*With apologies to the early '90s fabulousness that was Technotronic.
I’ve been extremely lucky in that I’ve never worried about making enough milk for Baby Y. In the early weeks, I actually had to deal with a bit of an oversupply and overactive letdown – he would scream because he couldn’t deal with the fast flow, and I would have to spray a burp cloth for a little while before latching him. (Who knew you could actually spray? I didn’t before I started nursing, that’s for sure!)
Fortunately, once things regulated around month 3 or so, I didn’t have to worry about most of that any more. Gone were the days when I would wake up with a soaking T-shirt on nights that he slept through a feeding. Plus, as he got older, he was much more efficient, and a fast flow didn’t faze him anymore.
When I went back into the office part time before the new year, I would pump about twice a day, two times a week. I used a little manual Lansinoh pump and could easily get 4-5 ounces in 10 minutes or so. I preferred the manual over the setup and fuss of an electric pump – no electricity necessary, and I could toss it in a plastic bag and go.
In the past couple of months, though, pumping has been a lot tougher. On at least a few occasions I’ve spent maybe 40 minutes pumping pumping pumping only to get 1.5 or 2 ounces. Sometimes my milk takes forever to let down; sometimes it just doesn’t. Not good, and not enough to keep up with Baby Y’s appetite when I’m gone. Yikes.
There have been many factors at play here, I think – Baby Y is doing well with solids, so my supply is probably naturally shrinking, and we all got sick for a while, which I know can affect things, too. My period also returned a couple of months ago (though it has disappeared again) which apparently can cause supply to dive temporarily. And my work schedule is more erratic, which means pumping is, too.
I wouldn’t worry as much if I had a big freezer stash to fall back on, but I’ve been pretty lazy about pumping and have generally only kept one gift bag worth of milk in reserve (a small gift bag is a great way to store freezer bags of breastmilk – go here for a tutorial). So my already-small reserve has dwindled to about five bags or so right now. Gulp!
I’ve also found that my milk isn’t letting down for Baby Y nearly as fast anymore. It used to be almost instantaneous, and I would never really notice. Now my fidgety 8-month-old pops on and off, on and off, growing more and more frustrated at the wait, which puts me at risk of biting, too. Yow.
So, I’ve made some small changes to address both problems:
- I’ve upgraded my pump. I’ve switched from my Lansinoh to a single-electric Avent. It’s more powerful but still easy to transport and clean, and automating the pumping when I get into a good groove seems to help.
- I’m trying to unplug. I’ve been totally guilty of constantly hopping on my iPhone when nursing Baby Y. Now I’m making a conscious effort to relax and forgo technology.
- I’m drinking more water. Water is so crucial, and there have certainly been days when I had a diet soda or two and ZERO water. Not good.
- I’m visualizing success. It sounds hokey, but a lot of moms recommend that you think of rivers of milk and such. I feel ridiculous, but if I can get past that, I think it helps.
- I’m also thinking of trying lactation cookies. (OK, I really just want an excuse to bake some cookies. Any supply boost would be a bonus.)
Another obvious thing to try would be to pump more often, right? I will if I have to, but only if I don’t see enough results from the previous tweaks.
So far, results are mixed: My letdown during nursing is much quicker – I attribute this mostly to putting down my phone! Pumping at work is still tricky, though; recently I was able to pump a normal 4ish ounces, but it still took a lot longer than it used to. It’s much harder to unplug at work, where I pump at my desk. I’m going to need to make more of an effort.
One thing’s for sure: I have so much respect for moms who do this several times a day, every day of the week!
Any pumping mamas out there have some tips?