Letting down for the pump? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 03-24-2012, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I am having an awful time letting down for the pump.  Last Thursday at work I had to pump on and off for 30 min before I got a letdown at all.  I am not a big producer unfortunately but I do make enough when bf directly - baby (5 mo) poops like mad and has always stayed right on her weight curve - but I never feel the pump empties me even when I do get a letdown.


Thinking of baby doesn't work - I can have her right next to me while I'm pumping and still not let down.  Breast massage/compression gets more to come out w/o letdown but doesn't trigger a letdown.  Visualizing waterfalls is useless.  Nurse one side/pump the other also not super helpful - for whatever oddball reason my boobs don't let down simultaneously (I can see it when double pumping, one side will be spurting and the other is getting nada).


Luckily I only WOH about 12 h/week (3 days 4 h, WAH the rest) but I still am having a milk crisis.  I'll typically pump 6 oz while I'm gone and babe drinks 8 or more.  I can't add sessions, I am already spending all my time in my office hooked up power pumping  when I am not in a meeting.  Freezer stash is almost gone and I am freaking out.  :(  I am trying to pump after feeds this weekend but it's not real effective if the pump doesn't get the milk out. 


(Side vent, my DH is driving me crazy constantly wondering if babe is 'getting enough' and wanting to supplement her from the freezer stash, if I try to explain supply and demand one more time my head is going to explode /end vent)

Me, DH, DD1 (2009), DD2 (2011), and DS (2015).
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#2 of 7 Old 03-25-2012, 03:30 PM
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Am I getting this right that you're gone for for four hours at a time and pump 6 ounces while you're gone?
If so, I would tell dad to comfort your babe in other ways because if you feed right before you go and when you get back, six ounces in four hours should be plenty. Average milk intake for a BF baby is 25 ounces a day.. I'd also show him the kellymom.com handouts on bottlefeeding the breastfed baby.
For YOUR sake, I'd suggest stimulating your nipples before pumping just to cut down on your pumping time.

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#3 of 7 Old 03-25-2012, 07:26 PM
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I would also only give baby 1 bottle...maybe 4oz or so while gone. Have your husband sit baby up right and burp multiple times to slow down the feeding.


Here is a copy of a pumping tip email I sent to someone (sorry if it doesn't all apply):



I do think it's harder to pump when baby is not around, also if you are stressed at all - for me I used to get stressed people were going to walk in on me and I think that kind of prevented my milk from letting down as well...I'm a little more used to it now, also it's my 3rd baby that I've pumped at work/school for so I think my body in general is adjusting to it.
Here are some things that help me:
-Comfie chair and relaxing atmosphere
-Hands free pumping bra (I don't actually do that one very often, but, it does help when I do)
-Embracing the experience and becoming one with the pump
-Massaging/compressing breasts and tilting flanges in all directions while pumping
-once the milk stops flowing:
-Massage/compress breasts all the way back to my armpits
-Shake breasts while leaning forward
-Manually or hand express for a few minutes
-Pump again until a few minutes after the milk stops flowing (tells you body to make more milk)
-Then it probably sounds silly, but, I take my time sitting there with my breasts hanging out...take my time putting my pump parts back away and the milk I pumped...even smelling it and looking at it and imagining my baby drinking it. I keep my pump where I can see it in my office and sometimes even when I am not pumping I look at it and think how amazing it is that it enables me to provide my human milk to my baby when I am not even with her....I did not used to do all that with my older kids - I just thought about how much I dreaded pumping...I have been far more successful this time and I honestly think it is my attitude change. I have actually gotten to the point that my milk will letdown just looking at my pump and I lvoe it dearly! I had to really work to get to that point though *hugs* it is hard, but, it may get easier for you...I hope it does. :-)"
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#4 of 7 Old 03-25-2012, 09:30 PM
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This sounds insane, but porn usually gets me to let down... although you're at work so that might make you even more nervous.


Can you get more out with hand expressing?

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#5 of 7 Old 03-26-2012, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input everyone.


So I know this is nuts, but I really cannot tell my husband to feed the baby less.  He is going to get upset and say I am starving her.  We've had this conversation multiple times in multiple ways, dating back to my last baby with whom I really did have a supply issue, and yeah.  Anyways.  Feeding the baby less, not going to happen. 


Complicating the issue, baby initially wouldn't take a bottle at all and screamed the whole time I was gone, for two months or so.  We tried all these different nipples and ultimately the nipple that she would take was a medium flow nipple, 3-6 mo speed.  I know you are not supposed to go past slow flow with a bf baby and we didn't with my last one, but this is what she'll take and if it means overeating a bit I prefer to deal with that issue than with bottle refusal and screaming.


The thing is, I really think I could keep up with what she is actually drinking if I could improve my pumping output, and also just be a little more judicious with the frozen milk.  I am really only behind about 4-6 oz per week and routinely have to throw away 1-3 oz that she didn't finish when I get home.  I pumped after feeds over the weekend and pretty much was able to put back in the freezer whatever had come out over the week, so if I keep that up maybe I will be able to tread water with the freezer stash.  Also I am going to freeze some 2-oz packs to reduce the discarded milk issue.



Nipple stimulation and porn, huh.  I am totally going to try those.  Good thing I have a private office. :)  Embracing the experience and becoming one with the pump, that sounds a little harder.  Sigh.  Maybe the porn will help with that...

Me, DH, DD1 (2009), DD2 (2011), and DS (2015).
I'm not crunchy. I'm evidence-based.
Vaccines save lives.
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#6 of 7 Old 04-20-2012, 07:18 PM
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I get my fastest letdowns by starting with hand expression.  It works much better and faster for me that the letdown function on on the pump.

Jamie, DW to Jeff, birth and postpartum doula and Hypnobabies instructor.
4 years and 5 IVF cycles in the making, Elliott was born at home in water on 2/2/11.
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#7 of 7 Old 04-25-2012, 04:49 PM
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Have you tried using a different pump? Maybe you don't respond well to that one--the suction and speed can vary. I sometimes suspect I'd get better results with a pump with different settings, though I do all right with this one. Perhaps you could try renting one of a different brand, and if you let down much better for it (you'll get more milk with a rental pump anyway because they are better quality, but I'm talking about a big difference), see about buying a similar one. LCs who rent pumps should be able to help you.

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