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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Breast pump frustrations
I have some questions about pumping. I rented a breast pump because I had some surgery and needed to pump and dump for a day. While I still have the pump I would like to store some milk. I have been having some trouble. For a week prior to the surgery I tried to store up milk but was only able to get 2 or 3 ounces at the most per pumping (sometimes only an ounce). (My infant is 12 weeks old). But everytime I used the breast pump my breasts felt flabby the whole rest of the day and I felt like my let downs were delayed, plus it seemed the baby needed to nurse more frequently. It seemed like for just getting those 2 - 3 ounces I then had to add in at least 2 extra regular feedings. Do you have any suggestions? I was using the pump first thing in the morning because that was the most convenient time for privacy while the other kids are at school. I would like to have enough milk frozen so I can go out on occasion and not offer formula but I feel like I must be going at it the wrong way if I am having so much frustration.
A breast pump is not as efficient in emptying the breast as an infant, so you will usually get smaller amounts of milk than your baby would get. Your emotions during the time of pumping play a critical role in your ability to let down. To stimulate let down, you need to pump in a comfortable setting and position. Massage your breast right before nursing, and roll your nipples. Heat (either moist or dry) prior to pumping may also help. Try to avoid distractions during this time. Try some relaxing music, put your feet up, and perhaps look at a picture of your baby. It usually helps to use a double pump setup, if you are using a single set up, switch breast when the flow slows down, switching several times during the pumping session, and pump for twenty or thirty minutes. In order to produce more milk, you will need to be consistent and diligent in pumping, doing it daily at the same time, to mimic an additional feeding of your baby. Pumping is not easy for all women, and is something that must be worked at and what works for you may not work for another woman. So if you try someone`s suggestions keep that in mind. One last thing, have you checked out your pump and to see that it is set up correctly, and has adequate suction. There should be an instruction booklet with it, or contact the rental company. Good luck!!
Tina Weitkamp, RNC, MSN
Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati