Exclusive pumping

Exclusive pumping - Transcript

Sometimes babies are not able to latch the breast initially, and this can cause a great deal of distress, but it’s really good to know that it’s possible to exclusively pump your milk in order to cause your body to make milk while you’re working on that attachment issue.

It might be that your baby has been born prematurely and this has caused the problem, or maybe a particularly sleepy baby at the beginning. Some babies have a tongue tie which has impacted on the latching. But whatever the reaso, exclusive pumping is a way forward.

In all these scenarios it’s really good to know that they are usually temporary situations, and it might be that you pump for a few days or a few weeks – it might even be a few months until things start to improve. Of course the pumping, with a really good quality pump, can tell your body to make all the milk that your baby needs. This is fantastic because your baby can get that fantastic milk with all of its antibodies and added protection.

It’s also great to know that pumping your milk will tell your body to make all the milk that your baby actually needs and your baby can get this milk with all of those antibodies and extra protection.

If you’re exclusively pumping your milk for your baby, Know that you can still have a really good close bond, lots of skin to skin time, and knowing that your body is producing that milk – giving all that protection to your baby is a fantastic thing.

So what about the pump itself? What kind of pump is going to help you to make all the milk that your baby needs? A lot of women think that going out to the local shop and just buying one, even if it can seem fairly expensive, often these pumps are not adequate enough to produce all of the milk that your baby needs.

However, a hospital grade double pump, is usually adequate – the type of pumps that you could call industrial strength. They are really very easy to use and because you are double pumping, there are double the amount of hormones involved ,and your body will make more milk in less time.

Certainly, for the majority of you you’ll find that you won’t have to pump any more than 10 minutes, sometimes 15 minutes maximum. So it can be a strange concept to think that you’re using a machine to help your body to make milk. One of the first things that you can do to help this process work better is to be as relaxed as you can be beforehand.

So to get yourself into a relaxed state think about having your baby as close as possible – and if that isn’t possible, then a photograph of your baby even something like that is going to help a lot. Some mothers find it’s good to distract themselves with the television or music, some even ask for a neck rub from somebody who they know, anything that’s going to help to feel relaxed – massage, warmth, all of those things will help too.

A really fantastic way also to boost supply before you pump is to have your baby near you in skin to skin, and I’d recommend a couple of hours a day if you can, throughout the day, boosting that supply. Certainly, time spent before the pumping session will boost the hormones, particularly prolactin that makes milk. This means that when you come to pump your milk, they will be more available milk there, because of the skin to skin that you did earlier.

Even if your baby isn’t latching, all of this skin to skin and closeness is going to help your baby to get more milk, ultimately. There’s some recent evidence to show that using a hospital grade pump, coupled with hand expression, can produce more yield for women – sometimes as much as 20 percent more.

So I usually suggest to start the pump on the lowest setting, ensure that the breast shield that attaches to yourself is a good size. Your nipple should not be stuck in the funnel and touching the sides of the funnel when the pump is actually working. This means that you have got the wrong size, and these breast shields come in various sizes – so very important to get the right size.

Once pumping your milk, try to massage your breasts as well at the same time, if that’s possible. At the end of the pumping session, still keep the pump on for another minute or two, even when that last drop has come out, and you’ll be tempted to think that there’s no more milk available – but this is still going to be telling your body to make that extra bit of milk. At the end of a couple of minutes, as long as it is comfortable for you, then hand express with your own hand. That can often yield this extra milk.

Other studies show that newborns feed anywhere between 8 to 12 times in 24 hours, so if you’re exclusively pumping, this means in effect that if you CAN, pump every two to three hours, certainly in the day – once at night. It’s a hard ask to pump every couple of hours overnight. So if you can get as many pumping sessions in like that, all the better – the more pumping sessions the better.

What you’re trying to do is to tell your body to make extra milk each day until you’re getting on average about 750 mls per day. The sooner you can reach that mark the better because studies are showing that between one month and six months of age, that is the average amount that the majority of babies need. There will be flexibility on that.

If you can aim to cause your body to make that amount of milk then this is a great goal. I really do know what commitment and how hard it is to pump your milk like this – but certainly it increases your chances for the next few weeks, in getting that full supply. Please be reassured that if you can’t get all those pumping sessions in, there’s still opportunity to reach that full breastfeeding.

Be encouraged that once your milk supply is established then it may well be that you will be able to reduce some of those pumping sessions, but not always the case. I would also really encourage you to inform yourself about how milk is made so that you fully understand the mechanism of it by looking at the video related to that.

And by the way you might be surprised to know that it’s better to pump more frequently to boost your supply than to wait a long time between the pumping sessions, and to spend a longer time pumping in that session. You may even need to consider doing some extra frequency pumping sessions as well. Just like babies who do cluster nursing where they do a lot of frequent feeding over a period of time, then it’s the same using a pump too.

Just to clarify, when you are using your pump, to keep it on the lowest setting initially – it certainly shouldn’t be painful when you are pumping. Some women have made the mistake of putting it on the highest setting, and found that that really was quite painful.

Now when your baby is feeding at the breast itself you have anywhere between 3 to 5 (on average) let downs of milk, as your baby works through those cycles. So certainly when you are pumping with a hospital grade pump, when the flow starts to slow a little bit, that’s the end of one let down. You may need to increase the cycle and speed to generate another letdown. To replicate this natural feeding, aim for this many releases of milk, if you can.

I know I mentioned earlier that 750 mls is a kind of average to aim for per day, with your pumping – but another equation that you can use for your particular baby, as to how much milk he needs in 24 hours : two and a half ounces of milk per pound of body weight over the 24 hours is, on average, the amount that he would need. If you’re feeding your baby your express milk, please look out for the feeding cues so that you can feed your baby as and when he needs that.

We know that when babies feed from a bottle, because it isn’t a biological way, there’s evidence to show that they can override their feelings of fullness and take in more calories than they actually need in one session. So please look at the video relating to how to feed your baby in as biological a way as possible, even from a bottle.

If you’ve managed to put in all this hard work at the beginning with all of that pumping to get your supply established, then there is potential opportunity to reduce some of the pumping sessions later on. Now this might not be the case, and some women find the opposite is true – that they need to increase the pumping sessions to maintain that supply.

So once again it is very variable from woman to woman, just because we all have a different interplay of hormones. Please bear in mind that throughout the whole of this exclusive pumping experience to use hand expression if you ever feel uncomfortably full. This will prevent you getting a blocked duct. Blocked ducts can lead to mastitis. We certainly don’t want you going through any of that on top of this pumping scenario.

And finally I understand that pumping can really take its toll at times. It’s very intensive and it does take a huge amount of commitment and it’s an amazing thing to do.

So please be kind to yourself and when you do want to stop the pumping, be kind to your body by pumping less and less frequently, so that gradually your body will produce less milk. But for however long you’ve pumped your milk, whether it’s days or weeks or months, it is a great achievement and congratulate yourself on this.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

V1 published June 2017. Next review date: April 2020

References

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