How accurately does the pump reflect bm production? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 02-06-2010, 02:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 9 week old daughter is breastfed, and has one bottle of pumped bm per day. I pump during the night after she eats, since I she doesn't eat as well at night, and that is what she gets in her bottle with my husband.

My questions is this- I produce 1 - 1.5 oz from the right breast, but only .5 from the left. (I now call the left one Lazy-Lefty.) How normal is that? Is it reasonable to expect that Ella gets 50% less from that side when she nurses, or is it a function of that breast not responding as well to the pump? Is there anything I can do to motivate Lazy-Lefty?

Thanks =)
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#2 of 14 Old 02-06-2010, 02:57 AM
 
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Tell Lazy Lefty that times are tough, you're facing possible staff reductions. She'll have to pull her weight if she wants to be kept on.

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it though. There are lots of ways that pumped output could fail to represent actual production. For example, if you pump soon after your LO nurses, you're very likely to get less milk from the breast at which your babe nursed most or most efficiently. If your kid has favorites (many kids do), that breast might seem to be lower-producing when it in fact is not.

It might be that that breast responds less well to the pump than the other (sometimes different breasts like different settings, btw, and you can have just the right setting for one side... and not for the other). Or that that breast produces about an ounce less than the other, on average (but not necessarily 50% less). I really would not judge this breast on just this one piece of evidence.
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#3 of 14 Old 02-06-2010, 03:24 AM
 
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It's really common for one breast to produce more than the other. I think most women have this. I'm not sure there is much you can do to fix it. I can pump twice as much on my left than on my right. My baby also much prefers the left - I'm guessing bc of the stronger flow and higher supply.

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#4 of 14 Old 02-06-2010, 09:02 AM
 
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Its perfectly normal for you not to produce much while pumping--anything more than a few ounces is considered a lot when pumping. My sister is having the same problem with her 2 week old. He gets more than enough directly from the source. She was never able to produce enough with the pump--with her first one, she was only getting about 6-8 ounces total when pumping at work 3X a day, and her oldest was taking in 16oz or so--I ended up giving her a ton of my stash to help her along since I responded to the pump too well. I know that for me, my righty is my huge producer, and my boys preferred that one.

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#5 of 14 Old 02-06-2010, 10:01 AM
 
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The pump is not always a reflection of your supply. I was never able to pump a single ounce. But I nursed both my kids through toddlerhood with out ever giving them formula. My body did not respond top the pump at all.

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#6 of 14 Old 02-06-2010, 11:42 AM
 
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I have a very good supply and except in the early days of having a baby (when it feels like I am producing enough milk to feed my baby, my toddler and all the neighborhood babies!) I can barely pump anything. I have heard that pumping is kind of an art form, that you have to keep fiddling with it to get out as much milk as possible.
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#7 of 14 Old 02-06-2010, 12:19 PM
 
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It's totally normal to have one breast produce more than the other, and for most but not all women it's the right breast. It doesn't really matter as long as you follow your baby's cues as far as offering one breast or both, and how long to nurse on each side. Some babies have a preference for one side or the other, and this can lead to uneven production, but it can also be because baby likes the faster or slower flow from one breast. And of course, if baby nurses more on one side, then that side will produce more and the other less.

If it bothers you, you can do things like nursing on that side first, offering the left for comfort nursing, pumping that side after your baby finishes nursing. . .or just dump the pump bottles into a storage bag really fast so you don't see the difference

2 oz is about all I ever pumped at one time when breastfeeding my twins. I only work part-time, but I could never get enough at work for their needs when I was gone - I had to pump at home as well. Now, with my 3rd, I have no problems pumping. DH just pulled out a bottle when I was at work the other day and it was milk from last July! Guess my body "learned" to respond to the pump. And, yes, my right breast produces more than the left.

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#8 of 14 Old 02-07-2010, 11:23 AM
 
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When I pumped for DD1, I could pump like 8 or 9 ounces at once. I got to thinking that was normal. Then when I was nursing the twins, I could barely pump half an ounce on the left, and no more than a few drops on the right. Now clearly I had lots of milk, because the twins were growing and thriving. It must have been MORE than I was producing with DD1, since there were now two babies.

My conclusion-- you can't judge anything about your supply from what you can pump.

There's such a strong psychological and hormonal component to milk letdown. It's not just the mechanical action of sucking that makes the milk let down for baby. It's a complicated milking action that the baby's tongue and palate do, that even the best pumps can't duplicate. Plus, there's the hormonal and emotional connection between you and baby that triggers letdown. Many woman find that they just can't let-down for a pump at all, because there isn't that hormonal and emotional aspect to it. It can take a lot of practice and conditioning to have letdowns for a pump. If you're not letting-down, then you're just pumping off the milk that's stored behind the nipple, which means there's only a very small amount of it. Or you may only be having one letdown for the pump, whereas when baby nurses, you're probably getting multiple letdowns during the course of a session, even if you don't feel all of them.

Then again, my left boob ALWAYS made more milk than my right, consistently. So I think that's normal, too, to have uneven production. Nothing to worry about though. If you were just nursing, not pumping, you'd never even notice. You'd look at baby, and see that baby was growing and thriving, and you'd know everything was fine.

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#9 of 14 Old 02-07-2010, 10:03 PM
 
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My baby has a 'favorite' and my pump has favorite! I think it's normal to pump more on one side than the other.

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#10 of 14 Old 02-08-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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i'm one of those weirdos that responds to the pump and produces less for the baby! when she was in the nicu and then transitioning to breast, i pumped 60 oz per day! now i'm on herbals to keep up with her. when i was pumping, my right side made about 1/3 less than the left side and we had a harder time getting her to get letdown going (at first) on the right side. now, she drinks better on the right side and prefers it.

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#11 of 14 Old 02-08-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boobs4milk View Post
i'm one of those weirdos that responds to the pump and produces less for the baby! when she was in the nicu and then transitioning to breast, i pumped 60 oz per day! now i'm on herbals to keep up with her.
That's so interesting! Do you think it's because you started with the pump? I found that I could condition my letdown to come in certain circumstances-- maybe because you pumped so early on, you learned to let down easily for it, whereas somebody who started pumping later would have a harder time? It's interesting to think about. I EPed for DD1, and I could pump SO MUCH. Way more than she could ever need. But I nursed the twins directly, and didn't start pumping regularly until they were four months, and all of a sudden, I couldn't pump worth a darn, even with the same hospital pump I'd had before, and all new parts, and everything just so. The milk just would not let down for the pump, until I learned to do all kinds of psychological tricks on myself to get it to come.

Our bodies are so fascinating.

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#12 of 14 Old 02-08-2010, 02:22 PM
 
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I think I agree with the PP about pumping first. My last two were in the NICU at the beginning and I pumped for the first few months and could get 6-8 ounces every two hours, then when we finally transitioned fully to the breast, my supply dipped down... we finally have it under control, but now if I have to pump for any reason I am lucky to get 1.5-2 oz, both sides combined after not having fed for ~3 hrs...

My left side is my big producer, but my left side has always been MUCH larger than my right, even pre-pregnancy... My right side has always been kinda scrawny and never produced that much milk. In the begining I could pump four ounces out of lefty and 1-2 oz out of righty...
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#13 of 14 Old 02-11-2010, 06:16 PM
 
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My left side is my "winner".lol Everyone I know who pumps has a sided thats more efficient.

Pumping is more efficient for me, because I have OALD. My DD usually has to pull off to catch her breath and wait for my letdown to calm. I started pumping once in awhile when she was 2.5 weeks so that I could run an errand without her.

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#14 of 14 Old 02-11-2010, 09:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Llyra View Post
That's so interesting! Do you think it's because you started with the pump? I found that I could condition my letdown to come in certain circumstances-- maybe because you pumped so early on, you learned to let down easily for it, whereas somebody who started pumping later would have a harder time? It's interesting to think about. I EPed for DD1, and I could pump SO MUCH. Way more than she could ever need. But I nursed the twins directly, and didn't start pumping regularly until they were four months, and all of a sudden, I couldn't pump worth a darn, even with the same hospital pump I'd had before, and all new parts, and everything just so. The milk just would not let down for the pump, until I learned to do all kinds of psychological tricks on myself to get it to come.

Our bodies are so fascinating.
i ep'ed for my son for 6 mos and had no luck getting let-down with him nursing. we were told it was due to some mouth issues he had, but i too wonder if it wasn't because i was so used to the pump. i had dd2 and dd3 at 35 and 37 wks respectively and never had supply issues with them. but i rarely used a pump and only after dd3 was several months old. i could pump like gang busters then...so maybe i'm just weird and respond to the pump better

Jen-loving Bill, mama to Teryn 18, Kalyn 16, Ricky 13, Natalie 5, Angel Zoe '07 and rainbow1284.gifAmelia Rae 22 mos bonus kids (dss) W 14, W 13 NEW grandbaby due 10/10/11

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