Q: I have been strictly nursing on demand for two months. I’d like to pump and store milk to have back-up if need be. I recently started using an electric and a manual pump to express milk. I try to pump the most in the morning, as I hear that is when supply is at its greatest. Even if I pump when my breasts are full, I am unable to get more than an ounce. I keep adding to a frozen supply, but at this rate, it takes me several days to get enough for a decent feeding. Am I doing something wrong? Please let me know and offer any helpful tips.
A: It is important to keep in mind that a pump can never be as effective at the breast as your baby is — we’re designed to give milk to cute, cuddly babies, not pieces of plastic and machinery! So sometimes, it can take a while to get your body conditioned to letting down to that machine.
You mention you are using both an electric and a manual pump. There are many pumps out there, and some are more effective than others. A lack of volume being pumped may have something to do with the kind of pump you are using. The best pumps are the larger hospital-grade pumps such as those offered by Medela and Hollister, but if you only need occasional pumping, these may be overkill. Both of these companies also offer good smaller electric and manual pumps.
You mentioned pumping in the morning, and this is generally the best time to pump. You might try pumping one breast while your baby nurses at the other breast. That way, he gets the milk flowing for you.
If you are pumping when your baby isn’t around, try to recreate the breastfeeding scene as closely as possible to remind your body what you want from it! Some moms find that looking at baby’s picture or listening to her baby, or even smelling her baby’s sleeper all help trigger a letdown that will lead to more milk pumped.
Shorter, more frequent 10-minute pumping sessions are better than longer pumping sessions.
It is best to store milk in small 2-4 ounce quantities so that your caregiver only warms what baby needs for a particular feeding.
By Melissa Clark Vickers
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
Moms & Babies Huntingdon, Tenn.