One of my friends left a thoughtful comment on my second milk donation post, that asks a few questions about pumping. I had been thinking of writing a post on this anyway, but wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested. I gave her a quick reply in the comment section and this post goes into more detail!
I wondered if you wouldn’t mind giving a little run-down of your feeding/pumping schedule.
What I do now: At this current time (with Xander being a week away from 9 months old), I maybe pump once a day. I end up pumping usually 5 days of each week. This pumping session is done in the morning because Xander likes to wait about an hour to nurse because he usually wakes up to eat between 5-6 am. (I’m due to write a sleeping post soon too). Anyway, just from this one pumping session I yield 8-10 ounces of milk. You can do some math and see that just by pumping once a day for 5 days a week, this yields 200 ounces of milk or more each month.
Most of what I donated during this past round was pumped from June and July and I wanted to make sure it got to the bank before the expiry deadline. I actually still had a bunch from April and May that I gave to a few local moms since the bank wouldn’t take it past the 6 months. And by some, I mean at least another 500 ounces. I also ended up giving the bank pumped sessions from August-November, because Xander literally never has a bottle and since I’m at home he’s able to just nurse.
What I did in the past: I was so so so full all the time in the first few months. I literally was either feeding Xander or pumping. I know at the beginning I was probably perpetuating the oversupply a little bit, but it felt so much after I pumped that I just decided to calmly wait until things started to even out a bit on their own — which they did around 3 months when the big hormone change occurs. In the past when pumping was at it’s highest, we were literally freezing over 30 ounces a milk A DAY. I’m so glad those days are over and my chest really thanks me for it. I look at pictures of me from this past donation to the first, and my chest looks so much happier – ha!
Are you just blessed with a great supply or do you feel that you pump so often that that’s what keeps your supply up?
I think there I was blessed with a great supply and the pumping helped it as well. I was brought a pump in the hospital since Xander wasn’t latching well, so I’m sure the stimulation really got things going even though we really just wanted to make the nipples more pronounced for Xander. We ended up using a nipple shield for nursing until Xander was almost 4.5 months old, which is apparently a long time. Using the shield made Xander eat more frequently throughout the day than a “typical” baby, so my chest was always ready to go with milk. It was kind of like he was snacking all day.
We also did a ton of skin to skin time to encourage Xander to eat without the nipple shield. One of the lactation consultants was explaining to me that sometimes they just wriggle their little face to your breast themselves and learn to latch. Alas, that method didn’t work for us, but it did put my chest on high alert that the baby might need to eat soon since he was always laying on me. This is one method I always tell new moms about when they are asking for ways to increase their supply in the very early months – skin to skin baby!
Is Xander eating food now in addition to nursing? If he’s eating food and nursing a little less, it makes sense that your supply would decrease a bit. But that doesn’t seem to be the case for you. Did you keep up with pumping often as Xander would have been nursing when that was his only source of food?
Yes, Xander is now eating in addition to nursing. It took him awhile to get interested in food though. He didn’t become consistent until around 7.5 months, but this actually has worked out to our advantage because we don’t spoon feed or do purees. This boy likes finger food and feeding himself. At this time he always has dinner with us and one other snack or meal during the day – most commonly breakfast with me. We consistently have 5 full nursing sessions a day, but sometimes he has two nursing “snacks” as well. Breast milk is his primary source of nutrition for sure.
I assume one reason why he didn’t become interested in food until 7.5 months s because of the nipple shield issue. He had only been nursing without the shield for a couple months and that was a big enough change to deal with all by itself.
Like I mentioned above, I’m down to nursing just once a day, maybe. There are some weeks I don’t pump 5 times a week, but there are other weeks that I pump every morning. Fluctuations like this occur mostly commonly (for Xander), due to growth spurts and teething issues. I can tell that my supply is way more regulated than before, so I’m pleased with the progress while being confident Xander and I will make it to 1 year and beyond with breastfeeding.
Also, you work from home, right? Does that make it easier to pump?
With my pumping schedule the way it is now, it’s definitely easy to pump at home. I sit at the kitchen desk for 10 minutes while Xander plays in his stand up toy. When he was younger and I needed to hold him or pump while he was awake, things were a little more difficult. I definitely found some interesting positions to make pumping work for us. I’ve even had to pump while nursing at some points!
There are a few points to consider while pumping at home: It’s easy because I don’t have to worry about privacy and can pump wherever I want. However, since the baby is home too, you have those logistics to think about. When you pump at work the things to consider are basically reverse: you have to worry about pumping privacy but there is no physical baby there to tend to.
Basically I just wondered when you find the time to pump all that milk!
Hope this post answered all your questions! Let me know if you have any more!