I've been pumping for about three weeks now, not because I'm going back to work but to store milk for a surgery I'm having next week. The problem is, no matter how long I pump for (I have a medela pump in style and a handheld medela) I cannot seem to trigger my letdown, so I can't get nearly as much milk as I should be getting. It doesn't make sense because the second my dd starts sucking, milk is spraying out all over the place, to the point where she's choking. I know a pump isn't as good at emptying your breasts as your baby, but it seems like something should be able to trigger my letdown. Anyone else had this problem?
Relaxing is most important, as well as something that makes you feel close to your baby. A picture, an item worn recently, maybe even something as simple as a dab of their lotion. I never had good luck pumping, I would let down but only being able to nurse on one side makes it tough to have anything left to pump ; )
My first child, I had to supplement after 3 weeks. And I cried....especially when I had husband and mother hovering over my shoulder wondering why mild is not coming out. No pressure. I was determined to go 100% breastmilk with my 2nd child. A few things I learned. My $200+ Medela pump in style was OK but the hospital grade version (that my company provided in nursing room) made a difference. I didn't think it would make a difference but I was pleasantly surprised. You can rent this from the hopital or at any of the nursing stores. The manual pump portion you get with Medela pump in style is what you use (assuming the hospital grade is also from Medela). I don't recall buying anything additional. When the baby cries, I would run the hot water and get a towel. I would place the hot towel on my boob to help with the letdown. It helps. Rubbing and massaging the boob also helped. I had knots in boobs and read a book and figured out it was clogged milk glands. Initially it was painful to massage my boob (not sure if this is medically correct, just worked for me) but I tried to work on the knots. After awhile, the knots went away. Don't give up. I remember taking approx 30min to feed the baby, change diaper and putting the baby back to sleep, and another 30 minutes or so to pump afterwards to get all the milk out, and cleaning bottles, placing bags in freezer, etc...which left me with only 2 hrs to sleep before feeding. It was tough initially but worked out great. Good luck.
Make sure you have your pump set on the strongest setting. There should be a little rubber knob on the front. Try pumping 1st thing in the morning before you feed baby, and the same right before she wakes from her longest nap. You will have the most milk at these times. There will still be enough left in you for baby when you're done pumping. Also, drink a lot of water.
I usually pump for about five minutes a side with the handheld, ten minutes with the double pump. I've also tried pumping from one side after my dd emptied the other side, and I'll get a decent amount of milk, but still no letdown. I never thought of massaging and a warm compress, though, I'll definitely try that next time. Is that what a lot of pumping women do to get more milk?
Thank you all for the advice, I just tried massaging and putting heat on my breast, and I actually felt my letdown reflex when I was pumping, and got tons more milk. I'd never even considered doing that, but it made all the difference :)
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