I have done some reading about breast feeding and would like some advice from women who have tried it both ways. With my first daughter we could not get the latch right and I resorted to pumping during week 1. I was able to produce a decent amount and things went well for the 3-4 weeks I was able to give her breast milk. Due to medical reasons on her part I was unable to conitnue with my milk and we had to change her over to hyper calorie formula to get her to grow (she has heart disease). I have had some people tell me that you can't pump and feed for very long as your milk supply will dwindle. I never found pumping to be a hassle and would gladly do it again for my next baby if I had to. I would really like to get the latch right next time and be able to feed right from the breast but if I can't, does anyone know if you can successfully pump for 6 months to a year? Has anyone used both methods?

asked 17 Oct '09, 03:17

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dreamerisme
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edited 08 Apr '11, 13:38

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Tammy ♦♦
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Yes, you can absolutely exclusively pump long term. I've been pumping for 3.5 months now. In order to do it long term you have to make the effort in the beginning to ensure that you have a good supply.

Let me say first that I would most definitely try to breastfeed first. Get help from an IBCLC if you are having trouble. Exclusively pumping is possible, but it is a lot of work. I exclusively pump because my son was tongue tied and he was unable to latch correctly.

If you want to exclusively pump (EP), I would recommend renting a hospital grade pump in order to help get your milk supply in. I use a Medela Symphony. You will need to be pumping as many times as the baby eats. This means pumping every 2-3 hours around the clock for at least 15 minutes a session. 20 minutes really is better. You really need to do this or you will have problems with diminishing supply later or you won't be able to drop pumps as your baby gets older. During the first 12 weeks, your milk supply is regulated by hormones and stimulation. You need to get adequate amounts of stimulation in order to produce enough milk. For most women this means 120 minutes of pumping time split into at least 7 pumping sessions. Getting 8 pumping sessions is better. I found that 7 was adequate for me after I'd been pumping for about 9 weeks, but I still would pump for a total of 120 minutes.

I pumped around the clock for the first 8 weeks. I dropped one night pump at around 8 weeks for sanity reasons. I decided I couldn't get up and pump if my son was asleep. I dropped another pump at around 10 weeks and then was down to 5 pumps per day by 12 weeks. I produce around 50-60 oz per day on 5 pumps. I have to pump about 20-30 minutes per session in order to remove all the milk.

A few tips to make pumping easier:

  • Get a hands free pumping bra. I used an old sports bra I cut slits in.
  • Make sure your pump horns fit you properly. You can use olive oil or lanolin as a lubricant.
  • Buy multiple sets of pumping accessories so you don't have to wash them every time you pump.
  • Pump while you feed your baby. I prop my son up on a boppy pillow and feed him while I pump.

A good resource for EPers is the Exclusively Pumping message board on BabyCenter. You can chat with other Moms who are pumping for their babies. This website also has good basic info on EPing: http://www.mother-2-mother.com/ExclusivePumping.htm and here are some links on kellymom: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/bf-links-excpumping.html

Good luck! It can be done. It's a lot of work, but I find it worth it. My son getting breast milk was very important to me. Not only have I been able to feed my son, I also make enough milk to donate to other mothers who cannot breastfeed their children.

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answered 17 Oct '09, 11:43

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Sarah
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+1 for a wonderful and detailed answer and for doing what you have done :)

(17 Oct '09, 18:42) Emi

I attempted pumping from the beginning as well so that I could save up for when I went back to work. I pumped sparatically and it was very easy at first, but then I began to have terrible success pumping between 3-6 months even with the let down feature of the Madella Pump and Style. Luckily we moved and I decided not to go back to work and was then able to continue to breastfeed without the need for pumping. But before we moved a nurse recommended fenugreek to increase my supply for pumping.

My friend, however, was a devoted breastmilk pumper (and breastfeeder) who worked full time and was able to pump sucessfully from 2 months to 10 months. But it was very stressful for her because she had to pump every few hours to maintain her milk supply especially as her baby began to consume more as he grew. She reluctantly called it quits at 10 months.

I hope these experiences helped. :)

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answered 17 Oct '09, 08:11

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Sabrina
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I pumped and breastfeed. I went back to work at 3 months and pumped at work for my daughter till she was 15 months old-no formula at all. It is possible. Pump first thing in the morning-you have the most milk at that time. Schedule the time that you pump, I did it three times a day at first and then cut down to two pumping sessions as my daughter got older. Good luck!!

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answered 17 Oct '09, 12:02

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Michelle
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I would just like to share my personal experience and hope it helps.

Initially breastfeeding was difficult for me as well. I also had a pump on hand, and tried using that too, ( particularly during the first couple of days when I wasn't sure whether the baby was latching on correctly or not).

I really wanted to be able to breastfeed for six months, so each time I tried and the latching failed I would quickly reach for the pump. For me the pump seemed painful and artificial and I could feel that something that felt wrong for me would surely affect my milk supply. I think in turn this encouraged me to persevere with breastfeeding. It paid off in the end. I was able to comfortably breastfeed, and my milk supply had increased, and I continued breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months.

Again this may not be the right answer, but I hope it helps a little bit.

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answered 17 Oct '09, 10:47

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Emi
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I also experienced a lot of difficulties breastfeeding and had to do a lot of pumping throughout to increase/maintain my supply. My supply eventually diminished; however, from what I was told by the public health nurses at the time, if you are vigilant about pumping regularly then your supply should be maintained. It was also suggested to me that I rent an electric double pump as they are faster and more efficient. There was an implication that a more efficient pump might help increase my supply. I'm not sure if this is a physical thing, or a suggestion to help with compliance. If the process is more efficient, you are more likely to do it as often as needed.

So it's not a definitive answer, just my personal experience.

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answered 17 Oct '09, 03:28

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Tammy ♦♦
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edited 17 Oct '09, 21:01

1

I am a volunteer pump agent for Ardo Medical in the UK. In their literature they claim that you get more milk if you pump from both sides at once, than each side independently. All their literature is checked by qualified breastfeeding counsellors and based on research, so I don't think they made that up.

(13 Nov '09, 14:02) Meg Stephenson

Thanks for clarifying that Meg.

(14 Nov '09, 18:05) Tammy ♦♦

This is just my experience: I exclusively pumped for my twin boys for 6 months using the Medela Pump in Style. As Sarah mentioned, I would definitely get the new handsfree pump that Medela makes so you can pump and still have your hands available for your baby's needs.

I ended up pumping full time when I had trouble breastfeeding one of my babies after he spent a week in the NICU & needed formula supplements because of his jandice, and it became to hard to try to breastfeed one baby and pump/formula feed the other so I ended up quitting breastfeeding and just stuck it out pumping.

I found whenever my milk supply dipped, I would pump longer and more often to ensure that I always had enough for my babies and enough extra to freeze some for whenever I was away from my babies. As my boys got older and their number of feedings went down, I continued to pump the same amount everyday (I was even up once during the night while my boys were sleeping) to get an extra pump in.

Its a huge commitment to be attached to your pump every 2-3hours, but again as Sarah recommended, having extra parts so you don't have to wash/sanitize after every pump helps a ton, and having a pump that's portable enough that you can take with you where ever you go, helps you to ensure that you're getting all your pumps in every day to keep your supply up.

The worst part, I found, was having to wash and sanitize my bottles all the time, which is not necessary if you're actually breastfeeding. But if you're having trouble breastfeeding, then I think this is just as good, the important part is just that your baby is getting your milk and your immunities and it honestly doesn't matter whether it comes from a breast or bottle, its just important that they get that natural milk that they need!

Good luck with everything!

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answered 17 Oct '09, 20:48

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Shannon B
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I have pumped for over 6 months now and no problem with supply. Just get a good pump! Our insurance covered ours but we had to get it from medical supply store not retail store like Babies R Us. Call your insurance company and see if its covered. It can be very difficult to pump every 3 hours or so but it is worth it. I have found it nice to read a magazine or listen to Ipod while pumping (gets boring and helps you not fall asleep). Don't stress too much if you cant pump exactly every 3 hours, especially at night.

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answered 18 Apr '10, 01:52

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Jill S
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Asked: 17 Oct '09, 03:17

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Last updated: 08 Apr '11, 13:38