When to pump?

Currently, I am exclusively breastfeeding Wyatt.

I like breastfeeding. I like the closeness and the cuddles. I don’t feel strapped down (but I know that might change). I plan on being off work for about another 8 months, so I have no real need to develop a stash.

I bought a breastpump before he was born. During the first day or two of my milk coming in, I pumped 3 bags with approximately 2 oz each. They are frozen.

I don’t have any issues with engorgement. The little man seems to be getting exactly what he needs.

I’m not sure if and when I should start regularly pumping?

Is it better to build a small stash for those ”just in case” moments?

What time of the day is best to pump? I’ve read morning,  but I’m always alone with him in the mornings. Can you pump when it works best for you?

Lately, I’ve been getting between a 3-5 hour stretch at night where he’s sleeping. Is that when I should pump?

Any advice, opinions or insight is much appreciated!

How did pumping breast milk work for you?

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33 thoughts on “When to pump?

  1. If I were you, I’d enjoy the sleep at night! When I’ve pumped at night, i was more tired and then when I tried to tone it down to just match her needs, I was more engorged and uncomfortable until I adjusted at night. When I was building up a stash, I’d just pump maybe an hour after one of her morning feelings.

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  2. I always pumped in the morning after she had her first feed. That’s when my breasts had an abundance of milk! I built up my stash and then when my freezer got full, I ended up donating most of it and had a relationship with another mama for my year off where I gave her my extra (most of) my stash. It’s good to build up a little extra, just in case!

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  3. Hi lovely. So glad BF is working out for you so well! Mornings are apparently best but being alone doesn’t necessarily have to get in the way of pumping: when I was trying to build up my supply, the lactation specialist recommended pumping whilst I fed. I never managed it as wrangling one of my ridiculous boobs took both hands but some of my new mum friends have had success with it and it’s yielded good results. I would DEFINITELY make the most of those sleeping hours rather than pump – there is nothing more miserable than sitting in the dark whilst everyone sleeps with that little motor churning endlessly away. Good luck with whatever you decide to do, though! XX

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  4. Oh and yes – of course you can pump whenever you want. My best yield ever was one day at 5pm and I had next to nothing most times. The most important thing for pumping is that you’re relaxed, hydrated and comfy. And have Wyatt near you – that’ll boost your yield. Apparently even a photo will help – just thinking about him will stimulate the oxytocin. Again: good luck, lovely! XX

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  5. I am exclusively pumping because Henry will not latch (combination of a number of issues, none of which seem to be fixable and frankly I’m sick and tired of devoting my life to trying to have him latch). He can latch with a nipple shield but is very ineffective. I have to say I enjoy absolutely nothing about breastfeeding and were it not for the benefits I would give up on pumping. But for now, I pump. I can only breastfeed for about 5 months anyway, we will be doing a fresh IVF cycle shortly after that and he needs to be weaned for that to happen. For medical reasons we really cannot wait to do a fresh cycle until he is 1 or 2 so I hope nobody here starts lecturing me on the benefits of BFing.

    Anyway, to give you a sense, I am a milk machine. He is 16 days old and I am pumping 36 ounces per day. He does not drink that much, he’s averaging around 24 ounces right now so I am freezing the rest. I want a stash because (a) once my supply is established in a few weeks I will move to pumping 5-6 times per day which may decrease output somewhat and (b) once he is weaned he will have quite the supply to last him. Now I take it from the various lactation consultants and doctors that I am extremely productive when it comes to milk so I may not be a good comparison. The issue is that very soon your production will shift from being prolactin-induced to supply-and-demand produced. Your babe is likely drinking about 25 oz of milk at 1 month and will STAY at that level until solids at 6 months. Therefore as soon as your body’s levels of prolactin go down, if you are exclusively breastfeeding, you will NOT have a supply much greater than this. If you WANT a stash, you need to start pumping before you cycle off prolactin and to supply-and-demand. Now most places say that early morning (1-5 am) is most productive but for me that’s not true, I am most productive from about 9am-12 pm. Nevertheless I pump around the clock to both avoid engorgement (very common due to my ridiculous supply) and to maintain current supply.

    I probably wouldn’t wake up if I were you just to pump, but presumably if you are breastfeeding in the early hours, you could pump shortly (10 mins or so) right after. Again, it’s really a quality of life question and your choice.

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    • Also I should specify that I am using a Medela Symphony which is far better/more productive than anything you’d buy (presumably a Pump in Style or Freestyle), so that promotes better supply and makes pumping a hell of a lot faster.

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    • Thanks for the info. Great point about getting started now before my supply regulates itself. Based on that fact, I need to start asap as he is 3 weeks old today. I never would have interpreted morning as 1am-5am. I expect I will pump sometime between 7-noon.

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  6. The recommendation is to not regularly pump until one month pp. I started at 4 weeks pp as I was returning to work at 6 weeks pp (sucky maternity leave). I pumped in the morning after he ate and then only pumped once during my 5 hour shift. I have an oversupply so that worked best for me. I HATE pumping so I only pump at work. I have a stash from that big enough to feed for 2 whole days. I’m happy with this.

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  7. I know what you mean with it being tricky after the first morning feed. For me I feed her, we play then she goes down for a nap but I need to eat, and sometimes I use that nap time to get showered if we have somewhere to be, plus I don’t want to be pumping too close to her next feed because I find it takes her more effort to get my milk going again if I’ve pumped fairly recently (you may not have that issue).

    I’ve pumped about an hour after baby goes to bed for the night because I know she won’t be up for a bit (or in the morning on the weekends when I can feed and then pass her off to my hubby) I don’t always get huge yields but the timing works well for me. I only have about 7 or 8, 3oz bags in the freezer because I don’t really need them very often. Plus if someone gives Wyatt a bottle of pumped milk, you’re going to want to pump at some point to make up for the feed that you didn’t give him, to “empty” your boobs (it’ll probably get uncomfortable) and then that helps replenish your freezer stash as well. Hopefully some of that is somewhat helpful, and not just me rambling on! Ha ha. I found trying to find time to pump a bit stressful, so I only do it a couple times a week when I know it works for me.

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    • Ah I like that laid back approach. We gave yet to establish a very strong routine, but I agree mornings are for Mom to eat and bathe and get ready if we have to go somewhere. I never considered the need to pump for a missed feed. Makes perfect sense. I’ve been apprehensive to give him a bottle yet because I want the breastfeeding latch to be good. We’ve introduced an Avant soother but only occasionally if he’s fussy in the car seat or in the night. He much rather prefers the boob to self soothe, so the soother doesn’t last long.

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      • Yeah, we didn’t get into a routine until 7 or 8 weeks. In hindsight I should have started sooner, but whatever works best for mama!

        We resisted the soother for a fair while, used only in emergencies initially but she did get a few bottles early on with formula because breastfeeding wasn’t going great for me. I definitely agree with getting a good latch established first. I was the soother in the beginning too, but being food source and soother drove me to the brink of madness! We found our rhythm now, the beginning is for learning and figuring out what works for you two 🙂

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  8. No need to build a big stash, though I think pumping once a day and giving some in a bottle each day starting at a month is nice to get him used to the bottle. Definitely morning is highest supply, so if he’s napping after his morning feed that’s a good time. You can also pump one side while he feeds on the other if he generally just takes one side at a certain feeding.

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  9. It sounds like you really don’t need to pump. The only issue would be getting him to take a bottle. So you might want to introduce that sometime soon. But I pumped too much at the beginning and my oversupply ended up hurting my breastfeeding relationship, so I would leave things the way they are!

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  10. You’ve gotten a lot of advice already, so I will just add one thing that worked for me when Darwin was little. I would nurse her on one side and use a hand pump on the other, since I would often leak up to an ounce off the other side anyway. Even without the pump I could get an ounce just holding a bottle on my other side! Also, I only learned later that milk is good up to 12 months in the deep freeze. I donate everything I pump now so not such a big deal, but early on I wish I’d know it. (Darwin is a picky stinker and won’t take a bottle at all anymore)

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  11. I pumped once a day about 2 hours after he went to sleep. I know the morning is when supply is highest, but that’s often when I would get to sleep, and I prioritized sleep over milk! By the end of my leave I had about 50 oz, which had basically stayed at that level, although it rotates, and I work. So I think you need a very small amount, honestly!

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  12. DON’T PUMP AT NIGHT! You don’t need your body producing extra then and you deserve your sleep. I say whenever else fits your schedule best. Maybe right after your first evening feed? That way your hubby can give a bottle in the evenings sometimes? Or you can feed then pump before going out to dinner and leave what you pumped for the sitter? So jealous of your long mat leave. I only have 3 more months.

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  13. Personally late at night or early early morning works best for me. Like 12pm or 3am. I’d say do it a couple times a week for max of 10 minutes so you don’t lose too much sleep. Try it at different times to see what works for you. Make sure you do it right after she has fallen asleep so you don’t drain yourself just to have to feed right away again. That’s why I choose those times cause mine are down for a while around then. I would worry about it too much since he’s good and you don’t “need” a stash yet but starting sooner than later will put less pressure on you when you do need it later on.

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  14. I am so happy that ebf is working out for you and that you are able to spend that time with your little. I personally pump after every feed and sometimes between feeds but I am dealing with an abundance of issues. Most of the moms in the July group pump in between feedings in the morning when baby is napping. Ultimately go with a time that’s good for you. You never quite know what’s going to happen so a small stash is worth it 🙂

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  15. It sounds like you really don’t need to pump. I pumped in between feedings when I was on maternity leave, in order to build a stash, but I ended up with an oversupply and I didn’t even need the stash. Most women don’t. I definitely would NOT pump in the middle of the night if I were you, but if you do want to have a little on hand in case you want or need someone else to feed him and don’t want to use formula, I would recommend pumping no more than 2-3 oz (both sides combined) once a day whenever it’s most convenient for you.

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