Pumping After Nursing

Updated on May 06, 2010
S.R. asks from San Jose, CA
11 answers

Hi All,
I have a 4month old daughter and I have been breastfeeding her. No formula. I go back to work in 2 weeks and I am planning to start pumping and storing breastmilk after I nurse her. Also, I wanted to try and see if I could increase my supply by pumping often. So for the whole of today, I have been pumping after every feeding. But unfortunately, my daughter has been acting all hungry and Ive been topping her off with the pumped milk. I get abt 3 oz in 3 hrs when I pump(no nursing before this pumping session). i.e on an average, I make 1oz/hr. I was wondering :
1. Is 3oz on the lower end of the average for a 4 mnth old?
2. How many ounces do you usually pump after nursing?
3. How can I stock up the supply before I go back to work? I dont have any stored milk now.

Any ideas/tips will be very useful.


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answers from Barnstable on

Great job!!! Breasts work on supply and demand. The more frequently you nurse / pump, the more you make (but note I said frequency, NOT duration)! That's not myth, that is fact.

Does your daughter nurse one breast at a feeding? If so, I would pump one side, while she nurses the other. This should increase your milk much faster than pumping after she nurses. I wouldn't "top her off with a bottle." I would just keep flipping her back and forth on the breasts.

You never actually run out of milk (that is a myth) - it is continually being produced. The difference is, the "stored" amount in your breasts is gone, so the flow slows down. She IS getting milk, but would like it faster and so you top her off (don't do that). This is also why you are getting so little when you pump AFTER she nurses and why I strongly suggest tandem pumping-nursing instead. You want to frequently empty your "storage capacity" of your breasts and they will start to "refill" faster.

By the way - NEVER, EVER look to a pump to see what you make. Your daughter probably takes in 3 to 4 oz A FEEDING at the breast. Pumps are rarely a good indicator of what you make - they are simply not as effective as your child.

I could only pump while my son nursed the other side and he needed to "start me off" on the side I was going to pump (I let him nurse there for about 30 seconds, then flipped him to the other side and pumped the one he started).

Also, make sure you have a very good pump - hospital grade ones are the best and can be rented. Often insurance companies will pay for the rental! Make certain the flanges fit your nipples correctly too (there are many sizes).

If you need ANYTHING I counsel breastfeeding moms across the country.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Memphis on

What you've been doing is great -- breastmilk goes on supply and demand, so up till now, you've been producing what your daughter has demanded. Now, you're trying to produce more than she demands (which is a good idea if you're going back to work!), but it will take time -- at least a few days, and perhaps more.

Let me tell you my experience: When my younger was 3 weeks old, a friend adopted a newborn and I pumped for her. Even though I have over-supply issues in the newborn period, I was only getting a few extra ounces per day at first. I built up my supply by feeding my son from one side in the morning while pumping from the other, and then when he was done, I would pump both sides until they were empty **and then for at least 15 minutes more**. I literally was sitting there for several minutes with one drop coming out every few seconds. However, that gradually increased my supply so that by the end of about 6 weeks, I was pumping 25 oz. per day (in addition to breastfeeding my son exclusively), most of it in the morning.

Your breasts make milk according to how your daughter drinks it -- if she takes (for example) 8 oz in the morning feed, 6 oz at lunch and 4 oz at supper, plus 2-oz "snacks" during the day, your breasts won't just be sitting there with 20 oz of milk in them all day, but they will make more during the morning with less during other times. I wasn't excessively full during the day, although I could pump 20 oz in the morning in addition to breastfeeding -- my body just produced milk at that time, and less throughout the day.

So... think about when you're going to be able to pump at work, and when you'll be able to nurse and/or pump at home, and try to increase your pumping sessions around those times -- you may be "dry pumping" for several days as you increase your productivity, but that will help you build your supply, particularly at those times of day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Burlington on

Dear Starlight,

I have an 11 month old who has never had formula only breast milk and at around 7 months I went back to work. To increase my supply I tried pumping after nursing for a few weeks but didn't have much luck and found it very time consuming. I pump every night before bed and get around 4 ounces - I also used to set my alarm for 1 AM to pump but gave that up some time ago. I also take herbs - fenugreek and Mother's Milk Plus. All of this has given me a freezer full of milk but my daughter only drinks about 6 ounces a day at daycare. That's all the ideas/tips I can offer plus a suggestion to start pumping before bed (if you don't already do so) now, before you go back to work.

Best of luck,



answers from San Francisco on

Top her off by breast feeding. You can nurse her, then pump after a little bit, but if your daughter seems hungry, just nurse her again. Your body will respond to the increased demand by making more milk. The baby is much better at stimulating your milk supply than the pump is. In fact, if you really want to increase your milk supply, I would pump first, then feed your baby, and don't use the bottled milk to feed her. If she is hungry, she will keep nursing, and that will stimulate more milk in only a couple days. You will be amazed by how much milk your body can produce then. It might seem hard for a couple of days, but it is the best and fastest way to increase supply. I was probably pumping 6 to 8 oz at a time, at the same time as nursing my baby, after only a little while. Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Hi Starlight,

I also have a four month old and went back to work recently. I was really nervous about running out of milk. I pumped at night before I went bed (about two or three hours after baby had last feeding) to store up some milk. I was trying to pump after feeding him in the day, or when I thought he was down for a long nap, but that was stressful because he also seemed hungry on those days when I was nursing him. I find that I pump enough at work to leave for the next day. I have about 10 4-oz bottles in the freezer, and I leave four bottles with the daycare lady (he's there from 8-3:30). Sometimes he drinks 2, sometimes 3 bottles and it seems like I always pump just about what he drinks while I am gone. I always nurse him right when I get there, even if he just ate or I pumped an hour before so I can stimulate the milk production. I nurse him on demand the whole time I'm with him. Luckily I am a teacher and I think I can make it through seven more weeks of this before summer because it's hard... but you just get in a groove and it's so worth it to give that baby the gold of your milk:)



answers from Boston on

If when you go back to work you will be pumping all of the missed feedings, for me it was three, then you really don't need much stock before you go back. I simply pumped and then brought that supply to the sitter the next day. I have a four month old and he eats about for ounces a feeding, sometimes five. But my daughter at the same age had only eaten 3-4 at a feeding. If you do plan on pumping before you go back I'd feed your baby first then pump the leftovers. You might have to do it a few times through the day as you may only get an ounce or so that way.

I also sent formula to the sitter's house just in case he was hungrier than what I sent. Going back to work is stressful so why add more stress?



answers from Sacramento on

Used to pump while nursing. It was a little tricky but this helped my flow alot. Also you can start topping her off with rice cereal. Also you really need to be in a calm state, if not you won't get anything. I hope this helped.



answers from San Francisco on

All babies eat/drink different amounts. I have nursed five babies and all of them were different. As far as pumping goes all mother's are different. Some produce 8 oz in 10 minutes and others get 1/2 ounce over half an hour.
Breastmilk works on a supply and demand. So the more often the breast is emptied either by the baby or pump, the more milk it makes. This is why your baby increases frequency when going through a growth spurt.
I really struggled with pumping and found it best to either nurse from one breast and pump the other, or wait about 1/2 hour after nursing to pump. None of my babies ever took more than 3-4 ounces per bottle feeding at any age. Both my sister's younger two babies took 8 ounces or more, however she could produce enough pumped breastmilk for every baby on the block and then some in half an hour. My beast pumping was in the morning.
Even if you stock it up in 1/2 to 1 ounce increments it is something. Then when you go back to work, make sure she nurses right before you leave her and again as soon as you get back and depending on logistics perhaps she can visit you or you her on your lunch break. That was honestly the only way we could do it with my youngest. No matter how hard I tried I could not have enough milk saved for her so we just vistited on my break.



answers from San Francisco on

1) She is likely getting more than 3 ounces...especially if her growth rate is normal.

2) Never did this...either nursed or pumped for a feeding session. Have heard this is a good idea to increase supply though.

3) I got a hospital grade pump and started pumping every 2-3 hours. My daughter was having a difficult time latching so my circumstances were a little different...Anyway, I started with 28 ozs. per day on 8-9 pumping sessions and now produce 72 ozs per day with 4 sessions. This took about 30 days.

I also wanted a supply because puming and working is hard work! Still not entirely sure how long I can keep it up, but have stored approx. 2500 ozs.

I would suggest pumping often for 30-45 minutes over the next 2 weeks with a hospital grade pump, maintaining that schedule for 2-3 weeks or so after you return (hospital pump at home, consumer pump at work) and then consolidating your sessions so that you are not pumping so often. My schedule now is 6am, 1pm, 5:30pm and 10pm (allowing me not to pump through the night).

Vary this plan depending on how much you are producing (i.e. up or down) and please track your production in a spreadsheet so that you can see what is going on rather than relying on your memory (i.e. time of day, number of ounces expressed, number of ounces frozen).

If necessary, get a deep freezer so that you can store you milk longer (i.e. 6-12 months) rather than 3-6 months in a regular refrigerator/freezer.

Good luck!



answers from Sacramento on

My son is eight months old, and I went back to work last January. I was SO worried about having enough milk on reserve that I started pumping in November and bagged 18oz a day on top of what I was nursing him. I ended up throwing out ALL of my reserved milk as the "expiration date" came around because I never used it. Such a waste :(

My advice, start storing a little each day and don't pay much attention to the ounces. For now, PUMP FIRST and NURSE AFTER. Your breasts will feel empty but your daughter will still get milk and you won't be using your reserve. Plus like the other Moms said, your daughter will stimulate the best production - not the pump.

The amount of milk that you'll pump while you're away from your baby in the beginning will amaze you and you'll wish you never worried. I think all of the doctors, nurses, and lactation consultants do a really good job of putting a fear of losing our milk supply in our heads to the point of stressing us out :)

Enjoy the last week of your maternity leave!



answers from San Francisco on

My son is 2 months old and I am starting to pump/store up milk now too. I nurse him on one side and then pump the other side- I've been doing this at the 2am feed or the 6 am feed, when I seem to make the most milk. It is hard and annoying to have to do, but worth doing for sure.
Make sure to drink tons of water to increase your supply!

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