s adorable!

  2. SO, I ended up pumping so that I could feed Kaylin while she was at daycare or with her Grandma while I worked. Honestly…I felt like I was constantly pumping to fulfill her needs. I felt the same way- like I made just the right amount of milk. I do think it gets a little easier the more you do it…but I did start to feel a bit like making milk and pumping was my fulltime job ahha

  3. I would try pumping just 1 side one morning. The baby’s sucking will always be more efficient and will yield more.

    Good luck!

  4. I had the same questions! First of all – you will not, I repeat not pump out all of your milk out. Your body will always be able to produce milk for your baby. This was a huge worry of mine too in the beginning. You could pump and still have milk for your baby right afterwards. Anyways, I found the best for me was to pump in the morning about an hour after feeding my baby. Also, warm showers help get the milk flowing so try taking one before pumping. I also pump right before I go do bed.

    Also, if you are interested in more sleeping/napping information The Baby Sleep Site has a lot of good, useful and some free information.

  5. I’m a two-time mom, and needed to pump with both babies so I could return to work. I know some women do fine with manual pumps (so keep trying – you might end up being one of them), but even as a “master” pumper, I could never get a manual pump to work for me. Since I was trying to sneak pumping into work breaks at the office, I definitely preferred a double pump with a hands-free “bra” to hold the cups in place. My pump time was 20 minutes total, including clean up afterwards. But I also had a single electric that I used on trips that was more portable and far less expensive. It wasn’t as comfortable, but it did the trick. That might be a cost-effective option if the manual just doesn’t work. Another great option for the doubles is checking consignment shops or Craigslist for used ones. I paid $50 for a used Medela Pump In Style and then bought new breast pieces (sold separately online and at places like Target and baby stores). I think the whole thing cost me $75, which was still more expensive than a manual pump but TOTALLY worth it.

    While I was trying to build up my freezer supply in preparation for returning to work, I found that pumping 20 minutes or so after a feeding worked really well. I’d get a decent amount of milk, and had time to replenish before the next feeding. One trick is to pump for 10 – 15 minutes on each breast even if you’re not getting any milk. The “nursing” will stimulate your body to increase milk production to match “demand.” I did this with my first child and it worked great. Didn’t work as well with my second because my breasts were far more tender for some reason, and pumping without milk was pretty uncomfortable. But, generally speaking, your body will adjust to demand, so you’ll start producing enough for full feedings AND pumping.

    Good luck!

  6. I only pump for my 7 wk old son so it allows me the freedom to leave for more than 2 hrs at a time and my husband gives him a bottle overnight so I can sleep. Does Hunter take a bottle? I am slowly building my supply in case I go back part time and because it taks so long to do it! I pump with my electric double pump after my first two morning feelings for 10 minutes a time. I get about 8oz (bottle and a half). I used to get much less. You can also rent electric pumps from the hospital. Long term this would be costly but if you aren’t sure how much you will be pumping it might be an option for a month or two. I had a lot of the same questions you have. Breastfeeding.com was a helpful site as is a breast feeding mommy and me group I go to sometimes.

    • Thanks for sharing the site! We haven’t tried giving him a bottle yet. I figured we’d give it a go a week or so before just to make sure he takes it okay so the hubs doesn’t get stressed out if he resists it.

  7. Pumping is SO confusing!! Went through the SAME thing.
    Here’s what I know:
    - the pump will never take out as much as Hunter, so don’t get discouraged or second guess your supply when you don’t see as much milk.
    - supply/demand law says that you’ll start producing more if you pump more.
    - pump first thing in the morning (you already knew that)
    - again, DON’T second guess your supply.
    That’s all I got…good luck.

  8. I want to also say that your boobs are never really empty, they are always producing!

    I find that with our son, he doesn’t eat a lot during the night now so I’m so engorged in the morning, so after like our 6 am feeding, I put him back down for some more sleep, and then go pump for 15 minutes and I still get like 4 oz right now. He’s only 2 weeks so I don’t want to pump too much just yet, but I also have to get back to work in 4 weeks so I don’t want to ‘not have nothing’ in the freezer for him.

  9. I only nursed on one side at a time so for the times that I needed to pump I would nurse one side, wait about 1-2 hours and pump the other side (it was usually getting reading to be nursed on anyway) the first few times, not much… but then it got better. I would then let the baby start nursing on the same side I pumped then finish off on the other side (yes, the one they had nursed on about 3 hours before) and get back to “normal” (the next nursing back on the pumped side) I did that for a while and then things just started working better as far as being able to pump whenever and whichever side I needed.

    You could also try pumping before he nursed you will get the thicker milk here and then he will be proficient enough to get the rest out and if necessary he will switch to the other side. Then for the next feeding start him on the side he got a little extra from (if you had to switch sides)

    Have you tried giving him a bottle yet? My first really struggled with taking one at first. We went through several! My suggestions: (if you haven’t gotten him on a bottle yet) Try one that is like his pacifier… My girls took a MAM, they finally just made a bottle within the last year or 2. I was SOOO excited. The other thing that helped me was to see what my (pardon me) nipple looked like when they were done eating and find a bottle/nipple that was similar. worked perfectly for 2 of mine. One just refused a bottle completely!

    And as my mom always tells me “they will survive, you might remember all of the bad things and cryings, but they wont, take comfort in that”

  10. I like pumping in the morning when Cameryn takes her morning nap. I always get the most milk at this time and since I can pump more at this time, my body steps up and produces more milk so Cameryn has enough. I was pumping in the afternoon and couldn’t get more than a few ounces and then I started pumping in the morning and can get 5-8 ounces in about 15 minutes and sometimes more!

  11. Hi Heather! I love reading about you and Hunter. Mommy hood is wonderful, isn’t it? My two cents: I never bottle fed Ruby, but would occasionally pump to have milk to mix with her food when she began eating solids and I too used an electric pump and found it to work wonderfully. I know that many insurances can actually write you a prescription for them brining te cost as low as $30. Ask pacific midwifery about that! As far as milk supply goes, the supply and demand thing is true is general, but some women’s supply is naturally lower than others. I have had friends who have slowly had a more and more difficult time giving full feelings to their babes over time. Not that this is the case with you, but should it ever be there are many natural things you can do to stimulate more milk. Brewers yeast is something you could take, or just enjoy a good beer every now and then. ;) much love. We still need to meet that little man soon . ;)

  12. You milk supply will catch up. When I was getting ready to go back to work I just pumped whenever I wasn’t nursing, like when my baby was asleep cause it seemed like I nursed ALL THE TIME. It allowed my breast to get used to the new type of suction and if baby was still hungry afterwards I would nurse first and then give her a bottle of pumped milk eventually my milk supply picked up and I was able to just store whatever she didn’t drink and I would have some left over.

    I couldn’t use an electrical pump it never worked for me. I used a manual exclusively until I started trying to wean her @ 8 months. She is 10 months now and still nurses after I get off work and at night.

    I was able to get about 4 oz out of each breast in 30 min when I was nursing exclusively in the morning at noon and before I went to bed.

  13. I second the hoppy beer suggestion! You can take a lactation vitamin–one with fenugreek. Drink lots of water and look at your baby and concentrate on him while you pump.

    You will have more milk in no time. He is such a sweet little guy!

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