17 answers

Medela Pump in Style Doesn't Seem to Work! HELP, Losing My Milk Supply!

When I first started pumping, I used a hospital grade pump that I rented from a place near Prentice. Then I went on a trip to visit family and asked them to pick me up a pump there so I wouldn't have to deal with the HUGE hospital one on the plane. They got me a Medela Pump in Style and I loved the look of it. I was SO EXCITED to be able to have something so discreet at work (I left maternity leave a few weeks early to start a new job). Unfortunately, I hooked it up and pumped for 15 mins at full power and barely filled the bottom of the bottle!!!! Before I was getting 2-3 ounces on either side! I had to use the manual pump that they give you with the pump (and they provide one free from Prentice when you leavE) and at first I loved it because it seemed to have a lot more suction and was so small, I could put it in my purse. The upside is my arms are getting really toned (we took the hospital grade one back because I thought this one was so good). BUT...now I get tired, it takes long, and it appears that my milk supply is hurting. I am pumping every 3 or 4 hours and only getting 1.5-2 ounces from BOTH together! Since I have a nanny and need to provide her with milk, I haven't been breastfeeding at all because I have to mix the milk I do manage to eek out with formula. I haven't breastfed in weeks, but I thought if I keep pumping it would take care of supply? Has anyone else had an issue similar? I don't know why the Medela pump doesn't work, but I am wondering if it is because I have very large breasts? Has anyone with very large breasts had trouble with their pumps?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi M.!
You ahve gotten some great advice. I used my PIS for 14 months -my son was a preemie and never latched on. What I DID find was that the car adapter for the medela made the pump MUCH stronger.

Just a tip if you travel. I became a pro at pumping in the car while I drove (*blushing*).

More Answers

Hi-- I also experienced this with my first child. The hospital grade pumps are much stronger and more successful in simulating a baby's sucking. I think it is critical for you to get some actual nursing in... the pump will never make up for actual nursing. Actual nursing will help sustain your supply (even if its just in the morning and at night). I also have the pump in style... try adjusting the speed somewhere in the middle. I actually get the best results with the speed dial right in the center and the pressure dial on "5". It may take longer to get a little more milk than the hospital grade. Give it about 20 mins. at least for one let down and then possibly another. Also drink lots of water (pumping depletes fluids). I work full-time and managed to supply my daughter with only breast milk for the whole first year... and now am doing the same thing with my son who is 10 months. It does take commitment to do this... and you may need to pump at least 3 times in an 8 hour day to get the milk you need. To this day my left side only gives me about 1.5 to 2 ounces at a pumping session. My right side usually gets me about 3 ounces. So multiply that by 3 and that will equal about 13 ounces for a work day... which may well be enough for your little guy (as long as you feed him when you walk in the door, and in the morning, and at night too (breastfed baby's often need to eat in the middle of the night...mine still does at 10months). Good luck! Know that you are doing a great thing for your son. My son hasn't gotten sick at all this year and he is in daycare! I have to imagine my breast milk has served him well. His name is also Jacob! I give you lots of credit for trying to make this work.

I have large breasts too, which you'd think would be great for breastfeeding, but also has it's own problems. I started out with the manual Avent Isis for 5 months then my supply started going down. I bought the Medela Lactina (the rental model) and pumping was more productive and faster (and hands free). I did breastfeed when I could, and she got formula once or twice a day. Instead of pumping exclusively, try breastfeeding, then formula when you're pumping at work. Soon you'll have enough to go back to only breastmilk.
To get milk supply back up, breastfeed exclusively on days off, if your baby doesn't eat off both breasts in one sitting, nurse on one side and pump the other at the same time. Apparently, the baby stimulates let down way better. I also used Fenugreek tablets. I took two tabs three times a day for 3 days and my supply went up. Then I just took it twice a day to maintain it and drank Mother's Milk tea. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. Make sure the horns on your pump are large enough that none of your ducts are blocked. medela sells larger sizes, check on the web. and don't give up! Even if you only breastfeed in the morning and before bed, it's better than not at all. You're doing great.

I don't have large breasts, but did find I pumped less milk with the Medela pump in style than the hospital rented pump- Medela Symphony. Unfortunately, they do sell the Symphony except to hospitals. Pumping was always a challenge for me, but you just have to get used to being hooked to a machine, which is a pain. I learned to pump from one side and feed my daughter off the other at the same time. The more you pump, the more you will produce. Also, every chance you get, breastfeed your baby cause that will increase your supply, because their sucking is more than the pump. I know some people who pumped every 2 hours in the beginning to increase their supply. I never found the time or patience to do that. You will find your supply will decrease regardless once you are away from your baby and back at work. When I went back to work, I was lucky to get 2 oz/time so I used to mix 1/2 breast milk and 1/2 formula on those days. At least I knew my daughter was getting some breastmilk. It will take time to get a routine, so good luck.

I have used that pump for over 2 years with both of my children and have had wonderful luck with it. Do you have the arrow on the pump set to max, for the max suction? If you bring it to any hospital they will test the sucking power for you. They just did that to my pump when I had my daugther 3 months ago. Don't give up... have you called the Medula company for advice?

I've used both the hospital grade and the Pump in Style and had the same results with both. I too pumped exclusively (my daughter was in the NICU for 8 weeks) and it seemed to work fine. The only advice I can give you is to be very diligent about pumping every 2-3 hours, even during the night. I found that when I returned to work and pumped less frequently my milk supply dropped dramatically. I agree with the other ladies to have your pump tested as the PIS should work almost as well as the hospital grade one. Good luck!


Many mothers find the hospital grade pump more effective. The Symphony ( hospital grade rental pump) is relatively light and portable.

Some mothers use the hospital grade for a bit and can change back... you need to experiment and see what works best for you.

For some mothers it is necessary to change flanges to a better fit and that helps increase milk production.

Pres. Lactation Support Group, Inc

Are you using the battery pack or the adapter? If you are using the battery pack the batteries are probably shot. If you are using the adapter and it isn't working well it maybe the cord. You could also try a higher setting. Not sure if any of this is helpful but good luck!!!!

I just re-read your post and I am confused. Are you concerned with the actual pump or that you haven't breastfed in weeks? If so that is why your supply has decreased. The baby will always take more milk than a pump. I am interested to hear what others say. Again good luck!

Hi M.,

I used the pump in style to pump at work for several months and it always worked great. One thing I noticed early on, though, is that the little white circles that are attached to the piece that hangs into the bottle must be on just right or you won't get good suction. One of mine was loose once and it took me forever to figure out why it wasn't working. I just pushed it in all the way and it worked great after that. So, I would suggest just going over the assembly and making sure everything is tight and there are no holes.

Good luck!

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