33 answers

Too Much Pumping?

I am the mom of 6 month old triplets, and I am still pumping. I am able to put at least an ounce and a half or so in with each bottle, and they each get bottles 4-5 times a day. I also work from home, so needless to say my time is crunched. Is it bad (other than nipple irritation) to pump for 5-10 min an hour? I am not breastfeeding, and do not have time to do so. I need to keep my milk supply up for as long as possible, but I was just wondering if there is such a thing as too much. What happens is that if I wait 2-3 hours, it takes up to 20 minutes. If I do 5 min or so every hour, how would that effect my supply? The other day I went 12 hours because I could not take the time to pump. I want to keep going as long as I can (better for me, babies and wallet), and I understand that just pumping only can reduce supply faster. I am also taking Bless Thistle and Fenugreek supplements along with over 2 liters of water a day. I also have a bowl of oatmeal a day as I have heard that helps with supply.

UPDATE... :) I am using the Medela Pump in style. It was recommended to me by the lactation consultant at Banner Good Sam. Thx everyone!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

i never think there's too much pumping. some great advice will come from a lactation specialist. tucson NW hospital has a great one. you can call and they will call back. ###-###-####

More Answers

Hello Julia,
I pumped and breastfed for almost 1.5 years and I still let him do it when I want to sleep in on the weekends. I think your doing a fantastic job and for such a long time with 3 babies is amazing. Good for you! I worked full time and went to school and to keep your milk up is to breastfeed occasionally. At least one kid a day. But I understand if thats too much. Those kids are getting a lot and that has to be difficult. They are going to be some healthy kids. If they haven't got sick yet then you know you did your job. You are a great inspiration to all mommies!

Hi Julia. I reccommend talking to a lactation consultant. Jenny Bailey, the owner of Every Mother and Child in Mesa is a fabulous rescorce for nursing moms. Call her! (EveryMotherandChild.com) She is an expert and when it comes to nursing, I always tell my clients that its better to prevent than to treat. (I'm a Doula anc Childbirth Educator) If your worried about your supply, then yes, the herbs and oatmeal do help. You can also get "Mothers Milk" tea which worked VERY well for me. (I had a daughter in the NICU for eight weeks and pumped round the clock too) There could be an issue with pumping for only 5-10 minutes in that your milk has two parts. the Foremilk is more watery and lighter and has less calories, The hindmilk is thicker and richer and is the "Cream" that is really good for your babies. As long as your pumping long enough to get to the hindmilk, you should be ok, but once again, I am not a lactation expert. Call Jenny!! Good luck. J. W.

I am a mom of twins and pump exclusively too. The twins are 10 and a half months old. I used a Lactina pump, which I rented from The Barbara Greenspun WomensCare Center in Las Vegas. They also have lactation consultants that are great at answering questions ###-###-####. I now use the Pump in Style and only pump 3 times a day (every 8 hours for 20 minutes). I still get about 36 oz of milk, even though I am down to pumping 3 times a day. I thought I would have to pump every 3 hours to keep up my supply and when the twins hit six months I started cutting out a pumping session every few weeks and increasing the time in between and just got more milk in the same amount of pumping time (20 min.). I bought bigger bottles that hold 9 oz instead of 5 oz (gerber brand at Target). My milk supply didn't really decrease much until I went down to 4 times a day. I was ready to quit a few months ago, but now that I only pump 3 times a day, it is easy to keep going. I pump before they wake up, during their nap, and after they go to bed.

Congrats to you for pumping for 3. I am exhausted taking care of 2 and finding the time to pump is hard when you have babies to take care of. Take advantage of a hands free pumping bra. I went months without one and wish I had know about them right away. Also, if you can only use the pump for 5-10 minutes every hour, then do it.

Julia,

Any pumping is better than no pumping but overall, you need to make sure you are emptying your breasts completely enough and often enough to maintain your milk supply. You can do that pumping exclusively but it obviously takes a bit of work. If you don't have some sort of a hands free pumping bra, you need to get one. I have one of these

http://cgi.ebay.com/HANDS-FREE-Pumping-Bra-HALTER-Easy-Ex...

and one of these

http://cgi.ebay.com/HANDS-FREE-Pumping-Bra-Bustier-Easy-E...

I like both very much. The real difference between the two is that the halter has to be pulled over your head and the bustier has a zipper. Both are really easy to get on and off and really easy to use.

It takes most of the drudgery out of pumping because you can pump and still do what you need to do (within reason, but you can easily work on the computer, do paperwork, talk on the phone, read or feed a baby while pumping).

Pumping exclusively doesn't reduce your supply faster. No effectly emptying your breasts frequently enough reduces your supply. If you aren't using a hospital grade pump, I'd recommend that you try one. Rental fees for them vary but they work much, much better for most women than the other pumps on the market that are meant for more occasional pumping. A pump in style is a good pump but it isn't designed for exclusively pumping. Some women can maintain their milk supply with one and some can't.

Congratulations on making it to 6 months! With triplets and working, that is one heck on an accomplishment!

T.

There isn't such a thing as too much, but I don't know that it would be very beneficial It depends on you and your body. I started pumping when my baby was 3 months old, and I could do about 10 minutes every 1-2 hours and get lots of milk. Now that he's 8 months, and I'm in to more of a routine, I have to pump around certain times of the day. Doing it before those times just defeats the purpose - I spend a lot of time pumping and not producing much. I think you can "train" your body to do what you need it to do, but it will take some time to get it on that schedule.

First important question... What type of pump are you using?

It isn't true that JUST pumping will reduce your supply faster IF, and I repeat, IF you have the right pump. Lots of moms have pumped exclusively for a year or more with excellent success!

If pumping 5-10 minutes every hour works for you, then so be it. If you want to stretch it out to 2-3 hours, I'd think that would be much easier on your schedule. If you have a good pump you should be able to pump every 2-3 hours for 15 minutes or so (waiting for the milk to let down TWICE each time) and get the same amount of milk. The only reason you wouldn't be able to is if you have a very low "milk storage compacity" (you can't hold much milk).

I would definately advise you to get a small hand pump or other portable pumping device that you can use when you have to be away from your "good" pump. Going 12 hours without pumping is a very bad idea and will surely decrease your supply.

The only time too much pumping is BAD is if you are pumping for more than 30 minutes at a time. You can cause some real nipple damage if you do that. Or if you are pumping with a suction level that is uncomfortable for you.

Good Luck and keep it up! Your babies are going to be so healthy & smart because of your efforts!
____@____.com

I nursed all of my babies (8 including a set of twins).
The times that I did have to pump, the thing I found is if you go a little longer between pumping you are going to have higher quality milk. The first little bit of milk that comes out is not as rich. After that you get (what I believe they call) hind milk. This is much richer, higher in fats and nutrients.
I totally understand the time thing, but I STRONGLY encourage you to go 3-4 hours between pumping...you will have MUCH BETTER MILK for your babies. Of course this is my opinion based on observation having nursed 8 :) . As a VERY soon to be grandma, I will encourage my daughter to gradually (over the course of several months) get to that 3-4 hours. Do with it what you will :)

I did not breast feed so I cannot give advice, but I do live in Windsor and also have triplets who are 11 months old. There aren't too many triplet families, especially around here. Do you live in Windsor? I would love to talk to you and possibly get together for a play date when yours are old enough. Good luck finding out the info you need.
D.

First of all, kudos to you for deciding to breastfeed your babies! I know that many women would choose not to given your situation. I can't even imagine what it is like breastfeeding three little ones in addition to working from home. I have no idea how you do it! I am breastfeeding my five month old currently. Whenever I want to up my supply, I just start pumping more. There are many days when I pump every hour for five to ten minutes. I don't think there is anything wrong with it at all. If you have the time to do it, I would say go for it. The more often you can pump, the longer you will keep your supply up.

A little about me:

Mother of two girls, two year old and five month old. Work from home part time for my husband's business.

Hi Julia!

It sounds like you are very busy and trying to make the most of your time. I would say the pumping for 5 min/hour will probably give you about the same amount of milk, but you will have a harder time getting as much hindmilk (which is the higher fat milk).
Would it be possible for you to use a wearable pump (like the whisperwear) and just let it run while you are working? Then, you would only have to take breaks to turn it on and off and to switch the collection bags. One of my friends used this pump and she loved it, it was very convenient for the kind of work she was doing. She said it was even quiet enough that she could take phone calls while it was running, and secure enough she could do things like filing (bending over, etc.) without spilling.
If buying a new pump isn't in the cards for you and you haven't figured out how to pump hands-free, that is another huge boon to those of us trying to juggle work and pumping. Well, office-type work anyway. If you're a massage therapist or something I don't think it would work!

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/hands-free-pumping.html

Also check out the Exclusively Pumping ____@____.com have some great tips and support!

http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-ppexcluspump

Julia,

I too am a mom of triplets. Mine are 17 years old - 2 girls and one boy.

I never breastfed, they were given DRY MILK, of course mixed with water,,,,I mixed all 24 bottles up at night, put them in blue, pink and clear bottles,,,and was ready to go the next day. I put the bottles through the dishwasher....

My kids were never sick ---- they still are pretty healthy.

We traveled with them on planes, and stayed in hotels,,,when we did travel, I washed out the bottles in the sink,,,,,no problem - just used very very hot water.

I was given an injection in the hospital to dry up my milk supply, after a couple of days,,I was fine.

I too have always worked from home.

Good luck,,,,,,,make time for yourself. They won't give you time,,,you must make the time --- I go for runs ---

L.
Greenwood Village

I don't think you can pump too much. Everybody's body is different and if pumping 5-10 min each hour works better for you in your schedule then it's not bad. Fenugreek worked really well for me. It doubled my supply (which was still woefully low). To increase/maintain supply just make sure that you are pumping most of the milk out. Milk contains a hormone that signals the body to reduce milk supply, so the longer milk remains in the breast, like 12 hours, it tells the body to produce less. Also, pumping both breasts at the same time sends a stronger signal to the brain to produce milk.
As for products that increase milk supply: Fenugreek is good and has been shown to help. Blessed Thistle is highly rated on one doctor website I looked at(www.drjacknewman.com). If you really want to try, you can get Reglan. It is a reflux drug like Zantac but still prescription. There is no issue taking it while nursing. The drug has been given to babies with stomach issues. The doctor gives about a 10 day supply with 3 pills for 4 days, 2 for 3 days, and 1 for 3 days. It helped a lot (I continued the fenugreek at the same time). The only thing to look out for is that it can cause anxiety. But it worked well and is only a short term use. Check out the drjacknewman.com website. It has lots of articles on breastfeeding (and some may be helpful since you are pumping) and there is an article on the different herbals/drugs you can get to help with milk supply. Hope this helps.
-Jen

Julia,

What dedication you have to make sure your triplets are receiving breastmilk! I'm so glad you are dedicated to doing what's best for them!

If you want to keep your milk supply pumping every hour is absolutely wonderful! You will want to pump until you have gotten absolutely NO milk for 3 minutes.

You shouldn't get particularly sore from your pump. There is a local study going on where they are giving away a few breast pumps. I can try to get you in on this study if you want. Just give me a call.

I would be glad to help you find a way to pump that would work for you. Their are hands free bra/belt type things that can hold the pumps on so that you are able to do other things with your hands. Also, I think getting a pump that fits you properly will help you not to be sore!

Give me a ring,
S. Stevens
Certified Childbirth Educator, Doula & Breastfeeding counselor!
###-###-####

I nursed my triplets exclusively for nearly a year and ALWAYS pumped one side while nursing 1 on the other. I also pumped for at least 5 minutes AFTER the milk seemed to "run out" and then also pumped the side the baby had just finished nursing on...doing so seemed to stimulate my production. I could nurse and pump an extra 40+ oz. each time (every 2-5 hours, depending on their age)...it was great because I could freeze some ahead for use later/during growth spurts when I felt I would never be able to keep up!

It is very important to have a strong pump, like the one you now have. It is also helpful to get/rent the one that you can plug in in your car...with someone else driving, you can be done pumping when you get there! (We traveled from FC to Denver LOTS when ours were younger, and that pump made things so much easier, and it made me more available to greet and visit with family when we arrived at our destination.)

Water, good meals for mom (hard to do, I know!), oatmeal and a belief in the benefits of the extra "work" nursing provides for your babies (we had so many people trying to talk me out of nursing!) will buoy you through this time!

what pump are you using?
it really does make a difference.
we pay 50 bucks a month to rent the symphony by medela from banner desert lactation center.
we've had FANTASTIC results.
i've tried other pumps and manual expression - nothing - and i mean NOTHING ELSE works like the symphony - - - if you get one - be sure it has a 2.0 card in it.
it does make a difference.
keep drinking - my docs say at least a gallon a day.
my guess is if you don't have time to pump, you don't have time to drink or eat or sleep - all 3 of these increase your supply.
best advice you can get is to get some help so you can get some sleep on a regular basis - naps count.
if you sleep, eat and drink, you'll be able to breastfeed alot longer and get LOTS more milk.

i only pump twice a day - AM and PM and i get an extraordinary amount of milk.

also - i donate to a breast milk bank in california.
you could check it out and see if your doc will write you a scrip for it - seems like it would make a difference for 3.

WOW - triplets! Congratulations! I admire your perseverance!
I have been blessed in this area - my son is 1 and apparently I am a cow. I think that the most important thing is being able to relax. Stress kills milk! I drink almost a gallon of water/day and usually make a hot chocolate (with skim milk) before I go to bed at night. I don't pump anymore - and am down to nursing only morning & evening - but when I was pumping every day, I would pump just 2 or 3 times during the day... both breasts at once. I would pump for 10-15 minutes each time and get like 8 ounces. (like I said - a COW). I found that when i pumped MORE than that - I got less milk. For me, I had to store up until my shirt was going to pop! (I'm a teacher - so that was a little crazy at times.) My doctor also recommended the Mother's Milk tea... she said she didn't know how it worked - but that it did!

You might also try angling the pump differently... milk ducts tend to clog if always pulled from the same angle. It's kinda awkward - but it may help.

GOOD LUCK!

I have heard that taking brewers yeast tablets help with your milk supply. I just stopped pumping at 4 1/2 months. I just like you had too many days going hours without pumping. I understand why you want to continue. Just keep doing it girl! Hang in there.

About myself, I am a 30 year old mother of 2 children one 7 mo and 1 9 yrs. Both girls and they are my life!

Hi Julia,

I have twins and am a member of the twins club (multiples club), are you a member? There is a lactation consultant that will be more than willing to help answer your questions about pumping. Email me ____@____.com and I will send you her info. I breastfeed mine 5 times/day and pump once in the morning getting 4oz from each side. I don't think I can help you very much with your pumping questions, but I'm sure the lactation consultant can.
Congratulations!
-G. M.

Wow! Great job with the commitment to pumping for your triplets!

Since you are pumping, and not beastfeeding, NO...what you describe is not too much at all. In fact, the same rule of supply and demand holds true: the more time "at the breast" (or pumping)ld the more you make. When you go a long time with out pumping, you could "make that up" just like a baby would by pumping a few extra times the next day or so. Some advice in m literature suggests that pumping for longer at each session and the sessions being more spread apart is better than pumping every hour for 5 minutes. For example, pumping for 10 minutes at least each side every three hours.

Your water and herbal intake is excellent!!! I wish I could get more of my clients to drink as much. Pumping does not necessarily reduce supply faster; I know many people who "pump only" and have their babies on just breastmilk and they are thriving. It is all supply and deman and you seem to have a great handle and atitude for it. Good for you!

Jaimie in Tucson

Good for you! I'm sure you are very busy. Pumping every hour may only take 5 minutes for so, but it's better for your body & your milk supply if you pump every 3-4 hours. It isn't really taking more time total (just a bigger chunk of time). It's more natural for you to be pumping less often & for a longer period. Also, talk to your doc about Reglan, a med that can help with breast milk production. Good Luck!

I always heard that the more you pump and nurse the more milk you will get. But breastfeeding is much faster and the baby gets tons more milk. It's all about supply and demand. Your body will produce as much as you need to pump. So the more you pump the better.

i never think there's too much pumping. some great advice will come from a lactation specialist. tucson NW hospital has a great one. you can call and they will call back. ###-###-####

Julia,
Wow, triplets! Congratulations. I am a labor nurse with 10 years of experience. I also have a 2 and 4 year old that i breastfed, and pumped for when at work. My advice would be to pump however it will enable you keep pumping. I think it is better to pump for longer periods, if you have the time. Pumping for 5-10 minutes will give you mostly "fore milk", which has a higher water content to releive baby's thirst. After pumping for a while, you get to the "hind milk" which has a higher fat and nutrient content. The hind milk will put the weight on the babies. However, I think any way that it fits into your schedule is better than going to all formula. Mother's milk is so good for them, so give them the best you can, and don't feel guilty about it. You're breast feeding triplets, that is a feat in itself, no matter how it's done!

Hi Julia,

Congrats to you for breastfeeding your triplets for 6 months and wanting to continue! I'd recommend you contact your local La Leche League leader - they deal with questions like this all the time and volunteer, so you don't have to pay them like a lactation consultant. Often, they will be able to direct you to a leader who has been through your particular situation, in this case, mother of multiples. Good luck and keep on!

H.

I have to say great job, working, pumping and triplets!!!
Anyways pumping is totally mental. I could hand express more milk then I could pump with my first and I had lots of milk. I leaked in my shirt having to change the pads every hour but could not pump more than an ounce. I ended up going back to work with my second at three months and really wanted to keep breastfeeding. I invested in the medela in style pump (THAT I LOVE AND TOTALLY RECAMEND!!!!!) I learned how to manage pumping on both sides and as I got better I was even able to work and pump. I would pump almost 20min and get 10-12 oz (that was at my lunch time pump and then I pumped again at night but did not get that much. You really have to relax and if you actually drink water as you are pumping that is supposed to help. I know that my sister had to be sitting and doing something that needed thought put into it (i.e. - not work/read) just be persistent and positive and do it often would be my advice.
Good luck you are doing amazing!

first i want to say how proud of you that you are still pumping and giving your precious ones breastmilk! i think that is awesome and you are so right, breastmilk is best for them (i am still breastfeeding my daughter and she turned one last month). I do not see a problem with pumping only 5 to 10 minutes every hour. breastfeeding is a supply and demand thing so your body will get used to whatever demand it is getting. Give yourself a few days for your body to understand the new schedule before deciding if it is a success or not. and good luck!

Julia,
I started running out of milk around 4 months. I did all the fenugreek, etc. (FYI- the active ingredient in Mothers Milk tea is fenugreek, but there's not enough in there to help- keep taking your supplements.)
There were a couple of things that worked for me to get back on track. 1. Consistency- pumping at the same intervals and times. 2. Power pumping- I would sit twice a day (I know- hard to find the time) usually in the morning and evening during a favorite TV show. would pump during the show and rest during the commercial breaks for 1 hour. My supply during the power sessions doubled after a week. 3. When all else failed and was nearing the end around 8 months, I went to my OB and she gave me a prescription that kept us going until 10 months. Good luck!

I got alot of great advice from the Store Bosom Buddies.

S.

I was going to massage school when I had my child. I was so stressed out between work and school and home life,my milk production was low. In class the one day we were massaging the necks and upper pec muscle(the chest above the breast but not on the breast). My milk production doubled during each pumping for two weeks. I hope this idea helps. Take Care

Hi, Julia. I have 9 month old twins, and I feel your pain. I pumped for them until about six months when I just couldn't take it anymore, but until then I was pretty blessed with a good supply. I pumped following each feeding so that the pumping and feeding coincided, theoretically keeping up with supply. That way, too, I didn't need to pump every hour. I did pump more frequently in the beginning just to get the supply going. My lactation consultant told me that you do need to let your body rest a bit between pumping, and that pumping every hour can get taxing and actually reduce supply, or at least frustrate you because you seem not to be getting enough. She assured me, though, that pumping did NOT reduce supply faster; it's the same stimulation as breast feeding, just a different vehicle. I took fenugreek as well and drank LOTS of water. Pumping for six months with triplets is a lot of work, and you're amazing to go so long, so DON'T feel badly about giving it up. I have to say that ending pumping was VERY liberating for me. Yes, it was more expensive, but I got some extra sleep, and I had my body back. Good luck.

You Rock! I'm sure you’re super busy. I just wanted to let you know that they say it is better to nurse longer. The milk with all the vitamins and it is thicker comes after you nurse for a while. I do understand that you are pumping. I could see a different in my milk the longer I pumped. It wouldn’t look so watery and it had a creamier look to it. It might also help to pump until you empty your breast so your body knows it needs to make more milk. Good luck I hope this helps you.

I want to applaud you on providing breast milk for 3! That is amazing! I'm not sure if you can over pump. I am nursing my son now and we are on pretty good schedule of pumping while I'm at work. With my daughter 4 years ago I was soooo milky (soaking through pads every three hours and pumping 12 oz every pump). I thought it was because I was pumping too much. But now with what I'm going through with my son, I think the body just produces what it produces. The only thing I can think of that I did differently for the two is I switched to soy milk with my daughter. She was just less cranky that way. Good luck.

There is an awesome tea out there called MOTHER'S MILK. I am not sure where to find it here in CO as we have just moved from AZ. But it works great and I wish I had it with all my children, as fate would have it I didn't discover it until I was about done having babies. Pumping more frequently, as opposed to once a day, will definitely increase or sustain your milk supply. Honestly it's something that you will have to experiment with.

WOW Julia! What a blessing of three! You are pumping and feeding correctly! Your breasts can produce more milk than we know so keep up the good work! Trying to wait between feedings does improve the quality of your breast milk. Congratulations on lasting for six months and ready for more! There are a few other herbs I would recommend you add to the Blessed Thistle and Fenugreek. I feel strange giving herbal advice over the internet but Goat's Rue and a supplement named domperidone could help you maintain the supply you have and even increase the supply noticeably within 2-4 weeks. This may be an easy option for you as you are already supplementing.
You don't have to call me, but I am a clinical herbalist and I specialize in Women's reproductive health. I have a clinic named Holistic Pathways, in Denver and I work with many news Mom's yearly. My number is ###-###-####. I hope the suggestion helps you and your babies! L. Golub
P.S. I have my business listed in the business section of Mama Source...check it out under Holistic Pathways.

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