36 answers

Pumping Milk

I'm having trouble pumping milk with my breast pump. It just seems to pull and be somewhat painful, and not express much milk. It also makes my breasts congested and lumpy making it hard for my baby to get milk sometimes. I think it gives me plugged ducts. The most I seem to be able to express (after a feeding) is an ounce and a half. How much milk is a normal amount to get, and also about how much expressed milk is a good feeding for a 2 and a half month old? I have an Ameda Purely Yours pump and have been experimenting with the different size shields with more luck with the middle size. The small one was really pinchy. Any advice to make pumping go more smoothly and avoid getting plugged ducts from the pump? Do you think a hospital grade pump would be better?

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So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone who replied! Your advice was very helpful. I decided to go to the store "Upper Breast Side" in Manhattan and rent a hospital grade pump. I had already consulted a lactation specialist with the electric Ameda pump I have and she loves that pump, but it just didn't work for me- the shields are to hard and painful I think. Anyway, I rented the Medela Classic, came home from the UBS, sterilized all my new parts and pumped 3 ounces painlessly in less than 10 minutes! I am so relieved! It was a little expensive to rent but worth it. I can now save some milk for my son for when I go back to work/school. Thanks again for all the input!

Featured Answers

I had grat luck with a very cheap Avent plastic model.
The amount sounds right though.
You will get more later on.

I rented a hospital grade pump after my son was born, and it did not work well for me at all. In fact, I tried several electric pumps and none of them worked well for me. What ended up working really well for me was an Avent hand pump. I was actually able to pump more milk much faster with the manual pump than I ever could with any of the electrics, and it was much more comfortable for me. Good luck!

More Answers

Hi there! Congratulations! I own a maternity shop and sell pump, so I have some experience. I couldn't totally tell, but it sounds as if you are nursing as well? If so, a suggestion some of my friends/customers have given is to pump one side while the baby is nursing the other. Your body produces whatever milk the baby needs, so you won't "run out" of milk for your baby when he nurses. Our bodies are so smart that they know it's not a baby nursing and reacts differently. I only work with Medela pumps, but I have heard equally as good things about the Ameda pumps, but you may want to continue to ask around for people who may have experience with both brands. It sounds like a good choice to go with a bigger breast shield if the small was pinching you. If you continue to have trouble, reaching out to a lactation consultant may really help. Most hospitals have one on staff or can point you in the right direction. Hope this helped even just a little!


I always had a problem pumping as well, but I think it was mostly about trying to relax so that the milk would let down. I always ended up in a ridiculous and awkward position of having the baby feed on one breast and pumping the other at the same time because my milk would always come down for my baby. Otherwise just try and relax, I think that's key - take deep breaths, that worked alot with me because I would always be trying so hard to see how much was coming out and wanting the milk to come down, etc.. I used a single electric pump for both my kids (First Years and Medela) and I think the more power you have the better, so if you can afford it, I'd get one. Also, you aren't going to get much after a feeding, so maybe in between would be better. Good luck!

Hi R.,

Sounds like you're on the right track - Upper Breast Side is a terrific resource and I used the Medela Classic pump for 12 months and it was great. Along with the warm compresses before you pump, you also might want to get a hands-free 'bra' - it's a stretchy wide piece of fabric that zips up the front and has 2 holes in the front for the shields. It will allow you to massage your breasts while you're pumping, which is especially helpful when you have blocked milk ducts! Also, try massaging closer to the nipple if you do have a blocked duct, before you pump - this is where the blockage starts. Good luck!


Hi R.,
My first question is, how often are you nursing him? If you are nursing on demand, then it makes sense that there wouldn't be much left to pump. According to Kellymom - a great breastfeeding resource at http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/pumping_decrease.html - "Most moms who are nursing full-time are able to pump around 1/2 to 2 ounces total (for both breasts) per pumping session." So you are doing great. Remember that when/if you go back to work, and are away from your baby for longer periods of time, your supply will have more of a chance to build up.

Here are my suggestions, and please forgive me if I'm telling you thinkg you already know.

Try to pump right before a feeding (when your breasts are very full) - for instance, when you wake up in the morning. Another idea is to feed the baby on one side, and pump the other at the same time, or immediately after. This will help your let-down reflex.

Massage your breasts before pumping. If you do feel lumps, you can massage the area, and/or apply a warm compress (this will also help letdown). I don't know if the pump would give you plugged ducts, but massage and warm compresses will help. Also when you nurse the baby, try to point his chin at the area that's plugged (may require some odd positioning).

Try to relax. I know that's a tough one.

Good luck. Feel free to ask more questions. I have nursed and pumped for 2 babies (now 8 & 5 years old) and am currently doing the same for a 6 month old while working FT. It's hard work but you can do it!


It's been a while for me, but I had a Medela Pump in Style that worked wonderfully. I got larger shields which helped a lot--you definitely don't want pinching, which will clog your ducts. The nice thing about the Medela (I don't know if yours has this feature) was that you could adjust the strength of the pump, so that if it was pulling too hard you could decrease it. That was very helpful when I first started, and then later I was able to increase the strength and get more milk quicker.

One of the best resources for breast feeding questions is La Leche League, which has groups pretty much everywhere.

Yes, absolutely. Get the Medela Symphony. It's amazing! You can barely hear it, and it's completely gentle. I pumped, full time, for many months and this pump was a godsend. I usually got around 4+ ounces per session, and I was *not* a big milk producer. The pump made all the difference for me. You can rent one through a hospital or medical rental company, or you can buy it if you have the money and see needing one in the future. Good luck!!

I rented a hospital grade pump after my son was born, and it did not work well for me at all. In fact, I tried several electric pumps and none of them worked well for me. What ended up working really well for me was an Avent hand pump. I was actually able to pump more milk much faster with the manual pump than I ever could with any of the electrics, and it was much more comfortable for me. Good luck!

First of all congratulations on your new little addition ;) I would definetly recommend the medela breast pump it is the best. I am a mother of 2 my daughter is 4 and a half and my son 2 and a half. I breast fed both...my daughter for 1 full year. I tackled pumping for a few months...unfortunately it was more frustrating than anything for me and eventually gave up. Some women just naturally produce more milk than others. My girlfriend could pump bottles after bottles, driving me crazy LOL!!! Anywho...you shouldn't be trying to pump after your son finishes...you will definetly be dry. You will need to try pumping in between his feedings allowing your body to begin producing more milk flow. Once you feel like your son is on a feeding schedule essentially you will also maintain a pumping schedule. I do hope you understand what I am trying to say. Pumping is difficult...don't give up

Hi R.,

Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy. I am only speaking from my own personal experience so of course others may vary. It sounds like the pump you are using isn't working for you or baby since it's affecting feeding.

I am a mom of a NICU baby so had to pump 8-10 times a day while he was in the hospital and I found the hospital grade pumps to be far better than store bought. I am not sure of hospitals in the area, but many have lactation departments that rent the machines so that you don't have to pay the outrageous price (and you can pay monthly depending on how long you plan to pump). Additionally the consultant can help find what's best for you in regards to sizing, speed of pumping, etc. I realize it's certainly not glamorous but I figured they do that everyday so I had to get over my embarrassment of having my breasts looked at like a science experiment. But they were such an amazing support system.

Addtionally they often had free product samples like nipple cream and breast pads which of course adds up.

Long story short, I would investigate a hospital grade pump.

All the best to you,


here is some more information on breastfeeding, the medela website has great info! good luck! I used the cheap Avent hand pump and it works really well for me! try also putting heat packs on your breasts, it really brings the milk up...they sell little round with cutouts for your nipples that you throw into the microwave for 20 seconds. You can also put them in the freezer/fridge if your breasts are sore to cool them. Pumping right after a hot shower is good too. Good luck and congratulations!!


I uaed the electric Medela pump and it worked great. It's pricey, but I expressed LOTS of milk and never had any problems with clogged ducts. The hand pump I used was an Avent pump. I liked it, but my hand got tired. You can get into a groove with it if you try to simulate how your baby sucks, mimicking the frequency, it came out more when I did this. The Electric pump also had some ways to adjust the strength of the suction as well as the speed. I hope this was helpful.

I had grat luck with a very cheap Avent plastic model.
The amount sounds right though.
You will get more later on.

Although my kids are now all in their teens, I breastfed them all and pumped for bottles....can't tell you how many bottles I pumped! I was having the same difficulty you were at first but I realized that if let-down occurred before pumping I could fill a bottle easily. You could try pumping one side while the baby is nursing on the other or manually starting let-down if the baby is not hungry. Sounds like you have plenty of milk, it's just getting it through the ducts. I used an inexpensive Gerber electric pump which worked great. I had to be hospitalized right after my son was born and used a hospital pump and hated it. Don't get fooled into spending alot of money because it's not always better. The flexible, larger size shield worked best for me...the smaller ones were pinchy. Don't give up! Even after all these years I feel a kinship with other breastfeeding moms and know how hard it is at first. Let the baby be your guide as far as how to feed...don't get hung up on amounts...it can make you crazy! I wish you the best!

One thing that was told to me that was a godsend, you have to massage your breast to get more milk, and to get a nicer flow. While you are pumping with the pump, [ump with your hand as well, massage, start higher up and work down to the nipple- kinda like you would a cow, except massage, it was VERY effective for me. When my daughter was that old I could pump about 5 oz. at a time, usually in under ten minutes, by the time she was 3 months to 3.5 months we were up to 9 oz. Good luck!
OH- I hear warm wash cloths or compresses help to let the milk down and flow better too!

Pumping could be a pain. I have a medella pump and love it. I always try to relax, since it can be painful at times. At 2 and a half months she should be drinking about 2oz of milk at each feeding. Have your partner give her a bottle and see how much she drinks to get a better idea. Make sure you don't give the bottle because she might not drink as much. I also have a double pump, so I think it pulls more when both breasts are going. Another thing I thought of is your diet. If you are dieting you won't get alot of milk. If you have a good meal your body will produce mor milk, this might help if you want to start getting a better supply.
Good luck!

please see a lactation consultant - it'd be worth every penny. Do a google search online and find someone in your area. You can also ask someone from La Leche League who can give you recommendations...Good luck!

I totally feel your pain, I remember the days of pumping but it does and can get better. I am actually very well endowed and still sometimes had to work at getting it just right. I would make sure that it was centered properly over the nipple and put some pressure on my breast, like that of the babies head. Also I was told the age old tricks of looking at my sleeping baby or a picture my baby to get my milk to let down. Once it did I always massaged the breast from the top towards the nipple to help prevent the lumpiness and help encourage the milk to come out, it seems weird but really seemed to help. I used and avent hand pump which was sometimes tiring but worked well and felt better than others I had tried. I think I could usually get about 4 to 6 ounces out at two months, but everyone is different. For the pain I suggest Lanolin on the nipple, just like you would if for some reason the baby latched on wrong and chaffed you. Good luck!

Don't pump right after a feeding. Pump at the same time each day so your body "learns" to do this extra "feeding." Try pumping after you take a shower each day.

Hi R.
It sounds like you may need professional advice, especially if you are experiencing pain!
I had the help of an amazing lactation specialist in Denville, NJ at The Birth Boutique. ###-###-####
She will provide you with a phone consultation and help you to decide whether or not you need to come in.
Plugged ducts can be serious and lead to other issues. She will provide you with proper steps to eliminate your pain, and ensure you are providing your baby with enough milk.
Good luck!

Hi R.,

Congratualtions on your little boy. You can try pumping one side while feeding on the other. You may express more milk. You should be able to pump between 2 and 4 oz. on each side. I was having a similar problem and found that feeding on one side and pumping the other kept my ducts from getting clogged. I use an Avent IQ Duo which is very comfortable. At 2 1/2 months my little man was only taking down 3 oz. He is a very healthy 15 lbs now at 4 months. Don't stress that's the most important thing to remember and warm showers and compresses really help with the lumps. I wore those therma care pads on my breasts during the day when they really hurt and it worked like a charm.

I used the Medela Double breast pump for both of my children and never felt any pinching. I never was able to pump large quantities, sometimes only 1/2 ounce one side and 1 - 2 the other side. (I was always uneven), so sometimes it would take two pumping sessions to make a 4 ounce bottle, which he drank that quantity for several months. I would have to pump at night before going to bed just to keep up. I heard the best time to pump for maximum output is in the morning. It's logical to not express much after a feeding, so wait a while before pumping. You could also contact your local Le Leche League for advice. I always found them very helpful. Good luck!

Hi R.,

I have three boys. The oldest is 7 and the youngest is 5 months. I have had the same manual pump since my oldest which is the Isis Avent. That thing has been wonderful! It has never hurt, caused plugged ducts, and pumps pretty quickly for being manual. I did a 3 day convention for an old boss when my oldest was still nursing and I had no trouble taking a little break and pumping when I needed to. The insert has bubbles that mimic the way the baby sucks so I am guessing that is why it works so well but for the price too, it can't be beat. It has definitely more than paid for itself!

I had the same problem... you may need a different pump, and also, take a warm shower before trying to express your milk and trying massaging your breast lightly in the shower, it helps the milk flow. I had to use the medala(I think that's the name) pump. The one I had, even though it sucked the nipple and hurt, barely any milk came out.

This happened to me too. I would feed and then pump for like 45 minutes and get Almost Nothing and it hurt like hell. I had the hospital grade pump. What I ended up doing was completely stopping. Feeding my son through three months only breast milk (and being bound to the house), and then we started supplementing with organic formula, it used to be made by Horizon, but now I think Earth's Best bought it. I ordered it online, but I Think Fairway carries it now. Jacob continued to breast feed until 2 years old, long after he stopped using formula and started drinking milk.

Why are you trying to pump after a feeding?? That would be the most difficult time as the supply is drained. Your breast will never be empty empty, but you should pump when your son misses a feeding or they are enlarged.

Soaking in hot towels from the microwave makes pumping much easier(careful not to burn) Also looking at a picture of the baby or dreaming of him.

And yes the hospital pumps are amazingly easier and so expensive. I rented one for awhile and it worked great other than I honestly felt like a dairy cow as the expressed so hard and quickly.

Good luck and don't give up it is definitely not an easy natural process to master but a TRULY amazing experience and accomplishment!

hi, pumping is hard, some women get no milk at all from using a pump. hospital grade ones are good but expensive in the long run.
if you don't have to pump right now, i would just stick to breastfeeding. the first 4 months or so are kind of important for establishing a solid breastfeeding relationship (boob keeps up with kid, kid knows to nurse more to get more milk).

what ever pump you go with, please always remember though, your boos are fine, the problem always comes from the pump.

Hi and congratulations on your baby and on choosing to breast feed!

If possible for you, there is a store called the Upper Breast Side, yes, on the upper west side in Manhattan, they can help you (as long you are not too self concious). They have a try before you buy policy, and can watch you and tell you if you are doing anything wrong. I found them very comfortable a wonderful supportive environment.

Good luck!


I use the avent manual pump, and I used to have a really hard time expressing milk as well. I also experienced "pinching". I found that if you rub breast milk over the area the pump covers on your breast, its much more comfortable. I guess it kinds of lubricates it a bit, allowing the pump to work more effectively as well. I also found that if I pump while doing something else, like watching tv, I had several ounces before I knew it. If I was watching it and stressing about not getting much, I never did. It worked for me, so hopefully it will help you a bit too!

I have some experience with breastfeeding and I have had wonderful experiences with breastfeeding resources in Stratford if you need some help. I woould suggest investing in an electric pump I had a hand held pump and I was not able to hardly express any milk at all but the double electric pump made all the difference. As far as the amount it varies according to supply and demand every baby has different needs. Let me know if you have any more questions.

I am in Fairfield and I have a 15 month who I pumped for and nursed exclusively for a year he still nurses at bedtime.

have you tried warm compresses while you are pumping? that might help


Just wanted to say I'm impressed with your determination and am so glad things are improving. I had the best of luck with the Medela Classic hospital grade pump; I'm happy you are using that, too. Keep up the good work.

You should really think about calling the your doctor, you can have an infection. I had one from a clogged duct. If your breast is red, and painful, it also sometimes comes with a fever, you may have an infected duct. You need another breast pump. The best one i'm so sorry I can't remember the name. But it's really expensive, but worth it. My girlfriend was able to rent one from the hospital, this was back in California though. Not sure how your hospital works, you may want to call the hospital you had the baby, they should have nurses who specialize just in breast feeding. If the pump isn't working, keep nursing, cause then you'll loose your milk. With the knots, use a warm compress and massage the knot when your nursing and/or pumping, careful it may spray into the baby's mouth!

Good luck! Don't give up, you'll get the hang of it. Nursing is such a wonderful experience. I have 3 boys, 11, 6 and 3. It was very difficult with the first child, but I promise as soon as the baby latches correctly, everything will go smoothly. Oh, speaking of which, make sure the baby is positioned carefully onto your nipple so he can latch on properly. They're just learning too. That's what makes it painful, when they're not latched on correctly.

Hi R.,

Here's what I learned from my lactation consultant: not every pump works for every person. You might try renting a hospital grade pump; I found the Medela Symphony to be excellent ant the Medela Classic to be pretty good. For me, the Lactina worked poorly.

You can also get different sized breast shields to go with your pump (ask your pharmacist or medical supply store personnel what they carry) and that can help. Massaging and warm compresses are really useful. The more you pump, the more you make...so pump often (that's what I was advised). There's also a prudcut called More Milk Plus but Motherlove that increases supply. A really good resource in NYC is Realbirth, located on 22nd Street (they are also on 9th Ave and 48th. St.). They carry the More Milk Plus.

Lastly, contact LaLeche in your area. They will be happy to help!

Good luck--

Hi R.,
Is this a manual pump? I used the Medela Single Automatic pump - it is only $70 and it works great.

You should not be worried about the amount expressed - your breasts adjust to the quantity "requested". When you express without feeding the baby you can see how much he actually eats. There is no wrong amount, according to the lactation specialist who trained me before my baby was born.

I hope this is helpful :-)

hi R., it sounds like you're on the right track w/ the different size breast shields. i did a bunch of pumping when my milk supply took a dive when my son was 6months. it was not fun, to say the least. i ended up seeing a lactation consultant which was super helpful. i found link to LC's in the CT area http://www.breastfeeding.com/directory/states/connecticut... best way to find out if you're providing enough milk for your baby is to weigh him on a weekly basis. if he's consistantly gaining weight then, he's in good shape. hang in there!


I am so sorry you are having such a bad experience with pumping. I do not know anything about the pump you are using; however, I would HIGHLY recomend a medila Double electric pump. I have 2 children that I breasted for and LOVED that pump. I would try:
-If your pump has any settings I would lower the strength of the suction.
- Warm Soaks before pumping and a soft masssage. Ok let me explain. Take a warm wet wash cloth or towel and lay that on your breast, let that sit for a while. Then holding your breast as if to feed and take your thumb and lightly but firmly rub from breast to nipple in one motion to bring milk down. Doing this all around. Then Pump.

I think 1 and a half ounces after a feeding is good. You have to remeber your baby has eaten all he/she needs and anything more is great you are telling your body to make more and this will increase slowly, if the pump is stimulating you correctly.

I recomend having a lactation consultation with a lactation specialist in your area.

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