1. I switched to the Spectra pump this time, on several reader (and IRL) recommendations. It’s still a breast pump — not a miracle device — but I will say:
– it’s quieter than the Medela models I have tried (PISA & Symphony)
– it’s more comfortable than the Medela models
– it has a timer feature and more flexibility in settings than the Medela models
– it’s cheaper than the Medela models
That last point I’m not so sure of, because I found an old record of what I was expressing with C, and it was MORE than I’m getting this time around, but I also remember pumping for 25-30 minutes and this time I’ve just been doing 15. I usually get 3 oz after her AM feed, and I’ve just been pumping once every day to gradually grow a stash. G hasn’t actually had a bottle yet. I know this is counter to the advice to give it earlier, but neither of my two ever had any issues taking a bottle, and she takes a paci just fine so . . . I’m just not worried.
2. My lactation abilities have not changed since 2012. I guess that’s not surprising, but I always feel like a bit of an outlier in this realm. I can make plenty of milk to grow a chunky happy baby (SEE BELOW), but can’t store a ton at one time, so I’m never the kind of person who can just pump out 8 oz. I also never ever leak. It takes a lot of effort to express milk, and even when I’m feeding G she needs some breast massage to be happy with the pace of letdown. I was this way with all 3 kids.
Unlike many I cannot just sit there all zen while baby or pump does all the work; I have to be an active participant. Which brings me to . . .
3. How many of you have had success pumping on the commute? Because EVERYONE keeps suggesting this and of course I love the idea of saving time, but I don’t see how it could work for me. I have to literally use two hands to get a decent yield (despite wearing a ‘hands-free’ bra – I am always annoyed that it’s marketed this way because for me it is NOT hands-free), and I think that would be disastrous/dangerous in the car. I could just passively strap it on and see what happens, but from prior experience I expect I’d only get an ounce or two, max, especially if this was right after feeding G on my way out the door.
I also don’t see how the timing really works – if I feed right her before I leave work, I might get a little bit out but then going until 12 noon probably isn’t ideal, right? And I definitely would never pump on the way home b/c I know I’ll want to nurse on arrival.
My current plan is to pump around 5 am, feed her right before I leave (7-7:30), then pump at work at 9:30 or so (scheduled breaks between pts in exchange for a shortened lunch window).
4. I am wondering what my goals should be this time around. I am thinking of really only aiming to pump until G is 6 months, as I’m already dreading trying to fit it into a busy workday. I also have some conferences I’d like to attend in the summer/fall and it’s been a long time since my last focused endocrinology learning opportunity (missed last one due to Irma). But maybe I should just see how things go. I do plan on making things as convenient as possible in my office – my own mini-fridge (so I can just throw parts in there between pump sessions), a pump that stays at the office, etc. So maybe I’ll be more successful than I think with multiple short sessions? We’ll see.
Please explain your commute-pumping ways, if you do this. Also, am I the only one with the issues above? I feel like everyone is always talking about pumping 10 oz and spraying milk everywhere and despite successfully giving my kids a LOT of breastmilk over the years, I have never had those experiences.
I am also really interested in commute pumping. When I pumped with my first, I had a walking commute, so pumping during my commute was off the table (but I was able to pump 4x/day since I had a flexible (i.e. meetings generally on my schedule) schedule and private office with fridge.
This time, I have a 75-minute commute each way, but don’t go in every day – I would LOVE to be able to use that time to pump since there’s no way I will be able to pump 4x once there (no private office/fridge). But the logistics seem daunting!
Not to add to your pumping stress! But I’ve been thinking something for a while and I just wanted to let you know–as a blog reader, it really stresses me out when you talk about pumping and how obsessed with your production you get. Not just from normal reading-other-experiences-anxiety, but specifically because you are a doctor (and a pediatrics specialist, at that!). I know what you talk about on your blog is by no means medical advice and has nothing to do with what you would tell patients…but I can’t help but think "okay well this DOCTOR is panicked about it, I guess I need to be too!" It’s just different for me than if you were just some other blogging mom. Not sure if you had thought of that implication (and maybe I’m the only one that thinks like that!), but I wanted to bring it to your attention.
Thank you for sharing. Please know that my feelings as parent feel very very separate from feelings as physician. I mean — I don”t even like to diagnose my kids with ear infections, or adjust c”s synthroid. My anxiety about pumping comes from a deeper place, not a logical evidence based one. In all honesty, it”s probably in part because my mother is very proud of having breastfed my sister and I for over a year (she didn”t work at the time). In my family and also my husbands, this is just the “normal” and the tradition. I have a bit of an irrational block about this issue, and I”m working on it – hence thinking about making it a shorter term commitment this time. I do understand how this subject can make others uncomfortable. In part I wanted to write to explain that the advice to just pump while working or driving is confusing to me (and I”m guessing some others).
Sarah- first, a BIG HUG to you. Breastfeeding is the way that nature intended us to nourish our babies; pumping is NOT. Yet, because of the first part of that sentence, we all feel that we must pump/stash/drive ourselves insane doing this. If the people who want us to breastfeed forever would also give us longer maternity leave, then they could tell me how long I should breastfeed my baby. Well still they can’t tell me what to do, but maybe I’d be more open to it 🙂 (Clearly I am a questioner).
Your supply sounds quite normal actually- you have enough milk for your baby! It’s not natural that we are feeding a baby and a freezer.
I am one of those who suggested pumping on the commute. When I pump normally, I do breast massage and watch videos of my baby and my sessions are quite efficient. In the car I can do neither of these things so it definitely takes longer BUT I also have 25-30min of driving time so I have more time. If I have just fed him, I definitely get less, but emptying my breasts further helps my supply and I end up getting more oz total throughout the day. I keep things simple- no nursing cover as I really don’t care if a creepy stranger tries to look in my window at my breastshield covered boobs. Takes me 2min to set myself up and 1-2min to clean up. I turn the pump off before I get to my destination but I don’t disassemble until I park (I am not fast enough to do it at a stoplight).
I suggest you try adding the pump session in the car for the first few days and see what happens. Keep the 9:30am pump session for now. It may help your supply while only adding 3-4min of set-up/clean-up on either end of your drive.
Hugs to you. Pumping stinks and there is so much pressure on us to do it perfectly!
I pumped ALL THE TIME during my commute. If your philosophy is building a stash, pumping during a commute is only going to assist you in accomplishing this goal. Remember, you may initially only get an ounce or two, but the more consistently you do it, the more you will produce. I just figure, why not? There”s no negative outcome.
that is a very good point – and I think that makes sense. I can always do it with the intention of also doing the 9:30 am pump and i still won’t lose anything!
Long time reader and BoBW listener, first time commenter 🙂 I also struggle to pump excessive amounts of milk and can totally relate to the stress it can cause! Both of my babies were super chunky and definitely fed adequately but similarly to you, I just don”t seem to store a lot of milk at once. I work full time with a 40 minute commute both ways. After my second daughter was born I found it was easiest for me to pump (using a hands free bra) while I got ready for work in the morning. So I would get out of the shower, hook everything up and pump while drying my hair, applying makeup, styling hair etc. This may not work for all depending on the timing of the morning feeding etc. I would then pump 2x at work (once in the morning and again at lunch or early afternoon). I would do another pumping session in the car on my way home. I found that trying to nurse when I got home was just too chaotic at the time. I also require a lot of manual expression during pumping sessions to get max output, however, I did find that I was often distracted enough on my drive home to not think about my output and would often get 3-4 oz. There were days it was much less but I think overall it was still definitely worth having that session. I”m currently pregnant with my third and due May 1st so we”ll see if these methods work this time around! Love reading about everyone”s different experiences and attempts to make pumping work for their situation/needs!
I pumped all the time during my commute too, but eventually quite pumping all together. My advice would be try pumping during the commute and even an ounce or two is something. Also, my HUGE piece of advice is to do it as long as it works for you and G. I think a happier, less stressed mom is a way better mom, whether or not she’s feeding the baby formula or breastmilk. Breastmilk is obviously way healthier and cheaper, but a less stressed mom is way more valuable IMHO. Once i stopped pumping and nursing, I became a lot less resentful of my co-workers and husband. Do what you want and feel is right for your family, but don’t let other put extra pressure on yourself to continue the breastfeeding relationship if it becomes a source of stress instead of joy. We have enough stress as it is!
I’m commenting while pumping on my S2 on a work trip! I’m combo feeding my baby right now, and it has been perfect for us. He’s still getting a fair bit of breast milk, but I have the freedom to take a work trip without having to worry about building a huge stash or sending home milk daily. Good luck as you figure out what’s right for you! G is so cute!
Now that you are deeper into this pumping go-around, do you still feel the same about the Spectra vs. Medula pumps?
Wondering if I should change to Spectra for my next, but don’t want to have to buy all the extra bottles and backup parts I had for my Medela unless it’s really that much better!
Now with a 7 week old (2nd baby) worrying about pumping after maternity leave too. Last time I read great schedule tips on Kelly Mom, and one suggestion I recall was pump as soon as you wake then shower right before feeding baby. That”s way you can”t take advantage of that great morning supply for pumping and since baby is always way better than pump at extracting milk the combination of a hot shower and baby can usually yield more than enough for the baby despite having just pumped. I also always pumped at rhe end of the day AND nursed bc ad soon as I got home. Following again the theory that the baby can always get out what they need – it seemed to sork, though she often nursed a long long time in the evenings which I imagine will be trickier to do with other kids! Last thought: if you want to up supply you can do tons of switching back and forth within feed. I know undersupply is not the issue but it can help just stimulate your production…
my fave point was #4, about setting goals that fit our lives. there’s too much pressure on moms to exclusively breastfeed and pump. i spent WAY too much mental energy/anxiety with baby #1, and then did some extra pumping early on with #2 and ended up with not necessarily an oversupply but certainly a forceful letdown/choking problem. exclusively bf both babies, but am not sure it was worth the anxiety (am possibly bitter because baby #1 ended up with lots of food allergies anyways). HATED pumping, as i had a tough time "letting down" to the pump — but it’s amazing what we think we have to do to make it work. i was in the pattern of manual stimulation of one nipple to induce the letdown, and then strap on the second flange. but one day i realized hey, i can put on both flanges and skip all the preparations and actually experience pumping "hands free." my point being, you never know, you might make a few extra ounces during a commute pump, even without manual help. as for pumping during work travel, you could probably do a whole podcast episode on that alone. i refused to pump in gross airplane bathrooms (or airport restrooms) and would just pump in my seat (covered up).
P.S.: found your blog by way of best of both worlds, and i was at duke for fellowship from 2008-10, and am/was also a runner. now i’m an academic clinician-scientist. good luck on the new residency! lots of work but teaching/mentoring is definitely one of the perks of academics 🙂 congrats on baby #3! please do a followup episode on going from 2 to 3, now that you’re on the "other side." my husband wants another, but i’m just not sure…
Your supply sounds exactly like mine. The first kid I worked really hard to make sure I pumped enough for bottles while I was at work. Each day I was afraid I wouldn’t get enough, and I was never able to build up much of a freezer stash because everything I pumped fed her while I was working. When I got pregnant a second time, I decided I wasn’t doing that again. So, when I went back to work I pumped at set times during the day and gave her whatever I got, and her caregiver made up the difference with formula. Both kids seem to have turned out really great. 🙂
What did you do on weekends? Breast and occasional bottle? I think i would really like to take a more relaxed approach this time, so just thinking through all the scenarios.
It is incredible to me that you’ve gotten 44 comments on this post — you’re reminding me of all the pressure I felt to exclusively breastfeed for as long as possible, and how bought into some of the insanity I was. My only thought after breastfeeding (no formula ever) for 16 months is that I was abso-effing-lutely insane. I was tied to that damn pump, and when I’d leave the house, completely beholden to the lady who held the key to the pump room (who was a an unpleasant person to deal with). If I had to do it again, I would definitely have pumped less and been open to the idea of supplementing, but of course I say that now in retrospect, because I can tell you I was NOT receptive to that sort of suggestion at the time.
Your 44 comments suggest to me that I was not alone in some of the things I went through. I can see that other people also feel tired, overwhelmed, and stressed out, which — honestly wouldn’t it be nice if we thought of breastfeeding as a wonderful thing we *get* to do, rather than something we *have* to do or else we’re bad moms? So much stress and angst about how to optimize everything and be perfect So much angst over whether other people take our suggestions, and feelings of rejection when they don’t. It’s emblematic in a way of what being a mom — nay, a woman — in this society has turned into.
I’m in no way suggesting that you quit. But damn. Reading these comments really brought me back.
What a timely post- I was going to comment on your last post about how CHUNKY little G is becoming, and ask how nursing/pumping is going!! I’m the Sarah who is expecting twins (in 5 weeks or less! GAAH!). With my son (almost 4 y/o), I struggled to pump enough to meet his needs, and once he started falling off the growth curve at 4 months, finally gave in, kicking and screaming, to supplement. God knows why I resisted (thanks, mommy guilt, plus I’m a NP in OB/GYN) but it ended up being the best thing for both of us, and I still pumped until he was 9 months and nursed AM and PM until he was 1 year! Who knew?!?
Anyway, two thought/questions- #1, anyone out there successfully nurse/pump for TWINS after going back to work?? thank GOD I have much different expectations this time around- I hope to nurse/pump and feed while I’m home for 16 weeks, and then do not plan to pump at work unless I have some crazy phenomenal supply this time around….which is not likely.
#2- Could there be any endocrine-based explanation for having a sensitive hypothalamus/HPO axis and a less than amazing milk supply? I, too, have a history of HA, and like you NEVER leaked, sprayed, or had oversupply with my son, and needed to be very "hands-on" with pumping. I think my lifetime max was 5.5 oz in a single session, when my son started sleeping through the night. Just curious as to your thoughts!
Keep up the amazing work!!!
I wanted to reply to your question about pumping for twins. I am also a NP (internal Med) and had twins 4 years ago. They were born at 36 weeks and I/we could never get the hang of breastfeeding so I pumped exclusively for 11 months. I was very determined to make it to one year of breast milk and did so by using up my freezer stash for the last month.
My schedule went something like this
Wake up 530 am- pump 14-16oz (approx). Run. Get to work at 815, pump 6 -8oz before first patients, pump 4-5 oz at lunchbreak, pump another 6 oz at 430 before leaving for the evening while responding to patient message/finishing charts. Get home, pump after dinner around 7pm, put babies to bed, pump at 10 pm. Pump at 2 am. All of the rest of the pumps were around 6-8 oz. Around 8 months they started sleeping through the night and I skipped the middle of the night pump and the first pump of the work day. I made about 60 oz/day until I cut back on pumping sessions/day and then dropped to 40 oz or so at that point. I did supplement one bottle/day with formula because I could not keep up with their demand at some point. I really struggled with this but it gave me just enough freedom to not be obsessive about every ounce wasted (literally.. ask my husband! ). I pumped in a patient exam room which had no lock and sat on a doctors stool and my staff would knock on the door when they had questions for me. Not optimal but not terrible! I was very lucky to be quite the "dairy cow" and be able to run and not notice any drop in supply. I also ate oatmeal every day which seemed to help. Tried fenugreek but didn’t notice any improvement. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that I could relax a little and just enjoy the time with my tiny babies… I spend SO much time with the pump. There are so many things that go into parenting and 4 years in, I feel like pumping is only one tiny part of being a mother.
Man, I really don”t miss all the pumping logistics…but I”m sure I”ll have to deal with them again with the next kid! Thanks for the details on the Spectra. I definitely think I”ll give it a try in the future.
I was never able to pump “on the go” either. I had to be an active participant in the pumping process to get every last drop out (yeah, count me in on breastfeeding anxiety too!).
I think you”re wise to see where your breastfeeding “journey” takes you. I was so focused on the breastfeeding for 12 months with Caleb that I think both my health and his suffered for it. I think we both would have been better off if I had chilled out a bit at the 6 month mark.
I”m another adding a comment of solidarity here as someone who always struggled to pump enough but seemed to have a great supply when my babies were feed directly from source!
I never pumped on the way to work, but I would pump on the way home – even though my baby would feed immediately when I got home, this didn”t seem to be a problem as she was so much more efficient than the pump at getting milk out. I wouldn”t do it everyday but usually on days where I”d been a bit rushed during my pump sessions at work and hadn”t got as much as I need redefines or sometimes when I”d had to miss a session entirely, my baby was a bit older though, 8 months plus, so I wasn”t as concerned about how much she needed milk when I arrived home.
Logistically, I”d set it up and get it going before I started driving then let it run for the 15-20 mins or of my 40-50 min commute. Anxiety about getting enough was always a problem for me in terms of getting good let down so sometimes I actually found just not focusing on it at all in the car and just thinking Igbo it as a bad bus pump led to better output than I was expecting!
Timely post, as I am heading back to work later this week after the birth of my son 12 weeks ago (just finished prepping his bottles for his first day at daycare tomorrow, actually…). I’m using the Spectra as well and like it SO much more than the Medela PISA I had with my daughter four years ago.
Like you, I can feed a baby just fine but am terrible at pumping (or at least I was with my daughter, not sure how things will go this time around!). I could not reliably pump a drop more than 10-11ish oz on my very best days, and my daughter fell badly off her weight curve by her 4-month appointment, prompting our pediatrician to order us to start supplementing her daily intake. I felt like complete crap leaving her office that day, but once we started sending an extra formula bottle, I felt such relief. From then on, I pumped and sent whatever I could, made up the rest with formula (usually just one bottle a day), and we went on to nurse until 14 months.
I think struggling with pumping output is a LOT more common than people let on, to be honest. I joined a second-time moms’ group after my son was born, and virtually everyone in the group said it was so challenging to meet their firstborns’ needs with the pump, leading most of them to hang up the horns right at six months. I had no idea…you often only ever hear from super prolific pumpers who are getting 8-10 oz per SESSION, like you say. It makes complete sense that those who are feeling guilt/shame/disappointment/whatever (however very much it is not warranted) over not pumping "enough" are not discussing it very much. Re: goals, I don’t quite know what mine are this time around either, just that I know I don’t want to stress as much as I did the first time around. I’ll pump when I can and however much I can, and that will just have to be how it is. This time I have a much better understanding that this is a short period of time and such a tiny part of the whole parenting experience, as someone said upthread.
I do think there is this bias about talking about it when you are a super prolific pumper, which really does get to me. And it does help to hear that I am NORMAL for getting my 4 oz! I definitely supplemented with both kids at a certain point (6 months I think for C, 9 for A) and that helped a ton for my sanity! With A, I had the same experience that you did where she continued to BF even after I completely stopped pumping; C got annoyed at my lack of supply (I gather) and quit abruptly. That hurt my feelings and I think is adding to my stress this time, but I need to look at the big picture – HE’S FINE, and I did great overall! Wonderful to hear that you did really well with a daily supplement but could still continue everything else just fine. I would be thrilled if it works out like that for #3!!
I’ve only ever worked part-time after a baby and now am a SAHM, but I’ve successfully breastfed six children, including twins. Nursing came fairly easily to me, but pumping was always stressful whether it was at work or trying to build a stash at home. The best trick that I ever heard was to pump first thing in the morning on one side WHILE the baby is nursing on the other. Occasionally, I would do this in the evening too. Obviously, it doesn’t solve all pumping logistics, but it really helped me build up my stash so I could worry less about output at other times of the day.
Hey! Long time reader, first time commenter! I pump on my commute (30 minutes) because as an ICU nurse there”s no way I”d be able to take a break before 11 to pump. Essentially “starting my timer” at 630 allows me to not freak out about losing my “good morning supply”. I don”t have to manually express so the hands free bra and medela freestyle works for me, but now that my baby is closer to a year I have to pump for 30 minutes on level 7 to get enough for a bottle. He nurses we”ll I just think he likes bigger bottles now. It”s so individual, my morning supply gets me 8 ounces but maybe that”s because I always pumped after I nursed him in the morning on maternity leave? I”m lucky to get a total of 3 ounces in the afternoon when I pump for the same amount of time and level. Good luck- this is my first baby and I am beyond exhilarated to make it a year As it”s so difficult in the medical field. 🙂
I am almost convinced to give it a shot 🙂 Even if I don’t get much I guess it can’t HURT! (Also I have 5.5 more weeks to ruminate over this, but I know it will go fast!!).
You did amazing- congrats on a year!
Great post! I have two kids and have always produced "just enough" (~4 oz per session). I started pumping after the first feed at ~4 wks with both to build up a small freezer stash. I went back to work both times around 4 mo and during the first few weeks would pump on my commute (usually would only make 1-2 oz since baby had just eaten), at 930a, 1230p, 330p. Once the kids started sleeping a bit better at night, I would sometimes pump a bit around 930/1000p to add 1-2 more oz to my stash or to "top off" some bottles for the next day. I would sometimes pump on the weekends as well (for example, after the first feed) to add a bit more to the stash (again, just 2 or so oz per session). No real consistency though-just depended on how the days came. As the kids started eating solids, I stopped pumping on my commute and would pump for less minutes each day. If my production dropped a bit, I’d pull from my freezer stash. I pumped until month 11 w/ both kids and used the freezer stash for that 11th month.
I always looked at my commute pump as a way to add a few extra oz to the day and help to relieve some pressure so that I didn’t have to stress out about pumping at exactly 9:00a. So I wouldn’t stress out too much about how production compares to a standard session. You could always consider spending an extra few minutes in the car when you park to hand express, if need be. FYI-I tried both the PIS w/ regular flanges and PIS + Freemies. I personally expressed a bit more (maybe an oz?) with the flanges than the Freemies. I also highly recommend the Dairy Fairy bras bc you can actually wear them as your regular bra so you don’t have to worry about completely undressing in the car.
I’m personally intrigued by some of the newer breast pumps – like the Willow!
Long time reader, BoBW listener, and first time mom of a 10 month old! I was lucky to go back to work when my kiddo was already 5 months, so our schedule would be a little different than yours. Currently (and when I got back to work) I nursed her between 6:30-7:00, dropped her off at daycare, pumped at 11:00 (I ONLY ever get 3-6 ounces… 6 ounces on a rare day, when I’ve super carbed-up the day before), and then I nurse her again when I pick her up between 3:30-4:00 (I’m a teacher!).
I’ve been pumping for 6 months using the Spectra, and I got much better output than I did with the Medela.
I’m planning on stopping pumping the first week of February… I’m ready to have my workday to myself again!
Also, I hate the hands-free bra…completely false advertising!!
Your schedule sounds great! And I am thrilled to hear you had better luck with Spectra vs Medela, too. I even had a rented Symphony with C (SOOO heavy) and I prefer the cheaper lighter Spectra.
AND YES FALSE ADVERTISING – for us! I remember my friend during residency cooking dinner with the pump on (this was during my TTC days) and she literally had to take it off b/c both sides were going to overflow (not ONCE has this been a concern for me . . ha!).. She did that completely hands free. I was very disappointed it did NOT work in that way AT ALL for me!!!
I am a full time CPA currently pumping during busy season with baby #3 – he is almost 5 months and I made it 6-7 months with the other two before dropping the pumping and just nursing morning and night.
I am with you this time in that if I use the hands-free I don’t get as much, since I need to be more active and massaging. I luckily get about 6 oz per session (usually just under 10 min active pumping, which I know is awesome), so with 3 sessions at work plus one of about 4 oz before I go to bed, I am able to keep up with his 3 7oz bottles. Since it is our busy season I have been staying late (home by bedtime but not dinner), and on those days I haven’t really been able to pump the entire extra bottle that I skip, so I’ve been using up my freezer stash on those days.
I have tried pumping on the commute, but don’t get as much without actively helping things along. I’ve found a little better success pumping hands-free while blow drying hair and putting make up on, as I can glance down and massage a bit periodically, which I’m not comfortable doing while driving. So I am usually on one of two schedules depending on when baby wakes up first: 1) feed between 5:30-6am, pump 7:30 while getting ready, then 3 times at work between meetings – 10/1:30/4:30, and home by 6:30-7p to feed, or 2) feed 4:30-5a, then again 7:30a, pump 9:45, 1, 4, feed 6:30 at home and usually get a little more at night before bed than on the days where I pump extra in the morning.
I was discouraged at first with baby 3 as my supply seems lower this time than with kids 1 and 2 but I have relaxed and by consistently drinking LOTS of water and following the schedules above, I have been more or less able to keep up except on days I work late. I can live with that!
Fenugreek and mother’s milk tea made a big difference with my pumping output. I was able to pump 20+ oz per day when pumping at work and before my little one woke up. Also, breast massage made a big difference during pumping.
Honestly you sound like you have the "perfect" situation re: milk supply (not too much , not too little… the Goldilocks amount 🙂 ). I had pretty terrible supply and had to supplement with formula from the beginning. It was incredibly stressful. During the early days of maternity leave I was following all the recommendations to nurse and then pump immediately after (to boost supply) and then also bottle feed the pumped milk / formula since he wasn’t getting much during nursing sessions. That meant my entire day consisted of feeding or pumping with basically zero breaks. I nearly drove myself crazy going through that. Eventually one LC gave me a supplemental nursing system so I could feed formula or pumped milk with a tube at my breast at the same time as nursing. That ended up being the best solution to building my supply and my conclusion is that I am also just not an efficient pumper. When I went back to work I tried pumping three times/day for 30 min each and often would only get 2-3 oz total for that whole day. Plus I pumped in the middle of the night. I get stressed out just thinking about all of the obsession over those numbers and the ratio of breastmilk to formula that I was getting.
I have friends with oversupply but that also sounds pretty stressful–their stories of leaking and forceful letdown causing distress to the baby while nursing / reflux issues sound pretty difficult to deal with as well. (Though I definitely struggled with feelings of jealousy over their success at feeding without needing formula). I think that pumping causes stress to everyone no matter where you fall on the spectrum. Even with you being in a "sweet spot" with respect to supply, I understand that it’s impossible not to get obsessed about production. I really wish the US had better maternity leave policies so that we didn’t have to fight with the pump so early. Even waiting until 6 months would have been a big improvement.
I am a new mom…she is 13 weeks. . I am a nurse practitioner in a busy internal medicine office and just went back to work last week. I get up super early so I am able to pump, exercise, get ready and then nurse her before I leave. Here”s my schedule which works out great so far. Up at 4 am to pump (usually get anywhere from 9-11 oz after doing power pumping —20 min on, 10 off, 10 on, 10 off, 10 on), work out for 40 min, get ready for work, she nurses at 645 then i leave after that. I pump again at work at 10 am (for 20 min, get 4-4.5 oz) and again at 2 pm (20 min, 4-4.5 oz) then by the time i get home at 530 she is usually ready to nurse again as well as before bed. I hope to keep this up for a year, but it is stressful with trying to stay on time with patients. It is nice to have a hands free pumping bra so I can chart while I pump. Good luck to you 😁
Jennifer I think you are the type of person I compare myself to and end up crazy!! I could never ever pump those amounts. The most that has ever come out of my breasts at once is 6 oz total and that was a pump-to-empty session with totally full engorged breasts. I also cannot pump while charting bc without manually massaging breasts, it”s barely worth pumping at all. It is awesome that this works for you (and I am in no way discounting your efforts!!) but it will never be my experience.
Ps when does baby eat at night? Does she sleep through, leaving you that full? If so … lucky!!!
After reading everyone”s comments, I should consider myself so lucky about how much I store. I guess I just thought this was pretty common! She goes to bed around 8:45 pm so her last nursing session is around 8:00. Yes, she is sleeping throught the night—hallelujah! I do not get up in the middle of the night to pump, so my 9-11 oz is after about 7 hours of sleep. I will say the “power pumping” results in a lot more ounces. If I just pumped for 20-25 min in the am, i get about 6 oz. The “power pumping” gives me a lot more because I get additional let-down.
Others have mentioned fenugreek. I tried that early on, but it gave Ayla terrible gas so I stopped. At the suggestion of the lactation consultant, I started taking moringa capsules (brand Motherlove) to increase my supply. I don”t know that I ever had a supply issue but I was so anxious about not producing enough (this was only at 4 weeks old) that I started it. I am afraid to stop now because I am doing so well. The other one they recommended was goat”s rue. These two supplements aren”t talked about much from what I read on blogs so it might be worth a shot since I see you”ve tried the fenu and blessed thistle etc.
I am only two weeks into pumping at work and it is annoying but manageable. I have to use a conference room and shared fridge. I”m keeping up with what he eats (now that he learned to take a bottle, that made for a stressful week) but definitely not overproducing. I get 3 oz normally, got 5 last night as I got stuck in meetings. He gets up early so I do a pumping session before he goes to bed as well.
My husband drives us a few days a week so I guess I could pump in the car but our commute is only 20 minutes.
Hmmm…. I only ever pumped 2-4 ounces at a time, and I never worried about it or took it as a sign I wasn’t producing enough milk. Both my kids nursed every 2 hours for a long time. They gained weight adequately. That is, I think all of this is so individual…. your milk stash looks pretty impressive to me.
I actually think your pumping experience in terms of what you get (and the adorable chubby babies you grow!!!) is well within the range of normal and those pumping 8-10oz are at an extreme (a helpful one in ways, but still). So I think equating the "folks who get 8oz" with "normal" ends up making this harder for you – JMHO!
I also had good supply for my kids, pumped ‘just’ enough, and did have success pumping while driving…thanks to Freemies. Not only did they make pumping during the day at work WAY BETTER (literally pop them in and go), but they made driving pumping WAY possible. I also had an old pump I kept in my car (from first kid) and one at work, so I never had to ‘move’ my pump. I ALSO found that Freemies got me MORE milk than the regular shields, YMMV, so while I realize Freemies may not allow for the massaging, maybe it’d be a decent tradeoff…esp for multiple brief pumping session, I think!
You’ve got this! You’re doing a GREAT job!!!
ooh very interesting about the freemies for driving. agh I’m hesitant to buy a million more things (whoever said breastmilk was cheaper than formula was NOT talking about pumping with 9342 different tools!) but i can see how they could be helpful in that context.
why do you think you got more milk with them? just better fit?
They seemed to fit better and the way the cups were maybe pressed on my breast better? Vs little shields. But also I think I was a 27mm in Medela and freemies offered 28 which was better for me.
My son will be a year (!!) old in a few weeks, and I’ve been pumping at work for the last (almost) nine months! It’s been a journey for sure. Prior to going back to work at 3 months postpartum, I only pumped here and there. In hindsight, it would have been great to build a small/medium freezer stash, like you’re doing, but honestly, I just pumped enough to make sure he had enough for my first day back to work and the very occasional date night out before that. I’m in a similar boat with output. I’ve had enough to feed my son, but we also have supplemented with formula shortly after I went back to work, as my pumping output wasn’t keeping up with his daily needs while I was gone. The first few months back to work, I got 3-4 oz at each pump session. I nursed at 6 am, pumped around 9/9:30 am, pumped at lunchtime, and once more around 3 pm. I got home around 6 pm. As the months progressed, my output decreased, but I really didn’t stress about it. My philosophy was that I would pump the three times at work, and I got what I got out of it. It was a great approach for me. Now, at almost a year postpartum, I’m ready to be DONE pumping! I’ve been scaling back, and dropping one pump session every two weeks. I’m down to just the lunchtime pump now, and as of next week…I will just be nursing morning and night. We will phase those out gradually. Anyway, I have about an hour commute to work each way, and only tried pumping while driving once. It wasn’t terrible, but not my favorite either. Personally, I am hands free when pumping, which I’m sure makes a difference, I say, if you have a private office where you can shut the door, I would just pump at work at the times that work best for you, especially if you can keep working while you do it! You’re doing great, and G is adorable! Also, love the podcast! I listen every week while scrubbing bottles/pump parts after work!
Your approach sounds so nice. I hope I can do it with a similar attitude!
I am in awe. I breastfed both my kids for 12 months – but only because I had 12 months maternity leave both times (obviously, I”m not in the US). I just can”t imagine actually pumping in a car. I am pretty sure I would have quit well before going to that extent.
I guess it technically makes sense to pump during a commute? But I just couldn’t get past the prospect of the milk spilling all over my clothes.
That came off as a bit snarky, I’m sorry! I meant to say, I don’t have a long enough commute to have made pumping while driving something that I needed to do, but if I had, I think I would have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to do it without spilling everything, and that feels quite overwhelming to just think about! Probably would have started with always carrying an extra set of clothes in the car.
I had a 45-60 min commute each way in medical school when I was still nursing my son. I would pump both directions in the car. Even though I just fed in the mornings, on the way to work my supply was high enough in the mornings that I’d get several extra ounces. I found that my commute was so unpredictable on the way home and I was always so stressed about being home in time to feed and my husband would initially hold out giving my son a bottle. By the time I came in everyone was stressed and the baby was hungry, I didn’t have time to do anything but feed the baby and he was tired and hungry when I saw him. I found that all of us were happier when the baby got a bottle during my commute home I’d nurse after dinner. Also, I’d sometimes get too busy to pump in the afternoons and pumping on the commute home helped with that also.
Logistics: I had the medela PIS and bought the car adapter on amazon. I would put the parts and hands free bra on in the parking lot (as described above) and pull over at a gas station to take everything off before getting off the highway. I had a shawl I’d sometimes drape over the apparatus but pretty hard to see anything honestly. I didn’t massage while driving but I was a longer session (30+ min) so it still felt worthwhile
yeah my commute is 35 minutes so maybe I’m underestimating what I would get ‘unmassaged’. I’ll let you all know!
If you do decide to pump on your commute, maybe try one of these options: http://www.freemie.com/. I had low supply when I had my son and adding the commute pump was the only way we even made it to 3 months with 50% breastmilk. I understand you wouldn’t be able express during the commute, but maybe the extra session would help with supply a little.
This looks interesting, too. https://www.willowpump.com/
I have a 30 minute commute and I pumped while driving. I didn’t love Doing it, but I did love that it saved me one or two pump sessions a day when I could be doing other things. Like I could play with my older daughter or hold the baby before school instead of being attached to the machine, or I could work an extra 20-30 mins instead of having to be in the pump room before I wrapped up for the day. I think my schedule is very different from yours, though- I couldn’t take a lot of pump breaks at work- so basically, I pumped in the morning commute, at lunch time and then on the evening commute. Also I work late, so often I would be home after bed time and very rarely did the evening feed (though when I did, supply following a commute pump didn’t seem to be an issue). I guess I found the big plus of pumping in the car is that it left me free to do things that requires human interaction either at work or at home.
To pump in the car- i had a Spectra S1 (with the rechargable battery)- I’ve done it with a pump that required a car charger, but battery power is definitely easier, fewer cables. Set the pump up on the passenger seat, then I would put on the hands free bra, then put on the seat belt, then put the flanges on. It was easier than trying to get the seatbelt over everything. Start the pump before you start driving. Pump until I got home. I would sometime cover myself, but after a while, I was to tired to bother. I feel like at a certain point I just started feeling very entitled about pumping and nursing and stopped caring about what others thought. I don’t know if this helps, Sarah, since I could manage to pump hands free, but that’s how I did it. I have also heard great things about the Freemies mentioned above. Apparently there was a lady on the DC city council who used them to pump while sitting in a Council session!
As you know I’m a really inefficient pumper too. I spend 25-30 minutes per session (3x a day a work) and have to do a lot of massage as well. When I first went back to work in October, I was getting 4-5 oz per session (!), which got down to about 3-4 oz per session in November, but I was able to get enough for bottles every day by pumping at 5 am for a few minutes to get that early morning excess. Anyway, I thought that after winter break and numerous snow days, where I would be exclusively nursing, that my supply would have bounced back for pumping at work but I’m barely getting 2-3 oz per session (despite drinking mother’s milk tea and eating oatmeal with flax seeds and brewer’s yeast EVERY day). B is 6.5 months old now and I’m thinking of dropping a pump and starting a formula supplement but I haven’t bit the bullet yet (maybe in February). I only have a 12 minute commute and I think setting up the pump and all that jazz would just add to my commute stress (I try to use it as my me-time before and after parenting!). I’ve wondered how this works as well but I feel like for me, it would just be a hassle.
Now I need to email you for advice on another related matter!