Monday, July 9, 2012

Pumping questions

One thing I love about the Internet/ blogging is the large variety of advice and support you get. So I come to you know seeking info on pumping!

I currently have a manual pump - I didn't want to get an expensive one before having J because what if breast feeding didn't work out for some reason, he never took a bottle, etc. Also, I am only going to work 10 hours per week and I can bring my boy with me, so I wasn't sure if I would even need a pump.

I used the pump initially when I was engorged. Recently I started using it to make a bottle. I love the idea of my husband getting to feed him sometimes, and I want to be able to leave him with somebody occasionally. I am SO thankful to have this opportunity to breast feed, but I admit I am looking forward to a break from it sometime.

My impression is that my supply is adequate but not abundant. The first time I pumped was the first night J slept 4 hours straight, and I woke up uncomfortable so I pumped before he even woke up and got 2 ounces pretty quickly and thought pumping would be a piece of cake. (Looking back I wonder if I took all his food?). Since then I read that it's best to pump after baby eats, so I have tried to do that but it took SO much effort to barely get just one more ounce across multiple feedings. It just seemed like I was pretty empty after he was done.

Last night my husband gave him that 3 ounce bottle and he took to it no problem (yay !). However, he was still hungry so I nursed him for another 25 minutes afterwards (he eats for 45 minutes normally) - so I was shocked that he might be a big eater. It then made me feel like I would never be able to pump enough for him.

I am thinking about getting an electric pump - would this help me actually get more milk? Should I pump after he eats? How long does it typically take to pump?

If he takes a bottle for a feeding, I read I need to pump around that time. How do you ever get to go out then?

If he sleeps longer at night, do I have to wake up to pump so I don't hurt my supply?

Everybody I know has the Medela Pump In Style and it gets really good reviews. The only thing that makes me nervous is that some people had mold growing in the tubing and inside because it is an "open system." Thoughts or experiences?

I have read good reviews about the Ameda Purely Yours and it is a "closed system" so it doesn't have the mold issue. However, this one you have to change the settings once you feel the let down, but I actually don't feel the initial let down - sometimes I feel later ones, and I feel it between feelings, but what if I can't tell when I am pumping? Thoughts or experiences?

And then as I think through it all I wonder if pumping is more hassle than its worth as a stay at home mom??

Also, not really pumping related, but will he ever eat faster? If so when did that happen for your baby?


asrubin10 said...

I have had a medela pump in style and a medela pump in style advanced hands free. I replaced my pump in style because my husband's union paid for it-insurance paid for my first pump, so maybe look into insurance/rental options? I really loved the pump in style, even more so than the pump in style hands definitely need the medela hands free bra for either pump (even though the "hands free" is hands free-it's complicated, the medela hands free bra is MUCH better).

You will definitely have much better response to an electric pump. I have two kids, and both times I started out with a manual pump because it was too much effort to drag out the pump, clean everything, etc...and it was kind of like my body got immune to it! Eventually it wouldn't really let down to the manual pump.

Basically here's a basic rule-every 2-3 hours, you need to either nurse or pump at the very least. Additionally, you can pump AFTER he eats. My baby's always only nursed on one side, so I would have the other side to pump from. But, regardless, pumping after will help increase your supply.

It seems over whelming at first, but just pump when you can and you'll see you can start building a supply.

Momma Wilson said...

I was nervous about investing in a pump, so I rented one from my hospital...however, after 1.5 years of renting I could have owned a very nice pump:)

Here's a link to a post I wrote a couple of years ago with my pumping tricks. I hope you find it helpful!

Anonymous said...

I have the Medela Freestyle, and love it so much. It is the more expensive one, so it might not be worth it since you're not working full time right now.

I love it because you can pump anywhere, it has a rechargable battery. You can also carry it around in any bag.

It has no mold issues, it is a closed system.

The first stage of pumping before let down is really important. I have tried to pump with pumps that don't have that, and I didn't get nearly as much milk. To me, that is what makes this pump worth the extra money.

My son drank bottles way faster than he nursed.

I built up my supply before I went back to work because I had such bad nipple damage on one side, I only pumped that side, and I nursed the other side. I did that for at least a week. I'm definitely not recommending that though! If you can pump after your baby eats, and maybe even work up to between a feeding here and there, that would help.

One more thing, the Freestyle is nice because you can hook it to your bra, so you can massage your breasts to get more milk out. This really really helped me. You can get out every last drop that way!

I could go on and on because I pumps a LOT for a very long time. My son was a big eater, so I had to pump out 16 to 20 ounces while I was at work. Feel free to email me with any questions!

kdactyl said...

I was forced to pump and feed my first baby because he had such awful reflux we had to thicken his feeds. I had the Medela Lactina Hospital grade pump that I got free on Craigslist from the mama of preemie twins. I had no idea how much I would need it.
As for general/occasional pumping...if you are worried about increasing supply...definitely take a good week timespan and try to pump for at least 10 minutes after all your daytime feeds (don't bother at is always greater at night anyway). This will send a signal to your body to produce more. BUT...beware...once you do this you will need to maintain that level of feeding/pumping or your supply will go down. It is all demand related...your body will adjust to how much your baby suckles or your pump. If your goal is to do this...definietly get a double pump. Medela is definitely the brand to buy. I wouldn't worry too much about the can sterilize it easily in their microwave bag system.
As for getting out....skipping a feeding every now and again (from your body...not for your baby) will not harm your supply. I just would not suggest doing it in the time when you are trying to up your supply. is best to not do it before baby is about 6 weeks old and your breast feeding routine is stable.

With my 2nd baby...I did both nursing and pumping (mainly to build up freezer stock for daycare) and I always had sort of an over-supply issue. But I also had a very fast let down and my baby could do a full feed in 20 minutes or less. increasing your may find James gets full faster and you can cut down how long he nurses. Good luck.

Amanda said...

I over think everything, and pumping was no exception. I wouldn't encourage you to over think like I did. I spent way more time worrying about feedings than I needed to.

I had a Medela Freestyle (you can use this with any nursing bra). I liked it, mostly. I think you are taking a chance with whatever pump you buy (none of them are perfect), but because you don't plan of fulltime pumping, I'd just pick a pump that is in the price range you want with acceptable features and not worry too much more. I will say, for the record, Medela has EXCELLENT customer service, so if some of the reviews are scaring you away from one of their pumps, I wouldn't worry about that too much. Of course, renting is an option as well. I did that for about a month. Again, in your position, I'd like my budget be my guide.

And an electric pump will probably improve your output. I had a handpump and it did nothing (getting 2oz with that thing probably would have killed me), but I was pretty good with my electric. But I will say that pumping is hard (and sometimes painful) and some women have an easier time than others. It's still early, your supply is still developing, so if you can only get a couple of ounces at a time, that's probably fine.

And about when to pump... your supply should be best in the morning, so I'd try then. If he has a 'normal' time he nurses in the morning, do it after that. Try to do it most days and your body will get used to it. However, if he sleeps past a normal nursing time, don't worry about pumping. This is the overthinking thing I was mentioning. That just means that he was well fed before. Your body will adjust to his needs, take that chance to rest for yourself. As long as he's growing in a way that you and your dr. are happy with, don't stress missed feedings. And missing a feeding/pumping to go out now and then won't hurt anything either(as long as you aren't uncomfortable). I've found that my milk supply has been very resilient and I'd guess that yours will be too.

Good luck!

Samantha said...

Everybody is so different...

My supply was just okay and with two babies, I had issues and hired a private lactation consultant. On her advice, I pumped after every nursing session! And for at least 20 minutes. It was so much work to nurse two babies and then pump but it did increase my supply. I rented a hospital grade pump because I needed a double electric in my situation. I spent a lot of time washing the pump parts. To avoid mold in the tubes, the LC had me run the pump for a few minutes after I was done nursing to get ride of the condensation in the tubes that lead to mold. If I had to go out and couldn't pump, then I didn't. If my girls had a bottle instead of nursing, I tried to pump an extra time.

Also, to build supply I took large amounts of fenugreek (at any health food store) and domperidone (by prescription).

Good luck.

Kakunaa said...

Avoiding the mold is easy with the pump in style. Just run the pump with the tubes still attached while cleaning up. That uses the air going through to dry up the moisture :-)

Heather said...

LOVED my Medela Pump in Style. I pumped every 3 hours regardless of if Aiden ate then or not. I also pumped after he breastfed. Most times I wouldn't get much, but I wanted to try to get my body to produce as much milk as possible. Also, I took Fenugreek and Brewer's Yeast pills to increase my milk supply. You can buy those at a natural food store or at Wal-Mart I think. Also, I drank Mother's Milk Tea (you can buy that at the same stores as mentioned above) a few times a day. Oatmeal also works to improve milk supply.
I would suggest you breastfeed as often as he will eat and then pump afterwards. The pumping stimulates that hormone to make more milk. I would also recommend you wake up and pump at night, even though you want the sleep. That extra milk will be nice to have in the freezer, plus you never know when you might need it.
You can certainly rent a pump from the hospital. My hospital rents them for like $20 a month and I have several friends who really like the hospital grade ones better.
This is a great breastfeeding website:

Jessica R said...

First, I agree, get your husband to give J one bottle a day. We have done that from day one and it has saved my sanity! Breastfeeding requires a physical and emotional investment, or pouring out, so to speak (no pun intended!), and there will be times and seasons when it drains you (okay, maybe pun intended that time) :). Just knowing that you could go make a bottle of breastmilk is a huge weight off.

So, I definitely recommend the double-electric pump. I have the pump in style and used it twice daily from about 3wks old to 7 months, and have used it once daily after that for the past four months. I never have issues with the tubing; just leave the pump running after you disconnect the tubing from yourself and let it run a bit to dry out the tubes.

I would recommend starting to pump once a day, or twice if you have time, but once is great. Just do it whenever you think you can, and your body will create more milk for that "feeding." I have always pumped right before going to bed and now my body produces milk for that "feeding" even though no baby is latched on.

Fenugreek is a miracle when you have seasons of low supply but don't take it yet. My supply peaked around 6-8 weeks, and kept growing until then, so if you only pump a few ounces each time right now, that's great! It will increase. Plus, he only needs a few ounces at each feeding now anyway.

You have my email address, and I'm happy to chat about this or anything else if you'd like!

Buck said...

I used a hand pump for 8 months and only switched to an electric when I was going on a trip and wanted something more efficient. I still always did one side at a time, lack of coordination I guess! I don't think I found one to be more effective in terms of quantity, it was just that electric was more efficient.

Your supply is best in the morning so that's the best time to get extra after he nurses. But no matter what, he'll always be more efficient and effective than the pump. So he maybe be getting four ounces nursing to your 3 ounces pumped etc.

He will speed up. He also likely gets most of what he needs up front and then continues for comfort.

Amanda said...

I just want to say, as I read through these comments, people are mentioning fenugreek and giving tips to increase your supply and you don't really need to worry about any of that at this time. Your supply is fine, your baby is happy, you aren't going back to work full time or feeding twins. You are just trying to get a small stash to get out now and then. I'm not knocking anyone's advice, I just wanted to chime in to remind you to not let individual personal experiences scare you or the advice overwhelm you. The internets are helpful... sometimes too helpful :)

The Swann's said...

I'm so happy breastfeeding is going so well!!! And props to your company for allowing you to work 10 hours a week but to bring your baby to work! Awesome!!!

I only have a manual pump. I found the best output was pumping while nursing. I nursed her from one side and pumped the other while she was nursing. I easily got 4-8 ounces doing this in one setting. When you have a letdown it doesn't just happen in one breast so while pumping when your body is doing its thing for the baby you get the benefit of that. On top of that, you don't have to waste any additional time pumping after you've just nursed, especially with such long nursing sessions in the beginning! :-)

Be sure you are drinking TONS of water and you can increase your supply by eating oatmeal and Brewer's Yeast! Google Lactation Cookies for delicious treats that help boost supply too that are healthy. :-) Eat a couple a day and you'll see a difference! I love Brewer's Yeast on popcorn just as a tip. I never took Fenegreek but do hear it is amazing! Oatmeal and Brewer's Yeast always did the trick for me.

I think it was just after the 3 month growth spurt did I notice the feedings get shorter but they were still frequent as I still at 20 months nurse on demand. :-)

Emry said...

I have the Medela Swing pump, which is less expensive because it's a single pump, but it's all I've ever needed. Sometimes I would try to feed the baby on one side and pump on the other in order to build up a small stash.

Your supply shouldn't be harmed from baby sleeping awhile at night. You will continue to make as much milk as he needs. However, it might be a good time to pump and store milk.

You don't have to pump at the same time that he takes a bottle. If you miss a few hours, just pump as soon as you get home. It's a pretty flexible thing, breastfeeding. It's not as rigid as some books would make you believe.

I'm glad it's working for you so far! Way to go!

Jessica R said...

Oh, and yes feedings
will speed up soon. As Buck said, some of it is for comfort now. Have you tried nursing in a ring sling? I used to tuck dd into that thing, latch her on, and go on about my day. I had to use the crook of my elbow to keep her head up before she could hold it up, but I had the other hand free and a non-fussy baby! Or try nursing lying down, which I never mastered but would like to next time, so that you can snooze or read while he eats.

Pumping IS worth it for SAHMs in my opinion, just because you can leave the baby, let hubs feed him, or when he goes through a growth spurt and you just don't want to feed him for the 14th time in 24 hours, you can save your sanity with a bottle :)

Vicki said...

I used the Medela Pump In style and it worked well. Like the others have said, keep the pump going after to dry the tubes and you'll never have any problems. I always had the most in the morning so I would nurse on one side and pump on the other. Once I went back to work, I usually pumped 2-3 times there to keep up with her schedule. You may not have to do this since you probalby won't pump multiple times per day but one thing that made things eaiser for me, especially when I was working again, was to keep the pumping bottles, valves, shields assembled and keep them in the refrigerator between sessions and only wash at the end of the day. It saved a lot of time while at work. Good Luck! It sounds like things are going well so far!

Anonymous said...

I only have a hand pump and I must say it is a lot of effort to pump by hand so I would not recommend it if you are going to pump regularly. I am a SAHM so its not really a problem and baby G does not really want to drink from a bottle anyway. I found that I had the most milk during the very early morning hours up to about 9 am, after that it was not really worth it to pump. Now I only pump when my breast are engorged and sore and I use the milk to mix with the solid food baby G eats.

They do nurse quicker eventually, I can't really remember when it got quicker, but I think it was before 3 months. I remember the 7 week mark as the time things got a lot better in terms of sleep etc, so I think it was around that time...

Mellow said...

Leaving the pump running while the tubes are still on will dry out the lines, and you won't have any issues with mold. Marlo was in the NICU for 17 weeks, and the entire time she was there, I pumped every three hours. In the beginning when I was trying to increase my supply I pumped every two hours. I set an alarm at night as well. It is tiring and time consuming but so worth it. He will begin to eat faster as he gets a little bigger, and your supply will adjust as he does. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I had the Ameda purely yours and I loved it. I am pregnant now and plan on using it again.

ABLynch said...

I have the Philip Isis IQ and it is pretty awesome. I work full-time, so it was great with my son since it allows you to control the pumping strength/rhythm to get the best supply. And I would feed one side, and then pump both sides. The next time I would switch which side he nursed on, then pump both sides afterwards. As far as time goes, yes, they do eventually get faster! I can't remember exactly when though, I'd have to check the baby notebooks we kept on him. I want to say 3-4 months? Eventually, we got to a 15 minute feeding. It was heaven!

Anonymous said...

I had this pump:

and it worked well for me. In the beginning I had the same thoughts , that I would never be able to pump enough. But I found it best to save up for the freezer, took me some days in the beginning to save enough for one feeding.

However it got easier and I got better at it, I used to pump right after she went to sleep for the night, she used to take one long stretch 4-5 hours and it was after supper until after midnight. So it was perfect time for me to sit and watch some tv while I pumped.

I however at one point stimulated to much breastmilk production with the pumping... that was horrible..

But after a while I was producing like milk cow... but my advice is relax... even watch the baby while it sleeps that might help or something that get´s the milk flowing..

just freeze what little you get after each feeding and then you will soon have enough milk to go out and about.

Anonymous said...

ohh and I forgot to say.. I found it much easier to get more when pumping with a hand pump than an electric one. I could control... how fast or slow I would pump... sometimes it worked to pump fast other times slow during one session..

I tried electric pump which I bought and hated it because It just didn´t work for me did not get anything to pump.. can´t remember the brand since I gave it away very soon.

but I´m sure you will get the hang of it soon, just takes some time as with breastfeeding.

Daniele said...

As a mostly stay-at-home mom you might consider a single electric pump. I might suggest finding a good time to pump and pumping at that time every day. Just make it part of your routine.

Pumping when he would normally eat when your away from him is a good idea, but not the only way to do it. I have found the best thing I did in regards to pumping is to limit my use of my freezer stash and try to pump as much as my liitle one ate while I was away. For example, if she ate 10 oz while at daycare, I would pump 10 oz that day, whether that took 2 pumping sessions or 5. (In the early days it took 5, now it takes 3, sometimes 4.) This way, my supply will keep up with her demand. My pumping sessions don't always line up with when she eats, but in total I am pumping the amount that she eats on the same day.

I think my girl got really efficient with her nursing sessions around 3 months. A book that I found really helpful in regards to the development of the nursing relationship was Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. It's a great reference. and another site ( were GREAT resources for me when I returned to work-in fact here is the link to the article I found most helpful: (along with the link in this article about smart use of your freezer stash). Your local La Leche League leader or a lactation consultant associated with the hospital where you had James might have some helpful tips as well.

Remember that Breastfeeding should also fit into your lifestyle. There is enough flexibility that you can make it work and that way you will be more likely to keep it up.

I hope this helps. These early days are hard, and pumping can feel overwhelming, but the payoff is BIG. My little one is 8-months and I have worked hard and been lucky enough to not have to supplement with formula. Good luck and keep using your resources-they are the huge factor in breast feeding success!

Anonymous said...

Because I was a stay at home mom I bought an inexpensive pump at Target. I think it was an evenflo brand or something, anyway it did just fine for the limited amount I used it. Also by the time my kids reached 4-6 months or so I gave them 5 minutes to nurse on each side and they learned to get what they needed in that time frame. Another more experienced mom told me to do this and I was hesitant but it worked for us and my babies were nice and chubby.
Good Luck your doing great!

Anonymous said...

I think that with a bottle it is easier for them to get the milk, your little one may really only get a little over the 3 ounces you pump when he nurses, but since it is easier and faster to get the milk out of the bottle, he still thinks he is hungry, if that makes sense.

I work full time, and with both of my children when they didn't nurse, we used a slow flow nipple on the bottle, it slows down their feeding, and they seem to get full on less milk. It takes longer, similar to when they nurse, but they aren't just gulping down as much as you will give them.